Raising Support: Just A Necessary Evil?

Is raising your support just a means to an end or a necessary evil? Have you considered the implications of support raising from a big picture / macro standpoint? Let’s talk about it for a minute.

The difference between a missionary who raises their funds verses a missionary who is paid is simply that – one raises their financial support and the other is paid to minister. Right? Right. Typically missionaries who raise their financial support are the norm. However, there are a denominations / sending agencies such that pay their missionaries. Though being a paid missionary sounds awesome, as we found out late summer of 2015, this method of funding can have it’s own set of challenges and downfalls. 

If you think about it from a macro viewpoint,  a sending agency / denomination that pays its missionaries / workers by design is limiting the amount of missionaries it can send out to the nations. I don’t know this as hard fact, but I can surmise that there simply isn’t enough money divided up amongst all of the sending agencies in the world to pay enough missionaries to finish the task of the great commission. 

Hence God’s good idea — calling us all to be a part of the Great Commission. Yes, all of us. This is where the brilliance of God and raising support comes in. Throughout the Bible (the Levites, Elijah, Nehemiah, Jesus, Paul, the Apostles) you find examples of ministers being supported to do the work of ministry the Lord has given them. It doesn’t just start with modern missions, raising finances has been God’s design all along. I venture to say it is His idea not only because it works, but because we are all called to take part – either as goers or senders – as I mentioned above. Mark 16:15-16. 

Let’s talk about some major pros and cons from a macro (big picture) and micro (smaller picture – your perspective) standpoint of a missionary who lives off of support versus one that is paid.

Benefits of a Missionary Raising Support:  

  • Macro: Provides the opportunity to inspire others into missions in congregations that you travel to speak at (missions simply wouldn’t be as prevalent without this type of advocacy – around 80% of the missionaries I work with say they were inspired to go to their mission field because of a conversation they had with another missionary or hearing another missionary speak)
  • Macro: The opportunity to invite and inspire friends and family to be a part of the great commission in a direct way
  • Micro: Raises awareness of your ministry
  • Micro: Preparation for the field before going to the missionary field
  • Micro: A team of individuals and churches who are likely to carry you in prayer, provide emotional and spiritual support, and are invested in what you are doing

Cons of a Missionary Raising Support:

  • Micro: Oftentimes it takes longer to get to the field
  • Micro: The uncomfortable feeling of asking friends and family for financial support
  • Macro: Some agencies do not require the missionary to raise 100% of their financial budget before going to their mission field leading to underfunded ministers and propelling the “poor missionary” mentality

Benefits of a Missionary Being Paid:

  • Micro: Doesn’t have to spend time raising support instead of going straight into assignment. **I believe this can also be a detriment in some cases, see below!

Cons of a Missionary Being Paid:

  • Macro: Fewer missionaries on the mission field, thus less people hearing about Jesus!
  • Macro: Less churches and individuals being inspired to be a part of missions
  • Micro: No team of committed individuals and churches lifting the missionary up in prayer on a continued basis. 

A common misconception and attitude amongst workers who raise their support, is that support raising is just a necessary evil and means to an end. I would challenge that thinking by saying let’s get past ourselves and see it for what God intended it to be! In the macro sense, raising support is about so much more than one person’s budget, essentially it is about the body of Christ partnering with the Great Commission. And in the micro sense, the fact of the matter is, when done correctly and with the correct biblical perspective, support raising is actually ministry. Raising support can be a exciting, rewarding, and truly vital ministry.

As I mentioned above, the one major upside to a missionary being paid for their service is they get to the field quicker and “waste” less time before they go into their assignment. However, I can’t tell you the amount of times I have heard missionaries that raise their support say that their season of itinerating (particularly at the beginning of their journey in missions) is the absolute best preparation they could ever imagine for the field. 

