This post was written originally in August 2018. But it was definitely worth a repost as a helpful little list of 9 things to do when entering back into a season of raising support. So if you are a worker who is reentering a season of raising support – this is for you! I hope you find it helpful! – JF
Recently, I attended a conference where I met with numerous workers who have lived off of support for a long time. Some of them had been in their assignments for over 15 years! Most of the workers I connected with are coming back home to enter into itineration and wanted some advice on how to best navigate a new successful season of support raising.
I found in my conversations that I was encouraging these workers to do several strategic things beforethey came back home, and I thought it would be helpful to share those ideas here. So, if you are already in your assignment and are gearing up for another season of raising up your team – this is for you! If you haven’t raised your support and haven’t made it to your assignment, tuck this post away for the future you! I hope these give you great ideas of where to start before you land back home. – JF
I hope this gave you some helpful ideas! Below are some links with further information.
Remember SnapChat? Yeah, me neither. What’s the point of TikTok? You could probably ask your 9 year old. Who is MrBeast? Well, he’s rich…I basically only know enough to tell you that. I get it guys. Even if you are a techy millennial with a Tumblr (is that old now?), it’s hard to keep up with all of the change on the internet. And to know how to best utilize it for support raising – well that’s something in and of its self. That being said, here are 5 important tips that I hope will expand your knowledge on how to use social media for support raising.
1. Have a Social Media Presence, and Start with Facebook
Many people start by asking if having a social media presence for their ministry matters. Is having a presence really that beneficial?
If you are looking where to start utilizing social media, look no further than social media’s giant bohemith: Facebook! Love it or hate it, Facebook is the most used social media platform in the world. Therefore, if you do not have a Facebook presence dedicated to your ministry you are probably missing a great opportunity to regularly communicate with the bulk of your partnership team.
What Type of Community Should I Create on Facebook?
Many people ask what type of community they should set up on Facebook. Most of the time the answer to that depends on what level of security you need. If you don’t know, consider connecting with your ministry’s leadership and think critically before proceeding. If you need tight security I suggest creating a “Private Group”, and then make sure thatthe privacy settings are changed to “Hidden”. Don’t skip this step! By hiding your privacy settings on Facebook your group isn’t searchable to someone not in the group – which is important.
If you are only mildly worried about security you may still want to use a Hidden Private Group (same instructions as above). And lastly, if you aren’t concerned with security/privacy at all (and you’ve carefully considered ramifications from being unconcerned) go for it on the Public setting. There are some marketing advantages in allowing your Facebook Group to be completely visible if your security isn’t compromised by doing so. Also for people who aren’t concerned about security, there is the option to set up a Page instead of a Group. Though there are pros and cons on both sides of Group vs. Page, my personal preference is to set up a Group instead of a Page for partnership development purposes.
How To Add People To Your Facebook Group
When setting up a Group on Facebook my advice is not to start by adding everyone you’ve known since the 4th grade. If you add your 4th grade bestie along with 3,000 of your closest friends before talking with them personally, they will likely have no idea what you are doing, may get a little annoyed at notifications, and ultimately not know what the group is for (or for that matter that they are even in it). That all leads to low engagement. Instead, take what I call the slow burn approach – as you add people to your partnership team, also add them to your Group. By doing it this way you build buy-in and potentially increase interaction within the group.
2. Using Other Social Media Platforms Such as Instagram or TikTok
Should you create a TikTok or Instagram (IG) dedicated to ministry?
The answer to this one relies on your capacity. If you have the bandwidth to maintain another platform with excellence, go for it. Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube are currently some of the most widely used apps (with Facebook towering over them at #1) in the world. Consider adding these to your social media strategy if:
You already use these apps for your personal usage
You feel like you’ll be able to maintain a ministry account with excellence
You regularly maintain your Facebook Group
You maintain other communication requirements within your sending agency such as your newsletter
If you feel like you’ll be stretching yourself too thin to maintain another social media platform – skip it altogether and focus on maintaining your Facebook Group and regular newsletters with excellence.
3. Content for Social Media and Frequency
Many people ask me what should they be posting on their social media accounts. For content creation, here are some ideas:
Project progress (include pictures)
Random facts on your ministry
Day in a life of a worker (this could be short segments on Facebook Stories / Instagram Stories or TikTok)
Tidbits of knowledge relevant to your ministry
Funny moments (TikTok or Reels on IG are great for this)
Value adds such as book give aways or gift card give aways
General ministry activity updates.
If you are stuck on what to post on social media, try doing some research. Are there other other workers in your organization utilizing social media and doing it well? Consider following their ministry accounts and pay attention to what they are posting. What is their engagement with each post? What did they post that you could recreate?
As far as frequency of posting on your Facebook ministry Group / Page, my suggestion is once or twice a week. Any more than that and Group members may feel spammed with notifications, any less and they may forget about you.
4. Social Media DON’TS
Don’t promote your personal political views on your ministry group / account.
Don’t get negative. All of your posts should stay positive! Check for negative vs. positive tone in every post.
Don’t talk about how support raising is hard. Ever.
Don’t share vacation-like photos or videos on the regular. Your team wants to see you working hard, not reminders of your cool life or destinations while they sit at their cubicle. Stay ministry active!
Don’t overshare about your personal life in your content.
Don’t start a social media ministry account and stop maintaining it.
5. Social Media Does Not Replace Face to Face
Whenever possible, ask individuals to join your team in person and NOT on social media. (**The only exception to this is when launching a Facebook Campaign.)
In the last 5-10 years ministry organizations have done a lot to educate workers on the benefits of having a social media presence. If you have gone through training with your organization, chances are you have had at least some type of short seminar on social media. With all that emphasis it’s easy to believe that social media is the end-all-be-all of support raising. And while it’s important to add it to your communication strategy and strive to maintain it with excellence – it should never replace face to face asks.
While utilizing social media keep in mind it is easy to accidentally give too much information particularly in direct messages (DMs) on social media. Take care not to give so much information that it comes across as though you are asking someone to support you in a DM!
Think through your branding pieces such as your vision statement, tagline, professional photos, color pallets, etc before creating your social media groups and accounts.
