Happy 2023 everyone! Guys, I love January. There’s nothing like a fresh start. Did anyone out there do New Years resolutions or spend some of the last few weeks goal setting? I personally love taking time in the new year to look over my vision statement and goal set for the year. If you did, I would challenge you to find something to add to those goals as it relates to partnership development. Novel idea right?! If you are in full time ministry and live off of support, working on your financial partnership development is a VITAL part of your life. How you view it and treat it are fundamental to your success and longevity as a minister.
That being said, are you slipping into any bad habits? Is your communication strong with your partnership base, or has it slipped to the dusty corners of your to-do wishlist? When was the last time you wrote a newsletter? When was the last time you reached out to an old friend or prayed for them just because? Could you do anything new to stand out? Try something new? Could your vision statement or your print pieces use a little refinement? How’s your attitude as it concerns raising support? Do you love and nurture your support team or tend to neglect involving them in your ministry?
My intention is not to overwhelm you if you have slipped into a few bad habits, but maybe adopting a few of these small changes (or coming up with ideas of your own) could make 2023 and beyond easier and more enjoyable as it relates to ministry and your partnership development. Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. In 2023, PERSONALLY connect with everyone on your partnership team on a quarterly basis.
Consider bumping up your communications with your partnership team. Perhaps create a goal to reach out directly to every partner (churches and individuals) on a quarterly basis. Here are some ways to consider reaching out:
Direct Message on your social media app of choice
Short video from your phone
Text message or WhatsApp
Reaching out to a supporter personally doesn’t have to be lengthy to be effective. Some ideas:
Just say hi. Let them know you were thinking of them
Ask how they are doing and how you can pray for them
Share a podcast or a sermon if they come to mind
Share a verse you love and are studying
Say happy birthday
text a picture of a ministry event with a quick thank you.
These little habits of regular communication make a big difference!
Here’s an idea, if you’ve never sent postcards from your city or country maybe 2023 is the time to do it! Chunk your list and make a goal of sending 10-20 postcards out a month.
2. In 2023, learn how to close your appointments well and do great follow up to make your life easier.
Are you going to be doing a lot of public speaking while on itineration? Mark it as a chance to develop or refine your skills by studying the subject and applying a few new tips. Here’s a short list of some quick reads on the subject:
“As you ask remember that you are asking on behalf of the lost, so with that in mind BE BOLD, and walk forward in faith. It’s not for you but for His glory. Don’t let rejections stop or discourage you…because ultimately it is all for the lost. It will come in from a different source! Keep praying, fasting, and sabbath-ing throughout it all!” – Anonymous Overseas Worker
4. In 2023, keep the sabbath.
Dunno who needs to hear this but — keep that sabbath day holy! Okay? Okay.
5. In 2023, refine your vision statement.
Knowing who you are, how you were called, and what you want to do in ministry is important, right? Right.
“A mission statement is not something you write overnight… But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.” Stephen Covey
We know mission statements are important, but it can be challenging to find the time and energy to sit down and refine one’s mission statement. I would argue though, taking that time to blow the dust off of your mission statement (whether that’s a personal or a team missions statement) is crucial to success.
“People are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope with all of their might.” Stephen Covey
Even businesses struggle to maintain their vision statements, and recent research has showed that over half of employees (52%) cannot recite their business’s vision. All the while, a recent report shows that “sense of purpose” in work is the second most important criteria for millennials considering a job. Interesting.
If you want more information on vision statements and why they are so important to success, I’d recommend picking up a copy of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (Personally it is one of my favorite books EVER and goes in depth on the subject.)
6. In 2023, rebrand.
Have you been thinking for awhile it’s time to take your “brand” to the next level? Maybe it’s reordering new prayer cards that feature your newest child, or taking your Case Document and Connect Cards to the next level. Or maybe it’s thinking through a new newsletter template or features that align with your Facebook Group posts and website.
I’d say anything you can do to stand out, look professional, and raise the bar with quality communication and materials really does make a difference! Make 2023 the year to do it! The picture below is an example of a packet given to pastors that really stands out. Notice the fancy envelope and the beautiful graphics.
I hope these help spark some ideas for you! Happy 2023! -JF
Yesterday I was working with a guy I coach on crafting the perfect text for follow up. As we worked together, Erik of Take The Hill commented that “this is art!” I definitely laughed as we were putting a lot of time into the perfect text, but he has a point, it’s absolutely art! Crafting the perfect text for follow up after someone has verbally committed to support can be a real challenge, am I right?!