Pastor Chris, who is a guest blogger on this blog, recently wrote an article in which he explains this principle: 

“As a christian worker or missionary you are going to find many people interested in speaking to you about Jesus, but they may not always be ready to make a commitment.  They may not be prepared to forsake Islam or their family’s religion of many generations because you told them a nice story.  Successful ministry work requires faithful and patient follow-up with that person who has shown some interest.  The man who pumps my gas gave his life to Jesus, but only after I spoke with him many times.  He had to know more than my “story” about Jesus… he had to know ME. Was I a worthy person to carry such a story to him?  Could I be trusted?  Did I really believe the message I was sharing with him?

The first place you learn and practice how to do follow-up is while raising your financial support.  You may think raising money and sharing the gospel are vastly different but they are not.  If you are unable to look a pastor square in the eyes and say, “I need your support to fulfill God’s call on my life” – then you will find it difficult to look another man, with another religion, square in the eyes and say to him, “I need you to abandon everything you have been taught and follow Jesus!”I encourage you to think of the macro implications of raising your support in your season of itineration! Ministry, the Great Commission, God’s plan, more missionaries, etc. etc.”

In this season of itineration, I echo what Pastor Chris said- think of more than just the micro implications of raising your support – think of the bigger picture as well! Raising support means more missionaries spreading the gospel, more workers doing more good things, involving the body of Christ in the Great Commission, more prayer, more preparation, etc. It’s so much more about God’s plan than it is about raising your budget!

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10 Easy Steps On Becoming A Better Public Speaker

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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!

Want more information on public speaking, including an effective outline?  Read the Financial Partnership Development Workbook.

Using Texting As a Tool In The Support Raising Process (re-post from SupportRaisingSolutions.org)

This post comes from the wonderful people of www.supportraisingsolutions.org and the brain of Aaron Babyar, a friend and fellow partnership development coach. (Have you ever read The God Ask? You should!) Aaron and I on numerous occasions have conversed on coaching, support raising, and how we can better train workers how to biblically support raise. We have dialogued specifically about texting vs. calling, and when I read this post on text messages to potential partners I was beyond thankful for the brilliant explanation that Aaron gives to how texting can be helpful and harmful in the support raising process. This is an issue I regularly see workers struggle with, so I felt it definitely needed reposting here at jennfortner.com. I love Aaron’s sample texts – I think they are great templates to use as you develop your own language on financial partnership. Thank you Aaron and the SupportRaisingSolutions.org team! – JF

Using Texting As A Tool In The Support Raising Process – from supportraisingsolutions.org/blog/

“Hey (potential ministry partner), I am excited about my new role with XYZ ministry! I’d love to get together with you soon to share my vision, budget goals, and how God is using this ministry to change lives. Could we maybe grab coffee next Thursday morning?”

You hit send on your well-crafted text and wait for their reply.

Crickets.

Although texting seems to be a preferred method of communication these days, the majority of successful support raisers I have spoken with tend to avoid using texts to set appointments because of a high failure rate. There are a number of reasons for this, including a reality that some people might see the word “finances” or “budget” and quickly dismiss your appointment request without ever replying. When trying to secure an appointment, it is more personal and interactive to do so verbally, whether over the phone or face-to-face. Filling your appointment calendar by shooting out some texts certainly sounds appealing, but unfortunately text messaging in this stage of support raising often doesn’t work so well. You could literally communicate this very message to someone verbally and likely get a better response than sending a text message using the exact same words!

A helpful exercise might be to think of all forms of communication as tools in your toolbox. Not every tool is going to be the best instrument for every job. For instance, it’s unlikely you will ever need a sledgehammer when repairing your computer (though you might feel like you want to use one sometimes)! But if you want to break up concrete, you will want that sledgehammer and not a rubber mallet. When trying to set up an initial appointment, texting seems to act like a sledgehammer being used on the wrong job; however, that doesn’t mean you should never use that tool. Here are at least 3 other occasions when texting might be the right tool for the job.

