Year End Giving: Turn On The Jets and Drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes

PSA: We have about a month until turkeys get carved.

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You know what that means?

Well, let me tell you! In the support raising world it means NOW is the time to LASER FOCUS on face to face appointments with individuals. I mean, sure, technically in my book it’s always time to laser focus on face to face appointments. However now it’s particularly more important than any other time of year. If you need some reasoning as to why, let me indulge you with two thoughts:

1. In general, families are very into their routines in school and work this time of year. Think about it from your own experience – is this generally a locked down time of year for you? Are you in a good routine with work or schooling? If it isn’t right now, is it just a curve ball outlier? Was this time of year a routine heavy one for you growing up?

Routine is good news for scheduling an appointment or reaching someone on the phone. According to Gallup – 55% of Americans go on trips in the summer.

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According to one estimate by Travel Agent Central – 35% of American’s take a trip in the spring. Interesting. Those vacations taper off after September and typically the only traveling people are doing is during the holiday weeks.

2. As the Christmas season hits it can be more challenging to schedule appointments due to your personal schedule and the schedule of your potential partners. However, note that December is the best giving month of the year. Though people are feeling generous in December, time is more limited than usual. (Think Christmas shopping, special Christmas gatherings, school parties, lots of family. You get the idea. You know.) Thus, early to mid November is a great time for scheduling appointments before people’s calendars fill up.

Okay, pause for a MASSIVE CAVIAT HERE: Don’t hear me say you need to stop reaching for appointments in December! I think it’s actually VERY STRATEGIC to do so because people want to give in December. What I’m saying is it may be a teeny more challenging to lock something into the calendar immediately. If that happens, don’t be afraid to schedule something several weeks ahead for mid-January after schedules have cleared and the Christmas lights are off.

So everyone, my advice is to turn on the jets and drink a lot of pumpkin spice lattes in November over appointments. Okay? You’ll be glad you did.

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Do you want more information on Year End Giving? Check out some great ideas on the post directly below this one!

 

 

It’s The Final Quarter: Fall Giving and Year End Giving Strategies

We are well into the final quarter of the year. You know what that means? It means it’s time to start thinking about your Year End Giving Strategy. I know, I know…you’re thinking come one Jenn, it’s SEPTEMBER. But truly, it isn’t too early to start thinking about your strategy for the best giving time of year.

I say this every year – but around 31% of ALL GIVING in the States occurs in the month of December. 12% of giving occurs in the last three days of the year. And maybe you aren’t singing jingle bells just yet (as I write this it’s a sweltering 94 degrees outside – so trust me I’m not either!), but here are some things to think about ahead of time to get your strategy in place.

  1. 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, overall 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 fresh – they are checking their calendars and not overwhelmed with plans. Plus, coffee dates are even more appealing with pumpkin spice lattes (amiright?!?)!
  2. 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 (while still reaching out for F2F appointments). 
  3. Build out your Year End Giving Strategy BEFORE Thanksgiving. If you let it slide until after Thanksgiving, you’ll most likely miss out on some strategic opportunities due to poor planning.
  4. September and October are also excellent months of the year to reach out to churches. Lots of churches schedule services far in advance so calling in September or October may get you service in January or February 2020. 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.

With all of that being said, here’s a break down on some specific ideas for Year End Giving.

1. FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A

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 as you questions. 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.”

2. GIVING TUESDAY

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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.

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.

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 was in place. You may think Giving Tuesday wouldn’t work for an already established team…but see below for the results!

VIDEO SCREEN SHOTS:

VIDEO SCRIPT:

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. 

POSTS:

Giving Tuesday 1

Giving Tuesday 2Giving Tuesday 3Giving Tuesday 4Giving Tuesday 5Giving Tuesday 6

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 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.From the Montgomery family
  • 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.
  • 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!

Have as many face-to-face appointments as you can NOW. Generally speaking, it’s the best time for F2F in October and early November. People are into their routines and willing to give. In November and December are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for F2F appointments? 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 appointments; particularly if you are in from out of town and catching up with family members or old friends! Don’t stop reaching out to connect with people over coffee 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.
  • 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.

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, for Facebook Campaigns don’t 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.

OTHER TIPS:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Blog and Website Recommendations On Support Raising

I love picking up bits and pieces from other ministries on support raising. Over the years I’ve done my fair share of digging from various viewpoints – nonprofits, ministries, and other missions sending organizations.

