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! 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:
Consider all of the questions above carefully before doing The Final Contact.
If a Final Contact is given too early you run the risk of offending cherished relationships.
If you move to the Final Contact too early you also run the risk of no support from them.
It’s likely that after you make The Final Contact, you will hear from the person who has ghosted you. It happens often.
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).
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:
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!”
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.”
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…”
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
We are well into the final quarter of 2020, which for most has been a very difficult year. But before we say bye-bye to Blursday 2020, we have what are statistically speaking the two best giving months of the year – November and December. That’s right folks…Put it on your to-do list! It’s time to start thinking about your Year End Giving Strategy and I’ve got 8 ideas with a lot of detail to help you think through yours!
I say this every year – but 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 jingle bells just yet but here are some things to think about ahead of time to get your strategy in place NOW.
In September, October, and early November, it’s great to LASER 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, though we have yet to see what the fall of 2020 is going to do in the midst of the pandemic, 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. Scheduilng appointments this year needs to incorporate a question of what an individual is comfortable with as far as meeting. And as we approach the colder months of the year it’s possible that meeting safely outside is not an option for people who are being cautious, thus Zoom would become the place to be! That’s GREAT. Don’t hold off on meeting with someone because it’s on Zoom. Go ahead and Zoom the night away. Okay? Okay.
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. After Thanksgiving, let things shift a bit from business as usual.
Build out your Year End Giving Strategy BEFORE Thanksgiving. Think it through and start working on it in October. If you let it slide until after Thanksgiving, you’ll most likely miss out on some strategic opportunities due to poor planning.
Typically speaking (2020 is not typical), September and October are also excellent months of the year to reach out to churches. If churches are scheduling for their services whether streaming or live – 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. Here are some additional thoughts on reaching out to churches in the midst of the weird pandemic space they are in right now.
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. FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A
The main content of a FB Live Q&A should be comprised of giveaways, trivia and information on your assignment, and questions from the audience. Make it simple and fun, and promote it however you can before hand. Consider doing one somewhere towards the beginning-ish of November. Here are some thoughts on a Facebook Live from a worker who did one last year:
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 Lives 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 1: This also could be an Instagram Live if that’s a pretty robust space for you and your followers.
Pro tip 2: 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.
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. FACE TO FACE NOW!
In November and December are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for F2F appointments? Yeah, don’t do that. Sure, time for interaction may level off the weeks of holidays but experience has taught me that it can also be a GREAT time for face-to-face (I use face-to-face arbitrarily – that could mean virtually) appointments; particularly if you are in from out of town and catching up with family members or old friends! Are we going to be meeting with our families this year?! Who knows! But don’t stop reaching out to connect with people and making the ask. Some tips:
Try and ask them for a F2F early. Give them a couple of extra weeks to put it in their calendar.
Get a small gift for your potential financial partner and bring it to your appointment.
Make it about them when you meet as much as it is about you. Ask questions and get excited about who they are. Don’t let your appointment become a monologue.
Send a thank you card within 48 hours after you meet – regardless of responses!
If you cannot reach someone toward the holidays, don’t sweat it. Try reaching out to them again in January.
Pay for their coffee if you meet in person.
6. 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!
7. 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. Also, in general for Facebook Campaigns I think it’s best not to do one for the end of the year if you already plan on doing Giving Tuesday and a Facebook Live Q&A. Try to pick between Giving Tuesday posts + a Facebook Live Q&A, or doing a Facebook Campaign. It’s best to NOT do all a couple of weeks apart so that you don’t over saturate your social media audience.
8. 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. Try to keep letters, etc. personal and short. 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:
Hey guys, I posted this 2 years ago and 5 years before that (with some changes of course), but I think this is one of the most important topics in the area of support raising there is and thus — here it is again! Easy ways to stay connected with your partners while you are busy in full time ministry! – JF
Here’s a statistic that Bill Dillon, a guru in the support raising world and author of People Raising, has that I think you’ll find potent:
For every 100 people that stop supporting you:
66% of people stop giving because they think you don’t care about them
15% are unhappy with your organization
15% transfer their giving somewhere else
4% move away or die
When I train missionaries on how to raise their support I tend to stay away from the word “fundraising” for many reasons, and when I really think about it — this statistic is at the heart of all of my reasons. Basically, No one wants to invest in something that yields no return. If an individual gives a worker monthly support and feels as though the worker could care less about their giving, they will likely go somewhere else with their giving dollars.