I hope these 5 tips help you in utilizing social media for your ministry! As I close – just a little quick warning — all of this may have completely changed within a year and all the Facebook cute cat videos may be completely gone. Therefore, if you’re reading this a year or two after the original post date – read between the changes. Happy interneting!
This post was written for Exago Ministries. You can also find the post on their awesome new blog. Check it out.
I used to be terrified to speak in public. Knotty stomach, raised pulse, sweating, and no sleeping the night before. Growing up I avoided any classes that had me speaking in front of the class. I cannot count how many times I ran in the opposite direction if there was even a hint of me having to be in front of a group.
Now, surprisingly, I’m mostly over it. Why the dramatic change? Practice. A lot of practice. I have been blessed with leadership over the years that encouraged me as well as provided no-way-out situations speaking to groups. (I hated them for it then, love them for it now) As for my personal skill level, I cannot say I have arrived exactly where I want to be; but I have come a long way and am proud of where I am today.
A lot of missionaries and those in ministry are plagued by fear of public speaking. Many missionaries are not afraid of public speaking, but have a long way to go to refine the art of giving a impactful message or 5 Minute Window at a church service. Whether you are starting off with cold sweats just thinking about public speaking, a boarder-line professional, or somewhere in between – I hope this simple info-graphic helps. Here are a couple of additional notes for some of the steps above:
STEP 4 VISUALS: If you are having a hard time describing where you are you are going overseas, a job you are doing, etc. use something visual to illustrate it! Also, if you are a missionary or traveling minister speaking at a church, set up a table in the back but don’t let it be boring. Create ways for people to comfortably interact with you after the service.
Some examples: (1) Create a alphabet in the language of the country you are going to so those stopping by your table can spell their names (and children’s names) in your country’s alphabet. (2) Have a video about your ministry continuously playing on a laptop or tablet. (3) Have something small available that represents your ministry.
STEP 9 THE ATTENTION GRABBER: After providing a brief introduction of yourself (and your family if you have one), you need an attention grabber. Use one of the following to grab people’s attention from the very beginning:
Share a short personal story. “I’d like to begin by telling you a story about Anna, a 5 year old girl I befriended in Spain.”
Ask a group question or do a quick group survey. “Raise your hand if you have any idea where Qatar is on a map?” (then show the map later on the slide). “What do you think of when you hear the word “poor”? You shouldn’t be receiving actual answers, only developing a story / idea and involving the congregation.
A thought-provoking statement. Impressive to everyone (not just you). “Did you know that in Africa 1 out of every 10 people are _______” This of course needs to relate to what you are doing and why you are speaking with the group.
STEP 10 ESTABLISH A NEED: After you have their undivided attention, you must establish need. You can do this in multiple ways. Here are two suggestions that you can effectively establish need:
1. Share statistics and data. Appeal to the congregations logic and reasoning. Don’t overdo the stats — it’s easy to do.
2. Share stories, pictures, or videos. Appeal to the listener’s emotions with these. (If you shared a story for your attention grabber; a good idea is to come back to some aspect of the story, develop it more, and thread it throughout your presentation.)
One last word on public speaking: you will get better at it! Practice makes perfect, and the more you speak in front of groups the better you will become.
Are there any tips you have? Add them in the comments!
When talking about support raising, I try whenever possible to stay away from the words “fundraising” and “donor“when describing support raising as a ministry worker. Instead I use the phrases “partnership development” and “financial partner“.
Why you ask? The nuance lies within the overall perspective of raising one’s budget.
The word “donor” denotes someone who gives blood, gives one time, or is involved in a limited transaction. “Fundraising” denotes car washes, bake sales, golf tournaments, and transactional events. Right? Right. Of course fundraising and donors are in and of themselves not bad. OF COURSE. However, neither indicate an ongoing relationship between the giver and the organization or ministry. If our perspective of raising funds leads us to believe all we are doing is fundraising, it is likely we will struggle raising our support because what we are doing is truly more than fundraising. Simply put: we do more than fundraise. We invite people to partner with us in ministry.
Conversely, partnership is defined as this: “two separate but equal parties, with separate but equal responsibility, working together to achieve a common goal.”
I like that definition much more as it encapsulates a what a healthy perspective while raising a budget looks like. It clarifies that the one sending is vital to the ministry instead of merely standing on the sidelines. The word partnership keeps us mindful that we are to be good stewards of our resources as Christians, and stewards of our calling to the Great Commission – whether that looks like going or sending. “Partnership” says WE ARE DOING THIS TOGETHER.
Experience has shown me that ministry workers who know the difference (in their hearts and attitude) between “fundraising” and “partnership” are those that succeed in raising their financial partnership teams. And FYI, success looks different than just getting to 100% and getting to the field fully funded. Again, think perspective — getting to 100% is only part of it.
Success in partnership development looks like fulfillment, retention in partnerships, healthy mindsets, healthy relationships, joy, actual enjoyment in the process, and getting to one’s field in ministry fully supported.
The opposite of success is strained relationships, procrastination, anxiety, 80% raised budgets being “good enough”, and low attrition in partnerships.
I believe that success in partnership development is 90% perspective.
“If our perspective of raising our funds leads us to believe all we are doing is fundraising, it is likely we will struggle raising our support because what we are doing is truly more than fundraising. Simply put: we do more than fundraise. We invite people to partner with us in ministry.”
Those that are successful hold Paul’s perspective when he says “Not that I desire your gift, what I desire is that more be credited to your account.” Philipians 4:17
Successful partnership development knows those that join your team are a vital and dynamic part of your ministry. Partner relationships become important, growing, and vibrant instead of obligations and burdens.
I challenge you to take a look at your perspective in partnership development. Is it a fundraising perspective, or one of partnership? Why is it important to see it differently than fundraising? What’s the difference?
You may not immediately see the difference, but as you work to find out what a biblical perspective of financial partnership looks like, it’s likely you’ll find it much more enjoyable and doable. Perspective leads to attitude, which determines action. You will do what you believe. Try and shift to a healthy perspective on partnership development. Having a wrong perspective may hinder you staying in full-time ministry long term, and can lead to stress every time itineration season rolls around again. Let’s not do that. Let’s do successful partnership development that leads to vibrant 100% funded ministry and healthy engaged partnerships. – JF
Spoiler: this post is older. I wrote it in 2018. But I think it still holds up and it’s an important topic. Thus, here it is again for those who missed it or need the reminder. Also, here are some other blog posts that may be helpful as you grapple with your own perspective on support raising.
