The Big Head & Long Tail of Fund-Raising

Below is another excellent guest post from Pastor Chris. If you haven’t read his previous posts you can find them here and here. Thanks for contributing Pastor Chris and letting us glean from your insight! – JF

The Big Head (or sometimes “Tall Head”) and Long Tail is a popular concept in business and marketing that I first read about it in a Seth Godin book.  (I would recommend Seth’s blog and books as good resources for inspiration in creative fund-raising).

imgresThe idea behind Big Head and Long Tail is in most markets there is a “Big Head” and a “Long Tail”. The Big Head is one or a few companies that dominate a sector of the market. The Long Tail is everyone else.

Consider the soda industry.  Coca-Cola is by far the Big Head in the soda industry, making up more than 40% of the entire soft drink market.  If we want to make our soda-beast a two headed monster imgres-1we could add Pepsi, which controls another 30% of the soda market.  Together their soft drinks dominate the soda market, thus making Coca-Cola and Pepsi the Big Head(s). Yet, in the soda market there are hundreds of other companies producing a large variety of soft drinks in the world today.

imagesIn this graph Coke & Pepsi would be represented the red area, as they dominate the market.  The yellow line would then represent all the other companies in the world producing soft-drinks.

If you have read this far you may be asking, “What does this have to do with fund-raising?

The answer? Everything! 

The Big Head Long Tail is an exact mirror into what most of us raising support are trying to accomplish.  We are trying to raise a budget to get to the field and fulfill God’s call on our lives, and often as we do, we focus solely on the Big Head.

Look at the graph above again and think of your fund-raising.  For most reading this the Big Head (the red area) is probably the churches, pastors, and individuals already within your denomination / organization.  

So what is the Long Tail? The Long Tail represents everyone else in the world!

As we look at the graph and think on the Long Tail, I am not proposing an either / or approach but a both / and approach.  In other words, as you begin raising your support you most often focus on acquiring a Big Head. However, long-term success is going require you to also grow a long tail.

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HOW TO ACQUIRE A BIG HEAD

The best way to acquire a Big Head is to follow the instructions of your organization for raising up your support team.  For my organization this means calling all the pastors of my denomination’s district and asking to meet with the pastor and/or missions board, and requesting of them a service to present my vision to the church body. Whatever your organization trains you to do, follow the system and do good follow-up (for tips on follow-up see a previous post I wrote).  If you work hard and remain diligent you will acquire a Big Head over time.  Once acquired, never quit and keep sharing. For me that means I share with pastors in my denomination’s district and I keep reaching out to them – inviting them to join in my mission.  Keep your Big Head BIG!

“as you begin raising your support you most often focus on acquiring a Big Head. However, long-term success is going require you to also grow a long tail.”

However, the Big Head may not be enough to get you to 100% funded and on the field. This is where the Long Tail comes into play.

giphyWHAT IS THE LONG TAIL?

As I mentioned above, the Long Tail is everyone else in the world!  It is every church not in your denomination, every business, every non-profit (they are givers too!), every individual, every family member, co-worker, friend, stranger.  EVERYONE!  This is what is so great about the Long Tail – there is no end to how long it can grow.

In the Big Head there are limits, constraints, and competition.  These are almost non-existent in the Long Tail. 

Let me tell you a Long Tail story of a friend named Steve.  Steve was raising his budget and was invited to a mission’s convention.  The church invited several missionaries and put them up in homes of various families within the church.  Steve was given a room in the pastor’s mother’s house.  Steve hit it off with the pastor’s mother so well that she went to her son at the end of the convention and said, “Are you picking Steve up for support?  The pastor replied, “No mom, we just do not have it in the budget.” (ahem, the constraint of the Big Head). However, the mom said, “but he is a good man and has a good vision… you have to pick him up!  The pastor replied, “The only way I can pick him up is if someone commits to pay that additional support.  Remarkably, the mom responded, “Yes, I will give the additional amount of his support each month.

This story illustrates the secret of the Long Tail. Anyone could approach this pastor or church and ask for support (Big Head), but none of us could ever connect with the pastor’s mother (Long Tail) like missionary Steve did.  By the way, this mom got an 8X10 photo of missionary Steve and hung it in her living room – right between her son the pastor and his brother.  So essentially Steve is now part of the family!  Who knows, he may even be in the family will! Talk about growing a Long Tail!

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HOW TO GROW A LONG TAIL

Growing a Long Tail takes time but is quite easy.  Here’s how to do it: always, everywhere, at all times, and in every circumstance – share your vision! 

It is that simple. 

