How Postcards Are The New Postcards: Testimony from a Ministry Worker

Recently I received a letter from a ministry worker that I thought would be helpful to share with you. Essentially the letter is on the importance of keeping up with your financial partnership base, particularly through the form of postcards.

Thus this post is dedicated to all of you out there who have been in ministry partnership development for awhile. This post is also for those traveling overseas for ministry. Keep in mind however, postcards can work no matter if you find yourself domestically or internationally called / serving. Without further ado:

Dear Jenn,

I have a story to tell you.

The postcards…

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Over a year ago you challenged people to write postcards to their support teams. I went out and bought some to start, but in busyness I never got started. Finally, I got around to them at the beginning of this year. I was doing great writing the postcards, and then I counted how many I still had left. I still had way over 100, more like 150, to go. I wasn’t even half way through and felt like I had written a million postcards. I felt discouraged and stopped for about a month.

Then, I got with it and finished. I wrote somewhere around 250 postcards total, to every single person or church that has regularly supported us–whether they started 2 months ago or have been giving since we first went out. Honestly, I was bored to death with what I said.

“Assembly So-In-So, When we see your faithful gift come in each month, we are so grateful. Your partnership enables us to build His church in Holland. Thank You.”

I wrote that or some variation of those same lines, postcard after postcard. Of course, I got especially good on the variations toward the last 50. I was so bored, yet, with every one I wrote, I WAS grateful. I looked at how many gave to us so faithfully over so many years. I saw the incredible faithfulness of our home church and the churches and individuals that sent us out. We have some that give just $5 a month, many at $50 or $100 and some with several hundred a month. I wrote to them all.

I was so bored, yet, with every one I wrote, I WAS grateful.

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Today I just looked at our monthly giving from July. We had a huge month with NOT ONE SINGLE SPECIAL GIFT. It was comprised solely of all the people who regularly give. Many of those on our support team will miss a month or so, but no one missed this month. There are many months we will have a special extra few thousand from someone and that brings our overall budget up.

This month none of that–just faithfulness. And a great month.

Not only that, what blew me away was the new and renewed commitments. Usually there are 2 or 3. Today there are 27 NEW COMMITMENTS.  A few of those 27 increased the commitment. Some have given to us regularly and never made the commitment, but they took the time and made the commitment. Others have given for years, but never renewed it. This month, they renewed it.

Moral of the story: Postcards work.

Thanks for the encouragement to do something that is boring, but so worth it.

– Sincerely, “Kathie”

Emma’s Top 5 Tips to Get to 100%

From time to time I ask workers I coach to provide a top 5 list of what worked in their overall partnership development strategy. *Emma was a worker who reached 100% fully-funded within a few short months, and I thought she would be a perfect person for you to glean from. Without further ado, here are Emma’s top 5 support raising tips.

(*Emma’s name has been changed to protect her identity) 

1. Make a Crafty, Well-Executed, Invitation Letter. I got a lot of compliments from people on my invitation letters. The design evolved a lot throughout the process, but the basic philosophy was to make a letter that was cute, hard to ignore/forget about, fun to read, and fun to make (kept me from getting bored!). Same deal for the thank-you notes. I’ve attached some pictures below. 

2. Have Patience and Time. I invested ridiculous amounts of time in my face-to-face appointments. My ministry partnership development training gave me a lot of badly needed structure and organization (which I could not have done this without). I found that extravagant time invested in face time with potential partners yielded rich returns not only on pledges, but also on life stories, advice, prayer, encouragement, and relationship.

My longest face-to-face was 4 hours. It actually revitalized me when I was in a support raising slump. My longest phone call was 2 hours, but gave me the opportunity to speak life into someone struggling with depression and also witness to them about Christ! (I prayed for this person over the phone and they broke down in tears saying that they had felt an amazing presence of God!) The time I invested was totally worth it for me. 

“I found that extravagant time invested in face time with potential partners yielded rich returns not only on pledges, but also on life stories, advice, prayer, encouragement, and relationship.”