And in my opinion, they should.
Ouch! Why you ask? Because the reason donors are investing in the Great Commission is because they are called to be a vital part of the Great Commission too. And if they are called to be a part of the Great Commission, why should they be made to feel as though their “vital part” is on the sidelines and forgotten?
I believe that one reason we forget to invest in the relationships we have with our financial partners is because we forget (or perhaps don’t have the paradigm) that they are as vital to the work that we are doing as we (as ministers) are. That being said, many christian workers on financial support struggle in the area of continually connecting with their financial partners even if they have a high value for their relationships with them.
It makes sense. We are all busy. Ministers are typically very busy. I totally get it.
As much as I understand, I also believe it isn’t a valid excuse. There are so many easy ways to connect across continents in our world. As such, I would like to offer up 10 suggestions on how workers on financial support can continually, quickly, and easily connect with churches and individuals who financially invest in the kingdom work they are doing.
10 Ways to Connect
1. The Quarterly Newsletter
Here’s a no-brainer: Send your newsletters. You should do a minimum of four a year, but it’s probably better to do one every other month. Keep them short and talk way more about ministry than personal things. Include pictures of active ministry (no vacation spots). Here’s a great link from the Support Raising Solutions blog on creating great Newsletters.
2. Short Email or Letter
When you get on the field, pick 10-15 financial partners each month and email them a QUICK and SHORT personal hello/touch base. For example:
“Hi Sally, just wanted to touch base with you and see how you have been doing. You and Chuck are on our prayer list for this month and we are wondering if you have any updates or requests? Things here are going wonderful. We just finished with our building project and couldn’t be more excited to receive students this coming fall. There will be 10! We will definitely be busy with it but we are pumped! I am also really looking forward to getting back into teaching. Anyhow, hope you all are well and let us know how we can be in prayer for you.” – Jenn
See…how painful is that? It took me all of two minutes to write that… You may be saying, but what happens when they write back? If they do, take another minute of your day to promptly reply to those who responded to your email. If all 10 respond it will take you around 15-20 minutes to respond to everyone. Then, take the time to mention them in your prayers and follow up with that as you have time and God leads. Keep a simple notebook. Write them down. It will make all of the difference and mean so much to the people spending so much time praying for you.
Once you have gone through your 10-15 partners each month, circle back around your list. Put these on some sort of white board in your room or house to remind you, or put it into a calendar each month. Whatever you do, calendarize it in some way.
3. Postcards and Presents
Send small gifts or postcards to your financial partners. Tell them thank you for their continuing support.
I recently received a postcard from a friend vacationing in Costa Rica. That postcard remained on my fridge for 2 months for two reasons: (1) My friend thought of me from a far off destination and it made my day getting that postcard! (2) It was beautiful! Personally, I’m a sucker for a pretty print of any far off destination.
Small gifts do not have to cost much to mean a lot.
4. Stay Active on Social Media
If you don’t already have one, create a Facebook page. Create a secret group if you are going to a sensitive country. Stay active on it while you are on the field. Pictures, prayer updates, short videos, scripture verses, and praise reports are all fantastic. *If you are somewhere sensitive keep that in mind while posting and follow the rules of your organization.
Consider getting onto Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok as well! This is not for everyone, and typically I say to start with one social media outlet (probably Facebook) and do it well. However if you have the time and know-how try one or both of these. I love posting on Twitter and have a personal Instagram page as a creative outlet. Both have been effective in communicating with friends and helping me to network on a larger scale.
Another great thing to think about doing in your secret Facebook groups or if you have a ministry page is a Facebook Live. If you choose to do one before hand promote the time your event will be taking place, and take care to choose a time that works well for your financial partners. When you do a Facebook Live event, make it a guided Q&A and consider doing your Facebook Live in an interesting place. That Facebook Live will record as a video so anyone not able to make the time can view later!