Raising Support: Just A Necessary Evil?
5 Support Raising Lessons from the Widows Olive Oil
The Secret Ingredient to Successful Support Raising
A Canonized Thank You Note
Don’t Just Fundraise, Multiply Yourselves
Setting Your Focus from Support Raising Solutions Blog
TEXTING STILL ISN’T THE BEST WAY TO ASK FOR AN APPOINTMENT…BUT
I’m writing this post for a specific person. It may not be you, and that’s a-okay. This document is not for you if you are having success asking for face to face appointments via phone. I will always maintain that asking for an appointment via phone is far greater than asking via text message as it promotes relationship, and any time the word “finances” is read in a text it comes across like a billboard, generally drawing people away from responding. I stand by that thought and still agree with it. (read the link for more info!) Thus, if you are calling on the phone – pat yourself on the back and let me give you a high five from the internet. You don’t necessarily need to read any further.
This post is for you if you are the person who is probably going to go ahead and text asking for an appointment anyway, even though your support raising coach and training has said it is 100% best to phone call and ask for face to face appointments. It is for you too if you are texting someone as a one off and don’t want to botch it, which I completely get.
That being said, I want to be clear that this post is not to condone texting for an appointment as the normal go-to, but knowing it will happen, at least if you text first you have examples of how to best word it. Okay! All that being said, let’s get into some samples. Well, in a minute.
WARNING LABEL TO THE SAMPLE TEXTS FIRST
First off, an important distinction to be made here – THESE ARE TEXT MESSAGES…NOT social media direct messages (DMs). Yes, there is a difference and yes, it does matter.
DMs are never going to be as warm as a text message and 1,000% less warm than a phone call. (Pause here and think back to any times you have had people solicit you on FB Messenger en mass for donations. If you have ever had that done to you, you know it’s definitely not relational.) If you don’t have someone’s phone number, DM and ask them for their contact info, but don’t DM any of these samples below.
***Here’s a sample asking for number and contact information on DM:
“Hi Christy! Hey, how is Adam doing?? Heard he had a tough fall and have been keeping him in my prayers. I hope he is on the mend. Wanted to ask — could I get your contact info? Phone number, Email address, and mailing address? Zach and I are about to embark on a ministry journey and grabbing contact information. Thanks Christy.”
Don’t give too much information when sending a text message asking for a face to face appointment. Try to be as brief as possible while still giving needed information. Remember, you are asking for a face to face appointment (or in times of Coronavirus a Zoom appointment), not for them to join your team. You do not want to make an ask in written form or have your face to face meeting over text. Save the details for the appointment. It’s easy to make this mistake and not realize you are doing it, and then all of the sudden you are asking someone for financial partnership in a text. OOOPS. (that’s not a good thing)
It’s important to realize that there is a hierarchy of relationship when it comes to asking for appointments. Doing so over the phone or even in person is much warmer and relational than in a text. If you’re struggling with how to ask for an appointment – move down this list and start as high as you can!
Hierarchy of warmth and relationship in asking for Face to Face Appointments:
Phone call / Phone call + invitation letter first == these options are always best!
Invitation letter + Text message
TEXT SAMPLE 1:
“Hey Pete! Do you have time for a quick 2-3 minute phone call?”
(**Always my preferred option for a text message. Use the text to lead to the phone call. If they don’t answer you in a text, you still have the ability to call them later that evening or even the next day – just don’t wait too long. You can also try texting again.)
TEXT SAMPLE 2: (*No invitation letter prior)
“Hey Taylor. Beau turned 1 years old?!?! WWHUUTT? The nerve of babies to grow. UGH. And how does time fly? Please answer life’s mysteries for me Taylor. I believe in you. 🙃
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Zach and I are heading to Estonia to be workers with Assemblies of God World Missions. We are pumped. If you have no idea what I’m talking about: HA! 🤗 I would like to fill you in!!
I’m reaching out because you recently came to mind. We are working on building up our financial and prayer partnership team and have to get to 100% before we can go to Estonia. I know you have been a major influence in my life and would love to connect about joining some aspect of our partnership team.
Could we A. Zoom this week or next? (I’ll order us some Panera treats or Grub Hub while we meet if it works!) B. Grab coffee outside this week or next? C. Masks and coffee inside this week?
Let me know what you think one way or another. Importantly, I want you to know that there’s no pressure. Except for you to solve life’s mysteries Tay. That I EXPECT. Love you, your friendship, and that darling 1 YEAR OLD.
TEXT SAMPLE 3: (*Invitation letter prior)
“Hi Rosie! I have been praying for you & Fred as you are recovering. My mom said you texted yesterday that you guys are on the mend- praise the Lord!💓 When you are feeling better, Zach and I would love to safely meet and share with you guys about our burden for Estonia, as well as invite you to partner with us, whether that be through prayer or finances. We are here until January 4th, so you just let me know when would be best. Much love to you guys!!❤️❤️”
TEXT SAMPLE 4: (*Invitation letter prior)
“Hey Ron and Kathie. This is Jenn Fortner. How are you all? Been thinking of you and of course Dustin recovering from COVID. I’ve been saying prayers since last time we spoke — How has he been since recovery?
Would you be able to schedule a time to safely meet this week or next? Let me know if you are available and what works best for you, we are pretty flexible. We would love to connect, hear about how you all are doing, and share a bit more about what we are doing in ministry and see if it fits for you to join some aspect of our partnership team.
Thanks guys. Most important note: Just want you to know we love you, your friendship, and praying that Dustin is well.”
*some of these samples are written during COVID, so take “safely meet” etc out of equation once things go back to normal.
**One of these sample texts mentions “no pressure”. I left this phrase in because that can be helpful in some circumstances. I personally wouldn’t over-use anything that completely gets them out of considering financial support as an important option. I hear phrases from workers all the time like “prayer is more important” or saying during an appointment “consider support and pray about it” or “if you don’t want to it’s no big deal” — which are misleading statements and not always helpful. True, prayer is important but the best prayer partner is typically the one who is giving (Matthew 6:21). True you want someone to consider partnering but don’t throw that phrase into an appointment when now is the time to make the big ask, and they have been prompted to consider prior to your appointment. And finally, plainly said it’s not true that if they don’t want to support it’s not a big deal — even though we should hold yeses and no’s loosely in our hearts — it is a big deal if they join your team! Think through these phrases giving people outs carefully, and don’t overuse them.