3. Ask the Unexpected People. As I type this email, I have just received a $100 monthly pledge from someone who I have not talked to in over a decade. Almost without exception my most generous, enthusiastic, and faithful partners are people I either met briefly one time, or haven’t kept in close touch with over the years. I heard in my training that it ISN’T those you expect to help who do, and found this to be very true! This has also given me a lot more confidence in asking.  

“Almost without exception my most generous, enthusiastic, and faithful partners are people I either met briefly one time, or haven’t kept in close touch with over the years.”

4. Take a Sabbath. I am a dismal Sabbath-taker and need so much growth in this area. After my sending organization’s training I decided to get serious and I got an accountability partner who was also raising her own funds. With her accountability I picked out a middle-of-the-week day (people tend to want to meet on weekends, and church can be work when you’re in ministry) to lounge around in PJs, bake, read the Bible and devotionals for hours, and watch kung fu movies on Netflix. I found that this not only rested me, but also gave me perspective and helped me evaluate where I was spiritually and emotionally each week. It was great motivation to work harder the rest of the week so I could take that full day off. 

5. Use a Short Video. I got a quick 3-minute blurb from a video created by my senior workers in France. It is a video with people and places from the actual city and church plant, and I used my smartphone to pull it off of YouTube and show to potential partners during appointments.

The video not only established a great emotional and visual connection to the ministry, but it gave me a short break where their attention was off of me so I could breathe, pray, and assess how the appointment was going. It also saved me a lot of talking because it explained the vision of the ministry with uplifting background music. As far as security concerns go, I carried around a pair of small headphones so that if the meeting was in a public place, people could watch it without every person in a twenty-foot radius hearing about the mission. 

– Emma

As her coach, I saw Emma succeed by sticking with the process and remaining consistent week after week. I also saw her creatively think outside of the box, but while doing so use the principles and techniques she knew from training to be tried and true.

Have you been successful in getting to 100%? Give us some of your tips in the comment section! – JF

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The Only Resource List You’ll Ever Need

Okay it’s not the only Resource List you’ll ever need, but it’s pretty great. Below are some websites and tools ministry workers are finding to be of great help to them. Do you have an online tool, app, or book you are finding to be a major help to you in support raising? Tell us about it in the comments!

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  1. Cadre31
  2. A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen
  3. Piktochart
  4. Sway
  5. Dunham & Company
  6. Magisto App
  7. iMissionsPro, TNTMPD, MPDX, DonorElf, SupportGoal
  8. Funding Your Ministry by Scott Morton
  9. The Phone Call Mind Map
  10. Commission Creative
  11. Chalkline
  12. Support Raising Solutions, The God Ask
  13. Canva
  14. Happy Cow Missions
  15. 101 Fundraising
  16. Reachmodo
  17. Portent’s Content Generator
  18. Cadre’s Education Classes

Ultimately, It’s Not About You

About 10 years ago I transitioned from a full-time ministry position with a team of financial partners giving faithfully, to a secular position with a salary. (I of course found myself back into full time ministry eventually.) As I made this transition I wondered how to communicate the transition effectively to my support team, and how to tell them how much I appreciated them and their faithful giving throughout the years. Moving from a job in ministry to a secular position was a hard decision to make, but I knew the Lord was leading me. 

Thus as I developed my exit communication strategy I decided that instead of merely sending a newsletter sharing the news, that I would have appointments (or phone call if I they couldn’t meet face to face) with my team to let them know personally. As I began making phone calls and having appointments, it became clear to me that my team members had invested themselves and their hearts not only in me, but the ministry I served. 

During one particular phone call, a team member asked if I knew of anyone serving in the ministry that needed more financial support. I said yes, and they asked and if I could connect them together.

Thus a great idea was born: What if I asked my support team to transfer their giving to one my ministry co-workers? That way, my team would still feel invested in the ministry they came to care so much about and my formal co-workers would be strengthened. = WIN WIN SITUATION. 