Thus, with Erik’s permission I’d like to share with you the sample text we came up with. (Thanks Erik!) Before I do, a few things to mention:
When we wrote this we were specifically thinking of partners that Erik had already reached out to for follow up. Essentially, Erik had face to face appointments with each of the recipients within the last month or two, and followed up with each after to get the partner to start their giving. However, for whatever reason the partner had not responded / was dragging their feet getting the commitment in. I believe that in most cases, if a financial partner says they are going to give, they most likely will, it’s just a matter of communicating effectively and time.
That being said, this text is not an example for the first follow up bid, but more like the 2nd or 3rd.
The text assumes that the financial partner has said a definite yes to partnership. At the end you will want to change the wording for those who were a little unsure during an appointment.
This is not an ask for someone you have not met with personally and made an ask to! It may go without saying, but just in case: texting in general should not be used for an ask for monthly partnership – that’s reserved for face to face (or Zoom if you have to) appointments.
This text is a great example of creating what I call a “short percentage goal” as outlined in this blog post. To distill that blog post quickly – a short percentage goal provides the new financial partner of a goal that is a few weeks away, creating a sense of timing and communicates that you will benefit by having them turn in their commitment soon. Essentially, a potential financial partner does not know that turning in their gift sooner rather than later greatly benefits you unless you tell them. A good time to do that is during the appointment close, and this text reinforces it.
Okay, with no further ado – here’s the sample text for you to help craft your own:
Hey X, just checking in. As we approach the end of the month I’m trying to dot my I’s and cross my T’s. If everyone who’s verbally committed will complete the giving process or pledge — we’ll be at 50% by November 1, which would be a HUGE win for X ministry!
(the paragraph below maybe separate text or separate paragraph)
Just for reference, here’s the link if needed (include link). If you can, it would be so helpful to us to fill it out. If you’re not able to right now, no worries, just let us(me) know if you can what you’re thinking. Either way, we(I) love you (guys) and we(I) are(am) honored to have you on our(my) team ((or we’d love to have you on our team— if not sure of their commitment).
BONUS! If this is the 2nd or 3rd bid, what do you do if they don’t respond to this text? Well, in that case you would still have room to circle back around to the subject. Let’s suggest we try texting again 2-4 weeks later with something like the following (this will be a little dependent on how your organization does giving – but you can fill in the blanks):
Hey X. Dunno if you saw my text a couple of weeks ago? I’ll try and call you soon if that works better. Are you all still wanting to give monthly? I am currently at 75% and am excited to get to 100% quickly – aiming for the first of the year. If you’re still wanting to give, but don’t want to start your giving until I get to 100%, that’s absolutely fine! Just let me know if I can go ahead and fill out a pledge form on your behalf – that will help me get that percentage closer to 100% – and I’ll let you know when to start. If you want to start now – that’s great too! Either way, if you can, let me know what you are thinking. Sorry to bog you down with a request – I know life is busy! Hope you and X are doing great. Let me know if you have any questions!
I hope this helps! Searching for more thoughts on wielding texting in the support raising process? You can find more here.
2022 is coming to a close and it’s already time to start talking about your Year End Giving strategy. It may feel early and still be 90 degrees outside, but grab a PSL and lets get into it.
I say this every year – but November and December are statistically the best two months of the year for giving. Around 30% of ALL GIVING in the United States occurs in the month of December. 12-13% of giving occurs in the last three days of the year. And maybe you aren’t singing the Jingle Bell Rock just yet but here are some things to think about ahead of time to get your strategy in place NOW.
First off, in September, October, and early November, it’s great to focus one’s efforts on face to face appointments. If you can, kick it into overdrive and set goals for more appointments and initial contacts than usual! Why? Well, typically speaking it’s one of the easiest times of year to schedule appointments. Summer is over and people are into routine, school is back, people are checking their calendars and not overwhelmed with plans. After Thanksgiving is when things should shift from business as usual face to face appointments to Year End Giving mode. Toward the holidays there are additional touches you can create to show your existing team you care as well as generate some excitement and cash gifts. (see below for the ideas!)
Thirdly, September and October are also excellent months of the year to reach out to churches. Churches typically schedule services months in advance so calling in September or October may get you service in January or February 2021. If you wait to reach out to a pastor/church until November or December, you may get radio silence until January due to the church’s busy holiday schedule.