1. Setting up an “appointment request phone call”

I’ve had times when people simply don’t answer their phone or return calls despite two or three attempts at calling. Maybe I even left a short voicemail or two in which I didn’t mention money, but they still aren’t replying. At this point, my new go-to method is to send a short text like this: “Hey John, this is Aaron Babyar. Sorry I keep missing you. Is there a better time to talk later today? Or perhaps is now a good time to talk?” Some people respond by calling me immediately. Many others eventually reply, which jump starts further communication. Note that I ended my simple text with a question or two. That might be partially why some are compelled to finally respond.

2. Confirming the appointment

I like to send a statement message 12-24 hours before a planned get together. For instance, “Jeff, I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at Kennedy Coffee.” This serves to help them remember our commitment to meet, and if perchance they have also scheduled something else during that time and accidentally forgotten about me, it also allows them time to rearrange their calendar. Meanwhile, it saves me from drinking coffee all alone, again, because I forgot to confirm…again!

3. Post-invitation follow up confirmation

When someone gives a “maybe” answer to potentially join my team, I’m careful to set a follow-up expectation during the meeting by saying something like, “Great. Sounds like we agree that we can follow up this Saturday. I will be praying for God to lead you and your husband as you process this potential partnership in the gospel.” Meanwhile I want to be praying for them, and I always send a recent newsletter as they are hopefully moving towards making a clearer decision.
Increasingly though, I have begun to send a text the day before our follow-up that looks something like this, “Sarah, thanks again for prayerfully considering joining my support team. We had discussed clarifying your decision by tomorrow. Let’s plan to touch base in the early afternoon.” I’ve had a variety of replies to statements like this: from people who have already decided “no” who text me their decision on the spot, to people who ask if we can wait one more day, to people who have already decided “yes” that respond, “Great. We are in for $150 a month. Talk to you tomorrow, and maybe you can tell us how to set that up.”

Sometimes, sending a text message is the perfect tool for the job. Be sure to know when to use it, when not to, and when to search through your toolbox for a different form of communication.

10 Easy Ways To Connect With Financial Partners

 

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

Woah.

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 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. Keep them short and talk way more about ministry than personal things. Include pictures of active ministry (no vacation spots).

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.

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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 and Twitter 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 tdownloado 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 (including Twitter or other social media outlets).

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). Make-your-own-Video-1080x675If 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.

7. Events

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!

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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)!

In Closing

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.

Capacity: It’s Not About Time

If your in a season of support raising it is likely that you have thought about your capacity recently. Questions may have come up such as “How am I going to find the time to raise this budget?” or “What do I need to get done this week to reach my budget goal?” or “What’s more important, getting this laundry load folded or spending another 15 minutes calling potential financial partners on the phone?”

Believe it or not – capacity actually has nothing to do with time. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, we simply focus our 24 hours differently. 

John Maxwell in his book No Limits: Blow the Cap off Your Capacity says this about capacity:

“If you grow in your awareness, develop your abilities, and make the right choices you can reach your capacity. In other words AWARENESS + ABILITIES + CHOICES = CAPACITY.”

Let’s quickly explore awareness, abilities, and choices in light of capacity.

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AWARENESS AND ABILITIES

It’s not naturally what you would think, but capacity truly has everything to do with self awareness. The better word for capacity often times is the plural form, “capacities”. Another way to say it perhaps is “abilities”.

To explain – being realistic about your limitations, strengths, and weaknesses can create awareness that can be helpful in optimizing your capacity. If you are aware which capacities you have strengths in and others that you can explore growth in, you’ll naturally be more likely to grow. Have you ever taken a capacity quiz? John Maxwell provides a very insightful one. Take a few moments and take the quiz: http://go.johnmaxwell.com/no-limits-capacity-quiz.

You may find yourself struggling in an area that someone else may excel in (classic examples include organization, public speaking, task management). Exploring what comes naturally to you and what areas you can improve in have everything to do with maximizing your capacity. The more your grow in self awareness, the more you can challenge yourself to grow in areas of weakness – it’s all about knowing who you are and working to strengthen your abilities!