Thus, here’s a list of 15 inspiring blogs and websites that cover a wide variety of subject matter on ministry partnership development.

  1. Cadre 31 Classes: Cadre31 is a company who specializes in telling your story via video. They have a tab on their website dedicated to education on creating your own videos, watch and learn!
  2. Anything from Support Raising Solutions, but I particularly love this one tackling the fear of being a beggar.
  3. This testimony from some workers that I coach remains one of my absolute favorites over the years. I love what God does to meet us when we move in faith, prayer, and fasting.
  4. TedTalk by Jia Jiang on facing rejection. The possibility of rejection and/or facing it is hard – this video on the subject is incredibly inspiring and entertaining.
  5. Video from Global Frontier Missions on Unreached People Groups. This video is so helpful if your assignment is to UPGS. Check the links out to other videos from the same organization that tackle other subjects as well. They are awesome!
  6. Seeing Your Donors As Partners by 101Fundraising maybe one of my favorite blog posts EVER on the subject of financial giving. Get inspired and get perspective.
  7. This guest post by Pastor Chris (on my blog) reminds us that a season of itineration looks a lot like a season on the ministry field. I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with obstacles and fears in raising their support.
  8. Thanking Donors on Social Media from The Balance is a great for those looking to make their social media interactions count. It has some fantastic ideas to get the gears going on your own social media strategy.
  9. This TedTalk from Amanda Palmer on The Art of Asking may be the most helpful TedTalk I’ve ever watched. This is not Christian content by the way, but gives incredible insight.
  10. Loving all of Scott Morton’s blog, author of the essential book Funding Your Ministry.
  11. Do you want to become a better public speaker? Are you afraid of public speaking? Here’s a post from RealSimple on conquering your fear.
  12. Being negative hurts YOU. Are you negative and don’t even know it? Check out this blog post on positive thinking during your season of raising support by Michael Hyatt.
  13. Are you an introvert? Feeling warn down by all of the awesome but energy draining coffee dates? Check out Support Raising as an Introvert, by the Karani blog.
  14. Reaching out to millennials can confound as you support raise. Gosh, I’m a millennial and sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what to do. Here’s a great post on the subject.
  15. Stories are compelling. Here’s a reminder to share that story of a life changed or your own testimony in presentations.

I hope some of these posts help you like they have me. Do you have a favorite blog, post, or website on support raising? Share it in the comments! – JF

 

The Widow’s Olive Oil 2 Kings 4:1-7

Let’s read 2 Kings 4:1-7.  Before you do though, a little precursor: If your anything like me, you may be tempted to read scripture on a blog post like a cereal box in the morning – as in – not throughly. I invite you however to slow down and take a moment and really read this woman’s story. You will find some great nuggets of wisdom in the area of support raising I promise.

“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” 2 Kings 4:1-7

So lets take a few moments to consider this widow’s story together. This woman’s prophetic, God-fearing husband is dead; making the widow a single mom of two boys with insurmountable money problems. As in, she doesn’t have any. Because she is so behind on payments, creditors are coming to take the two boys to be sold into slavery. From reading about the widow’s situation we can induct she is likely to be experiencing frustration, exhaustion, anxiety, stress, and loneliness amongst other things.

In her desperate need she seeks out the man of God (Elisha) for help. Elisha asks what she has in the house, and she says nothing at all but a lonely and useless jar of olive oil. (Have you ever wondered if that is literally all they had? I mean, do they even have straw beds in the house? Perhaps a dishrag? Only a jar of olive oil?!? What about a a pair of socks or a dust pan or broom? (I digress. I realize this is not the point.)

Essentially Elisha tells the widow what to do to save herself and her sons. Go collect empty jars from her neighbors and pray for a miracle of course! You have to know she probably felt crazy following his seemingly unhelpful instructions. I know I would. And not only does it seem absolutely NOT the right answer for creditors coming to take her sons, but then factor in the potential uncomfortable situations this creates for the widow. Maybe she has already asked her neighbors numerous times for resources and favors, making Elisha’s plan dig into her already existing wounds. Maybe there is a judgmental neighbor in the neighborhood, someone she wouldn’t want to ask a favor of in a thousand bad years. Maybe the neighbors are long distances away, making this task seem to be the icing on the cake of her exhaustion.

All of this to say if I were the widow I’d be in no mood for all of this faith business. But then again, she asked for it.

3. fill them

There are so many lessons on healthy support raising in this story I do not even know where to start!  For the sake of brevity, here are 5 lessons I’d like to point out:

Lesson #1: Having faith often doesn’t make sense and often makes us uncomfortable. 

