Below are some common mistakes I see ministry workers make while raising their funds. If some of these mistakes look too familiar to you, don’t fret! My hope is that by mentioning them you are able to move forward and are helped, not discouraged.
1. Follow Up Fails: Not setting expectations for follow up during a face to face appointment.
This is probably the most common of all mistakes I see as a coach. Though it’s best to have a new financial partner sign up for giving during a appointment, many financial partners need time after an appointment to sign up. The problem with a delayed giving start is that it puts the ball in the court of the financial partner, not yours. Often times, your new financial partner will absolutely plan on giving but drag his or her feet in turning in the commitment. Reasons as to why range as wide as there are different personalities of people. However when they intend to give (I call these “verbal commitments”), you as a ministry worker must have a plan for getting verbal commitments turned in! The first place that plan should begin is during the appointment, by setting expectations of exactly when and how you will follow up anyone who has said that they would like to give but doesn’t give during the appointment. Read more on how to turn verbal commitments into written ones here.
2. Relying On The Newsletter: Not going beyond the newsletter in communication, especially once on assignment.
If you use the words “team” to describe the people who give regularly to your ministry – treat your team as an actual team! Involve them in your ministry by reaching beyond the newsletter in your communication to them with personal texts, small gifts, personal emails and/or social media messages, etc. Your team should not only be hearing from you on a macro level, put on a personal one as well.
3. The Drawn Out Newsletter: Making newsletters too lengthy.
Newsletters do not need to be long to be helpful or informative. Quite the opposite is true. Think about it from your own personal experience as a giver…do you read 2,3,4 page newsletters? My guess is probably not, unless you are skim reading or interested beyond your average financial partner. Thus, create newsletters that are effective yet short. Include essential ministry information, bullet points of prayer requests, a few pictures from the field (or if your raising your support and sending out a newsletter – include an infographic of what percentage you are at in raising your budget), and a heartfelt thank you. Make your newsletter it interesting, pleasing to the eye, and brief. Then, take to heart the above common mistake #2 and spend some time connecting with your team personally.
4. Shirking Responsibility: Not putting the ball in their court when leaving voicemails.
The ball is in your court when you have control and responsibility in a situation. In phone calls taking the responsibility to connect is up to you, not to your potential partner. When calling a potential partner to ask for a face to face appointment, from time to time you will have to leave a voicemail. A common mistake I have seen is in when leaving voicemails, ministry workers ask the financial partner to call them back instead of telling them that they will try to reach out to them again. That’s a no as the responsibility should be on you. Your voicemail should go something like this: “Hi Don, I’m calling in reference to the letter I sent a couple of weeks ago. I’d love to connect for a few short moments on the phone and don’t want to take too much of your time. I’ll try to reach out again tomorrow evening and see if that time works better – but if you get a moment between now and then to call please do so. Talk soon!”
5. The Too Soon Newsletter Announcement: As soon as the worker is approved, they send out a massive newsletter to everyone they know asking for finances and announce on social media that they need support.
When you know the direction God has placed on your life and have taken the next step in acting upon it, you get excited right? I think most of the time the excitement is where this particular common mistake comes from, and it’s understandable. However, the best way to make an ask for financial support is always going to done relationally, and the best way to do that is to meet with someone in person to ask. For the most part, newsletters should be reserved for people who have already joined some aspect of your team or have said they would like to receive your newsletter. Newsletters are not for the general masses. Social media announcements should be limited to information and for the most part, not asks for financial support (unless doing a strategic one time Facebook Campaign).
6. Social Media Is EVERYTHING: Over utilizing / emphasizing social media.
There are social media directors for businesses these days, conferences on social media, and how to’s on fundraising concerning social media. Good! Let’s learn all about it. Personally, I love social media and think it is an extremely helpful resource. HOWEVER…I do believe it is often over emphasized. Some workers raising support decide to make it the end-all- be-all of support raising, and I believe that can be a mistake. No matter how helpful creating a excellent social media presence can be, it will never take the place of meeting with someone in personally and relationally. A post is not a personal postcard. A “like” is not a text saying hello. A instant message is not a coffee date. Thus, I say work to create a strong social media presence and stick with it when you get into your assignment. However, as I mentioned above save asks (with some few circumstances – check out here and here) for personal appointments.