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CHOICES

As Maxwell states, a large part of our capacity is also determined on what choices we make. If we make the right choices to work toward our overarching goals, we can be healthy in our capacity concerning those goals. To do that, we have to figure out what goals we have and what we want our lives to be all about.

The hard part comes in when we have to make decisions on what we are willing to give up in order to reach the goal or do the thing we really care about. The mom with 2 kids may decide that time with her family is more important than her career goals, and take a step down at work. A person raising support may have to decide not to lead the small group or church committee anymore and let someone else step in to do it, so that they can have more time to devote to raising funds. The student who decides it’s important for them to take care of a sick parent may decide to move back in instead of stay on campus and maybe take a few less hours that semester. Bottom line, the choices we make have a great impact on our capacity. And sometimes those choices can be very challenging to make.

In a season of raising support there maybe some good things that you have to hit pause on. That’s okay! The thing to keep in mind is to know where you want to focus and ultimately land. If we aren’t intentional typically the loudest voice will grab our attention instead of the goal or area we really want to focus on. Before we know it – we look up and our capacity is swallowed by a thing we never intended it to be! Oftentimes I see this in workers who are raising support but also have full time demanding jobs. With these workers, the loudest voice is their current job and it’s rigors, and they struggle to find extra time to raise support. If they aren’t careful they will loose the long term goal they have to get to their field of ministry, because they are so busy trying to keep up with the job they will eventually leave behind. Our goals and our “why” in life often have to be fought for, especially in circumstances when they aren’t actualized immediately and take hard and consistent work to achieve. Those long term, non-immediate goals need to be known, recognized, and remembered to intentionally spend ourselves on. Ultimately it’s a CHOICE that requires diligence along the way.

“No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.” -Alan Watts

In summary, if you find yourself challenged with capacity in this season of raising support, think about the following:

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A. Are you self-aware? Are you aware of the places you naturally excel and the places you find challenging to implement? Challenge yourself to grow in those areas and give extra time and thought into expanding the capacities you find yourself low in.

B. What choices are you making with your time and this season of life. Are you reaching toward your long term goals, or listening to the loudest voice that may be crowding out your capacity and overall ability to reach that goal? Maybe it’s time to make some changes to adjust life according to your larger goals. 

I hope this post inspires you to think about your capacity and how you can grow in this season!

6 Practical Tips On Contacting Pastors For Support

This is a refreshed post contacting pastors for church support

However scary it can be, pastors / local church congregations are a great source of financial and prayer support. Thus I’ve put together a short list of tips to help calm those jitters and give some good starting places for those of you who share the same cold sweats and umm’s as I once did. I hope these help!

1.Start your journey by speaking with your home church pastor. 

Connecting with your home church pastor is one of the first things you should do when you begin raising up your support team. Start by setting up a meeting with your home church pastor. When you meet explain your ministry and share the specifics of your financial need. Ask if there is any protocol or advice your pastor has as it relates to financial partnership development. If you would like to get a monthly commitment from your home church, now is the time to ask. If you would like to get members from your church on your financial partnership team, ask your pastor for permission to invite them into partnership. He/She will appreciate you filling them in on your plans, and probably will be able to give you helpful tips and hints. The more communication you have with your home church pastor, the better.

2. Remember each church and pastor is different so accommodate accordingly. 

There are numerous ways to try and connect with pastors. Unfortunately the process is not cut-and-dry and can depend pastor to pastor. Try a variety of ways based off of their style, church feel (is it more modern or classic?), and what you know about the pastor / church. Do your homework before contacting a pastor and find out what programs their church has, what type of feel the service is, etc. As the process of connecting with a pastor may not be the same every time, here are some good ideas of what it should look like:

Your contact process should look something like:

Email or snail mail with pastors packet → phone call pastor → meeting with pastor → church service

Facebook message to pastor → get response from pastor → meeting with pastor → church service

Phone call to pastor → get response from pastor (may have to call numerous times before pastor answers) → meeting with pastor → church service

Whatever you think is the best way to contact, make it creative and memorable. Seek creative ways for pastors to remember you and the ministry you represent. When you do speak at a service or visit a church your goal is to make a dynamic and lasting impression on the pastor and the congregation. Whenever possible present with a another medium besides your words – use video, testimony, display tables, etc.