I’m excited to share this wonderful tutorial on How to Make Prayer Cards on Vistaprint. I didn’t make it, a friend of mine in ministry at a sensitive location did. I’d tell you her name, but I can’t, so we will just call her “Designer Debbie”. What I can say is please use this link if you end up using Vistaprint to make your Prayer Card. By using it you will give Designer Debbie discounted materials for future use! WIN WIN http://reward.vistaprint.com/go.axd?ref=TBNJM5
My girl DD is also a really great designer and makes Prayer Cards along with other promotional materials (case documents, connect cards, etc.), so if you want to skip the DIY – contact me and I can get you in touch with her.
So what is a Prayer Card? Think of it as a business card for ministry. Typically they are small, display your tagline, picture, ministry, and contact information. They are helpful for giving out at events, face to face meetings, short conversations, etc. and provide the recipient a quick glance at your ministry and way to keep your contact information. Often these go on refrigerators as prayer reminders, go in invitation letters, thank you cards, pastor packets, and the like. Read along to find out more on how to make your own! Thanks Designer Debbie!
Ghosting! It’s October so let’s talk about it now for obvious reasons.
You all know the scenario, chances are you’ve been there…
You reach out to a friend via phone and try to set up an appointment. No answer. You text them and ask if they have time for a quick phone call. Nope, nothing. Then you call again and leave a voicemail. Crickets. Then the process gets a little weird because you call again a couple of days later and still: NADA. Maybe you send another text several weeks after beginning the process, but you don’t know what to say. So you send something but don’t love it, bite your nails and then…na that wasn’t them that texted back…it was just MORE CRICKETS. And you’re wondering…did I just damage a relationship? What if I see them at Target? Do they shop at that one? Maybe I’ll drive to the one on the other side of town that’s farther away from their house. AWKWARD.
So what do we do with this whole ghosting MONSTER lurking under the bed? How do we appropriately handle the FEAR that rejection is happening before our eyes? I’ve got some ideas to combat the SCARY scenarios. Don’t SCREAM, let’s dive in (and okay, I’ll stop using the puns). There are 3 main things to keep in mind when you think you are being ghosted – let’s talk about them.
1. Don’t Jump to Conclusions
When you feel you are being ghosted don’t jump to conclusions. People are busy with their own lives, and your top priority is almost always NOT their top priority. They’ve got their own world swirling around them, so recognize that we have to meet people where they are at and contacting you back may not be at the top of their list. Don’t jump to the conclusion that if they aren’t Johny-On-The-Spot with getting back to you it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. It could mean a variety of things such as one or some of the following:
they are bad with returning phone calls / messages / insert media you used
they are busy
it’s a hard week
it’s a hard year. ahem… it is 2020.
they are out of town / country
they intend to but just haven’t gotten there yet
they are distracted
their phone broke?
they have a new number
they are potty training their toddler and are laser focused unto getting rid of cloth diapers for ever and ever amen (wait… just me?!)
Thus before making the conclusion you are being ghosted, here are ask some important questions of yourself. If you answer “no” to any of these things – then try that thing before jumping to conclusions:
Am I using the right contact method to reach them? Have I tried multiple ways to get in touch?
Are they actually receiving my phone call / message?
Have I tried enough times over a period of time, and given them long enough to respond?
Have they already expressed interest in giving but have had trouble responding recently?
2. The Final Contact
If you have have sufficiently tried to reach out to someone but are getting no response (see list above) then you may consider making The Final Contact. The Final Contact essentially is communication that attempts to honor the relationship when someone isn’t responding, and lets that person know you will not be contacting them again about support. Now, that being said I have some pretty strong thoughts about The Final Contact and how it works / doesn’t work that I need to share before proceeding further:
Consider all of the questions above carefully before doing The Final Contact.
If a Final Contact is given too early you run the risk of offending cherished relationships.
If you move to the Final Contact too early you also run the risk of no support from them.
It’s likely that after you make The Final Contact, you will hear from the person who has ghosted you. It happens often.
In wording your Final Contact, keep the door open a smidge that you may have a future assignment / time you raise support, and perhaps you will reach out again in the future (see example below – this doesn’t need to be emphasized, just accommodated for).
You don’t make The Final Contact if someone has answered your calls and methods of communication, only if they don’t (unless it’s a nuanced situation). Don’t make The Final Contact you’re out for any circumstance that gets awkward that you don’t want to follow up on. No no.
So HUGE WARNING HERE: Don’t do it too early. However, well timed Final Contacts can help in putting the relationship in good standing. So what does a good Final Contact look like? This example of a Final Contact is written by my friend Grant Hoel who is a support raising coach and in full time ministry with Chi Alpha.
“Hi [Name], I hope everything is going well for you. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you recently to share about my upcoming ministry assignment to [City or Country] but I have been having trouble. It is possible that this is not the best method of communication for you or that you’ve been extremely busy and unable to get back to me. Or maybe you’re just not interested, and that’s okay. In any case, I wanted to let you know that this will be my last attempt to reach you in regards to this assignment. Also know that I really value your friendship and would love to catch up or hear how I can be praying for you at any time. If you are interested in talking about the ministry and how you could be involved, feel free to give me a call: (555) 555-5555. Either way, I look forward to catching up the next time I see you. Have a great week and God Bless.“
Some thoughts straight from Grant on what a well-crafted Final Contact does:
It provides the person the most charitable excuse for not returning your call.
“I know you’re probably super busy…”
“I understand that now may not be the best time for you…”
“You may not be able to give right now…” “And that’s OK!”
Let’s them know that you will not be contacting them regarding support/financial partnership for this assignment. You won’t bring it up unless they initiate it.
“So I just want to let you know that I won’t be contacting you again about this unless you bring it up. If I’m wrong and you just haven’t been able to get back to me, just give me a call and we’ll pick up the conversation from there.”
Affirms your relationship with them.