I’m a very practical person. Sometimes to a fault. If God told me the solution to my epic mountain of a problem was to go collect empty jars from my neighbors I would think twice. Actually probably more than twice. I’d like to say I would do it, but I would be hesitant. For me the actual act of gathering the jars from neighbors would include a lot of faith, some embarrassment, awkwardness, and loads of uncomfortable self-talk (ie. “this person is going to think I’m crazy”, “she will give me a jar but has nothing herself, how can I ask?”, “she will give me a jar but will hang it over my head” ) Sound familiar?

When the widow acted on her faith and said yes to God’s plan, she experienced a miracle. It is likely that God may be asking you to act in faith so that He can provide. Maybe collecting jars to you looks like inviting someone to join your team that you haven’t talked to in eons. Maybe it is just asking someone that makes you uncomfortable. Let the self-talk go and ask God what He wants to do.


Lesson #2: Having faith DOES NOT mean we should sit around and wait for God to do all of the work. 

Have you noticed that God’s plan usually involves us actually doing something? Elisha could have clapped his hands and made the jar appear out of thin air, but typically that’s not how these things work. Just like the fish and five loaves, or Peter getting out of the boat – we often have to take action in our faith. We WALK by faith and not by sight.

Unknown

In your support raising, you will always have what I call “manna moments”. It’s that thing where without asking an individual eagerly jumps on your monthly partnership team, or a church CALLS YOU and asks if you can speak at their next service. Most of the time, manna moments are the exception and not the rule. Sure God provided for the Israelites for awhile with manna from heaven, but at some point they had to move forward.

Lesson #3: Ask and you you shall receive. “We have not because we ask not.” (James 4:2) 

What would have happened if the widow asked even more of her neighbors for jars? Quick answer here: she would have had more money to live off of. What would have happened if she gave into the awkwardness and not asked her neighbors for the jars? Quick answer again: She wouldn’t have had enough money to pay her debts.

Raising support is not about waiting for people to get the hint and support you. There must be action on your part, and your part is to invite others to join in what your doing and be a part of the Great Commission.

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Lesson #4: God wants to involve others, and it is about more than just you and your needs. 

As I stated above, God could have just snapped His fingers and provided enough oil and jars for the widow. But He didn’t. I believe He wanted the widow to act in faith but He also cared for the neighbors. He wanted to show Himself to them. He wanted them involved for His glory.

You may think you it would be lovely to just get paid via check for the ministry work you do. I’ve been there. I get it. But think about the team you are building around you and I challenge you think about the big picture. Just as God didn’t want to provide the miracle in a vacuum for the widow, the same goes for you. He’s all about them being involved, revealing hearts, and moving them forward in the call on their lives and of the Great Commission too. Think macro, not micro. Think no vacuums.

Lesson #5: Listen to God, not to your fears. 

Again, the self-talk going on in my head if I were the widow would be un-ending. It’s likely that you could be experiencing something similar as you step out in faith. But I challenge you to be like the widow and WALK by faith and not by sight. To move beyond the awkwardness and boldly ask. To involve others, even the uncomfortable ones, in the story. I challenge you to listen to God and not your fears.

Let’s be like the widow people.

God will provide the oil if we go get the jars. – Tweet this

this is a resurfaced blog post back from 2015 that I thought would be helpful to break back out for those newer to the blog! – JF

Follow Up: 3 Practical Tips

As a support raising coach the question I probably get asked the most is about how to do effective follow up after a face-to-face appointment. Follow up tends to run the gamut of scenarios, thus I get a wide range of questions on the topic. From my experience, here are some of the main questions on follow up:

  • How do I follow up with someone who said they would like to give but hasn’t turned in their gift yet? It’s been a month! How long should I wait? What should I say?
  • How do I keep follow up from being awkward?
  • How do I follow up if they said they would pray about becoming a monthly partner, but weren’t sure during the appointment?
  • They keep saying they will turn it in but never do! What do I do?

Follow-up likely consists of one of the following scenarios:

  • You are following up with a financial partner who said they would like to give, but they are praying about an amount.
  • You are following up with a financial partner who said they would like to give and already knows the amount, but for whatever reason just doesn’t get the commitment actually turned in.
  • You are following up with a potential financial partner who said they didn’t know if they would like to give or not, and needs to pray about it and look at their finances.