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3. Communicate clearly. Have a phone script handy if it helps. 

When you get a pastor on the phone or have a face-to-face meeting with a pastor, here are some helpful topics to clarify:

  1. Would they like you to share at a service?
  2. If so:
    1. How long would he/she like you to speak?
    2. What is the order of service?
    3. What is the dress protocol?
    4. What are the service times?
    5. Is there a prayer meeting or Sunday school you can attend before service? (definitely do this!)
  3. How does their missions giving work? Is there any protocol that exists?
  4. Would the church be interested in giving a monthly commitment?
  5. Are there any opportunities for you to engage with the congregation / serve the congregation outside of regular church service?
  6. If the church does commit monthly, what would the best way to update the congregation be as you are in your field of service? Paper newsletter? Emailed newsletter? Video update?

If you think you’ll miss an important question on the phone due to nervousness or just because it is hard to remember everything – create a simple phone script to use when calling. Include some or all of the above questions and write out what you want to say. Use that phone script at least until you become comfortable talking to pastors on the phone.

4. Consider reaching some pastors via Facebook if you have a preexisting relationship with them.youve-got-mail-gif-tom-hanks-send

Some recent statistics I have seen within my organization have shown that pastors are checking their Facebook messages faster than they are their office phones. Be careful which pastors you ask over Facebook as Facebook often is a pastor’s personal space. For those pastors you already have relationship with, I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out via Facebook if you are having a hard time reaching them on the phone.

5. Make a Case Document

Case Documents are for churches, events, small groups, and great for emails and snail mail to pastors. They include information on yourself and the ministry you are working with. By the use of simple graphics and a good looking template, the Case Document can show a level of professionalism that you want to have and that pastors will be looking for. Write it almost like a colorful resume. Here’s a simple outline and a example below:

Outline of a Case Document:

Page 1: Color photo (include family if married) and our calling to ministry and your spiritual testimony

Page 2-3: Ministry experience, education, and training

Page 2-3: Description of ministry target and problems you ministry attempts to solve

Page 3-4: Your ministry strategy and outcomes

Page 3-4: Financial explanation/appeal

Hook Case Doc

6. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged!

Don’t give up in calling or seeking out pastors. It’s true, they are busy people and can sometimes be hard to get ahold of. Give them the benefit of the doubt though, generally their busyness is for a good reason. Be kind and gracious with pastors and never start to feel a sense of entitlement for their congregation’s commitment or for the pastor to even call you back. Always put the ball in your court when it comes to contacting a pastor, and always be kind.

Typically it may take upwards of 10-15 phone calls before you are able to reach a pastor. That’s okay, just stick with it and don’t give up.

Treat your time with churches and pastors as ministry, not as merely support raising. Seek ways to bring messages of hope, healing, and blessing to the church today. Ask the Holy Spirit for a special word for the pastor and congregation. Be ready to pray for anyone the Lord brings your way. Be the first to arrive and the last to leave.

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Remember in all of this: you are following God in your calling in a radical and dedicated way, and you are also ALREADY a minister in the body of Christ. Just by EXISTING you are inspiring and provoking (in a good way!). In this season you have the opportunity to inspire others in the body of Christ to follow the path God has called them to, whatever that looks like for them. Use the platform / coolness God has given you to inspire! And don’t forget to communicate your needs clearly and in an honoring way to the pastor and the body of Christ. Have fun out there, it’s a great experience to challenge and call the body of Christ to join in the Great Commission!