I decided to ask each of my team members if they would prayerfully consider giving the support they had been giving me to my friend Gayathri. I explained to them that Gayathri was a fellow staff member from India, and was saved 3 years ago while coming to the States for her masters program. Gayathri had several uphill battles in her ministry partnership development, a major one being she had limited amount of contacts in America. I explained Gayathri’s specific ministry and why I thought they should give. 

The response from my team was overwhelming… especially for Gayathri! 

Gayathri not only raised the majority of what she needed to be fully-funded, she eventually ended up transitioning herself and becoming one of the financial partner’s new youth directors. Gayathri had done such a fantastic job building relationship with this financial partner that they asked her to join them in their own ministry! Again = WIN WIN SITUATION!

I share this story with you to plant the idea of transferring your financial partners when it is time in your head. If you ever transition out of ministry, what would it look like to ask your financial partnership team to transfer their giving? Here are some practical tips if you find yourself where I did 10 years ago:

1. When exiting or transitioning from your current ministry, don’t merely send a newsletter out! Personally contact as many of your team members as possible before sending a newsletter. Thank them for their faithfulness in giving and praying and share with them what you will be doing moving forward. Share with them what the Lord has done while you’ve been in ministry. Sit down face-to-face with as many of your financial partners as possible. 

** if you are overseas and making a transition, share with as many of your financial partners personally prior to sending out a newsletter or coming home. This can be done while you are still overseas using Skype, email, phone call, etc. When you do come back to the States, seek your financial partners out and have an extended time with them face to face. Share with them what the Lord did through your ministry while overseas. Make it personal and thank them for their giving. You never know if this is the end of your ministry career, so be intentional and purposeful with closing this season of ministry. 

2. When contacting your team members, ask if they would be interested in transitioning their giving to one of your co-workers. If they say yes, schedule a time that all of you can sit down together as able. Your role would be to introduce each party, sharing appropriate details and connecting them in relationship. 

*if you or your team member is overseas while transitioning financial partners, you’ll have to get creative on this. Make sure you default to the most relational means possible to connect your financial partners and your co-worker, and meet face-to-face when you can. 

3. Pray about what c0-worker(s) could use the additional support.

4. If you have a specific co-worker in mind (like I did with Gayathri), prep that person prior to your asking. Let your co-worker know your intention to ask your financial partners to transition their giving to them. 

5. Communicate with your co-worker that your expectation is for them to build fruitful relationships with their new financial partners. Make sure you don’t transfer your financial partners to someone who will not invest relationally with them! 

**if your co-worker happens not to shine in this area, or perhaps your co-worker is too new for you to know how excellent they are in this area, perhaps coach them through best practices of ministry partnership development and what you have learned along the way. Advice of a veteran who is fully-funded is always helpful! 

6. Follow protocol and guidelines of your sending organization if you ask your financial partners to transfer their giving. If you don’t know what they are, find out prior to asking. 

Ultimately, your financial partners are not yours, they are God’s. Truly, it is not about you. Sure one of the main principles of ministry partnership development remains: “people give to people above a cause.” However, hopefully as your financial partners have given to you over the years they have heard your passion for the work you have done – and hopefully that passion has been infectious. Thus, ask your team to transfer their giving to a worthy co-worker and see what happens. The Gayathri’s of the world will be grateful!

Overcome Major Obstacles to Get Fully Funded

Recently Support Raising Solutions, a ministry of the Center for Mission Mobilization (who are the amazing team of people behind The God Ask by Steve Shadrach) published a blog post I wrote on Overcoming Major Obstacles to Get Fully Funded. I’ve included an excerpt below. Click on the link above or just below to read the full article.

In my time as a support coach, I have yet to see a ministry worker not make it to the field because they were unable to raise their budget. I’ve seen people not go to the field because they got engaged, accepted a different job, or had medical issues—but it has yet to be money that has kept someone from going to the ministry they felt called to. That being said, I’ve seen numerous ministers scared that they were never going to get to the magical 100% mark. Some just freeze up, unable to move forward because of obstacles and fears. So lets talk about the obstacles and fears we face when raising our budgets. What are some of the most common? And what can we do to overcome them? 