Lastly, consider creating a specific goal for all of your Year End Giving and try a multichannel approach that all work together to support that specific goal. Maybe you want to raise $3,000 for your language learning costs, get $200 in new monthly support, or reach 75% funded. Just make sure it is reasonable and attainable.
With all of that being said, here’s a break down on some specific ideas for your Year End Giving strategy.
1. GO LIVE
Facebook or Instagram Lives / Q&As could be a great way to generate some excitement and cohesion with your team. The main content of a FB Live (or Instagram if that’s where the bulk of your supporters are) Q&A should be comprised of giveaways, trivia and information on your assignment, and questions from the audience. When you do yours, I think it’s important to stay simple and fun, and promote it however you can before hand. Lives can be great for a deeper dive on you – as people following you can hop in after and watch the recording if they cannot make the specific time. That being said, I think doing multiple Lives during the months leading up to Jan 1 are a good idea, but if you were only going to do one I would consider doing one somewhere towards the beginning-ish of November. Here are some thoughts on a Facebook Live from a worker who did one:
REFLECTIONS ON A FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A:
“I used my iPhone because it has a better camera than my Chrome book. If your laptop has a good camera though, I’d recommend using that because I think it’s easier to the comments that come in. I basically had my computer off to the side reading comments from there. Also FYI if you start the live on your phone vertically you have to keep it that way-it won’t switch over if you turn your phone. I’d recommend starting horizontal.”
“I did giveaways of books. They were just what I had on hand as I thought of giveaways last minute. I had a prayer book for XX as well as some of the books from my ministry.”
“My trivia was how I did the giveaways. Some was about me and my testimony and others were about the country.”
“I announced it a couple days ahead of time, and went Live the day before just for a few minutes to make sure everything worked well. You can also practice going Live on your own feed by setting your security settings to “only me”. I did that just to set up the lighting, and to make sure my background was not too distracting. I also think it would be helpful, if you had somebody reading the comments to you. As a single gal, I was wishing that I had asked somebody to do that for me in the midst of it. Also, my parents had come up with quite a few questions that I had on hand just in case people were not engaging, or the questions lagged for a minute.”
Facebook Live is a fun way for people to hear more about your assignment, get information, build up some hype. Think of them more as a space to get people interested or hear more, but not for asks. I think it’s fine during a Facebook Live to mention you are raising up a team of supporters and to tell them to please DM or comment if interested in joining some aspect of your team, provide the giving information needed, etc. It may also be a great way to kick off or end a Facebook Campaign– but typically Lives are not the place to push direct asks.
Pro tip: There are ways to go Live without ruining any security risks. Think through ways to keep things safe such as using your closed group only to host the Live, or use a safe account. Whatever you do make sure to touch base with your leadership to follow protocols.
Here’s a quick example of an announcement of a FB Live. You’ll likely want to do 2-3 posts to generate buzz and get the word out prior to going Live.
2. GIVING TUESDAY
Giving Tuesday, which occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a day for non-profits and others raising funds to solicit donations. It is a GREAT DAY to post something online asking friends and family to give. Giving Tuesday donations has risen 143% in the last 7 years.
The example below is from a family who was going to a sensitive location. For Giving Tuesday they set a specific goal of $1,000 to go to pre-school and language learning. They promoted throughout the day (and prior!) by posting multiple times it on their Secret Facebook Group, which was comprised of people who were already a part of their team either in prayer and/or finances. They also created a post prior to Giving Tuesday on their regular Facebook page, asking if anyone was interested in hearing more about their journey. Then they added those interested parties to their Secret Facebook Group so that they could see the posts. BRILLIANT.
Do you want to know if they made their goal? Screen shots of their posts and progress are below. For security purposes I am not sharing the totality of their ADORABLE video, however, I did write down their script and have it below. It’s a great example of how you can raise over $1,000 in cash in ONE SINGLE DAY with a little bit of effort and excitement. By the way, the Smiths were EXCELLENT at face to face appointments and had a solid team in place by the time Giving Tuesday came. You may think Giving Tuesday wouldn’t work for an already established team…but see below for the results!
VIDEO SCREEN SHOTS:
Jason: “Hi guys, we are the Smith family. This is baby Justin, my wife Sara, and I’m Jason. Justin just turned 1 year old yesterday (all: YAY!) We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!”