“I just want you to know that I absolutely appreciate your friendship…”
“Let me know if there is anything I can do for you or any way to pray for you…”
“I look forward to the next time we get to see each other…”
I get it, it can be SCARY to reach out to friends and family for support, and when that friend ghosts you in the process, it doesn’t feel good. But I think alongside having the Final Contact in our pocket, remembering that we are all called to the Great Commission as either goers or senders is one of the most important things to remember in the midst of asking for finances. Asking someone for financial support is okay and it’s even biblical. (If you doubt that to be true, here are some verses to check out) Also, what you are doing is downright cool and inspiring. Seriously. You don’t have to be ashamed about telling people about Jesus and you certainly aren’t the only one since the days of Moses who raised finances to do it. You can be bold. You can be confident (and it actually helps). You don’t have to apologize for following God’s path, and you actually get to be an inspiration for those you connect with to follow their own paths with God! He’s actually the one that set it up for the christian worker to live off of support. If someone doesn’t join maybe someone else is supposed to. I can be as simple as that, if you let it be.
It’s hard to know what to do when a person isn’t responding to you, I hope some of these thoughts help in the process. Below is a song to help inspire you. As Grant put it to me when explaining his process on The Final Contact “Now may you confidently and effectively raise the funds you need to do the work in which God has called you. May you have even deeper and more meaningful relationships as a result of your support raising efforts.” – JF
We are well into the final quarter of 2020, which for most has been a very difficult year. But before we say bye-bye to Blursday 2020, we have what are statistically speaking the two best giving months of the year – November and December. That’s right folks…Put it on your to-do list! It’s time to start thinking about your Year End Giving Strategy and I’ve got 8 ideas with a lot of detail to help you think through yours!
I say this every year – but around 30% of ALL GIVING in the United States occurs in the month of December. 12-13% of giving occurs in the last three days of the year. And maybe you aren’t singing jingle bells just yet but here are some things to think about ahead of time to get your strategy in place NOW.
In September, October, and early November, it’s great to LASER FOCUS one’s efforts on face to face appointments. If you can, kick it into overdrive and set goals for more appointments and initial contacts than usual! Why? Well, though we have yet to see what the fall of 2020 is going to do in the midst of the pandemic, typically speaking it’s one of the easiest times of year to schedule appointments. Summer is over and people are into routine, school is back, people are checking their calendars and not overwhelmed with plans. Scheduilng appointments this year needs to incorporate a question of what an individual is comfortable with as far as meeting. And as we approach the colder months of the year it’s possible that meeting safely outside is not an option for people who are being cautious, thus Zoom would become the place to be! That’s GREAT. Don’t hold off on meeting with someone because it’s on Zoom. Go ahead and Zoom the night away. Okay? Okay.
Toward the holidays there are additional touches you can create to show your existing team you care as well as generate some excitement and cash gifts. After Thanksgiving, let things shift a bit from business as usual.
Build out your Year End Giving Strategy BEFORE Thanksgiving. Think it through and start working on it in October. If you let it slide until after Thanksgiving, you’ll most likely miss out on some strategic opportunities due to poor planning.
Typically speaking (2020 is not typical), September and October are also excellent months of the year to reach out to churches. If churches are scheduling for their services whether streaming or live – churches typically schedule services months in advance so calling in September or October may get you service in January or February 2021. If you wait to reach out to a pastor/church until November or December, you may get radio silence until January due to the church’s busy holiday schedule. Here are some additional thoughts on reaching out to churches in the midst of the weird pandemic space they are in right now.
Consider creating a specific goal for all of your Year End Giving and try a multichannel approach that all work together to support that specific goal. Maybe you want to raise $3,000 for your language learning costs, get $200 in new monthly support, or reach 75% funded. Just make sure it is reasonable and attainable.
With all of that being said, here’s a break down on some specific ideas for your Year End Giving strategy.
1. FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A
The main content of a FB Live Q&A should be comprised of giveaways, trivia and information on your assignment, and questions from the audience. Make it simple and fun, and promote it however you can before hand. Consider doing one somewhere towards the beginning-ish of November. Here are some thoughts on a Facebook Live from a worker who did one last year:
REFLECTIONS ON A FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A:
“I used my iPhone because it has a better camera than my chrome book. If your laptop has a good camera though, I’d recommend using that because I think it’s easier to the comments that come in. I basically had my computer off to the side reading comments from there. Also FYI if you start the live on your phone vertically you have to keep it that way-it won’t switch over if you turn your phone. I’d recommend starting horizontal.”
“I did giveaways of books. They were just what I had on hand as I thought of giveaways last minute. I had a prayer book for XX as well as some of the books from my ministry.”
“My trivia was how I did the giveaways. Some was about me and my testimony and others were about the country.”
“I announced it a couple days ahead of time, and went Live the day before just for a few minutes to make sure everything worked well. You can also practice going Live on your own feed by setting your security settings to “only me”. I did that just to set up the lighting, and to make sure my background was not too distracting. I also think it would be helpful, if you had somebody reading the comments to you. As a single gal, I was wishing that I had asked somebody to do that for me in the midst of it. Also, my parents had come up with quite a few questions that I had on hand just in case people were not engaging, or the questions lagged for a minute.”
Facebook Lives is a fun way for people to hear more about your assignment, get information, build up some hype. Think of them more as a space to get people interested or hear more, but not for asks. I think it’s fine during a Facebook Live to mention you are raising up a team of supporters and to tell them to please DM or comment if interested in joining some aspect of your team, provide the giving information needed, etc. It may also be a great way to kick off or end a Facebook Campaign– but typically Lives are not the place to push direct asks.
Pro tip 1: This also could be an Instagram Live if that’s a pretty robust space for you and your followers.
Pro tip 2: There are ways to go Live without ruining any security risks. Think through ways to keep things safe such as using your closed group only to host the Live, or use a safe account. Whatever you do make sure to touch base with your leadership to follow protocols.
2. GIVING TUESDAY
Giving Tuesday, which occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a day for non-profits and others raising funds to solicit donations. It is a GREAT DAY to post something online asking friends and family to give. Giving Tuesday donations has risen 143% in the last 7 years.