Share your vision with passion.  Share it with conviction.  Tell everyone what you are going to do and why you are going to do it.  Then ANYTIME anyone shows interest or asks how they could help – tell them how to do so. You don’t have be a salesman, and you don’t pressure your friends or family to support you; but you should let it be known what you need and how they can join you in your mission.

“…always, everywhere, at all times, and in every circumstance share your vision!”

Not too long ago I was visiting my father who was in a nursing home.  The wife of the owner of that nursing home came out to the pavilion where we were sitting.  She casually asked what I did and I began to share about my ministry.  As I shared she was intrigued and asked many questions. So many that we spoke for about an hour.  When we finished she then said, “I know my husband will want to talk to you.  He will only have about five minutes because he is busy today but I want him to meet you. She left and returned in a few minutes with her husband, introduced me to him, and we began talking.  His five minutes turned into an hour. Before I left that day he went to his office and wrote me a check for my ministry and has given several times since to our work.

The work of acquiring a Big Head can be scheduled, but growing a Long Tail can happen anytime and anywhere.  Don’t let your passion for your mission become just a “job.”   Instead, let it be your lifestyle and your tail will grow extremely long!

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Missionary Geniuses Drop Knowledge: 22 Expert Tips

This post is from a repeat, but I think there are little nuggets of wisdom everyone raising their finances should read – so if you haven’t – here are expert tips from those who have gone before you and gotten to 100%.

22 Expert Tips (4)

Start 2017 Off Right!

Did you know that 45% of the American population make New Years Resolutions? In general this is the month that the nation is thinking about health, wellness, and personal goals. Are you? Though I didn’t make New Years Resolutions per say, I know I am thinking about my personal goals for this year. As I have been developing my own for 2017, I found these Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions from 2017 interesting:

Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2017:

#1  Lose Weight

#2 Get Organized

#3 Spend Less, Save More

#4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest

#5 Stay Fit and Healthy

#6 Learn Something Exciting

#7 Quit Smoking

#8 Help Others In Their Dreams

#9 Fall In Love

#10 Spend More Time With Family

Can you relate to any of these? For those of you thinking about your 2017 goals along with me, I’d like to add the goals below for your consideration. Consider making 2017 your best year of living a healthy lifestyle of ministry partnership development. Without further ado, here are some goals to consider in making 2017 a fabulous ministry partnership development year:

GOAL #1: DO BETTER AT KEEPING UP WITH YOUR EXISTING FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERS. Where do you find yourself on this spectrum:

  1. “COMMUNICATION ROCK STAR”: You have always been good at regularly contacting your financial and prayer partners. You keep up with at least a few of them each month by email, text message, phone call, or skype. You continually write your newsletters and are very personal with those whom support you.
  2. “KINDA STRUGGLE BUT E FOR EFFORT”: You have had seasons at being good at communicating with your financial and prayer partners, perhaps here and there emailing the ones you felt comfortable with. However if are were honest you haven’t done much besides a few group Facebook posts and newsletters.
  3. “#EPICFAIL”: You have never been good at contacting your financial and prayer partners. You avoid contacting them, feel awkward when you do, and struggle to write newsletters.

So where do you find yourself on the spectrum?

Maybe you find yourself somewhere in between “Communication Rock Star” or “Kinda Struggle but E for Effort”? Or maybe “#EpicFail” doesn’t even begin to describe your lack of efforts? Wherever you find yourself in that spectrum make 2017 the year you start with regular (and quality) communication with your financial and prayer partners. Make regular social media posts, newsletters, emails, skype conversations, and phone conversations a priority in your existing ministry schedule.  Go beyond the newsletter. Get beyond the mass communication and become relationally driven. Don’t just get a team of people giving you checks every month and wondering what your up to – strive to keep your financial partners informed and make them actual friends. Contact them personally and ask how they are doing, and how you can pray. Give personal updates. I PROMISE this is a BIG DEAL. Remember, without your financial and prayer team you WOULD NOT be ministering to your particular population. Make them feel valued and it will make all of the difference to them, and ultimately to you.

GOAL #2: ENSURE YOUR FINANCIAL PARTNERS CAN EASILY GIVE ONLINE. A recent study done by Dunham&Company shows that 67% of donors ages 40-59 said they have given online. That percentage is up by 20% since 2010. If your organization provides a way to give online, make sure you readily offer that option to your potential financial partners and that you make it easy for your financial partners to give online. Create giving instructions that can be emailed or texted out for your financial partners or get into the habit of walking them through the steps of online giving yourself.