Sara: “After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday if there is anything left in your bank account today is what is called “Giving Tuesday”. It’s an opportunity to bless people who are in the process of raising money. Many of you know that we are moving to X in the spring and we have been in the process of raising our monthly budget. But we also have to raise a cash budget up front. We are asking our friends and family on Facebook to consider giving us a cash gift of $25. Our goal is to raise $500 for Justin’s school and $500 for our language learning training for a total of $1,000 in just 1 DAY! You can give towards Justin’s school which will give him the opportunity to learn language, learn the culture, and make friends. Or today you could choose to give to our language training which will give us the opportunity to learn X and connect with people in their language.”
Jason: “Now it’s super easy to give, all you have to do is click the link and it will take you straight to the page where you can give. Then if you would send us a Facebook Message telling us which of these two things you gave towards – that way we can keep a running tally. Otherwise we won’t know for a couple of days, and that’s way less exciting.”
Sara: “Thank you friends for your generosity we appreciate you more than words can say.”
Both: “Happy Giving Tuesday!”
*funny bloopers with Justin and family at the end
*graphics displayed on video about link with arrows, Giving Tuesday, and Thank You.
*fun music in the background – light and airy.
3. NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER
Send out a regular newsletter at the beginning of November, even if you have done one recently.
Keep it to 1 page – be brief.
Keep it ministry focused with specific stories.
Use it to promote any Facebook Live or Giving Tuesday efforts you will be doing.
Say a very hearty thank you!
Don’t do any asks on this newsletter.
4. CHRISTMAS CARD / YEAR END LETTER
Do Christmas cards along with a year end letter sometime before December 31st (think about sticking it in the mail the day after Thanksgiving). I think it’s a good idea in some circumstances (see below for more on this) to bundle these two and stick them in the mail together, the card of course being Christmasy with the year end letter inside. Send these out to your existing financial and prayer partner list.
Include the following components:
Merry Christmas greeting.
Express your authentic thankfulness for your support team. Emphasize and focus your letter on the impact your partners are having.
Percentage update of where you are at raising your funds.
A gift-wrappy-Christmasy-wonderful-snowy graphic that has your organization’s giving website / ways to give. (Make it pretty – I made the one to the right in 5 minutes using Canva.com)
An actual ask in the letter for finances (yep, this is the only time of year I say go for it on a letter!). Consider making it about one story of a life changed or need.
Try to stay away from “I” language and use “we” language instead. Example: “I need $500 more in monthly support” to “In order to keep this ministry to the United School in South Africa and impact people like Miles, we are looking for $500 more in monthly support.” Answer the question “What difference will this make in someone’s life?”
Do a nice handwritten PS.
Tips for year end letter:
Switch this up from a regular newsletter. Use a slightly different template than a regular newsletter and make it more like a letter.
Don’t send an ask year end letter to anyone who recently started giving, just gave one time recently, or just increased their giving. (probably within the past 6 months). Just send them Christmas cards instead. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many asks.
Consider creating a different version of your year end letter to those who haven’t started giving yet or didn’t give when asked. Change particulars as needed for the audience.
Perhaps for people who have said that they can’t give- give them a soft opportunity to give. Change the thankfulness for being on your support team and instead thank them for their prayers and involvement in your life.
For those you haven’t yet met with, change the particulars to reflect your desire to meet with them soon and thank them for the involvement in your life. You may want to include a soft ask but not as bold as to those you send it to who you’ve already met with.
Snail mail your year end letter.
Keep it to 1 page make it look really nice!
5. SMALL GIFTS
Send your members of your partnership team small gifts. December is a great time of year to express your thankfulness to your support team. Go above and beyond that newsletter!
6. FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN
A well crafted, intentional, relational Facebook Campaign can be helpful during these months of giving. Consider creating a Facebook Campaign in October, November, or December if you haven’t already done one recently. Keep in mind, this is advisable only if you have gotten far enough in your financial partnership (75-80%) to start one.
Last note on Facebook Campaigns: GET SILLY. (this applies to Giving Tuesdays as well!) Shave a head if you reach your goal! Do a weird dance! Eat something weird! Write a song! Don’t discount the lure of silly rewards. Here’s a screen shot of a worker who jumped into freezing waters on the last day of their Campaign (they reached their goal of $1,000 in monthly support in 10 days):
7. EMAIL AFTER CHRISTMAS
Send out an email on December 29th or 30th. Include the following:
Greeting of Happy New Year for your partners
Remind them of your ministry as they execute their giving.