#1 Obstacle: Perspective/Lack of Biblical Understanding

Viewing fundraising as a necessary evil instead of a vibrant ministry can be the largest hurdle someone raising support can face. I once heard it said 90% of support raising is perspective. After listening to numerous workers talk about their struggles, I find this overwhelmingly true. Workers who can’t seem to see the awesome ministry opportunities raising support provides them are the same ones who can’t seem to get to full support, and ultimately will probably walk away from their ministry calling. Viewing support raising as ministry is vital to staying engaged long-term and excited about the process.

If you go into an appointment seeing it only as a means to an end, you’ll pass up the opportunity to minister to the person across from you—and miss being blessed yourself! Other effects may be:

  • Coming across as disingenuous
  • Being sloppy and cutting corners
  • Awkward and fearful to make strong/bold ask

So, how can we overcome? Seek out a biblical understanding of support raising. Discover what God has to say on the subject by checking out resources such as the bible studies in the appendix of The God Ask. Ask others who have been successful in raising their support about their overall perspective. Pray continuously, and ask the Lord why He came up with this idea of Christian workers raising their personal and ministry expenses from others. He has already given the answers in scripture, we just have to find them.

….read 3 other obstacles and how to to overcome them by visiting the Support Raising Solutions blog 

 

You Need To Listen To This Podcast

Recently a friend of mine from Support Raising Solutions, Aaron Babyar, was a guest on a great podcast called EngagingMissions.com. He spoke on the topic of support raising.

I think every ministry worker needs to hear it. Including you.

Think of this podcast episode like a audio syllabus for a upper-level support raising class at a fancy university. Also, if you have been searching for better language to describe what you are doing in raising up a financial partnership team, steal every one-liner Aaron says and turn it into your own vocabulary. Here are some great examples of Aaron one-liners for stealing purposes:

Begging and inviting — those are diametrically opposed.

My supporters are a part of my ministry because they are in it with me.

“Believe and have faith that it all depends on God, but meanwhile, work like it all depends on you.”

Take an hour to listen sometime this week and thank me later – here’s the link:

http://engagingmissions.com/em140-aaron-babyar/

 

The Phone Call Mind Map

Most of the time, you will be asking individuals on the phone for face-to-face appointments to invite them onto your partnership team.

Phone calls can be daunting for anyone. For some of you (particularly for younger generations) phone calls can just be down-right scary.

One worker I coach found the phone call to be very daunting. To combat this she made a Phone Call Mind Map to help her move through her phone call script. I found the map extremely helpful when thinking through some of the scenarios we may face while making phone calls asking for appointments. Thus, I created one like her’s including some of the typical responses workers get when making phone calls.

Just so you know, I’m fully aware that it looks like a mess.

However you may find it helpful to print off and have near you while you begin making phone calls, especially those of you that are new-er to the process. Phone calls require the caller to go with the flow in some respects, but it does help to be prepared.

Below the mess are two things:

  1. Some important things to remember when making your phone calls.
  2. A basic phone call script / outline.

I hope you find this helpful!

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PHONE SCRIPT

WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT THIS PERSON  (i.e. hobbies, job, sports, family, name of spouse and kids…)  If a referral, who referred this person?

_________________________________________________________________

GREETING, INTRODUCTION, RAPPORT

_________________________________________________________________

TRANSITION TO THE APPOINTMENT

_________________________________________________________________

ASK FOR APPOINTMENT (MAKE SURE TO TALK ABOUT DESIRE FOR FINANCIAL PARTNERSHIP)

_________________________________________________________________

CONFIRM TIME, DATE, PLACE OF APPOINTMENT

_________________________________________________________________

CLOSING AND THANKS  (Details, dates, times, write directions on the back).

_________________________________________________________________