GOAL #3: BEEF UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. The same study mentioned above by Dunham&Company shows that 26% of donors said they have given to a charity’s website as a result of being asked on social media. This is up by 20% from only A YEAR AGO. Wow. I love this quote on the findings:

“It’s important to not misinterpret the findings,” Dunham says. “Donors are not responding more to requests for support from organizations through social media. They are responding to friends or others they know who, through social media, ask them for support of a specific charity, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Social media for nonprofits is still primarily a means to build community and engagement rather than a fundraising tool.”

What we can say about social media at this point is this: it is a very effective tool to build community and engagement. I’m not saying to ask for blanket support on Facebook. Nope. Nope I’m not at all. But I am saying consider making your social media presence more intentional in 2017. Use exciting videos, informative posts with pictures, and infographics to grab people’s attention. Stay up to date on what is going on with your financial and prayer partnership team. If you do use Facebook for “the ask”, make sure you create a structured Facebook campaign.

GOAL #4: MAKE YOUR PRESENTATION GREAT. If you are regularly speaking inside church congregations or small groups, make sure what you are saying is as effective as it can be. Don’t have a mediocre presentation – make it great! Video yourself giving your next sermon or 5 minute window in front of a congregation. Spend some time going through that video and thinking of ways you could improve. Send it to a few trusted friends for a critique. Having their honest feedback could be what takes your presentation from “meh” to “YESSS!!” If you haven’t polished your presentation in awhile go through it with fresh eyes thinking of ways to improve. Maybe you could add a short video, or a visual of the population you serve? Maybe you could add a new effective story?

GOAL #5: STAY (OR GET) ORGANIZED. This goal is pretty self explanatory. If you are struggling in an area of staying organized, get back on the horse. Being organized with records of who you have asked, who has given, when they have given, how much, etc. is important to have in the genesis of a lifestyle of partnership development. If you are organized you will have more time for ministry and more time for staying connected with your financial and prayer partnership team – it’s that simple. Great programs for this are: TNTMPD, MPDX, or iMissionsPro.

GOAL #6: USE VIDEOS. According to statistics found on the www.Cadre31.com website videos on landing pages increase conversions by 87%. Not only that, 65% of audiences are visual learners and visual data is processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than by text. Let the reader understand: videos are a big help in effectively communicating your visionIf you have not created a high quality video that communicates your ministry vision I highly suggest you make it a priority to do so. Spend some time looking at the videos found on Cadre31’s site for some great examples.

If you are not in the habit of making videos (not necessarily high quality – just home videos used to communicate) on social media, get into it. Another statistic states that by 2017 90% of all web traffic will be video.

GOAL #7: PRAY FOR YOUR FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERSHIP TEAM. When was the last time you made prayer for your financial partnership team a regular part of your prayer life? Have you ever prayed for your team? If you haven’t taken the time to talk to God about your team, then start in 2017. There are multiple benefits of praying for your team that go beyond the obvious. For starters remembering your team in prayer will promote your desire to stay connected to them, naturally have you asking what is going on in their lives, and will remind you that they are a vital part of your ministry.

zachgalifianakisthumbsuThere you have it! May your 2017 be a year filled with happy and relational support raising! Consider making some of these goals your own in 2017.

Podcast on Financial Partnership Development

Recently I was honored to be on the family podcast of one of our areas in Eurasia talking about Financial Partnership Development. On the podcast we talk about partnership development topics such as how to build and maintain good relationships while busy in ministry, adding new financial partners, and much more.

Take a listen by following the links below:

 

Podcast 1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ac8ug933tlca5yi/November-2016.mp3?dl=0

Podcast 2: https://www.dropbox.com/s/23uhw5e4fwnwxpo/December-2016.mp3?dl=0

10 Blog Posts I Love for Successful Support Raising

I have a gift for you.

I love picking up bits and pieces from other ministries on support raising. Over the years I’ve done my fair share of digging from various viewpoints – nonprofits, ministries, and other missions sending organizations.

Thus, here’s a list of 10 inspiring blogs and websites that cover a wide variety of subject matter on ministry partnership development as you close out your year! Your Welcome! Merry almost Christmas friends!