It’s likely you’ve faced at least one of these scenarios if not all of them. I’ve been there, it can feel awkward to try to re-connect with a potential financial partner and get them to actually start their giving – but TRUST ME it doesn’t have to be.

Here are 3 loaded practical tips for good follow up no matter what scenario you find yourself in:

1. Good Follow-Up Starts At The Appointment!

Start setting yourself up for good follow-up during the appointment by following the two C’s:

COMMUNICATE: If your potential partner needs time to make a decision make sure they understand that you will be following up with them. Clearly describe the next steps with them before you walk away from the meeting. This is so important. Essentially unless the answer to your ask for support is “no”, you absolutely must communicate your intention to follow up with them, during the appointment. If an individual says they would like to join your team, but isn’t ready to start immediately, then ask if they have an idea when they would like to start their giving and ask if they know how much they’d like to give. Communicate with them that it helps you to know when they set it up so you can keep your own records. Once you get the approximate time they’d like to start tell them you’ll follow up with them if you don’t see anything go through around that time, to make sure they have what they need to get it set up. (It really doesn’t come across as pushy, just communicative, particularly if you think through your wording before the appointment. **Pro Tip: If this makes you nervous, write out your wording for various scenarios on the front side of your appointment and get your language down. It truly is important to communicate expectations during the appointment and not just let it go.)

CALENDARIZE: Give a clear time frame for follow up. Tell them when you will be contacting them by suggesting a specific date and time. You can call or text them for follow up, and it may be helpful to ask them what their preference is.

Here’s a sample conversation on follow up during an appointment using the two C’s:

Worker: Thanks so much Jeanie for becoming a monthly partner, we are so excited and blessed to have you as a part of our team! Do you have an idea yet of how much you’d like to give and when you’d like to get it set up? 

Jeanie: No, not yet. I need to go and look at my finances to figure out how much. 

Worker: That totally makes sense. If you could let me know when you do sign up that would be so helpful to me, so I can keep my own records and make sure it aligns with headquarters. Do you have an idea yet of when you’d like to get started? 

Jeanie: I’ll need to look at it, but probably in a week or so. 

Worker: Cool. I’ll shoot you a text to follow up if I don’t see a text from you in let’s say two weeks… Would that be enough time? Just find out if you have everything you need to get signed up and have an amount, and so I can make sure everything goes in correctly. We are so grateful.

So your aware too – we will be communicating what is happening while we raise up the rest of our team and once we get to the field via newsletters. We will send those out at least once a quarter, and we also have a secret Facebook group that we will keep regular updates on. It’s called XXX and I’ll add you tonight, so be looking for it. We also pray regularly for our partnership team, so once I get to the field you can expect me to email you several times to find out how we can be praying a little more specifically. We are really excited to have you alongside of this journey. Do you have any questions? 

2. Follow-up Is Normal. Stick With It!

The need to follow up with individuals after face-to-face appointments is not uncommon at all. When someone pledges to give, but doesn’t get started immediately it can often be put on the back-burner. Let’s be honest: Them starting their support is not weighing on their mind near as much as it is yours! Their good intentions can get buried by busyness or tight finances. But, if an individual says they are going to give, let’s give them enough dignity by taking them at their word and believing the best. Let’s not let paranoia slip in and assume the worst. It may just be as simply as reminding them or finding the simplest/quickest way they can start giving. Never blame them. Ultimately it is up to us to help them bridge that gap from the saying to the doing!

It may take several follow-up calls, text messages, or emails before they actually sign up or get started. That’s okay, don’t grow weary. Let them know you understand they are busy.

3. Idea’s on Wording to Get Rid of The Awkwardness!

Here are some ideas for avoiding discomfort or clumsiness when you make that next follow-up call:

  • You are calling because you were not clear about following up during the appointment:

“Hi Robert. Hope I am catching you at a good time. I sure enjoyed our lunch together. As I thought about how we ended our time, I realized I may not have been as clear as I should have been on the next steps. It seemed like you definitely wanted to support us, but I don’t think I was specific enough on exactly how and when to get started. Can I fill you in on that?

  • You are calling to make sure your records are accurate:

“Hey Jeanie, I’m working on getting an accurate reflection of where our support level is at for the upcoming ministry in Spain, and to make sure my records align with what the office has. I actually haven’t seen the first gift come through from you yet – wondering if that is something you have already done or if it’s something your still interested in doing?”

  • You are following up via text after doing great with the two C’s during the appointment.