Facebook message your financial partners or like their posts. Stay active on your personal page.
5. I’m Thinking Of You
Sometimes as I listen to audio sermons, worship sets, podcasts, or scriptures, I’ll check in with God and ask if He would like me to share any of those with my friends, family, or financial partners. If I feel prompted, I’ll send that sermon or verse to a friend on Facebook with a little message. These have to make sense and the sermons probably shouldn’t be overly convicting on major sins or anything. (Don’t imply that your friend has a problem). Use common sense. ie. Don’t send a message on tithing to a partner who hasn’t recently been giving.
6. The Church Letter or Video
Write a short letter to the churches that financially partner with you. Put a note in to the pastor to please read where he feels it appropriate to the congregation (small groups, prayer groups, Sunday school). If you don’t have time for a letter, create a quick video on your smart phone or computer and email it to the pastor. Ask the pastor to share that with his congregation or prayer group if possible.
When you come back home, hold an event in key areas where your financial partners are. During the event provide desserts and coffee. Share stories from the field, answer any questions, tell them about your future plans, and thank them, thank them, and thank them.
These events can be as elaborate or simple as you want to make them. I would of course error on the side of taking care of your important guests by providing refreshments and some sort of dessert or snack – these also provide an incentive for your guests to come.
Create connect cards for those interested in giving for the first time.
8. Face to Face
In addition to the church event, when you come home set up one-on-one coffee times with pastors and friends and family that have supported you. Thank them and catch up on their lives while you were gone. Be relational and intentional. Really, this shouldn’t be optional!
9. FaceTime / Skype Meetings
Are you spending some time on FaceTime or Skype with your far away family and friends? Why not pick 6-12 financial partners per year to Skype or FaceTime while on the field? This is particularly good practice with financial partners that are giving sizable amounts or with churches and small groups that are partnering financially. Give them a real-time live update on where and how you are. Take them into an actual ministry event via Skype or FaceTime on your phone if you can. They will be floored at your thoughtfulness and most likely continue to financially partner you throughout assignments to come.
10. Text them!
There are multiple programs available that will allow you to set up video and picture messaging while on the field. If you have a urgent prayer request, why not send a group text message out to your financial and prayer partners with a picture detailing your prayer need? If you have a praise report, send a text and allow them to celebrate with you (of course, keep in mind time zone differences so that you are not texting them at 2:00am)!
If you are a worker on financial support, I hope that these simple ideas to connect with your partnership base help you. Let’s remind our financial partners that they are important to us and to the Great Commission! Let’s keep our attrition rates up with our financial partners by spending just a little time letting them know that we care. Let’s value them! Let’s realize that they are vital part of what we do. Amen? Amen.
Do you want to set yourself apart from the crowd? (Shake your head and say yeeeesss) One great way to stand out is by creating quality appointment kits and pastor packets.
What’s the difference between the two? Let me explain briefly. Typically appointment kits are given out to an individual during a face to face appointment, though the use of them is not limited to that. The kit should be designed to give that financial partner what they need to start giving and further information on your ministry. Pastor’s packets are great for meetings with pastors, mailing prior to contacting a pastor/church, dropping off to a pastor/church, or made available for events and gatherings.
For the most part appointment kits and pastor packets have the same materials in them with a few exceptions (see below). Quality should be what you shoot for when creating the packets, whether those materials are made by professionals, yourself, or someone with a design background that wants to help.
During more normal, non-pandemic support raising times, having a great appointment kit and pastor packet is helpful in standing out and looking uber professional. During a pandemic I would almost call it crucial. Why? Well, several reasons, but particularly many in-person meetings and gatherings are being taken away as opportunities to connect with pastors and individuals. Situations pre-pandemic in which a worker would connect with pastors now may be happening virtually only or not happening at all. Pre-pandemic, a worker may have met with individuals at a church small group, and now that small group is happens virtually. Thus we need to be creative creating opportunities to share our stories.