7. Nervous Asking: Beating around the bush during an ask and/or making qualifiers after asking.
After asking for a monthly support amount, the next person who talks should be the potential partner. NOT YOU. It’s tempting to create qualifiers to save awkwardness but typically they do not help, only hinder, your ask. Make your asks clear, bold, and to the point. Don’t beat around the bush and leave the potential partner wondering what you really want. Confidence will come across not as pushy, but respectful. Often times tentative and timid words will come across as you being uncertain of your calling, less passionate, and less confident. Choose boldness and clarity over timidity.
8. Billboard Texts: Asking for an appointment on text or social media instead of calling.
It can be tempting to skip the phone call and choose instead to ask someone for an appointment on text or on Facebook Messenger. I get it, texting is a bit more normative than calling someone on the phone these days. However, text doesn’t take the place of being able to explain something in detail verbally. Thus, consider sending a quick text to someone before calling that reads something along the lines of “Hey, Don. Wondering if I could give you a quick call to discuss something. Don’t want to take but a few minutes of your time.” or “Hey Don, can I give you a call real quick?“. When you give too many details on a text or Facebook Message typically any explanation of the need for support reads like a billboard. Text with an ask for financial support or an appointment can also get buried because the person is dealing with their own day and life and busyness. Stick to calling people first, then move to another mode of communication if you absolutely have to after multiple attempts at the phone call.
9. Accidentally Asking On Social Media: Not getting contact information properly or giving too much information when asking for contact information.
Sometimes ministry workers I coach begin sending out invitation letters to their potential supporters before they have a phone number to reach the potential partner afterward. Invitation letters are to set up a phone call asking for a appointment. So without the number how is one supposed to call and ask for a appointment? Oops. Don’t send an invitation letter until you have all of your potential partner’s contact information.
Oftentimes ministry workers I coach make the mistake of giving too much information when asking for contact information from a potential partner. Say a worker Facebook Messages a potential partner because they need their phone number, email, and snail mail address. A good way to ask on Messenger for contact information is to say: “Hi Jill! Hope you are doing well. Could you give me your phone number, email, and snail mail address? I’d like to send you some information on a upcoming ministry assignment my husband and I are doing.”
A bad way is to give too much information, thus leaving the potential partner with almost what looks like an ask on social media instead of in person. Here’s an example of a bad way: “Hi Jill! Hope you are doing well. My husband and I are going on an assignment to India for two years and hope to go this coming June once we raise 100% of our financial budget. Can I get your phone number, email, and snail mail address so that I can give you information on how to join us in some aspect of our ministry as we go overseas? Thanks so much Jill – look forward to hearing from you.”
Though the language is good enough, this is way TOO MUCH INFORMATION to give up front when simply asking for contact info. When asking for contact information don’t pull the wool over their eyes but don’t ask for support either – save that for the relational face to face appointment.
I hope seeing these common mistakes will help you not make the same mistakes yourself. Did you make one of these mistakes? Perhaps you made another type of mistake? Post it in the comments and help others learn from you!
Quick post here of resources I find helpful in the support raising process. Merry Christmas everyone! – JF
- A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen
- Dunham & Company
- iMissionsPro, TNTMPD, MPDX, DonorElf, SupportGoal
- Funding Your Ministry by Scott Morton
- The Phone Call Mind Map
- Commission Creative
- Support Raising Solutions, The God Ask
- 101 Fundraising
- Portent’s Content Generator
This will be a quick post on sharing your budget with friends and family members. Here’s what I have to say: don’t!
Okay just kidding. Kind of.
There will be times it’s appropriate to share your specific budget figures with friends and family, but most of the time it’s best to speak in percentages. Less is always more, unless someone asks for specific numbers.
Why you ask? Let’s explore one major reason.
It is possible if you share your specific budget details, the person with whom you are sharing the information will make uninformed judgments on your lifestyle in ministry. Let’s use an example to illustrate. Say you are fresh out of college and share with a potential partner who is also fresh out of college that your budget to go overseas is $3,500 in monthly support for two years and a cash budget of $30,000. That’s reasonable right? Well lets say that peer is struggling to find a job and could only dream of making that much money each month. When you share this information quickly with them in a face to face appointment, they don’t have the ability to see what goes into that $3,500 per month and $30,000 in cash (overseas insurance, cost of living is higher due to the country you are going to, language learning school, etc.). To them your budget merely seems extravagant in the wake of their own circumstances. In contrast, an overprotective family member may do some mental math on your behalf and evaluate that you aren’t making enough for those two years.
