About 10 years ago I transitioned from a full-time ministry position with a team of financial partners giving faithfully, to a secular position with a salary. (I of course found myself back into full time ministry eventually.) As I made this transition I wondered how to communicate the transition effectively to my support team, and how to tell them how much I appreciated them and their faithful giving throughout the years. Moving from a job in ministry to a secular position was a hard decision to make, but I knew the Lord was leading me.
Thus as I developed my exit communication strategy I decided that instead of merely sending a newsletter sharing the news, that I would have appointments (or phone call if I they couldn’t meet face to face) with my team to let them know personally. As I began making phone calls and having appointments, it became clear to me that my team members had invested themselves and their hearts not only in me, but the ministry I served.
During one particular phone call, a team member asked if I knew of anyone serving in the ministry that needed more financial support. I said yes, and they asked and if I could connect them together.
Thus a great idea was born: What if I asked my support team to transfer their giving to one my ministry co-workers? That way, my team would still feel invested in the ministry they came to care so much about and my formal co-workers would be strengthened. = WIN WIN SITUATION.
I decided to ask each of my team members if they would prayerfully consider giving the support they had been giving me to my friend Gayathri. I explained to them that Gayathri was a fellow staff member from India, and was saved 3 years ago while coming to the States for her masters program. Gayathri had several uphill battles in her ministry partnership development, a major one being she had limited amount of contacts in America. I explained Gayathri’s specific ministry and why I thought they should give.
The response from my team was overwhelming… especially for Gayathri!
Gayathri not only raised the majority of what she needed to be fully-funded, she eventually ended up transitioning herself and becoming one of the financial partner’s new youth directors. Gayathri had done such a fantastic job building relationship with this financial partner that they asked her to join them in their own ministry! Again = WIN WIN SITUATION!
I share this story with you to plant the idea of transferring your financial partners when it is time in your head. If you ever transition out of ministry, what would it look like to ask your financial partnership team to transfer their giving? Here are some practical tips if you find yourself where I did 10 years ago:
1. When exiting or transitioning from your current ministry, don’t merely send a newsletter out! Personally contact as many of your team members as possible before sending a newsletter. Thank them for their faithfulness in giving and praying and share with them what you will be doing moving forward. Share with them what the Lord has done while you’ve been in ministry. Sit down face-to-face with as many of your financial partners as possible.
** if you are overseas and making a transition, share with as many of your financial partners personally prior to sending out a newsletter or coming home. This can be done while you are still overseas using Skype, email, phone call, etc. When you do come back to the States, seek your financial partners out and have an extended time with them face to face. Share with them what the Lord did through your ministry while overseas. Make it personal and thank them for their giving. You never know if this is the end of your ministry career, so be intentional and purposeful with closing this season of ministry.
2. When contacting your team members, ask if they would be interested in transitioning their giving to one of your co-workers. If they say yes, schedule a time that all of you can sit down together as able. Your role would be to introduce each party, sharing appropriate details and connecting them in relationship.
*if you or your team member is overseas while transitioning financial partners, you’ll have to get creative on this. Make sure you default to the most relational means possible to connect your financial partners and your co-worker, and meet face-to-face when you can.
3. Pray about what c0-worker(s) could use the additional support.
4. If you have a specific co-worker in mind (like I did with Gayathri), prep that person prior to your asking. Let your co-worker know your intention to ask your financial partners to transition their giving to them.
5. Communicate with your co-worker that your expectation is for them to build fruitful relationships with their new financial partners. Make sure you don’t transfer your financial partners to someone who will not invest relationally with them!
**if your co-worker happens not to shine in this area, or perhaps your co-worker is too new for you to know how excellent they are in this area, perhaps coach them through best practices of ministry partnership development and what you have learned along the way. Advice of a veteran who is fully-funded is always helpful!
6. Follow protocol and guidelines of your sending organization if you ask your financial partners to transfer their giving. If you don’t know what they are, find out prior to asking.
Ultimately, your financial partners are not yours, they are God’s. Truly, it is not about you. Sure one of the main principles of ministry partnership development remains: “people give to people above a cause.” However, hopefully as your financial partners have given to you over the years they have heard your passion for the work you have done – and hopefully that passion has been infectious. Thus, ask your team to transfer their giving to a worthy co-worker and see what happens. The Gayathri’s of the world will be grateful!