For instance, take a denominational district gathering that happen virtually. What if you mailed out pastor packets to all of the pastors who “attended” the virtual gathering or sent it to a portion of the pastors whom you really enjoyed interacting with (depending on protocol within your organization for reaching out of course)? And the church small group that is now virtual: what if you mailed appointment kits out after (or prior) to meeting virtually?
So let’s start with pastor packets — here are some items I recommend to have in yours:
A nice envelope / folder to put everything into – something like these or these are just some examples
Any ministry pamphlets or print materials that are helpful from your specific organization / ministry
Your organization’s commitment or pledge / commitment forms (may not be needed in all circumstances)
**connect cards, Special note — you probably would not put these physically in the envelope / folder, but have ready to show the pastor if you plan on asking him/her if connect cards would be appropriate to use in his/her congregation
***videos of 1, 2, or 3 minute windows available for pastors who are doing online services only due to COVID-19, maybe on a thumb drive or not included in the actual packet — but given prior to giving pastor packet. here’s a link to further explanation see point #3b
For appointment kits, I recommend gathering some of the following components:
A nice envelope / folder to put everything into – something like these or these are just some examples
Any ministry pamphlets or print materials that are helpful from your specific organization / ministry
Giving Instructions: easily understood step by step instructions on how to give within your organization
Your organization’s commitment or pledge / commitment forms
Optional: Some type of visual/infographic on how much support you need to get to 100% – I call these LOG (Levels of Giving) charts (ie. 50 people at 50$, 15 people at 100$, 10 people at $150, 5 people at $200, etc.) Make it pretty!
Optional but nice: A small gift or token for those who commit to support and/or pray
Optional: fridge magnet so they can remember to pray for you.
Did you notice there are some items in the appointment kit that are not included in the pastor packet? Some reasoning for that is my preference for giving pastors less to sift through due to the lack of time they have. That being said, you may have something additional in your pastors packet because you’re likely brilliant and have thought of something genius I haven’t (if so tell me in the comments! I’m here for it!) — and I believe in most circumstances that is fine.
I hope this helps! If you have questions comment below. Lastly, see below for a pastor recommendation letter template to help create your own. You all are awesome! Keep going. – JF
Part 3: Thoughts After 5 Months of Support Raising During a Pandemic
It’s July and we have been in the midst of this pandemic for 5 months now. Whew! Guys, I know we’ve been through a lot already! It still remains that 1. YOU’VE GOT THIS and 2. God is still on the throne and knows the times and the seasons.
MINSTER. It still remains a go-to in your to-do-list to continually check in with existing members of your partnership team, people that are in your life (whether or not they are on your support team), and churches. Ask them how they are doing and how you can be praying. Many church communities and individuals are in the midst of spikes in their area and may be experiencing stress and need some additional prayers! Text. DM. Send a postcard. Send kid artwork (if you have kids). Call them. Email. Etc. – you get the idea – say hi! Being a minister starts now, not once you get into your assignment.
ADAPT. Zoom appointments and outside social distance appointments still count! If you are in a community experiencing high exposure, it’s possible you will need to adapt (meaning meet outside instead of inside, mask up, meet via Zoom, etc.) to meet with some on your list. That’s okay, still go for it. Remember that not everyone’s level of comfortability is the same so be willing to meet people where they are at. If you have to meet outside in the heat, try to pick a place in the shade or someplace with fans and/or copious amounts of ice water. It may no be 100% ideal but don’t let it stop you from making progress!
CHURCHES. Churches are still sort of a mixed bag. Some churches are back to regular meetings. Some churches were back to regular meetings, but are now meeting online only again. Some churches have only been meeting online for a long time now. It’s likely that whatever the case, most pastors are met with new normals that have them on their toes. When reaching out to pastors for services stay sensitive and begin conversations by asking the pastor how they are doing in the midst of the pandemic (see #3 in the link). If now is not a good time for that pastor, ask if you can circle back with them in a couple of months (throw that in your calendar with notes on the conversation and stay organized). Here’s a couple of more thoughts on churches:
Here’s a link for overall tips on contacting pastors. Check it out if your wanting to brush up on connecting with churches.