Use that christmasy-graphic and update it to be new-years-y with a clickable link on giving online.
Don’t include a formal ask. Just thank yous’ and the graphic on how to give online.
Stay consistent with your goals and shoot for a multi-channel approach. The secret sauce for creating a successful year end strategy is all about sequence. What does that mean? Essentially, sequence is you creating a goal and using that message/goal consistently to create a multi-channel integrated approach. Your goal should be consistent across any blogs or websites, social media, email, and written mail.
Have your strategy in place and communication pieces written BEFORE November.
Sequence maximizes the return on your effort and time investment. Stay consistent.
Try to get a hook when creating your goals. Maybe an image, theme, tagline, story.
Try to be eye-catching. Be compelling.
Less is more. The fewer words the better. Keep videos as short, fun, and informative as possible.
Don’t send a year end letter to anyone who just started giving, gave a special gift, or increased their giving in the last six months. Just send them a Christmas card.
Customize two different letters: one for on-going financial partners, one for non-givers.
In your wording, focus on the partner. Example: “There is hope, and that hope is you.” Talk about how your partners make the world better with their gift: “You gave 50 kids the gift of Jesus last year with your donation, and now you can do more.” The partner and the partnership between you becomes the hero of this story. Acknowledge their important role in your mission.
Get creative! These aren’t the only ways to utilize this season, just some ideas I’ve seen work very well.
Don’t let your partners only hear “asks” from you. Be sure you stay on top of personal communication. The routine newsletter that arrives in early November will be helpful – 1 page with pictures, ministry focused with specific stories. But get beyond that and reach out in micro relational ways to your team.
Here’s posts from a couple who did both a Facebook Live Q&A and Giving Tuesday:
One of my favorite questions to ask workers who have successfully raised support is “If you could tell a new worker raising support one thing, what would it be.” It’s so encouraging and eye opening to hear their responses. I’ve done some posts on this before, but it’s been a bit so thought I would gather some new answers for you. Enjoy and be encouraged! Thank you to all those who contributed. (I have left their names off due to security purposes) – JF
First, I’d like to briefly share some things I believe are important NOT to do in a newsletter.
What Not to Do Newsletters:
Do not write super long paragraphs / pages about what you are learning. It sounds harsh…but short ones = AWESOME. Long ones = NO DICE. And always share what GOD is doing.
Do not forget your contact information, giving link / giving information, QR code (if you have one) — or any needed additional information. Make sure your contact information is up to date, and also is what you will be using if you are going abroad. Lastly, make sure your contact information is also easy to read (as in not teeny tiny font or in colors hard to read or notice). ***Bonus — QR codes including your Linktree or other online places to share additional information are a nice touch and easy for the reader to use. ***Bonus Bonus — always use your branding and/or your organizations branding.
Do not add everyone to your newsletter list before asking them personally to be a part of your team. If you do that, the buy in / engagement will likely be low and you may end up with general feelings of non-relationship from your potential partners. Wait until you’ve asked them to be a part of your team, or they have heard from you at a church service and signed up personally for your newsletter (see connect cards).
Do not use vacation-like photos, keep photos as ministry active as possible.
Do not make it boring. Consider doing something different (but still accessible) for your newsletter. Video newsletters are awesome (if you do one, don’t make it long). If you go for a video newsletter: (1) know what you are going to say in advance, (2) pick an interesting background that represents what you are doing, (3) don’t make the background of your video a noisy street where hearing the audio is going to be a challenge.
Do not stick to newsletters as your only form of communication. In this day and age where we have easy global access, merely emailing your team once a quarter with a generalized email newsletter is not going to cut it as your only form of communication. Get beyond the newsletter. I love this quote and I believe it’s so true: “Relational connection is now a STANDARD measurable of worker effectiveness.” – Randy Jumper of First NLR. That being said, here are 10 easy things you can do to stay in touch and show you care in micro ways.
Do not make your newsletter an attachment in an email. NOPE. Use programs like Mailchimp or Constant Contact (just give it a google if you are looking for more options – there are a lot) to make the newsletter more accessible as well as personalized (“Thank you Jenn” vs “Thank you support team”)
Do not assume your newsletter won’t go into their spam folder. Check with your supporters to make sure they are getting your newsletter, or when you are signing them up for it send them a text and tell them to be on the lookout for it and check their spam folder. Perhaps post in your hidden Facebook group or other communication that you have recently sent one out – and to let you know if they did not receive it.
