The Next Chapter for The Post-Evangelical Post, Exvangelical, and Beyond
TL;DR: I’m introducing a new funding model, and donating 25% of net revenue to organizations that serve populations harmed by white evangelicalism.
The Story So Far
Five years ago, I started the Exvangelical podcast in an effort to understand why so many people, myself included, had decided to leave the white evangelical church that formed me, and I used the #exvangelical hashtag in order to promote the podcast. It has since taken on a life of its own, garnering over 100k impressions per day on Twitter, over 45,000 uses on Instagram, and over 300M views on TikTok.
In 2017, the Exvangelical facebook group opened to the public. It started with less than 100 members and now has over 10,000.
In 2019, for a number of reasons, I took a much-needed break from podcasting.
This year, I joined forces with a number of other podcasters to form the Irreverent Media Group collective.
I have been doing this work for years and have been fortunate to cover the costs — including taxes, etc — through direct support via Patreon and Substack. But as many other participants in “the creator economy” know, burnout is real, especially when life’s other obligations (family, day jobs, etc) factor in—and our most public-facing work does not provide a full-time income.
Today, I’m launching a new effort to make this work financially sustainable, and doing so in a way that is consistent with my own ethics.
Here’s how it works:
When you support The Post-Evangelical Post at $8/month, I will donate 25% of net revenue to organizations that serve populations harmed by white evangelicalism. At launch, I am working with two great organizations: White Homework and REAP (the Religious Exemption Accountability Project); more will be added as subscriptions rise.1
I’m setting an ambitious goal for 1,000 new paid subscribers. At that level of support, I would be able to fully fund up to $5,225 “cash grants” to each organization listed above.2 For every 250 supporters, the cash grant goal for one organization is fully funded for a year - though donations are not contingent upon reaching the supporter goal and will be dispersed monthly.
At launch, Supporter Benefits include:
Ad-free feeds to Exvangelical and Powers & Principalities.
Access to The Post-Evangelical Post paid supporter posts.
Access to comment on all entries of The Post-Evangelical Post.
Coming Soon: Access to The Post-Evangelical Post Discord.
Coming Summer/Fall 2022: The Good Books book club discussions.
Why Substack? Why this model? (and Other Questions.)
There may be some questions about why I’ve chosen Substack to launch this model. I chose Substack because this, like all my projects thus far, is a bootstrapped effort. I have taken no outside capital or investment, and typically re-invest all income from supporters directly back into covering costs for things like paying an audio editor, various web services, et cetera.
Substack has no annual cost but takes a (hefty) 10% of all gross revenue, but in exchange does offer a straightforward product that makes clear sense to an audience. From a creator standpoint, their publishing tools are also incredibly straightforward and surprisingly versatile. And crucially, Substack is an Open Subscription Platform, so if I ever decided to move to a different platform like Ghost, I could do so with minimal interruption for myself or my supporters. I spent a lot of time considering different platforms available in 2021, and Substack offers the most features of what I am looking for, despite its higher percentage share of revenue.
Why This Model?
This one is even more straightforward: because I think it’s the right thing to do. I am building this from the ground-up with no outside funding, and have an opportunity to build a business model that includes reparative economics from the beginning. My work focuses on the personal & social impact of white evangelicalism. By committing to donate a significant percentage of my net revenue to organizations that serve communities that have been historically harmed by white evangelicalism, I am able to quite literally put my money where my mouth is. Further, I know that I cannot (and should not) try to speak to every potential audience—but I can help to finance the work of others who are better equipped than me to do so.
I also acknowledge that the work I do is sensitive, and as a cis white man asking for direct support, it may activate some traumas that my own potential audience of supporters has. So long as we remain a capitalist society that does not provide universal basic income nor universal health care, that will remain an unavoidable tension and reality when I seek direct payment for my output. I hope to address some of that tension through this model.
This ambitious goal of 1,000 new paid subscribers was not designed for sheer profit, but to articulate a goal that would allow me to commit myself to this work full-time and not fall into financial precarity. At my life-stage, as a parent and partner, risky financial endeavors are not an option—and even if I do not reach this goal, I will still be able to help support the work of some incredible creators and organizations.
I do want to acknowledge and thank my existing supporters, and also offer the option for them to lock-in the current rate they are paying. Current paid supporters should have received an email yesterday with a discount code that can be applied to the new monthly rate of $8/month. The annual option no longer offers a discount, but if you prefer to pay in one lump sum, you may do so.
Over the last few years, the number of voices exploring issues related to the negative social impact of white evangelicalism has exploded. Whether the terms used are things like exvangelical, ex-evangelical, deconstruction, decolonizing, faith shift, or something else entirely, I’m very encouraged to see so many people challenging the dominant evangelical narratives that have held sway over public discussions of religion & society.
I am thankful for my part in those discussions, and am thankful that the broader conversations happening around faith groups in the US and elsewhere have become more nuanced. Yet I still believe we are in very early days, and we are far from approaching anything near parity with the capital and resources available to powerful white evangelical institutions. These efforts have been bootstrapped individually and funded through Patreon & other platforms made available through the creator economy. If I am able to reach this ambitious goal, I would love to expand the scope of this work even further. By articulating this vision now, I hope to make it possible to responsibly scale this enterprise.
If you have enjoyed my work in the past or want to help my current and future work, I would be honored if you’d consider supporting The Post-Evangelical Post with a paid membership today. A free tier will always be available for as long as I write or podcast publicly.
Thank you for reading this far. If you’re interested in supporting this work, click on the button below to subscribe.
Update - I only have revenue enough to support 2 organizations; when this was published in 2021, I had envisioned supporting up to 4. This is not currently feasible. -Blake, January 2023.
“Cash grants” is in quotes, because Post-Ev Post is not currently structured as a non-profit or any other grant-offering institution. It is currently incorporated as an LLC. These donations will be made from net revenue, after the 10% Substack cut & Stripe’s payment processing fees.