The example below is from a family who was going to a sensitive location. For Giving Tuesday they set a specific goal of $1,000 to go to pre-school and language learning. They promoted throughout the day (and prior!) by posting multiple times it on their Secret Facebook Group, which was comprised of people who were already a part of their team either in prayer and/or finances. They also created a post prior to Giving Tuesday on their regular Facebook page, asking if anyone was interested in hearing more about their journey. Then they added those interested parties to their Secret Facebook Group so that they could see the posts. BRILLIANT.
Do you want to know if they made their goal? Screen shots of their posts and progress are below. For security purposes I am not sharing the totality of their ADORABLE video, however, I did write down their script and have it below. It’s a great example of how you can raise over $1,000 in cash in ONE SINGLE DAY with a little bit of effort and excitement. By the way, the Smiths were EXCELLENT at face to face appointments and had a solid team in place by the time Giving Tuesday came. You may think Giving Tuesday wouldn’t work for an already established team…but see below for the results!
VIDEO SCREEN SHOTS:
Jason: “Hi guys, we are the Smith family. This is baby Justin, my wife Sara, and I’m Jason. Justin just turned 1 year old yesterday (all: YAY!) We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!”
Sara: “After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday if there is anything left in your bank account today is what is called “Giving Tuesday”. It’s an opportunity to bless people who are in the process of raising money. Many of you know that we are moving to X in the spring and we have been in the process of raising our monthly budget. But we also have to raise a cash budget up front. We are asking our friends and family on Facebook to consider giving us a cash gift of $25. Our goal is to raise $500 for Justin’s school and $500 for our language learning training for a total of $1,000 in just 1 DAY! You can give towards Justin’s school which will give him the opportunity to learn language, learn the culture, and make friends. Or today you could choose to give to our language training which will give us the opportunity to learn X and connect with people in their language.”
Jason: “Now it’s super easy to give, all you have to do is click the link and it will take you straight to the page where you can give. Then if you would send us a Facebook Message telling us which of these two things you gave towards – that way we can keep a running tally. Otherwise we won’t know for a couple of days, and that’s way less exciting.”
Sara: “Thank you friends for your generosity we appreciate you more than words can say.”
Both: “Happy Giving Tuesday!”
*funny bloopers with Justin and family at the end
*graphics displayed on video about link with arrows, Giving Tuesday, and Thank You.
*fun music in the background – light and airy.
3. NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER
Send out a regular newsletter at the beginning of November, even if you have done one recently.
Keep it to 1 page – be brief.
Keep it ministry focused with specific stories.
Use it to promote any Facebook Live or Giving Tuesday efforts you will be doing.
Say a very hearty thank you!
Don’t do any asks on this newsletter.
4. CHRISTMAS CARD / YEAR END LETTER
Do Christmas cards along with a year end letter sometime before December 31st (think about sticking it in the mail the day after Thanksgiving). I think it’s a good idea in some circumstances (see below for more on this) to bundle these two and stick them in the mail together, the card of course being Christmasy with the year end letter inside. Send these out to your existing financial and prayer partner list.
Include the following components:
Merry Christmas greeting.
Express your authentic thankfulness for your support team. Emphasize and focus your letter on the impact your partners are having.
Percentage update of where you are at raising your funds.
A gift-wrappy-Christmasy-wonderful-snowy graphic that has your organization’s giving website / ways to give. (Make it pretty – I made the one to the right in 5 minutes using Canva.com)
An actual ask in the letter for finances (yep, this is the only time of year I say go for it on a letter!). Consider making it about one story of a life changed or need.
Try to stay away from “I” language and use “we” language instead. Example: “I need $500 more in monthly support” to “In order to keep this ministry to the United School in South Africa and impact people like Miles, we are looking for $500 more in monthly support.” Answer the question “What difference will this make in someone’s life?”
Do a nice handwritten PS.
Tips for year end letter:
Switch this up from a regular newsletter. Use a slightly different template than a regular newsletter and make it more like a letter.
Don’t send an ask year end letter to anyone who recently started giving, just gave one time recently, or just increased their giving. (probably within the past 6 months). Just send them Christmas cards instead. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many asks.
Consider creating a different version of your year end letter to those who haven’t started giving yet or didn’t give when asked. Change particulars as needed for the audience.
Perhaps for people who have said that they can’t give- give them a soft opportunity to give. Change the thankfulness for being on your support team and instead thank them for their prayers and involvement in your life.
For those you haven’t yet met with, change the particulars to reflect your desire to meet with them soon and thank them for the involvement in your life. You may want to include a soft ask but not as bold as to those you send it to who you’ve already met with.
Snail mail your year end letter.
Keep it to 1 page make it look really nice!
5. FACE TO FACE NOW!
In November and December are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for F2F appointments? Yeah, don’t do that. Sure, time for interaction may level off the weeks of holidays but experience has taught me that it can also be a GREAT time for face-to-face (I use face-to-face arbitrarily – that could mean virtually) appointments; particularly if you are in from out of town and catching up with family members or old friends! Are we going to be meeting with our families this year?! Who knows! But don’t stop reaching out to connect with people and making the ask. Some tips:
Try and ask them for a F2F early. Give them a couple of extra weeks to put it in their calendar.
Get a small gift for your potential financial partner and bring it to your appointment.
Make it about them when you meet as much as it is about you. Ask questions and get excited about who they are. Don’t let your appointment become a monologue.
Send a thank you card within 48 hours after you meet – regardless of responses!
If you cannot reach someone toward the holidays, don’t sweat it. Try reaching out to them again in January.
Pay for their coffee if you meet in person.
6. SMALL GIFTS
Send your members of your partnership team small gifts. December is a great time of year to express your thankfulness to your support team. Go above and beyond that newsletter!
7. FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN
A well crafted, intentional, relational Facebook Campaign can be helpful during these months of giving. Consider creating a Facebook Campaign in October, November, or December if you haven’t already done one recently. Keep in mind, this is advisable only if you have gotten far enough in your financial partnership (75-80%) to start one. Also, in general for Facebook Campaigns I think it’s best not to do one for the end of the year if you already plan on doing Giving Tuesday and a Facebook Live Q&A. Try to pick between Giving Tuesday posts + a Facebook Live Q&A, or doing a Facebook Campaign. It’s best to NOT do all a couple of weeks apart so that you don’t over saturate your social media audience.
8. EMAIL AFTER CHRISTMAS
Send out an email on December 29th or 30th. Include the following.