Do not write a boring subject line. “Summer Newsletter” is not as effective as “Hey Jenn, how’s your summer going so far?” (yes, you can customize subject lines in many newsletter programs)
Second, a couple of notes on newsletters I think are important to highlight:
Use your newsletter to communicate your passion for your ministry, not as a woe-as-me-fest. Stay positive, not negative. Every newsletter should convey what God is doing and has done.
Say thank you a lot and often. Thank your team for being a part of what God is doing. Remind them how thankful you are for them.
Stay consistent. If you say your going to do a newsletter every other month – stick to it. Newsletters truly don’t have to be long to be effective.
Do short e-blast newsletters from time to time (beyond your usual newsletter cycle). I love to hear successes from workers just because. Maybe a building finally got built and you share a thank you and a picture, or a person whom you care about and have been walking with came to Christ. Or maybe you reached 75% raised and you’re pumped — so share it briefly with your team. Quick videos of thanks and praise reports are generally a good idea.
In your newsletter – use “we” languageinstead of “I” language. Your team is alongside of you and you are doing this work TOGETHER. You could not be doing it without them, and you are in many ways representing the churches and individuals that support the work – by being the boots on the ground they are not / can’t be / don’t know they should be yet – so cut out any “I” language and replace it with inclusive “we” language.
Lastly, below is an example of a good, but regular newsletter (in that it’s not overly fancy or hard to accomplish) that I recently got and thought I would share. *names and faces are blocked out for sensitivity. It’s also a bit chopped up but you get the idea) Here are a few things that I like about it:
The video! We can’t see the actual here on the blog, so to sum up the content of it: it gives many more details on their ministry but does so quickly – it clocks in at 2:42. In the video the couple shares about one specific ministry win that recently happened. They also share that things are going well in their support raising season.They also announce in the video (while holding their adorable child!) that they will soon be doing a Facebook Campaign coming up to get them from 75% to 100% raised.
They share with joy and passion!
It’s a great example of a newsletter while support raising – It isn’t needy, communicates enthusiasm, is informative, and thanks the team.
They mix up sharing with the video and some brief reading – which is such a nice way to engage with a newsletter.
This list of tips and do not’s is not comprehensive – just some of the things I believe are important to nail. I hope these thoughts on newsletters are helpful! Share your thoughts or tips in the comments! – JF
If you answered yes, well, I happen to respectfully disagree with you dear reader. Do you mind if I point out some reasons why? Before I do, I’d love to try and clarify my stance on this specific subject.
I believe it’s great to share budget details with an individual during a face to face appointment IF THEY ASK for the information. However, if they don’t ask, I truly believe it is good to only talk in percentages and not lead with budget information. (AKA: don’t put your budget details in your newsletter, don’t make the ask in the appointment by sharing you have X amount to raise in monthly support and X amount in cash, and don’t share the information around the water cooler so to speak)
Why you ask? Let’s start off by exploring 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 $4,200 in monthly support for two years and a cash budget of $35,000. 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 $4,200 per month and $35,000 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, a 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? As I mentioned briefly above, talk in percentages! Change the sentence from “I need $4,200 in monthly support and $305000 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?“
Another very important thing to mention here: 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:
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!
If an individual asks what your budget is, as I mentioned before: 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.
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.
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 challenged their friends on Facebook for Giving Tuesday in November of last year to help them raise $2,000 toward their budget. They shared in their videos and posts that the $2,000 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!
this post is re-posted and edited from original post in 2017 – you can find it here.
Standing out amongst a crowd is a good thing when it comes to support raising. Many ministry workers I talk to are continually looking for impactful ways to make themselves memorable. One great way to stand out is by making a strong first impression with well written and branded communication pieces. However, many ministry workers become frustrated with the lack of response they receive from their carefully crafted communication pieces, wondering where they might have gone wrong with only fractions of pastors and individuals responding to written pieces such as newsletters, emails, and texts.
I think I have a fun suggestion to solve for X.
Recently I got into a conversation with a worker that I coach (let’s call her Kate), and she mentioned she started video messaging pastors and individuals instead of using standard emails (she also substitutes video messages for texts, and some phone calls).