Consider creating videos that share your presentation in a 2, 3, and 5 minute version. You can send that video to the pastor in advance of reaching out, and if that pastor has taken things online only he/she can use the video time segment that works for that pastor for online services. Make sure the video is well done and your communication is clear. Take care to explain how God called you, what you will be doing during your assignment, and what your strategy is for reaching the lost. **More information on a good 3 minute presentation outline can be found in the FPD Workbook. **Videos / streaming can potentially work for workers that are going to sensitive countries. Simply talk about the area or region you are going to during the video instead of specific placement, do not share proper nouns within your ministry, no last names, and consider being masked for the video (with explanation – perhaps with humor – as to why).
KEEP GOING: A STORY. Recently a couple I coach reached 80% fully funded, and they started raising their support IN MARCH (that’s right the beginning of this pandemic thing. Glup). On the phone last week I asked what their secret sauce was, and they said to me “We just kept going as if the pandemic wasn’t going to effect our support raising.” They had Zoom appointments during shelter in place and kept their focus on reaching out for appointments, and now on the heels of August are close to 100% fully funded. Morale of the story is KEEP GOING! I believe that if we are confident during this season others will be confident in us. The need in our world is great right now, and the Great Commission isn’t waiting. The truth is if you are raising your support during this season, God called you to ministry during this season. He knew you would be raising support during a pandemic. Let that encourage your heart and don’t let the pandemic stop you from what God has called you to do now!
IF YOUR CLOSE AND IT’S CLOSED: COMMUNICATE. Many people are asking what happens if they are heading overseas and the country they are going to is closed due to travel restrictions. The answer is of course varied, and if you find yourself in that position you should connect with your mentor about what that scenario looks like. Whatever the case though, keep in mind that most supporters are going to be very understanding if you reach 100% and have to be delayed in your travels due to the virus, particularly if it’s only a span of several months. In most cases you need not worry if you will loose support or find your supporters angry with you for things beyond your control. If you do find yourself in the situation of being at or close to 100% and you cannot travel, I would simply take care to communicate that you will be going as soon as it is safe and the travel restrictions lift. Also, let them know what you will be doing in the meantime to stay active (depending on your situation). It doesn’t have to have every detail or possible scenario (and in fact sometimes too many details are not helpful) to communicate that you are still committed and going as soon as you can.
PERSPECTIVE. Overall, I’m seeing workers continually add to their partnership bases during this season and am actually overwhelmingly encouraged by progress. In so many ways, I think this season has a way of lending itself to perspective. It’s typical to look for reasons why not to work on raising support — and a pandemic is a really good excuse — I get it. But what I’m seeing is for those who continually work on it even though conditions haven’t been ideal — they have been met with regular increases in their budgets and their efforts have not been wasted. It really is what you make it, and it always has been when it comes to raising support. It’s likely there will always be something inconvenient about raising support, and likely there will be something “more important” to work on or a reason not to do it. My point is to check any reasons you are giving yourself permission to coast when it comes to raising support, and if you find yourself making the pandemic an excuse… fight to snap out of that (see #4). Stay the course. God called you now. Let’s do this!
I hope you find this helpful. 2020 is not at all what we expected, that’s to be sure, but praying in the midst of this season God fills your heart with strength and purpose. – JF
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
What happens if you are months into your assignment and you notice that the support of one of your financial partners has come to a screeching halt? Would contacting them be awkward? How would you word such a conversation? Here are some tips on how to deal when giving drops off:
If someone’s support drops off, try to deal with it relatively quickly. Don’t wait 4 or 5 months (or yikes…even longer) to reach out. I think waiting until the second month is okay, but I probably wouldn’t go beyond that if you can help it.
If someone stops their giving don’t assume that they don’t want to give any more. It could likely be a credit card expiration situation.