Greeting of Happy New Year for your partners
Remind them of your ministry as they execute their giving.
Use that christmasy-graphic and update it to be new-years-y with a clickable link on giving online.
Don’t include a formal ask. Just thank yous’ and the graphic on how to give online.
Stay consistent with your goals and shoot for a multi-channel approach. The secret sauce for creating a successful year end strategy is all about sequence. What does that mean? Essentially, sequence is you creating a goal and using that message/goal consistently to create a multi-channel integrated approach. Your goal should be consistent across any blogs or websites, social media, email, and written mail.
Have your strategy in place and communication pieces written BEFORE November.
Sequence maximizes the return on your effort and time investment. Stay consistent.
Try to get a hook when creating your goals. Maybe an image, theme, tagline, story.
Try to be eye-catching. Be compelling.
Less is more. The fewer words the better. Try to keep letters, etc. personal and short. Keep videos as short, fun, and informative as possible.
Don’t send a year end letter to anyone who just started giving, gave a special gift, or increased their giving in the last six months. Just send them a Christmas card.
Customize two different letters: one for on-going financial partners, one for non-givers.
In your wording, focus on the partner. Example: “There is hope, and that hope is you.” Talk about how your partners make the world better with their gift: “You gave 50 kids the gift of Jesus last year with your donation, and now you can do more.” The partner and the partnership between you becomes the hero of this story. Acknowledge their important role in your mission.
Get creative! These aren’t the only ways to utilize this season, just some ideas I’ve seen work very well.
Don’t let your partners only hear “asks” from you. Be sure you stay on top of personal communication. The routine newsletter that arrives in early November will be helpful – 1 page with pictures, ministry focused with specific stories. But get beyond that and reach out in micro relational ways to your team.
Here’s posts from a couple who did both a Facebook Live Q&A and Giving Tuesday:
Hey guys, I posted this 2 years ago and 5 years before that (with some changes of course), but I think this is one of the most important topics in the area of support raising there is and thus — here it is again! Easy ways to stay connected with your partners while you are busy in full time ministry! – JF
Here’s a statistic that Bill Dillon, a guru in the support raising world and author of People Raising, has that I think you’ll find potent:
For every 100 people that stop supporting you:
66% of people stop giving because they think you don’t care about them
15% are unhappy with your organization
15% transfer their giving somewhere else
4% move away or die
When I train missionaries on how to raise their support I tend to stay away from the word “fundraising” for many reasons, and when I really think about it — this statistic is at the heart of all of my reasons. Basically, No one wants to invest in something that yields no return. If an individual gives a worker monthly support and feels as though the worker could care less about their giving, they will likely go somewhere else with their giving dollars.
And in my opinion, they should.
Ouch! Why you ask? Because the reason donors are investing in the Great Commission is because they are called to be a vital part of the Great Commission too. And if they are called to be a part of the Great Commission, why should they be made to feel as though their “vital part” is on the sidelines and forgotten?
I believe that one reason we forget to invest in the relationships we have with our financial partners is because we forget (or perhaps don’t have the paradigm) that they are as vital to the work that we are doing as we (as ministers) are. That being said, many christian workers on financial support struggle in the area of continually connecting with their financial partners even if they have a high value for their relationships with them.
It makes sense. We are all busy. Ministers are typically very busy. I totally get it.
As much as I understand, I also believe it isn’t a valid excuse. There are so many easy ways to connect across continents in our world. As such, I would like to offer up 10 suggestions on how workers on financial support can continually, quickly, and easily connect with churches and individuals who financially invest in the kingdom work they are doing.
10 Ways to Connect
1. The Quarterly Newsletter
Here’s a no-brainer: Send your newsletters. You should do a minimum of four a year, but it’s probably better to do one every other month. Keep them short and talk way more about ministry than personal things. Include pictures of active ministry (no vacation spots). Here’s a great link from the Support Raising Solutions blog on creating great Newsletters.
2. Short Email or Letter
When you get on the field, pick 10-15 financial partners each month and email them a QUICK and SHORT personal hello/touch base. For example:
“Hi Sally, just wanted to touch base with you and see how you have been doing. You and Chuck are on our prayer list for this month and we are wondering if you have any updates or requests? Things here are going wonderful. We just finished with our building project and couldn’t be more excited to receive students this coming fall. There will be 10! We will definitely be busy with it but we are pumped! I am also really looking forward to getting back into teaching. Anyhow, hope you all are well and let us know how we can be in prayer for you.” – Jenn
See…how painful is that? It took me all of two minutes to write that… You may be saying, but what happens when they write back? If they do, take another minute of your day to promptly reply to those who responded to your email. If all 10 respond it will take you around 15-20 minutes to respond to everyone. Then, take the time to mention them in your prayers and follow up with that as you have time and God leads. Keep a simple notebook. Write them down. It will make all of the difference and mean so much to the people spending so much time praying for you.
Once you have gone through your 10-15 partners each month, circle back around your list. Put these on some sort of white board in your room or house to remind you, or put it into a calendar each month. Whatever you do, calendarize it in some way.
3. Postcards and Presents
Send small gifts or postcards to your financial partners. Tell them thank you for their continuing support.
I recently received a postcard from a friend vacationing in Costa Rica. That postcard remained on my fridge for 2 months for two reasons: (1) My friend thought of me from a far off destination and it made my day getting that postcard! (2) It was beautiful! Personally, I’m a sucker for a pretty print of any far off destination.
Small gifts do not have to cost much to mean a lot.
4. Stay Active on Social Media
If you don’t already have one, create a Facebook page. Create a secret group if you are going to a sensitive country. Stay active on it while you are on the field. Pictures, prayer updates, short videos, scripture verses, and praise reports are all fantastic. *If you are somewhere sensitive keep that in mind while posting and follow the rules of your organization.
Consider getting onto Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok as well! This is not for everyone, and typically I say to start with one social media outlet (probably Facebook) and do it well. However if you have the time and know-how try one or both of these. I love posting on Twitter and have a personal Instagram page as a creative outlet. Both have been effective in communicating with friends and helping me to network on a larger scale.