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  1. Cadre 31 Classes: Cadre31 is a company who specializes in telling your story via video. They have a tab on their website dedicated to education on creating your own videos, watch and learn!
  2. TedTalk by Jia Jiang on facing rejection. The possibility of rejection and/or facing it is hard – this video on the subject is incredibly inspiring and entertaining.
  3. Video from Global Frontier Missions on Unreached People Groups. This video is so helpful if you are raising your finances to reach a tough population. Check it out!
  4. Seeing Your Donors As Partners by 101Fundraising maybe one of my favorite blog posts EVER on the subject of financial giving. Get inspired and get perspective.
  5. This guest post by Pastor Chris (on my blog) reminds us that a season of itineration looks a lot like a season on the ministry field. I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with obstacles and fears in raising their support.
  6. Thanking Donors on Social Media from The Balance is a great for those looking to make their social media interactions count. It has some fantastic ideas to get the gears going on your own social media strategy.
  7. This TedTalk from Amanda Palmer on The Art of Asking may be the most helpful TedTalk I’ve ever watched. This is not Christian content by the way, but gives incredible insight.
  8. Do you want to become a better public speaker? Are you afraid of public speaking? Here’s a post from RealSimple on conquering your fear.
  9. Being negative hurts YOU. Are you negative and don’t even know it? Check out this blog post on positive thinking during your season of raising support by Michael Hyatt.
  10. Reaching out to millennials can confound as you support raise. Gosh, I’m a millennial and sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what to do. Here’s a great post on the subject.

I hope some of these posts help you like they have me. Do you have a favorite blog post? Share it in the comments! – JF

 

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough: 5 Lessons from 2 Successful Support Raisers

Here’s a beginning question everyone asks when raising support: How do I effectively ask individuals to support me monthly? The answer to that question has a lot of moving parts, to start here’s a simple answer, it is this:

AS RELATIONALLY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.

I want to reinforce this sentence by telling you about the journeys of two different missionaries whom I coach. Both recently raised their finances in record time. Let me tell you a little about them:

The Jones Family. The Jones Family is a family of four who raised their extensive overseas budget within 6 months. SIX MONTHS! Let me tell you, that is a feat for a family of four! 

Sally. Sally is a single woman, and a 21 year old college grad. Sally raised her budget within 5 months. She had never raised finances for a missions trip before, and particularly felt nervous that most of her friends were just out of college – and broke.

How did the Jones family and Sally do it? Well, the main successful commonality between them is this: they were always relational in their approach. So here are some things we can learn from The Jones family and Sally in their journeys  to raising their budgets relationally and successfully:

1. They set weekly goals and stuck to them. When raising your finances, knowing your vision is valuable and so is determination. Both the Jones family and Sally set weekly goals (that were obtainable) for themselves based on their vision and held onto those goals with determination. They hit their goals 90% of the time.

Take away: As you raise your finances, set weekly goals for yourself and find a way to make yourself accountable to them. Before you do, think about what you can handle each week and when you want to get to 100% before you set them. Typically I tell missionaries I coach that they need to make initial contact with at least 5-10 people each week – initial contact entails that they have either sent an invitation letter (setting up the face-to-face appointment) or they called someone asking for a face-to-face appointment.

2. They didn’t take short cuts. They met face-to-face with people. The Jones family and Sally both strived for each “ask” to be face-to-face, even if that meant traveling a little to see people and ask them in person. They didn’t merely call people, send out bulk newsletters, or Facebook blasts – they took time to ask people in the most relational way possible.

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Take away: I’m not saying Facebook posts or newsletters are bad things. Both are effective tools when used accurately. However, those tools become detriments when missionaries try to make them the main way they do their personal asks. Whenever possible, try to meet with your potential partners face-to-face. If it’s not possible face-to-face, try meeting with them over Skype or Google Hangouts. When you ask, have a well thought out presentation and concretely ask for financial support.

3. They asked for a range or specific amount. When the Jones family and Sally did their financial asks they boldly asked for a range of monthly support or a specific amount.

Take away: Don’t leave your financial needs nebulous and in the hands of your potential partners to guess. That’s awkward for them. Tell them what you need and provide them with parameters. A couple of reasons for this: (1) It will greatly help your friends and family to know what you need, particularly if they aren’t used to giving to a christian worker. (2) People will default to the least amount possible, so you want to ask them for an amount that stirs their faith.

If you are asking for a range make your range comfortable for you to ask for, but also not too low. Also when providing a range make a graph to explain if necessary. When asking for a specific amount, make sure to stay silent while they respond to what you just asked them. You don’t need to apologize or provide nervous “filler.”

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4. They believed they were asking their potential partners to invest in the Great Commission, not just their ministry assignment. Perspective in raising support is a powerful thing, if not one of the most important ingredients to success (or lack there of). Sally and the Jones Family believed that when they asked their friends and family for financial support, they were involving them in more than just their need for money. They were involving them in the Great Commission and thus were not apologetic about it.

Take away: If you aren’t at that point in your thinking / perspective you, you are not alone. But I do challenge you to ask God to change your perspective. Spend time in the word and seek understanding on support raising in the Bible. There are over 700 direct statements in the Bible about finances, find some of them and study. As you read ask yourself why God set up the Christian worker to live off of support, and why He wants you to do it as well. (Some places in the Bible to start reading: Philippians, Nehemiah, 2 Kings 4, and 1 Corinthians 16 or check out my workbook and buy a complete Bible study on fund-raising.)