If someone’s support drops off contact that financial partner! Personally I would use email or phone call to connect, and I would stay away from less personal spaces like Facebook Messenger or text. Here’s a sample email or phone conversation:
“Hey Paul! Hope you are doing well! Things here are going great even in the midst of COVID-19. We have gone out of shelter in place and have been able to connect more with the local church as well as resume our English teaching with ease – which is great. It’s also lead to a lot of really great ministry moments recently that I’ll be sharing more in depth in my newsletter coming up next week. Excited to share more! How are you all doing in the midst of COVID? Everything ok with you and your family? Would love to hear more. // I want to reach out because I noticed in May that your monthly support did not come in. I’m wondering if that is a credit card issue / expiration or if there are other circumstances? Let me know if you could either way. I would love to be praying if you have any specific prayer requests and thank you for the continued support in ministry, it has and does mean more than words can say. I’ll be attaching instructions to the bottom of this email if indeed it is a credit card change. Thank you Paul!” (*include giving information, instructions on credit card changes that are extremely user friendly, and your contact information)
If they don’t happen to answer, don’t give up, try to reach out in another way. And/or if you are emailing and don’t get a response, wait a week or so and pop in with a quick email that says something like “Hey Paul, just checking in. Did you happen to get the email I sent you on a couple of weeks ago in the beginning of June?”
If they answer back and let you know it’s a credit card expiration, I would respond by providing them again with the needed information to make the change. Do as much of the work as you possibly can for them, and make it AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE for them to complete the task.
If they answer that they won’t be continuing and their financial abilities have changed say something along the lines of:
“Hey Paul, thanks for letting me know about the situation that lead to a pause on the giving. It truly helps me. Thank you so much as well for your giving over X amount of time, words cannot say enough how grateful I am. If it’s okay I would love to touch base with you later on down the road and see if jumping back on would make sense after the challenges you are facing pass – and will be praying for you in the midst of it. I’m sure it’s a challenging time and I’m so sorry you have to walk through that (*or whatever helpful language works here based on relationship and challenge they are facing*). I’ll continue sending newsletters and thank you for your continued prayers. If you would like to not get those any longer let me know and I can take you off the list. Again, appreciate you and your family and will stay in touch.”
If you send this back to them set yourself a calendar reminder to email or text them in a month or two just to simply check in and ask how they are doing. There should be no other agenda for that touch point unless they initiate it. Tell them you have been praying for them (and indeed – pray for them!) and let them know you were thinking of them.
Just as a reminder, stay relational with your partnership team! According to Bill Dillon’s statistics in his book People Raising, 66% of people stop giving because they don’t think that you care about them or their giving. Don’t be that worker that goes off to their assignment and forgets the team beyond you and behind you that makes it possible! If that is the case, you will likely have people drop off.
In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, I don’t think these tips or steps change. It may be that someone on your team falls on hard times and drop offs due to the economy, and staying ministry minded will serve you well. Still reach out using the following the tips above.
As I write this many cities across the US have gone to lifting restrictions of a stay at home orders or will do so in the upcoming weeks. We have yet to see how this will effect America in the wake of a virus without a vaccine. In the past few weeks, we have also seen Americans polarized by the politicizing of the virus and their beliefs. Some people believe that COVID-19 is a hoax, others believe it is deadly and dangerous and wear masks while still others don’t, others are grappling with how to reenter their workplaces and remain safe, some people are trying to figure out how to continue work and take care of children who are still not attending school, and others are just 100% over it all together.
Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of Coronavirus belief (is there a better term? Let me know!) as you ask individuals for appointments in the upcoming months I believe it’s important to stay mindful that others may feel differently than you as far as safety is concerned. Thus, try to respect those differences. As you may be moving into asking for actual face to face appointments, it may be best to try to approach your potential partner by asking what makes them feel comfortable. Here’s a sample dialogue asking an individual for an appointment via phone:
(after beginning conversation and briefly explaining your ministry assignment…)
“…I would love to grab some time with you sometime in the next few weeks to talk more specifically about the vision and goals of this ministry assignment and joining some aspect of my team, whether that’s in prayer or finances or both. I don’t know what you’re comfortable with right now as far as meeting — would it be best to social distance on a porch at my or you’re home, we could use Zoom and meet virtually, or perhaps meet at a coffee shop if you’re comfortable.”
