Below is another excellent guest post from Pastor Chris. If you haven’t read his previous posts you can find them here, here, and here. Thanks for contributing Pastor Chris and letting us glean from your insight! – JF
OBSCURITY: The state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.
When you are starting out on the path of fundraising your number one problem is OBSCURITY. People do not know who you are. More and more our culture is becoming relational. People and churches want to know YOU before they know what you are called to do. For this reason you must make it a priority to become known among the people and churches that you hope will fund your calling.
This problem is not unique to fundraising. 50% of all business start-ups fail in the first 5 years. One author says 80% of all new business owners know they are failing in the first 18 months! Some will have bad business plans, too much debt, the wrong location… but the majority simply cannot overcome obscurity. Their potential clients do not even know they exist.
“Obscurity is the single biggest killer to a business or entrepreneur.” – Grant Cardone
Grant Cardone asks young business leaders two questions in relation to obscurity:
#1. How far will you go to get attention?
#2. How frequent will you be in your attempts?
The ONLY correct answer is = “WHATEVER IT TAKES”
When it comes to fundraising we need this same attitude. Please do not take this too far and manipulate “whatever” to mean being immoral or unethical. I don’t believe Grant intended that and I certainly am not taking an extreme view of that word. But we have to get the desperation that is in that phrase into our hearts and lives. What will you do? Whatever it takes!!!! Will you face your fears? Will you be uncomfortable? Will you accept rejection? Will you remain prayerful and positive? Will you work 40 hours a week? Will you work 60 hours a week? Will you work 80 hours a week? Your answer to all these questions and a thousand more must be “Yes – I will do whatever it takes!”
The reality of your situation is that there are lots of people with lots of money that want to give it to a worthy cause. Trust me – there is NO shortage of money. So how do you break out of the obscurity you are in, find these people, and get them to join your team?
#1 – You Must Renew Your Mind
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. -Romans 12:2 NASB
To break obscurity you must first stop seeing yourself as obscure. (Remember obscurity is the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.) The only way to do this is to constantly meditate on God’s word… then you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).
You are NOT obscure… You are a child of the Most High God! He has made you the head and not the tail… He has set you above and not beneath… He has called you and given you a divine purpose and destiny. He has made you an overcomer and more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus!
If you see yourself as obscure then you are obscure. You cannot expect to break out of obscurity until you first break the obscure mindset that is holding you back.
#2 – You Gotta Get Social
Personally, I hate Facebook and I don’t Twit or Tweet or whatever! Whether you love it or hate it: You Gotta Get Social!! The people you are seeking to join you in your mission need to know you on a personal level. Do not wait to meet people. When you call a church, ask for the pastor’s email. Search for his name on Facebook and send a friend request. If he gets to know you, his church is more likely to support you.
#3 – You Need to Dig Your Well
Harvey Mackay wrote the best book on networking long before Facebook and even before email, it’s entitled Dig Your Well Before You Get Thirsty. If you should read his book you may be put-off as he describes how to set up your rolodex (some of you may need to Google “rolodex”). Look beyond that technical part (or lack thereof) for the true heart of how to network.
Mackay opens his book with a story about getting a call from an old friend at 2am who was semi-hysterical and said he needed $20,000 that day or he would be at risk of going to jail. He writes, “The strange thing is, I hadn’t talked to him in over ten years. I offered him a few thousand dollars, but I didn’t give him what he needed even though I could have.”
Then Mackay asks a revealing question:
“How many people could I realistically count on to bust a gut to help me out if I’d called them at 2am?”
#4 – You Have to Learn to Write
I am still learning this skill myself but if you say, “I’m just not a good writer” – you are most likely copping out. Remember? – You said you would do whatever it takes! A good amount of your support will come from writing letters, emails, and newsletters. So learning how to do it correctly is important. Write a lot! If you write an appeal letter, ask a pastor you are friends with to give you an honest opinion. Did it sound needy? Was it a crisis appeal? Was it too long? Was it boring? Did it communicate the vision? Did it make you feel connected? By honestly assessing your writing you will get better.
#5 – You have to Learn to Speak
One Sunday morning after the church service the pastor was feeling quite proud about the message he had just delivered. On the way home he asked his wife – “How many genuinely good preachers do you think there are in the world?” She muttered under her breath, “One less than you do.”
If you think you are a good speaker you are in the most danger because you are probably not as good as you think you are! So regardless if you think you are a poor speaker or the best thing since Paul the Apostle, there is room for improvement.
Anyone can get up and say things in front of a church, but can you make your appeal with passion? A pastor friend once said to me, “I cannot remember the last time I had a missionary in the pulpit who had a passion in his voice and a tear in his eye for the people of his calling.” Remember it is not what you say but how you say it. You are not trying to convince people or sell them a product, you are endeavoring to share your calling from God and invite others to sacrificially join you in changing lives.
#6 – You have to Learn to Ask
You may be bold in the pulpit, but if you are obscure when it comes to “the ask” you may find your support raising going slowly. Be convinced of who you are and of your calling. Be confident that you are not asking for “yourself” (you are not begging). You are simply saying – Has God touched your heart with this vision and will you use your resources to work with me?
#7 – You Should Make a Schedule
You are going to get busy with many things that will keep you obscure. Thus, create a calendar to guide you daily in overcoming obscurity. If you are raising support for the first time I would recommend:
- Tweeting as often as you like, but no less than once per day
- Posting on Facebook no less than once per day
- Sending one E-Newsletter per month
- Mailing one paper snail-mail newsletter per month
If you are using other networking platforms like LinkedIn, make sure you add them to the schedule. You should also add in how many personal phone calls you will make per day, and how many personal emails you will write (and send) per day.
#8 – Lastly, You Ought to Go to EVERY Event That You Can… and STAND OUT!
If your district or denomination hosts events, go! If your home church has events, go! If friends invite you to the park, go! Don’t make every event just about your financial needs, but work to build life long relationships. If you do that the funds will come naturally (see my previous post on how to grow a long tail).
Look for ways to stand out, both personally and with your mail and media. Get creative! Use your own photos when sending post cards. Hand address envelopes and if you know the person write a one-line sentence on the back of the envelope. When you go to an event, if you can, wear something that makes you stand out – especially if you can get something from the country of your calling. This season of fundraising should become the most hectic and crazy and social and fun period of your life. If done correctly fundraising is FUN-raising!
Obscurity is your #1 hindrance to raising your budget. Make Overcoming Obscurity your #1 goal, and you will be well on your way to reaching your budget in a timely manner.
– Pastor Chris