“Hey Jeanie, hope you are having a good evening. Just following up after our dinner a couple of weeks ago, thanks again for your time and for joining our team. We are so grateful. Really, there are no words! I know I said I would shoot you a text to follow up – I haven’t seen anything come in yet so wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed anything come through on our end. If we haven’t missed anything – have you had a chance to pray about an amount and start time? And is support something you are still wanting to do? If you need it I can text you the giving link and answer any questions.” 

If you did a good job with the two C’s of follow up during the appointment (Communicate & Calendarize) there will be virtually no awkwardness when you do the actual follow up. You’re simply making good on the commitment you made. If you didn’t make a plan for follow up with the two C’s during the appointment, absolutely follow up anyway – using number 1 and 2 above are two great ways.

Other Quick Tips on Follow Up:

  • Provide all the information they need to sign up during the appointment and follow up.
  • Communicate with potential partners your target date for starting your assignment. This will help create a sense of your need, urgency, and your preferred time in which to start their giving.
  • Don’t procrastinate following up. If you say you will call at a certain time, do it!
  • Following up with potential partners IS NOT OPTIONAL. You will miss out on support if you do not “put the ball in your court” and follow up.
  • Call back on the exact day and time you said you would. If you are not faithful, they will not feel the need to be faithful!
  • Make it as easy as possible for them to give. Provide simple ways for people to give in the shortest time possible. This may be texting them a link to your donation website or finding other creative ways to make committing simple.
  • Ask your potential partner what their preferred mode of communication is for following up, texting or calling are usually the norm.
  • Lastly, make sure to make time to ask how they are doing and use the conversation as an opportunity to build a stronger relationship. Starting and maintaining a personal connection with them is what will keep them investing and praying over the long haul!

Case Documents

Okay everyone, let’s learn about a tool that can be very helpful in communicating your ministry assignment. Enter: the wonderful Case Document! There are a variety of situations in which creating your own Case Document can come in handy as you raise your support, so below I’ll describe what a Case Document is, situations in which Case Documents can be helpful, and provide you with some awesome examples. Let’s get to it.

What is a Case Document?

Think of Case Documents as a 1 to 2 page resume. It is a paper snapshot of you and your ministry. Case Documents should include:

  • A short introduction of who you are and your desire / passion to serve in your ministry. Consider sharing your calling to ministry.
  • A brief statement about where you are going and facts about the place you are serving.
  • What you’ll be doing and your ministry goals. Include your organization of course!
  • What your financial need is / budget information.
    • *It may be a good idea to have two versions of the Case Document. One version has your budget information and is good for pastors and churches. Having budget information for pastors is a good idea. Then create another version and take off the budget information. That one is better for individuals that may not need to know your exact budget information.
    • *For the version without budget details, include instead percentages of how far along you are percentage wise raising your budget and update it frequently.
  • Explain how the reader can help financially and pray (and even go if interested)! Include needed account numbers and contact information for anyone interested in giving.
  • Consider including an endorsement from prominent people in your ministry. (team leaders, pastors, etc.)

Case Documents should also include these vital elements:

  • A high quality photo (include family if married)
  • First and last name(s)
  • Needed logo(s) and branding from organization
  • Contact information
  • Giving information
  • Recommended: social media links
  • Recommended: your tagline
  • Recommended: photos of country or population / people in country or population you’ll be serving
  • Recommended: printed on quality paper!

How Can Case Documents Be Helpful?

Case Documents can be helpful for churches, district and sectional councils (pastor or ministry organization network events), emails or snail mail to pastors, back display tables at events or churches, fundraisers, events, etc. Think of them as a great way to show a level of professionalism, to share a quick summary of your ministry, and to provide a way for you to stand out among the crowd.

You may consider mailing out Case Documents or emailing them before contacting a pastor / church for a potential service or appeal. You can also carry them around with you for anyone you meet interested in hearing more about your ministry or use them as a information sheet on a back table of an event.

You can create your own Case Document using programs such as Pages or Publisher. If you have the room in your budget, consider getting them professionally made. I highly recommend that route if you don’t know your way around design. The better they look, the more you stand out! Some places I like to send people for case documents:

BHDesign

Commission Creative

5DCreative

Faith House Design Group

Examples of Case Documents

(all examples have had names, contact info, and location taken out for security purposes – so read between the lines!)