Basically, it’s important to not jump to conclusions as to what your potential partner is comfortable with! Stay mindful and ministry minded. If you need a review of how to approach individuals and churches during this time, this post and this one may serve as helpful guides.
If you have been struggling to make progress in the past few months, remember that God has called YOU to your assignment. He is still on the throne and He knows the times and the seasons. He actually knew this would go down in the midst of your support raising season. Stay focused and stay reminded of your calling. I have personally been so encouraged as I have dialogued with the workers I coach, seeing so many of them add numerous new partners to their team. You’ve got this. He’s got this!
I hope these thoughts help! Reach out if you have questions!
While writing the blog post Partnership Development and the Coronavirus on March 17th I referenced work from this wonderful article written on March 13th by Dave Dickens of CRU on MPD and the Coronavirus and did not cite it. Please note my error and apologies to Dave for not citing his work. I have changed the original post and copied it here. As a note, if you want a wonderful emails to subscribe to on the subject of support raising, please subscribe to Dave’s – it’s chalk full of wisdom on the subject. – JF
Many of you in the middle of raising support may be wondering what to do during this unprecedented time. Today there are more school closings, limitations on gatherings of more than 10 people, more chaos at airports, overall social distancing, and the like. We don’t know yet how the coronavirus will affect ministry workers raising support. Dave Dickens of CRU recently offered some brilliant thoughts on his email newsletter list that I wanted to share with you at explaining some helpful things to help you navigate this chaotic season (some of it is slightly adapted to serve this blog’s audience):
Let’s be prayerful. Pray for those affected by the pandemic, for ministry leaders who need to make tough decisions, for people’s financial situations, and for open hearts and gospel conversations as people are confronted with a broken world.
Reach out to ministry partners to ask how this is affecting them. Create meaningful conversations (via text, phone calls, FaceTime, etc.) and have a ministry mindset when connecting. Send your partnership team texts, emails, or phone calls. Be ready to see your inbox fill up! If you have kids at home from school, maybe have the kids do artwork and write handwritten notes of appreciation and love to your team.
Here’s a sample text reaching out: “I know we are all navigating uncertain times, and was thinking of you today. How are you doing, and how is the coronavirus affecting you? I’m taking some time to pray for you today. Let me know if there are specific things I can be praying for!”
Send a coronavirus update prayer letter with specific prayer requests related to your assignment.
Because everyone is social distancing and at home, over the next few weeks it may be easier to reach people, and people are definitely wanting to talk. People are more likely to be on social media as well. Think about ways to add value in those spaces and reach out.
Here are some thoughts to expound upon what Dave writes:
Have you had a hard time staying organized? Are you caught up on thank you cards? This may be a good time to clean up your organization for financial partnership development. It also may be a good time to upgrade branding, overall materials, or if you don’t have an active presence on Facebook or other social media platforms to start.
It probably goes without saying at this point, but meeting face-to-face in person will likely be off the table for a bit (at the very least for some people). Think of partners to reach out to via video appointments. It may be wise to change course of action and instead of reaching out to your “A” list, reach out to those who would be long distance appointments anyhow.
It also may be a couple of weeks of relative pause on some people (maybe not all, but some) you were wanting to reach out to – that’s okay and understandable. That also doesn’t mean it’s time to do nothing. Pray, use discernment and common sense before asking for an appointment. If you have a coach, reach out to ask their thoughts on nuance situations – that’s what they are there for!
Many churches are not able to congregate during this time, so if you do reach out to a pastor ask for prayer needs. If you are asking for support from the church, suggest possibly doing a window online with them (especially in checking up for a already scheduled service) and be creative. It also may be good to hold off on connecting with some churches for a few weeks while they think of how to shepherd their own flock during this time.
One worker sent me an idea of scheduling a face to face via video conferencing, and going the extra mile to send that family some food or a snack and have it placed at their door for the appointment. Creative, thoughtful, and ministry minded!
I hope some of these thoughts at least get the wheels turning as to what to do for the next couple of weeks. It’s definitely not cut and dry. As Dave writes, “in the midst let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and remember His words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 New International Version). Wisdom to be sure.
