WHY WON’T THEY JUST ANSWER THE PHONE?!

A note before we get started, this post will be a great companion to Ghosting! When It’s Time to Make the Final Contact, so make sure you read that post as well if you have’t already! – JF

Do you wonder what to do when a potential supporter doesn’t answer the phone? I’m sure you’ve run into a scenario like this one:

It’s Tuesday evening at 5:30pm and you call Stephanie hoping to connect and ask her for a face to face appointment, but she didn’t answer. Sadly Stephanie didn’t answer your text after you called either. Whomp. Okay, you tell yourself, par for the course. No biggie. Try again later. So you try Stephanie again on Thursday (early afternoon this time) but it’s still crickets so you leave her a voicemail and say a prayer. Nope. Nothing. Now it’s Saturday and you decide to send another text message and ask if Stephanie has time to connect soon. Nada. Now it’s the following week on Wednesday, you try Stephanie’s phone again and she doesn’t answer so you send her a quick email and wait.

And after all of this you are wondering; WHAT HAPPENED? Did I cross the line? When do I stop trying to reach someone who doesn’t answer the phone?

And here we are folks. Have you been there? Are you wondering how do you proceed when someone doesn’t answer phone calls or texts? When is it time to switch means of communication and try to reach them another way? When is it time to stop trying to connect all together? Should you send another text? One more email?

I’ve been there. Below is some advice I hope you find helpful!

VOICEMAILS AND INITAL CALLS

If you are reaching out to a prospective partner for the first time via phone and you reach them: HUZZAH! CONGRATS! If you don’t reach them on that first try, try to remember it’s okay and NORMAL. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to talk to you. Breathe deep. And here’s a little hack: if that first attempt goes to voicemail, consider hanging up without leaving a voice mail. This gives you the ability to call back again a day or two without need for explanation.

Another consideration for the first phone call without an answer (and no voicemail) is sending them a brief text message directly after the failed attempt that says something like the following:

“”Hi Stephanie! it’s Jenn Fortner. Could you let me know if there’s a good time to chat for a couple of minutes this evening (or another time soon that works better)? Or I’ll just try you back in a bit. Thanks!” (wording taken directly from a worker who used this and said it was gold!)

They may or may not answer the text. If they don’t answer, don’t give up! Call again, and this time leave a voicemail and communicate the following:

  • If you sent an invitation letter first, tell them that you were calling in reference to the invitation letter you sent them a week ago and would love to connect with them further. You don’t want to give them too many details as to why you are calling, so keep the information short and to the point.
  • If you are calling without prior context (no invitation letter), communicate that you are wanting to talk briefly and mention that you will be calling them back.
    • It should go something like this:
      • “Hi Stephanie! Hope you are doing great. I would love to catch you sometime soon – if you grab a minute give me a call but I’ll try to see if I can catch you at another time. Have a great day and hope to talk to you soon!”

TEXTING

If you feel more comfortable texting rather than calling, consider sending someone a text before you call them (or after you call them – as explained above). In a text prior to calling – ask if it would be a good time to call and that you’d like to speak with them briefly. A brief warning here: Don’t skip ahead and ask for an appointment on a text… I know, texts seem SO MUCH easier than phone calls. Truly, texting is a whole other subject so head here if you want more details as to (1) why a combination of a text message and phone call is better than just a text message for scheduling appointments (2) how do text without giving too much information or (3) why is no one answering my texts.

HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I CALL BEFORE I QUIT? 

Don’t give up too early, but don’t move into stalking mode either! Neither are good! How often do you call? And when do you throw in the towel? Here’s some advice:

  • Go 2-3 times beyond what you are comfortable with in trying to reach someone on the phone. From what I’ve seen, we are likely to stop ourselves short in attempted communication way too early. It’s likely our fear of rejection or insecurities in asking will get the better of our reaching out way before we become too pushy and cross a line.
  • Switch up your mode of communication after several attempts via phone (my advice is 3 attempts at the very least) to a text message or a Facebook message. However, prior to this try hard to avoid written messages in asking for appointments whenever you can (lots of reasons for why can be found here).
  • Stagger your attempts at calling. Consider waiting a couple of days before trying again if you’ve gotten radio silence thus far. It may look something like this:
    • July 1st – Attempt 1 to call Stephanie Jones (no voicemail). (brief text message afterward Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn Fortner. Could you let me know if there’s a good time for you to chat this evening (If not another time that works?) Or I’ll just try you again in a bit! Thanks” )
    • July 2nd – Attempt two to call Stephanie Jones (brief voicemail Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn Fortner. Hope you are doing great. Just trying to reach you and don’t want to take too much of your time, about a ministry thing. Give me a call if you grab a moment or I’ll try and call you soon. I hope your at the beach or something! I know you were talking about going. Have a great day!”
    • July 7th – Attempt 3 to call Stephanie Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn again. Just trying to reach you, If you get a chance give me a call, but I’ll probably try you again. Hope to chat you soon.”)
    • July 21st – Attempt 4 to call Stephanie Jones (Text before: “Hey Stephanie, just trying to reach you one more time. There is something important I would love to discuss with you – and briefly Can we use the phone for a minute?”)
    • August 7th – Attempt 5 to call Stephanie Jones (maybe voicemail or no voicemail with a text after, but something like this: “Hey Stephanie. I’ll go ahead and email you on the thing I’m trying to connect about to see if that works better for you. I’m sure your busy and hope you guys are having a great summer. If you get a chance to check your email that would be great. Thanks Stephanie!”)
    • August 20th – No answer from email. You text The Final Contact (see post for wording).
  • If still you get nothing from emailing or texting it’s likely time for The Final Contact. Make sure you read this important post if you haven’t already to word that crucial text the best way possible.

SWITCHING COMMUNICATION METHOD

If it’s evident after several failed phone call attempts that the phone is not for them, try switching to text, email, Facebook Messenger, or a combination of some of these things. How you choose to switch it up should largely be placed on past communication you’ve had with that potential partner.

If you don’t hear back from that potential partner after switching modes of communication, try sending the Final Contact. After that Final Contact, you may consider putting that person in some type of organization system you have kept with other potential partners, noting the times you tried communication. And lastly, consider reaching out again after several months of waiting. You never know after several months or when you’re closer to the finish line if that person may get inspired to give. It’s possible that they just needed some time to think about it.

IN SUMMARY

There’s a lot of contingencies in the world financial partnership development and phone calls, but I hope this post helps a bit as you think about your strategy in reaching people who don’t like to pick up the phone.

What are your thoughts? What works best for you? Post it in the comments!

Tips for Expanding Your Capacity

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.

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.

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

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!

This post is a re-post from 2018 I tweaked just a bit. Capacity is such an important topic to discuss in the area of support raising. I hope you find these ideas helpful! – JF

THE CLOSE: How to Close Appointments Like a Pro

Having a great Close to your Face to Face Appointments is almost as important as having a great Ask. What do I mean by the “Close”? Essentially, closing your appointment comes right after The Ask and includes elements like next steps, setting expectations, and getting the financial partner on-boarded to start their giving.

Do you know if your closing your appointments well? Let me ask you a few questions so we can gauge it together:

  • Are you having trouble getting verbal commitments turned in to actual gifts? Do you feel like your chasing your tail?
  • Are you having issues with new partners giving to your organization correctly? Are they seamlessly giving without any hiccups, misdirection of funds, or accidentally just giving one time instead of monthly?
  • Do you think your new monthly partners have clear next steps and expectations of how you will communicate with them?
  • Do you feel like after you’ve done your appointment the real challenge comes in getting ahold of them to turn it in? (why yes! I am aware this question is a bit redundant to the first question!)

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions – your Close may need a little work and tweaking. Or a lot… It could need a lot of tweaking. I find in the workers that I coach if the Close is not in ship-shape, the process of follow up can become extra cumbersome and challenging. Here are some quick tips to help you tighten up your Close and get those new partners on-boarded to your team.

3 FOLD COMMITMENT:

First things first! While closing your face to face appointment set clear expectations to your new financial partner with a commitment to your team. My commitment suggestion comes in 3 parts: (1) work hard on assignment, (2) communicate regularly, (3) pray for your team.