War case document the one copy

Walker case document theone PAG 2 copy 2

 

Ken Case Document copy

KKeen Case Document copy 2

 

Dieu Case Document copy

Dieu Case Document copy 2

 

Sul Case doc copy

Suli Case doc pg 2

Mill Case Document copyMil Case Document copy 2

 

Connect Cards

After a wonderful conversation with an individual about your ministry assignment, have you ever given someone a prayer card PRAYING that they will remember to contact you? Have you ever spoken at your home church, small group, or fundraising event and gotten stuck at your back table talking to a particularly chatty individual? All the other people scurry to lunch before your conversation ends and you feel the wave of missed opportunities that just passed? Whomp.

Insert a wonderful tool to help combat: connect cards!

What’s a connect card you ask? It’s a stack of individual cards you put on your display table, chairs of an event, and/or attach to Sunday morning’s bulletin. Connect cards give you the ability to follow up with interested people after a service or event is over, and is an effective tool all about facilitating more face-to-face appointments and building relationships with the body of Christ. Connect cards can serve as a way to “keep the ball in your court” by grabbing interested people’s contact information instead of just giving them a prayer card and hoping they remember to contact you.

Below there are some examples of connect cards from various workers I coach. (thanks guys!)

Now, don’t go off quite yet and make your own. I want to explain something important first: keep in mind that connect cards are only appropriate in certain circumstances.

“Connect cards are only meant for events, services, and small groups where you have gotten permission to connect personally with individuals about giving.”

Connect cards should only be used when they fall in accordance with a pastor / leader’s protocol on giving. Don’t assume that these cards can be placed on chairs of a congregation without communication or sneakily stuck into bulletins on a Sunday morning without communication / permission prior. Connect cards are only meant for events, services, and small groups where you have gotten permission to connect personally with individuals about giving (or if you are hosting a fundraising event that you are hosting on your own).

Why is this so important? A lot of churches do their missions / ministry giving by collecting offerings and disbursing where the church leadership collectively decides. That means if you were to come into that congregation and ask all the people inside to give to you personally, it may mess up what the pastor, board, and leadership of the congregation has decided to give to. You DO NOT want to be that person. #boo

Thus, connect cards are preferably only when you ask the pastor / leader “how does your congregation do missions / ministry giving?” If they say you may connect with individuals inside of the congregation on your own, connect cards come into play.

Connect cards are ideal when speaking to your home church (after you’ve figured out the protocol with your pastor on giving), small groups, fundraising events, and the like. If you do use connect cards, make sure to explain them from the platform in which you are speaking from – letting everyone know how to fill them out and what they are for.

I hope these help you as you seek to build out new relationships as you interact with the body of Christ! See the examples below and have fun building yours! I do have a contact who makes connect cards for workers, if your interested in getting one made – contact me and I’ll get you in touch! -JF

Connect Card side 1Connect Card side 2 copypostcard-3.5inx5.5in-h-frontpostcard-3.5inx5.5in-h-front

Connection Form PDF copy

 

Glup. All You Need to Know About Phone Calls to Potential Financial Partners

This is a repost from a couple of years ago, but thought is such a helpful topic it needed to be re-published, especially for those new to the blog who may have missed it. -JF

Say you call a potential partner multiple times hoping to get a face-to-face appointment, but you just cant seem to get them on the phone. Sound familiar? You’ve called different times of the day but it’s just not working. Your frustrated and you’ve reached a level of voicemails that seems too close to stalker mode to try again.

How do you proceed? When is it time to switch means of communication and try to reach them another way? When is it time to stop trying to connect all together? HELP!?!

VOICEMAILS AND INITAL CALLS

To begin, if you are reaching out to a prospective partner for the first time via phone and you reach their voicemail, my advice is to hang up without leaving a voice mail. This gives you the ability to call back again within a day or two without need for explanation.

If you call the 2nd time and don’t reach them, leave a voicemail and communicate the following:

  1. If you sent an invitation letter first, tell them that you were calling in reference to the invitation letter you sent them a week ago and would love to connect with them further. If you are calling without prior context (no letter), communicate that you are wanting to talk briefly with no explanation.
  2. When communicating don’t give too much information on the phone or on voicemail – make it brief!
  3. Tell them that YOU will be calling them back at another time and hope to reach them. Also mention that they can call you back. This gives you the ability to call them again without feeling awkward or demanding and puts the ball in your court. (you always want the ball in your court!)

Here’s what my voicemail may say to someone I want to invite if I haven’t sent them a letter:

“Hi Julie, this is Jenn. Hope you are doing well. Hey I was wanting to talk briefly. I may call you back later, but if you have a second please call me back first.” 