Also remember, ministry doesn’t start when you get into your full time assignment, it starts now! Ask God how you can serve those around you during this season.
What are your thoughts or questions during this interesting season?
What day is it of whatever this is? If you’re like me, you’ve lost count somewhere along the way. As our groundhog days have gone on I have been busy coaching workers who are on the front lines of raising their support, many for the first time. I’ve been carefully listening and dialing into what is working and what is not. Thus, I wanted to take a moment to share some tips I have learned from coaching numerous workers raising their support during the Coronavirus. Here we go:
If you have not done a newsletter in awhile (or you did recently, just pre-Coronavirus), NOW is the time to do one. I’ve been hearing workers mention that the number one question they are getting from their supporters and potential supporters is “are you still going to do your ministry assignment?” Stave off any doubt your supporters have by sending out a short newsletter that shares the following:
Reassure them you are feeling your call to ministry now more than ever! Remind them there are amazing opportunities to minister as people are searching for meaning and faith right now, and you’re excited to get on the front lines.
Yes, you are still called! Yes, you are still going to the field / on staff / your assignment! Let them know you are working as you are able to minister during this time, continue to raise support, and pray.
Ask them if they have any specific prayer requests.
Write a hearty thank you for their continued giving during this season. Let them how grateful you are. It’s huge they are committed to giving.
Don’t be afraid to keep it short and to the point.
Video conference appointments are working. I have been taking with many workers who are having great appointments with individuals and are adding to their support teams during this time, Thus, don’t think of it as a time to stand still and do nothing! Reach for Zoom appointments using a mixture of discernment, wisdom, common sense, and prayer. When you do ask for an appointment, follow the guidelines found in this post and develop your own scripts.
I coach a couple who shared this idea I thought was brilliant: for local appointments, think about having “porch picnics” with those who are comfortable. Their instructions:
Send link to potential supporters after you have called and asked for a appointment (or those already on your team that you want to build relationship with and see) to schedule appointments
“Take them” to dinner/lunch/coffee. (go pick something up with washed and sanitized hands or use UberEats or GrubHub or DoorDash)
Hang on porch at a distance
Staying spiritually healthy matters. I talked with a couple yesterday who mentioned they are praying together for a different church every day, and are viewing this time as an opportunity to dial into their prayer life separately and together as a couple. They feel blessed to have extra time to bulk up spiritually. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine that this couple won’t be lead into great opportunities as a result of their heart and prayer life. Go and do likewise.
Facebook / Instagram Live Q&As can be a good way to stay active and are FUN! As we all know, there are a lot of people online right now. Why not utilize that opportunity by doing a Facebook Live Q&A or Instagram Live and talk about your upcoming assignment? The main content of a FB Live Q&A should be comprised of giveaways, trivia / info on your assignment, questions for the audience, and time to let them ask you questions. Make it simple and fun, and promote it however you can before hand. This post outlines some details on the subject. (*sensitive workers — this is doable for you too with some extra precautions and permissions!)
Continue having ministry moments. Ask pastors if you can help serve their congregation (if you have technical skills they could probably really use you)! Ask friends and family members how they are doing, just because. If someone comes to mind take a moment and reach out. What you sow you will also reap, so continue to sow into your relationships.
Having a good attitude and staying empathetic matters. Remember, your ministry doesn’t start when you get to your assignment – it starts now! And hey, I totally get it, of course this time is challenging! I SEE YOU. But here’s a wild thought: God knew about the pandemic and still chose YOU for this time. Knowing that, choose to be the inspiration of courage and hope to someone else, as chances are they need it. Chances are you will be inspired by being an inspiration. You will be blessed by being a blessing. Stick with a good attitude. Stay empathetic and serve those around you in everyday small ways. One worker I know realized she is getting a lot of joy from having flowers on her kitchen table and tending to her plant babies. She is now driving around to her existing partnership team (who are local) and putting small plants on their porches with a short note of encouragement. What a great idea!
Friends, I hope some of these tips help or get the wheels turning on ideas of your own. What has been working for you? Post it in the comments! – JF