Imagine you just started giving 100$ a month to a new missionary. As a giver, you would probably like to know what to expect after you start your giving. Right? Right. Therefore, let your shiny new partners know how you will be communicating with them – is it through newsletters and a Facebook Secret Group? Is it via email? WhatsApp or iMessages or Direct Messages? Do you have a TikTok or Instagram account dedicated to your ministry? Do you have a Secret Facebook Group? How often are you doing your newsletters? This is all helpful information to include during the Close of your appointment. I like to do this in my 3 fold commitment to them. It goes a little sum’ like this:

“As a team member I would like to make a 3 fold commitment to you. First, I promise to work hard while I’m on the field, reaching the X people for Christ and working diligently to make relationships with the X people through X Y and Z. Secondly, I promise to keep you updated regularly. Though I won’t be able to connect as consistently via phone because of the connection in X country, I will be keeping my team updated regularily through bi-monthly newsletters and my Secret Facebook Group. The Facebook Group is titled X and I will send you an invitation to it tonight, so be on the lookout. My hope is to shoot out updates there every week. Please feel free to comment or like things there, but keep in mind even though it’s “secret” I still need to be sensitive to not giving too much information due to X country. I also intend to email you from time to time, which leads me to number 3! Thirdly, I would love to pray for you on a continual basis and will be reaching out via email from time to time asking for prayer requests. Please keep me updated as well with any prayer requests as time goes on. My desire is for this to really be a team, as I simply cannot do what I am doing without you. Any questions about that?”

SET GIVING EXPECTATIONS:

“Yes” comes with a wide variety of nuances. It’s like a buffet out there guys. Some will say they need to pray about an amount prior to committing, others will say they will commit 75$ and turn it in tomorrow morning, still others will just say they will turn it in “soon”. No matter their response – make sure to ask two things: (1) If they know the amount and (2) when they would like to turn it in by.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. Because it gives you a frame of reference as to when to expect their commitment turned in by.
  2. Because it helps you know how to respond and set up your follow up accordingly, which can be varied. For instance, if they say they will turn it in this week then your response could be “Great Shelly, that’s going to be so helpful to get to my goal of 50% by the end of the month. If I don’t see it come in by the end of the week I’ll shoot you out a text (you may ask if they prefer text or phone call) to see if you need a reminder or have any questions about how to set it up – does that work okay?” Or, say for instance they indicate they need to pray about the amount. You can then respond with “Great Shelly, do you think a couple of days would be sufficient for that or would you need more time?” (Shelly says a couple of days is sufficient) Then, “Okay, I will text you for follow up Wednesday to see where you’re at after a couple of days to pray If I don’t reach you, I may try and call to reach you. Does that work for you?

SHORT PERCENTAGE GOAL:

Setting a short percentage goal is a little trick I’ve been proselytizing lately. So what does setting a percentage goal mean? Let me explain by setting the stage for this one:

Sally has just said yes to joining your monthly partnership team and has told you she will get it turned in this week. A month has gone by and unfortunately you didn’t do a good job on your close with creating follow up expectations or creating percentage goals. Whomp. To combat situations like this in the future, when Sally tells you she is going to join your partnership team at 100$ a month and will get signed up this week, the next thing you say to Sally is “Oh my Sally! This is so great as it helps me get to my goal of 75% by the end of May! If you can get that turned in this week that would get me closer to that goal and of course closer to 100% by August. I really appreciate it.” See what I did there? I created a short percentage goal to let Sally know it matters when she gets her monthly commitment turned in. A lot of new financial partners don’t know that you will never be able to get to 100% unless they turn in their commitment (though this can vary based on your organization), and the reason is because you haven’t told them! Thus, make sure to communicate clearly (and gently…and nicely, you know what I mean) what your needs are. Creating a short goal that is less than a month away is perfect for getting a little urgency in and communicating that you are working toward getting to 100% in a timely manner. Doing so will help you get commitments turned in efficently.

SET FOLLOW UP EXPECTATIONS:

As a support raising coach I have seen that setting clear follow up expectations can make or break your season of support raising. Essentially you want to do 3 things while setting follow up expectations during your appointment:

  1. GIVING EXPECTATIONS: As above, ask them when they would like to give and how much. (If they are praying / thinking it over this still applies just tweak it)
  2. SHORT PERCENTAGE GOAL: As above, give them a short percentage goal and communicate your needs for having them turn it in.
  3. COMMUNICATE AND CALENDARIZE FOLLOW UP: If they are praying about an amount or unsure of their giving, set a time frame and let them know you will follow up with them. An example could be this: “Great Sally! Thank you so much for praying about a commitment. How much time do you think you need to pray about it? A couple of days? (*Sally says yes) “Okay, how about I text you on Friday and find if you’ve come to any decisions? Would that be okay?” (*Sally says yes) “Great, and if I don’t get ahold of you Sally I may try to call. Thank you so much for praying!” The same process works if they say yes and they get it turned in in a couple of days, just change the wording a bit to something like this: “Okay, if I don’t happen to see it come in by Friday or Saturday I will shoot you a text and see if you need a reminder or any help getting it set up. I’m so thankful Sally and appreciate you being a part of this team. Your giving now will help me reach my short goal of getting to 50% by the end of the month, and 100% by August! Thank you!”