Here’s a voicemail to someone I have sent a letter to first:

“Hi Julie, this is Jenn. Hope you are well. Hey wanting to talk briefly in reference to that letter I sent. I’ll give you a call back, but if you have a second please call me back first. Thanks!” 

636095868639176352-1100213583_GTY_texting_kab_150729_12x5_1600TEXTING

If you feel more comfortable texting rather than calling, consider sending someone a text before you call them. In the text ask if it would be a good time to call and that you’d like to speak with them briefly. Don’t skip ahead and ask for an appointment on a text

I know, texts seem so much easier than phone calls. So why do I (and other financial partnership coaches out there) advise not texting for appointments? One major reason is it’s harder to say no to someone when they are asking for something verbally. Reading a text or Facebook Message can be forgotten unintentionally, easily be ignored, or conveniently ignored (let the reader understand). Right? Right. Phone calls are also more relational than texts. They often come across as more genuine, confident, and professional. And lastly, phone calls give you more of an opportunity to explain why you are calling and share more smoothly why you want to meet. If you share in a text that you are wanting to talk about financial support, it will likely read like a billboard (as my friend at Support Raising Solutions Aaron Babyar says). If you say it in a conversation, it seems much more palatable. So call people. I know you don’t like it. But do it.

HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I CALL BEFORE I QUIT? 

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

  1. Typically, go 2-3 times beyond what you are comfortable with in trying to reach someone on the phone. From what I’ve seen, we are likely to stop ourselves short in attempted communication way too early. It’s likely our fear of rejection or insecurities in asking will get the better of our reaching out way before we become too pushy and cross a line.
  2. Switch up your mode of communication after several attempts via phone (my advice is 3 attempts at the very least) to a text message or a Facebook message. However, avoid written messages in asking for appointments whenever you can.
  3. Stagger your attempts at calling. Consider waiting a couple of days before trying again if you’ve gotten radio silence thus far. It may look something like this:
  • July 1st – Attempt 1 to call Sally Jones (no voicemail).
  • July 2nd – Attempt two to call Sally Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Sally it’s Jenn. Would love to connect with you on something – I may try to call you back, but if you get a chance give me a call.”)
  • July 7th – Attempt 3 to call Sally Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Sally it’s Jenn again. Just trying to reach you on that thing I mentioned in the last voice mail. If you get a chance give me a call, but I’ll probably be trying you again. Hope to chat you soon.”)
  • July 21st – Attempt 4 to call Sally Jones (voicemail AND Text before“Hey Sally there is something important I would love to discuss with you – and briefly. Can we use the phone for a minute?”)
  • August 7th – Attempt 5 to call Sally Jones (voicemail that tells her I will email her with information: “Hey Sally, it’s Jenn Fortner. I’ll go ahead and email you on the thing I’m trying to connect with you on to see if that works better for you. I’d love to connect soon if possible. I’m sure your busy but if you get a chance to check your email that would be great. Thanks Sally!”)

SWITCHING COMMUNICATION METHOD

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Essentially what I did with Sally is switch modes of communication. Instead of calling again I am now switching to text and email for the time being. It could be that I would decide to switch the communication method just to text, or to Facebook Messenger, or to just email. How I choose to switch it up is largely placed on past communication I’ve had with Sally, and what I’ve noticed her communicating with to me and others in the past.

With Sally if I don’t hear anything via email or text from her at that point, I may put her in some type of organization system I keep with others I was unable to reach, and I will most likely try to reach out again after several months of waiting.

IN SUMMARY

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

What are your thoughts? What works best for you? Post it in the comments! I’d love to start a discussion here!

 

5 Rules of Thumb For Trickier Support Raising Circumstances

When it comes to raising support, relationships can have tricky nuances that come in wide variety. One potential partner you may see every day and have a strong relationship with, and another you may not have talked for years. In most every circumstance, the best practice of asking for financial support of an individual remains tried and true – face to face appointments. However, at times you may find yourself in a circumstance that is not so cut and dry on how to get the appointment.

Throughout your process there will most likely asks that take some additional thought to navigate correctly, and thus here are several helpful rules of thumb that could help navigate those more nuanced circumstances:

1. Always default to the most relational means possible when making the ask. 

At times you’ll question how to best approach a potential partner and ask for a face to face appointment. Say you see someone on your contact list at church on a regular basis and you are wondering if you should send them an invitation letter in the mail first, go up and talk to them to ask for an appointment, or phone call them? How do you know what is best? My general rule of thumb: go for what is most relational! The most relational may mean walking up to them after church and asking for a appointment.

