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!

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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

resource-list-2_14842358

 

  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

How To (and How NOT TO) Share Your Budget

This will be a quick post on sharing your budget with friends and family members. Here’s what I have to say: don’t!

Okay just kidding. Kind of.

There will be times it’s appropriate to share your specific budget figures with friends and family, but most of the time it’s best to speak in percentages. Less is always more, unless someone asks for specific numbers.

Why you ask? Let’s explore one major reason.

It is possible if you share your specific budget details, the person with whom you are sharing the information will make uninformed judgments on your lifestyle in ministry. Let’s use an example to illustrate. Say you are fresh out of college and share with a potential partner who is also fresh out of college that your budget to go overseas is $3,500 in monthly support for two years and a cash budget of $30,000. That’s reasonable right? Well lets say that peer is struggling to find a job and could only dream of making that much money each month. When you share this information quickly with them in a face to face appointment, they don’t have the ability to see what goes into that $3,500 per month and $30,000 in cash (overseas insurance, cost of living is higher due to the country you are going to, language learning school, etc.). To them your budget merely seems extravagant in the wake of their own circumstances. In contrast, an overprotective family member may do some mental math on your behalf and evaluate that you aren’t making enough for those two years.

All of that to say, if you share your budget details off the cuff in your presentations, newsletters, etc., people are simply prone to make judgements they are not qualified to make.

So what is the solution? Talk in percentages! Change the sentence from “I need $3,500 in monthly support and $30,000 in cash” to this: In order to go over seas I need to raise 100% of my budget. Would you be willing to partner with me at $100 a month?

BONUS: Did you notice in the sentence above I also did NOT mention my need for cash gifts? That is strategic as well, as typically it is much harder to raise monthly support than it is one-time / special gifts. Potential partners (and people in general) tend to default to the least amount of commitment possible, and if you are giving the people an option during your face-to-face appointments to give one time they will take you up on it! This will leave you with less in monthly commitments. Your partners will be patting themselves on the back because they gave, and you leaving disappointed that you didn’t get a new monthly partner.

So as a rule when making the ask: stick to percentages and ask for monthly support alone. 

Now, I realize you may be asking if there are exceptions to this rule? Of course there are. Responses to “asks” are as varied as there are people, and here are some examples of when to deviate:

  1. If you are talking to a pastor about church support, go ahead and share the specifics of your budget straight away. Pastors are different than individuals, as they tend to know more about the landscape of needs involved in ministry. Typically it’s helpful for them to have specific information on your budget, so share away!
  2. If an individual asks what your budget is, go ahead and share. I would advise you to have something written up for this scenario that shows some of the line items in your budget to make it understandable for those who ask.
  3. If someone cannot commit to giving monthly support, then ask if they would like to give a special / one-time gift. True it is far better to ask someone for monthly support, but if they can’t commit – definitely explain they can give to your cash budget / give a special gift.
  4. If you are sharing a specific goal on a Facebook campaign or special post on social media, it is okay to share a line item in your budget. For instance, a couple I coach for #GivingTuesday recently challenged their friends on Facebook to help them raise $1,000 toward their budget on Giving Tuesday. They shared in their videos and posts that the $1,000 would go toward their language learning costs specifically. They didn’t share the entirety of their budget, but they did project a specific need out of their budget with their audience.

I hope this helps in your communications of your specific budget. You don’t have to share all of the details to ask and to keep people informed! Have any thoughts on the subject? Share them in the comments!

 

Video: How to Launch a Successful Facebook Campaign

screen shot facebook campaign vid

I have been sharing for a couple of years now how effective a well-executed Facebook Campaign can be. The idea started from the Assemblies of God Mobilization department to utilize the power social media can have in expanding one’s network. And man we have seen the idea spread and grow over the years!

We (Assemblies of God Mobilization + myself) decided the older videos on the Facebook Campaign needed a bit of a face lift as we have learned a few things in the past two years. Thus, here’s a new video for you!

For those of you who don’t know what what a Facebook Campaign is, let me explain. In one sentence – essentially it is a campaign for monthly or cash support on Facebook set to a specific amount of time and a specific goal. Of course, you’ll grab the big picture by watching the video above.

To be clear, I am against asking for funds on Facebook or any other type of social media in most any other context (besides maybe a short video on Giving Tuesday or for a End of Year Campaign). I believe the absolute best way to ask for monthly financial partnership is via personal face-to-face appointments. I also do not believe the Facebook Campaign to be the end-all-be-all in support raising. However, I have seen it be very useful. Those whom I have coached who launch well executed Facebook Campaigns (after they have reached at least 75% of their support goal and built up healthy teams) have seen some pretty awesome success. Some workers I’ve coached have raised as much as $1,000 in monthly support. Others have raised $10,000 in cash from doing a Campaign. For most campaigns I see, a typical amount to raise is around $300-400 in monthly support or around $700-$1,000 in one time cash gifts.

If you are interested in launching your own Facebook campaign, follow the information on the video. To go along with the video, here are a few things I find important to emphasize:

1. It is VERY IMPORTANT while doing your FB campaign to stay abreast on all likes and comments that come to you campaigners pages. Check them every day and more than once a day. Return comments with Private Messages (PM) and likes with PM when it feels appropriate. It is your job to connect further with the people responding, and if they have commented or liked but haven’t given, chances are with a personal message from you they may.
2. Create great graphics and videos. No half-way doing this thing or results will be minimal. With a little work, the results will be fantastic.
3. Create a reasonable goal. (see video)
4. Follow up with your new financial partners after the Facebook campaign. Never let someone start giving to you without trying to get to know them. Attrition rates for someone giving to you on a monthly basis that you don’t know at all are statistically low – so beat that by building a relationship with your new financial partners. Do this by emailing them, calling them, Facebook messaging them. Whatever you do, ask them questions about themselves. Of course don’t overwhelm them – make them feel safe as they probably don’t know you well. Use common sense. Think about what would make you feel connected if you were in their shoes.
5. Think about creating a Facebook Secret group with your campaigners and some prayer partners in the group. In that group you can post your posts for the campaigners every day. There should be around 15-20 campaigners and perhaps somewhere around 10-15 prayer partners in this group. (Your prayer partners will probably catch a burden and start funding you monthly if they aren’t already on your team 🙂 Sometimes asking around on FB on your secret group or in your newsletter prior to see if anyone wants to be a part will help give you a few extra campaigners as well posting on your behalf. Make sure you make your campaigner team full of people with various levels and places of connection. See if you can get a few people of influence to be on your campaign team as well.
6. Go above and beyond in your communication with with your campaigners from the very beginning. Tell them your goal and how many days for the campaign, and communicate that you want them posting every day. ALSO VERY IMPORTANT to find out how they can best receive the post information from you. Some people post on Facebook from their phones – so a text may be better. Some people may do better with you giving them content in an email. Some may remember just fine by only getting it through your secret group. Find out what works best for them so they don’t miss a post. Make it easy for them!
7. Encourage your campaigners to change the wording of their posts if they want to to make it personal to them / their audience. Just give them guidelines and make sure they stick to security rules and use your graphic. You may want to feed them the wording for the first couple of days and then encourage them to create their own with the content you’d like posted.

I hope this video and post helps. As we come up into Giving Tuesday and End of the Year Giving, it may be a perfect time to launch your campaign (if your around 80% raised of course!). Go for it – I think you’ll find some success in creating your own! – JF