A text to Sally for follow up would look something like this: “Hey Sally! Thanks so much for praying about joining my partnership team. I really loved our time together and am so grateful. Have you come to any decisions? Let me know either way and I appreciate you!”

**Please note, it’s always best to get a new financial partner on-boarded during the appointment, so shoot for that when they choose that entree of the buffet table! It’s like getting the steak! Or maybe like getting the soft serve ice cream after dinner when you were a (big) kid. Remember buffets?!?!**

GIVING INSTRUCTIONS:

Have you ever tried to give a reoccurring gift to a worker/ministry and felt like you were doing rocket science? Unfortunately the process isn’t always easy, and yet again comes with another buffet of options for the giver. Online? On the phone? Via check? It’s likely there are multiple ways your new financial partner could give, and typically not everyone will want to set it up the same way. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for your new financial partner to give. To do this, provide a short sheet of giving instructions. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be helpful! If you don’t know various ways that someone can give to your organization, learn all of the processes and make sure you understand how each works.

So I hope these were helpful! Now you’ll be pro level closing your appointments and getting new financial partners on-boarded to give! Recap:

  • 3 Fold Commitment
  • Giving Expectations
  • Short Percentage Goals
  • Follow Up Expectations
  • Giving Instructions

Aaaaannnnd Closed.

So You’re Doing Another Round of Support Raising? 9 Things To Get Started Early

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 before they 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

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I hope this gave you some helpful ideas! Below are some links with further information.

Here’s a link for more information on Connect Cards

Here’s a link for more information on Case Documents

Here’s a link for more information on Appointment Kits and Pastor Packets

Here’s a link for more information on Fundraising and Non-Fundraising Events

Social Media and Support Raising: 5 Tips

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?

The short answer: Yes, it matters.

Like it or not, we spend around 15% of our waking lives on social media, at a clip of about 2.5 hours per day. (All of those cute cat videos add up!) If you want to get information out and communicate with your team effectively (and you do, I promise) you should be utilizing social media and thinking through which app (or apps) will help you communicate with the bulk of your growing partnership team.

Where to Start

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 that the 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?

Maybe.

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:

  • Prayer requests
  • Project progress (include pictures)
  • Random facts on your ministry
  • Short videos
  • 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.

Become a Better Public Speaker In 10 Easy Steps

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.

It’s All About Perspective

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 fundraisingSimply 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

TEXT SAMPLES FOR FACE TO FACE APPOINTMENTS

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

  1. 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
  1. 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.” 

  1. 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) 
  1. 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:
      1. In person
      2. Phone call / Phone call + invitation letter first == these options are always best! 
      3. Invitation letter + Text message
      4. Text message
      5. Email
      6. DM

TEXT SAMPLES

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.”

NOTES

*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 hope this post and samples are helpful! – JF

How To Make Your Own Prayer Card on Vistaprint

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! When It’s Time to Make The Final Contact

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:

  1. Consider all of the questions above carefully before doing The Final Contact.
  2. You should NOT be doing The Final Contact if you’ve only tried calling a person twice or even 3 times. It should be after you’ve made several attempts, tried several communication methods, and given them time to respond. Many people make the mistake of believing someone’s silence is rejection and give up too quickly due to fear. Be confident, and remember you don’t have to apologize for inviting someone to be a part of the Great Commission.
  3. If a Final Contact is given too early you run the risk of offending cherished relationships.
  4. If you move to the Final Contact too early you also run the risk of no support from them.
  5. It’s likely that after you make The Final Contact, you will hear from the person who has ghosted you. It happens often.
  6. 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).
  7. 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:

  1. 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!”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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…”

3. Don’t be Timid: Its The Great Commission (See Rejection post)

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