After she mentioned this I did what any good coach would do, and reverted to a classic coaching phrase “Say more about that“, (…honestly I was a little worried she was going way too far off the beaten path in her communication) and she began to explain how she had been using video messaging instead of using boring ole emails. To quote Kate:
“I’m a X (omitted for security purposes) district ministry worker with Assemblies, and no one really knows who I am because I’ve never been in full time ministry before. My hope is that sending a video first to pastors puts a face to the name. Having something outside of the box helps and shows that, hey! I’m a human!”
To get specific, Kate is using a video messaging service called Bombbomb.com. BombBomb’s tagline boasts “Get more replies, save valuable time, and add a human touch with BombBomb video email and video messages.” Think about it: Have you have sent correspondence to a pastor/church or individual only to hear nothing back? Have you felt bombarded by emails and quickly skim or don’t even read many of your emails? Have you sent text messages out that read like books (tl;dr = too long don’t read) that haven’t gotten desired responses?
So why does video messaging work? Well, the thing that makes BombBomb so effective is that it embeds the video message with a gif-like link in the body of the email (you can also send these out as text messages!). It moves and shakes and gets readers attention instead of just having bland words in an email. The other thing that makes it so effective is that the video is personalized to the person. For instance, in Kate’s video to me there was a banner of Valentine’s Day (I got this in early February, they rotate the banners based on holidays, seasons, and preferences) and Kate brilliantly held up a personalize sign of my name that became the thumbnail / gif of the video. It made me instantly want to watch it and find out what she had to say TO ME. Not only that, I knew immediately from the banner that it was a 43 second video (you never want to make videos long!) so I knew it was going to be taking too much of my time. Here’s a screen shot of the email (some details omitted for security purposes):
So how did this experiment in video messaging work out for Kate’s support raising? Well, as Kate began sending this videos out to pastors that she had never met before, she started getting instant responses. With BombBomb, you can ask the recipient to record their own video back or respond to the email – which gives them a fun and/or a quick easy way to respond.
Interested? Here are creative some ways you could use a video messaging service such as BombBomb to stand out in your support raising:
Emailing pastors / churches / missions boards instead of sending emails for an introduction
Texting individuals and groups reminders for events
Texting individuals, groups, pastors, or businesses for personalized communication
Kate has decided after trying BombBomb.com for free that she is gladly going to pay for the BombBomb Plus program (FYI there is a free option for Non-Profits!). She is going to switch her actual newsletters over from e-newsletters on Mailchimp to video newsletters via BombBomb (with BombBomb Plus you can send videos out to multiple people at a time). What a fresh take on a newsletter! Kate is also using BombBomb to follow up with groups.
Here’s Kate sharing some details on follow up with groups:
“I shared at a (church) service yesterday! I’m putting all those individuals I talked with or gave me back connect cards in a group on BombBomb. Today or tomorrow, I’ll send that group a BombBomb campaign video email and say thank you, welcome to the journey, here’s what to expect now, and here’s monthly giving info, etc. I’m trying to find new ways to incorporate BombBomb in follow up tasks.”
What do you think? I think it’s BRILLIANT. Thinking outside of the box and standing out is becoming more and more important to the workers I coach, and I love that this is a unique and easy way to do that. Also, side note = bombbomb.com services are free for non-profits!
Have you tried video messaging? What are some ways you are thinking outside the box? What are some ways you are utilizing technology? Post it in the comments! I hope this idea sparks ideas that encourage you to stand out!
Click the link below to watch the full video that Kate sent me!
Do you ever wonder which link to use when directing people online to find out more about you and your ministry? Do you direct them straight to your giving site? Social media? Or perhaps to a website you maintain or your organization maintains? If you have multiple platforms and have a hard time deciding what is best — what if you didn’t have to choose?
Enter Linktree! And as their tagline boasts: it’s the only link you’ll ever need!
I’m not completely new to Linktree. It’s likely you are not either, and like me you have seen it utilized a few places. I’ve noticed them in a few of my friend’s Instagram bios, in some businesses, or even on various influencers pages who maintain multiple websites. I’ve also seen it used as a QR code link for large events. But I’ve never thought of it as a support raising tool until last week, when I heard a ministry couple (here I will call them the Meritt family) share their strategy using Linktree when speaking at various church services. So no… this isn’t a sponsored post in case you’re wondering! I just thought it was a really great idea worth sharing.