9 Common Mistakes in Raising Support

Below are some common mistakes I see ministry workers make while raising their funds. If some of these mistakes look too familiar to you, don’t fret! My hope is that by mentioning them you are able to move forward and are helped, not discouraged.

1. Follow Up Fails: Not setting expectations for follow up during a face to face appointment.

This is probably the most common of all mistakes I see as a coach. Though it’s best to have a new financial partner sign up for giving during a appointment, many financial partners need time after an appointment to sign up. The problem with a delayed giving start is that it puts the ball in the court of the financial partner, not yours. Often times, your new financial partner will absolutely plan on giving but drag his or her feet in turning in the commitment. Reasons as to why range as wide as there are different personalities of people. However when they intend to give (I call these “verbal commitments”), you as a ministry worker must have a plan for getting verbal commitments turned in! The first place that plan should begin is during the appointment, by setting expectations of exactly when and how you will follow up anyone who has said that they would like to give but doesn’t give during the appointment. Read more on how to turn verbal commitments into written ones here.

2. Relying On The Newsletter: Not going beyond the newsletter in communication, especially once on assignment.

If you use the words “team” to describe the people who give regularly to your ministry – treat your team as an actual team! Involve them in your ministry by reaching beyond the newsletter in your communication to them with personal texts, small gifts, personal emails and/or social media messages, etc. Your team should not only be hearing from you on a macro level, put on a personal one as well.

3. The Drawn Out Newsletter: Making newsletters too lengthy.

Newsletters do not need to be long to be helpful or informative. Quite the opposite is true. Think about it from your own personal experience as a giver…do you read 2,3,4 page newsletters? My guess is probably not, unless you are skim reading or interested beyond your average financial partner. Thus, create newsletters that are effective yet short. Include essential ministry information, bullet points of prayer requests, a few pictures from the field (or if your raising your support and sending out a newsletter – include an infographic of what percentage you are at in raising your budget), and a heartfelt thank you. Make your newsletter it interesting, pleasing to the eye, and brief. Then, take to heart the above common mistake #2 and spend some time connecting with your team personally.

4. Shirking Responsibility: Not putting the ball in their court when leaving voicemails.

The ball is in your court when you have control and responsibility in a situation. In phone calls taking the responsibility to connect is up to you, not to your potential partner. When calling a potential partner to ask for a face to face appointment, from time to time you will have to leave a voicemail. A common mistake I have seen is in when leaving voicemails, ministry workers ask the financial partner to call them back instead of telling them that they will try to reach out to them again. That’s a no as the responsibility should be on you. Your voicemail should go something like this: “Hi Don, I’m calling in reference to the letter I sent a couple of weeks ago. I’d love to connect for a few short moments on the phone and don’t want to take too much of your time. I’ll try to reach out again tomorrow evening and see if that time works better – but if you get a moment between now and then to call please do so. Talk soon!”

5. The Too Soon Newsletter Announcement: As soon as the worker is approved, they send out a massive newsletter to everyone they know asking for finances and announce on social media that they need support.

When you know the direction God has placed on your life and have taken the next step in acting upon it, you get excited right? I think most of the time the excitement is where this particular common mistake comes from, and it’s understandable. However, the best way to make an ask for financial support is always going to done relationally, and the best way to do that is to meet with someone in person to ask. For the most part, newsletters should be reserved for people who have already joined some aspect of your team or have said they would like to receive your newsletter. Newsletters are not for the general masses. Social media announcements should be limited to information and for the most part, not asks for financial support (unless doing a strategic one time Facebook Campaign).

6. Social Media Is EVERYTHING: Over utilizing / emphasizing social media.

There are social media directors for businesses these days, conferences on social media, and how to’s on fundraising concerning social media. Good! Let’s learn all about it. Personally, I love social media and think it is an extremely helpful resource. HOWEVER…I do believe it is often over emphasized. Some workers raising support decide to make it the end-all- be-all of support raising, and I believe that can be a mistake. No matter how helpful creating a excellent social media presence can be, it will never take the place of meeting with someone in personally and relationally. A post is not a personal postcard. A “like” is not a text saying hello. A instant message is not a coffee date. Thus, I say work to create a strong social media presence and stick with it when you get into your assignment. However, as I mentioned above save asks (with some few circumstances – check out here and here) for personal appointments.