5. They didn’t stop when it got challenging. Both the Jones Family and Sally were both hesitant to begin the process of raising their support. They also both had real fears and genuine obstacles, just like you probably do. Even though they were hesitant and ran into hard weeks while raising their budgets: they kept going and continued to ask.

Take away: Don’t let fear, a bad week, obstacles, or a “no” keep you from asking. Remember, when you invite people onto your team in a relational way, really you are asking them to get more involved in the Great Commission. When you run into a hard week (and you will, I promise you are not alone) just keep going and continually ask God for help along the way. He will provide what you need if you keep moving forward — but the key is you have to keep moving forward.

So as you look over these 5 take aways think about how you can invest and create your team relationally. As you do, you’ll find yourself growing in ministry and more happily (and quickly) raising your support.

What do you think as you hear The Jones Family and Sally’s stories? How can you raise your finances as relationally as possible?

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Develop Your End of The Year Strategy

December is the best month of the year for giving! Do you know your strategy?

Did you know that last year 31% of ALL GIVING occurred in the month of December? Or that 12% of giving occurred in the last three days of the year?
That’s right. 12% all in 3 days.full

Thus begs the question: Do you have a end of the year strategy for financial partnership development? If the answer is no, or you were even tempted to coast in December and only eat Christmas cookies, Christmas shop, and watch Elf and/or the new Star Wars movie 6 times in one week… I plead with you to keep those percentages in mind and reach higher.

12-adorable-funny-christmas-2013-gifs-to-share-enjoyHere is a couple of quick ideas for your year end strategy:

  1. CREATE A CHRISTMAS NEWSLETTER TO YOUR EXISTING PARTNERSHIP BASE. Sometime before December 31st (probably not on Christmas or Christmas Eve), send out a Christmas newsletter to your existing financial and prayer partner list. These should be people you have already communicated your ministry vision and details with. Make it short and sweet and include the following components:
    1. Merry Christmas greeting and express your authentic thankfulness for your support team.
    2. 3-5 bullet points of prayer requests.
    3. A percentage update of where you are at raising your finances.
    4. A gift-wrappy-Christmasy-wonderful-snowy graphic that is a clickable link to your organization’s giving website. (Make it pretty – I made this one in 5 minutes using Canva.comFrom the Montgomery family
  2. HAVE AS MANY FACE-TO-FACE APPOINTMENTS AS POSSIBLE and DON’T STOP SCHEDULING THEM NOW BECAUSE YOU THINK EVERYONE IS TOO BUSY. Are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for face-to-face appointments in the month of December? Let me tell you, experience has taught me that it is a GREAT time for face-to-face appointments. Don’t stop reaching out to connect with people over coffee and making the ask. Some tips:
    1. Pay for their coffee.
    2. Get a small gift for your potential financial partner and bring it to your appointment.
    3. Try and set up the appointment sooner than later. If they cant meet before the end of the year, put something in the calendar for January. Allow a couple of extra weeks to put something on the calendar.
    4. Make it about them when you meet as much as it is about you. Ask questions and get excited about who they are.
    5. Send a thank you card after you meet with everyone!
    6. If you cannot reach someone now, don’t sweat it. Try reaching out to them again in January.
  3.  SEND YOUR FINANCIAL PARTNERS CHRISTMAS CARDS / SMALL GIFTS. Now is a great time of year to express your thankfulness to your support team. Send a Christmas card with a handwritten note and include a small gift of thanks. It can go a long way in letting your financial partners know you care about them.
  4. CREATE A FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN IN DECEMBER. A well crafted, intentional, relational Facebook campaign can be helpful during this month of giving. Click here to find out more how to craft your own successful Facebook campaign.
  5. DUST OFF YOUR CONTACT LIST AND TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT IT. Now is a good time to go back to the beginning of your season of itineration. Dust off that old initial contact list and go through it with a fine comb. As you comb through it create a new list of those you were not able to get ahold of, those who have committed to give but haven’t started yet, and those you never asked because you got too scared (whhaaatt you say?! How did she know that?!), and those that you just simply have yet to ask. Take that list and get back to contacting them about joining your team. BONUS POINTS: As you go through your list text / email / Facebook message those that are highlighted to you and just say hi.

I hope you find these helpful. Whatever you end up doing for your end of the year strategy, make it as relational as possible.

Also, MERRY CHRISTMASTIME! I pray it is an amazing time of fellowship and family for you.

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