For those of you who aren’t aware of it, let me share what Linktree is. Essentially it’s a website you create that the user can click on whatever content/link you see fit – creating a simple hub of information. In this instance, it’s a landing page you can send someone to learn more about you and your ministry. Here’s an screen shot of the Meritt’s Linktree landing page:
The Meritt’s Linktree has some very valuable information all in one simple hub. Examples of what else could be included on this Linktree or others like it would be social media pages, organizational information, various helpful websites, and a well maintained blog (there are likely a lot more I’m not thinking of!).
For the Meritt’s Linktree — I’d love to draw attention to what a great idea it is to have a sample missions message on YouTube; particularly as they often travel to speak at churches within our denomination.
Here is a list of a few ways you may consider using Linktree in your support raising strategy:
Happy New Year everyone! I’ve been thinking of what to post this month to kick off the new year, and I wanted to go ahead and re-post this from May of last year. I think it may be one of the most essential blog posts I’ve done in awhile, so I’d like to throw you what I thought was a highlight of 2021 up front. I think creating a short goal during The Close (read on to see what I’m talking about) is an absolute game changer! Enjoy! – JF
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 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:
Because it gives you a frame of reference as to when to expect their commitment turned in by.
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:
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)
SHORT PERCENTAGE GOAL: As above, give them a short percentage goal and communicate your needs for having them turn it in.
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?!?!**
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:
I know from my own experience and coaching numerous workers that seeing relatives over the holidays can be stressful, and can be particularly stressful when raising support. Do you make an ask, or just conversation? How much detail should you go into about your assignment with that relative that isn’t a believer? What’s with all the side comments and disapproval from Aunt Merle?!
Unfortunately, I can’t give a formulated response to how to handle every conversation with your relatives. There are simply too many variables, such as the strength of the relationship, how far along you are with raising your budget, if you have had a personal conversation with them or appointment prior concerning support, etc. Making an ask during Christmas may be the best course of action, however it may also not be the time for it. How does one know? The only thing I can offer here without knowing your exact situation are a couple of quick tips:
If you are going to make an ask during Christmas, I would consider trying to prepare your relatives prior, making sure they understand you want to set aside time to talk with them specifically about your assignment and ask if they would like to join some aspect of your team. Essentially, treat it the same as you would prior to an appointment, it’s just the appointment may be during Christmastime.
You don’t want your extended family members to run from you every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Right? Right. Hear me say IT IS OKAY if you don’t ask every aunt and cousin on your list during your three hour Christmas event. It may be best to wait and approach them after Christmas. Think of it too – if you see them during Christmas then you’ve had some great time to simply build up relationship and be a good family member.
If you are having trouble figuring out the best course of action on how to approach family members over Christmas about support, consider asking a seasoned worker or coach on how to best approach these important conversations. Sometimes having a sounding board, and particularly one with experience, can be extremely helpful. Don’t be afraid to get into the weeds with your coach or mentor and explain the relationship dynamics.
When talking about support or your assignment in general, err on the side of boldness and confidence. The more confidence you have in yourself and in your ministry, the more your relatives will too.
Not too much unlike, #4, favor honorable directness over beating around the bush when talking about support. Don’t hem and haw around the subject. Experience has shown me the more up front about it the better.
Lastly and most important: this Christmas, strive to be a good listener.
Listening is one of the most important skills you can learn to perfect in conversation, and all it takes to do so really is a little mindfulness. When it comes to Christmas, you will undoubtably have numerous opportunities to practice! Thus, my main piece of advice is to strive to listen. Be present in the moment, and present with the person in front of you. You can try literally telling yourself (maybe not out loud though, so those relatives believe your sane) to focus on the people around you and not on yourself. Think about listening more than you speak. Believe that your aunt Merle and cousin Gary have something to teach you, because truly everyone has something to teach you!
All of that being said, below are 10 easy steps to become a better conversationalist. Try and keep these things in mind as you speak with those relatives that may challenge you this Christmas.
Be a listener that is seeking to understand, not just seeking to get a word in and reply. Your relatives will appreciate your attentiveness and chances are you will feel more inspired and fulfilled by being mindful of the people around you and really focusing on them. Treat your Christmas parties, celebrations, and interactions with relatives as an opportunity for ministry! I pray you have a Merry Christmas friends!