Another great thing to think about doing in your secret Facebook groups or if you have a ministry page is a Facebook Live. If you choose to do one before hand promote the time your event will be taking place, and take care to choose a time that works well for your financial partners. When you do a Facebook Live event, make it a guided Q&A and consider doing your Facebook Live in an interesting place. That Facebook Live will record as a video so anyone not able to make the time can view later!
Facebook message your financial partners or like their posts. Stay active on your personal page.
5. I’m Thinking Of You
Sometimes as I listen to audio sermons, worship sets, podcasts, or scriptures, I’ll check in with God and ask if He would like me to share any of those with my friends, family, or financial partners. If I feel prompted, I’ll send that sermon or verse to a friend on Facebook with a little message. These have to make sense and the sermons probably shouldn’t be overly convicting on major sins or anything. (Don’t imply that your friend has a problem). Use common sense. ie. Don’t send a message on tithing to a partner who hasn’t recently been giving.
6. The Church Letter or Video
Write a short letter to the churches that financially partner with you. Put a note in to the pastor to please read where he feels it appropriate to the congregation (small groups, prayer groups, Sunday school). If you don’t have time for a letter, create a quick video on your smart phone or computer and email it to the pastor. Ask the pastor to share that with his congregation or prayer group if possible.
When you come back home, hold an event in key areas where your financial partners are. During the event provide desserts and coffee. Share stories from the field, answer any questions, tell them about your future plans, and thank them, thank them, and thank them.
These events can be as elaborate or simple as you want to make them. I would of course error on the side of taking care of your important guests by providing refreshments and some sort of dessert or snack – these also provide an incentive for your guests to come.
Create connect cards for those interested in giving for the first time.
8. Face to Face
In addition to the church event, when you come home set up one-on-one coffee times with pastors and friends and family that have supported you. Thank them and catch up on their lives while you were gone. Be relational and intentional. Really, this shouldn’t be optional!
9. FaceTime / Skype Meetings
Are you spending some time on FaceTime or Skype with your far away family and friends? Why not pick 6-12 financial partners per year to Skype or FaceTime while on the field? This is particularly good practice with financial partners that are giving sizable amounts or with churches and small groups that are partnering financially. Give them a real-time live update on where and how you are. Take them into an actual ministry event via Skype or FaceTime on your phone if you can. They will be floored at your thoughtfulness and most likely continue to financially partner you throughout assignments to come.
10. Text them!
There are multiple programs available that will allow you to set up video and picture messaging while on the field. If you have a urgent prayer request, why not send a group text message out to your financial and prayer partners with a picture detailing your prayer need? If you have a praise report, send a text and allow them to celebrate with you (of course, keep in mind time zone differences so that you are not texting them at 2:00am)!
If you are a worker on financial support, I hope that these simple ideas to connect with your partnership base help you. Let’s remind our financial partners that they are important to us and to the Great Commission! Let’s keep our attrition rates up with our financial partners by spending just a little time letting them know that we care. Let’s value them! Let’s realize that they are vital part of what we do. Amen? Amen.
Do you want to set yourself apart from the crowd? (Shake your head and say yeeeesss) One great way to stand out is by creating quality appointment kits and pastor packets.
What’s the difference between the two? Let me explain briefly. Typically appointment kits are given out to an individual during a face to face appointment, though the use of them is not limited to that. The kit should be designed to give that financial partner what they need to start giving and further information on your ministry. Pastor’s packets are great for meetings with pastors, mailing prior to contacting a pastor/church, dropping off to a pastor/church, or made available for events and gatherings.
For the most part appointment kits and pastor packets have the same materials in them with a few exceptions (see below). Quality should be what you shoot for when creating the packets, whether those materials are made by professionals, yourself, or someone with a design background that wants to help.
During more normal, non-pandemic support raising times, having a great appointment kit and pastor packet is helpful in standing out and looking uber professional. During a pandemic I would almost call it crucial. Why? Well, several reasons, but particularly many in-person meetings and gatherings are being taken away as opportunities to connect with pastors and individuals. Situations pre-pandemic in which a worker would connect with pastors now may be happening virtually only or not happening at all. Pre-pandemic, a worker may have met with individuals at a church small group, and now that small group is happens virtually. Thus we need to be creative creating opportunities to share our stories.
For instance, take a denominational district gathering that happen virtually. What if you mailed out pastor packets to all of the pastors who “attended” the virtual gathering or sent it to a portion of the pastors whom you really enjoyed interacting with (depending on protocol within your organization for reaching out of course)? And the church small group that is now virtual: what if you mailed appointment kits out after (or prior) to meeting virtually?
So let’s start with pastor packets — here are some items I recommend to have in yours:
A nice envelope / folder to put everything into – something like these or these are just some examples
Any ministry pamphlets or print materials that are helpful from your specific organization / ministry
Your organization’s commitment or pledge / commitment forms (may not be needed in all circumstances)
**connect cards, Special note — you probably would not put these physically in the envelope / folder, but have ready to show the pastor if you plan on asking him/her if connect cards would be appropriate to use in his/her congregation
***videos of 1, 2, or 3 minute windows available for pastors who are doing online services only due to COVID-19, maybe on a thumb drive or not included in the actual packet — but given prior to giving pastor packet. here’s a link to further explanation see point #3b
For appointment kits, I recommend gathering some of the following components:
A nice envelope / folder to put everything into – something like these or these are just some examples
Any ministry pamphlets or print materials that are helpful from your specific organization / ministry
Giving Instructions: easily understood step by step instructions on how to give within your organization
Your organization’s commitment or pledge / commitment forms
Optional: Some type of visual/infographic on how much support you need to get to 100% – I call these LOG (Levels of Giving) charts (ie. 50 people at 50$, 15 people at 100$, 10 people at $150, 5 people at $200, etc.) Make it pretty!
Optional but nice: A small gift or token for those who commit to support and/or pray
Optional: fridge magnet so they can remember to pray for you.
Did you notice there are some items in the appointment kit that are not included in the pastor packet? Some reasoning for that is my preference for giving pastors less to sift through due to the lack of time they have. That being said, you may have something additional in your pastors packet because you’re likely brilliant and have thought of something genius I haven’t (if so tell me in the comments! I’m here for it!) — and I believe in most circumstances that is fine.
I hope this helps! If you have questions comment below. Lastly, see below for a pastor recommendation letter template to help create your own. You all are awesome! Keep going. – JF