7. Nervous Asking: Beating around the bush during an ask and/or making qualifiers after asking.

After asking for a monthly support amount, the next person who talks should be the potential partner. NOT YOU. It’s tempting to create qualifiers to save awkwardness but typically they do not help, only hinder, your ask. Make your asks clear, bold, and to the point. Don’t beat around the bush and leave the potential partner wondering what you really want. Confidence will come across not as pushy, but respectful. Often times tentative and timid words will come across as you being uncertain of your calling, less passionate, and less confident. Choose boldness and clarity over timidity.

8. Billboard Texts: Asking for an appointment on text or social media instead of calling.

It can be tempting to skip the phone call and choose instead to ask someone for an appointment on text or on Facebook Messenger. I get it, texting is a bit more normative than calling someone on the phone these days. However, text doesn’t take the place of being able to explain something in detail verbally. Thus, consider sending a quick text to someone before calling that reads something along the lines of “Hey, Don. Wondering if I could give you a quick call to discuss something. Don’t want to take but a few minutes of your time.” or “Hey Don, can I give you a call real quick?“. When you give too many details on a text or Facebook Message typically any explanation of the need for support reads like a billboard. Text with an ask for financial support or an appointment can also get buried because the person is dealing with their own day and life and busyness. Stick to calling people first, then move to another mode of communication if you absolutely have to after multiple attempts at the phone call.

9. Accidentally Asking On Social Media: Not getting contact information properly or giving too much information when asking for contact information.

Sometimes ministry workers I coach begin sending out invitation letters to their potential supporters before they have a phone number to reach the potential partner afterward.  Invitation letters are to set up a phone call asking for a appointment. So without the number how is one supposed to call and ask for a appointment? Oops. Don’t send an invitation letter until you have all of your potential partner’s contact information.

Oftentimes ministry workers I coach make the mistake of giving too much information when asking for contact information from a potential partner. Say a worker Facebook Messages a potential partner because they need their phone number, email, and snail mail address. A good way to ask on Messenger for contact information is to say: “Hi Jill! Hope you are doing well. Could you give me your phone number, email, and snail mail address? I’d like to send you some information on a upcoming ministry assignment my husband and I are doing.” 

A bad way is to give too much information, thus leaving the potential partner with almost what looks like an ask on social media instead of in person. Here’s an example of a bad way: “Hi Jill! Hope you are doing well. My husband and I are going on an assignment to India for two years and hope to go this coming June once we raise 100% of our financial budget. Can I get your phone number, email, and snail mail address so that I can give you information on how to join us in some aspect of our ministry as we go overseas? Thanks so much Jill – look forward to hearing from you.” 

Though the language is good enough, this is way TOO MUCH INFORMATION to give up front when simply asking for contact info. When asking for contact information don’t pull the wool over their eyes but don’t ask for support either – save that for the relational face to face appointment.

I hope seeing these common mistakes will help you not make the same mistakes yourself. Did you make one of these mistakes? Perhaps you made another type of mistake? Post it in the comments and help others learn from you!

The Merry Christmas Resource List

Quick post here of resources I find helpful in the support raising process. Merry Christmas everyone! – JF

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  1. Cadre31
  2. A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen
  3. Piktochart
  4. Sway
  5. Dunham & Company
  6. iMissionsProTNTMPDMPDXDonorElfSupportGoal
  7. Funding Your Ministry by Scott Morton
  8. The Phone Call Mind Map
  9. Commission Creative
  10. Chalkline
  11. Support Raising SolutionsThe God Ask
  12. Canva
  13. 101 Fundraising
  14. Portent’s Content Generator
  15. Wunderlist
  16. GiveWay
  17. MobileCause