When deciding how to approach it – it may help to see the roles as reversed – think about how you would want to be approached for an appointment if your potential partner was the one asking you. Keep in mind though, this does NOT mean I’m a fan of using texting as the best way to ask for an appointment, even if you text someone on a regular basis.

2. Check your motivation if you aren’t reaching for a face to face appointment following the basic process.

Are you veering away from calling an individual asking for a appointment because there is a more logical way (such as talking to them in person), or is your motivation to get out of making a phone call because it feels scary and awkward to you? If there’s a more logical and relational way in a special circumstance, that may be okay, however stick to the process for the bulk of your asks. If your motivation for doing something like Facebook Messaging instead of calling someone is off (ie. your trying to cut corners due to lack of time or because you just don’t want to make phone calls), please be honest with yourself about that and go back to the basic process (invitation letter or phone call + appointment).

3. If it feels awkward to send an invitation letter, call first. If it feels awkward to call first, send the invitation letter first. I believe at times sending a invitation letter before making a phone call can be an helpful way to start a conversation of potential support.

What is an invitation letter?

  • A simple one page letter with a brief (very brief!) summary of what you’ll be doing in ministry and that you need to raise 100% of your finances.
  • A good invitation letter mentions that YOU will be contacting them soon (within a week) to connect with them further about your assignment, it does NOT say that they should get in touch with you. Always seek to keep the ball in your court!
  • Should be followed up with a phone call (or the most relational means to approach – see number 1!) asking for an appointment, as invitation letters are a invitation (hence the name!) to further conversation.
  • Invitation letters DO NOT give a lengthy dissertation of your future assignment or calling, but briefly outline the basic details.
  • Invitation letters DO NOT ask for finances. Ever.
  • Includes a catchy (but brief) intro.
  • Always includes a handwritten ps. (that will be the first thing they see and read!).
  • Includes your basic contact information.
  • Invitation letters can be helpful when you want to break the ice before making a phone call and to give your potential partner time to pray and consider support before you call.

A great rule of thumb is if it feels awkward to make a phone call first, then send an invitation letter first. If it feels awkward to send an invitation letter first, you skip that step and go straight for the phone call.

4. If someone lives too far away for a face to face appointment, either set up a FaceTime / Skype Appointment or wait until you will see them. 

Sometimes setting up an appointment isn’t cut and dry due to the proximity of your potential partner. Say I live in Missouri and a friend I want to ask for financial support lives in Alaska, and I have no reason to travel to Alaska nor them come to Missouri. In that type of circumstance it is likely that I will be connecting with them in another way other than face to face.

A great rule of thumb here is to try first to seek out a virtual meeting using your their preferred method (FaceTime and Skype are some good examples). Simply call them up like you would if you were asking for a face to face appointment, but instead schedule a virtual meeting time. (It’s always going to be better to actually see someone when you make an ask, as the connection overall will be richer!) It may be that they have time right then and there for the appointment, switch over to FaceTime and voila!

Of course, there will be circumstances in which someone is not able to meet virtually. Say for instance my friend in Alaska has never used FaceTime or Skype and wouldn’t know the first thing about accepting that type of call. I would then divert to making the ask via phone with that individual. When doing this, check to make sure they have time for a lengthier phone call, if not, schedule the phone call for another time (but don’t just say I’ll give you a phone call another time – truly schedule it with a date and time). I would then proceed to do the shortened version of my appointment over the phone live or at the scheduled time.

In another variance, it may be that your potential partner in Alaska will be visiting Missouri at some point in the future while you are raising support. Simply wait until closer to the time they are coming in town to phone call for an appointment or send an invitation letter.

In yet another variance, it may be that you will be visiting Alaska but not for several months. In that circumstance it may be better to hold off on contacting that individual until about a month (you want to give plenty of time for a heads up that you are coming so that you can schedule an appointment) prior to your scheduled trip.

5. Remain confident in your calling. 

Whatever curve balls a potential partner is throwing at you during an appointment or prior to the appointment, try to focus on remaining confident in your calling! By following the call of God on your life, I promise you are super inspiring to those around you! Remind yourself on the daily why you are raising up a team and how God has called you. And of course praying and asking for God’s guidance will always help when those curve balls come.

Do you have a special circumstance you have questions on? Shoot me your questions in the comments!

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