All of that to say, if you share your budget details off the cuff in your presentations, newsletters, etc., people are simply prone to make judgements they are not qualified to make.
So what is the solution? Talk in percentages! Change the sentence from “I need $3,500 in monthly support and $30,000 in cash” to this: “In order to go over seas I need to raise 100% of my budget. Would you be willing to partner with me at $100 a month?“
BONUS: Did you notice in the sentence above I also did NOT mention my need for cash gifts? That is strategic as well, as typically it is much harder to raise monthly support than it is one-time / special gifts. Potential partners (and people in general) tend to default to the least amount of commitment possible, and if you are giving the people an option during your face-to-face appointments to give one time they will take you up on it! This will leave you with less in monthly commitments. Your partners will be patting themselves on the back because they gave, and you leaving disappointed that you didn’t get a new monthly partner.
So as a rule when making the ask: stick to percentages and ask for monthly support alone.
Now, I realize you may be asking if there are exceptions to this rule? Of course there are. Responses to “asks” are as varied as there are people, and here are some examples of when to deviate:
- If you are talking to a pastor about church support, go ahead and share the specifics of your budget straight away. Pastors are different than individuals, as they tend to know more about the landscape of needs involved in ministry. Typically it’s helpful for them to have specific information on your budget, so share away!
- If an individual asks what your budget is, go ahead and share. I would advise you to have something written up for this scenario that shows some of the line items in your budget to make it understandable for those who ask.
- If someone cannot commit to giving monthly support, then ask if they would like to give a special / one-time gift. True it is far better to ask someone for monthly support, but if they can’t commit – definitely explain they can give to your cash budget / give a special gift.
- If you are sharing a specific goal on a Facebook campaign or special post on social media, it is okay to share a line item in your budget. For instance, a couple I coach for #GivingTuesday recently challenged their friends on Facebook to help them raise $1,000 toward their budget on Giving Tuesday. They shared in their videos and posts that the $1,000 would go toward their language learning costs specifically. They didn’t share the entirety of their budget, but they did project a specific need out of their budget with their audience.
I hope this helps in your communications of your specific budget. You don’t have to share all of the details to ask and to keep people informed! Have any thoughts on the subject? Share them in the comments!
I have been sharing for a couple of years now how effective a well-executed Facebook Campaign can be. The idea started from the Assemblies of God Mobilization department to utilize the power social media can have in expanding one’s network. And man we have seen the idea spread and grow over the years!
We (Assemblies of God Mobilization + myself) decided the older videos on the Facebook Campaign needed a bit of a face lift as we have learned a few things in the past two years. Thus, here’s a new video for you!
For those of you who don’t know what what a Facebook Campaign is, let me explain. In one sentence – essentially it is a campaign for monthly or cash support on Facebook set to a specific amount of time and a specific goal. Of course, you’ll grab the big picture by watching the video above.
To be clear, I am against asking for funds on Facebook or any other type of social media in most any other context (besides maybe a short video on Giving Tuesday or for a End of Year Campaign). I believe the absolute best way to ask for monthly financial partnership is via personal face-to-face appointments. I also do not believe the Facebook Campaign to be the end-all-be-all in support raising. However, I have seen it be very useful. Those whom I have coached who launch well executed Facebook Campaigns (after they have reached at least 75% of their support goal and built up healthy teams) have seen some pretty awesome success. Some workers I’ve coached have raised as much as $1,000 in monthly support. Others have raised $10,000 in cash from doing a Campaign. For most campaigns I see, a typical amount to raise is around $300-400 in monthly support or around $700-$1,000 in one time cash gifts.
If you are interested in launching your own Facebook campaign, follow the information on the video. To go along with the video, here are a few things I find important to emphasize:
I hope this video and post helps. As we come up into Giving Tuesday and End of the Year Giving, it may be a perfect time to launch your campaign (if your around 80% raised of course!). Go for it – I think you’ll find some success in creating your own! – JF
Did you know that last year 31% of ALL GIVING in the States occurred in the month of December? Or to put it this way, did you know that 12% of giving occurred in the last three days of the year?
That’s right. 12% all in 3 days.
Did you know that twenty-five to thirty percent of ALL DONATIONS come in at the end of the year (November and December). Thus begs the question: Do you have a end of the year strategy for financial partnership development? If the answer is no, or you were even tempted to coast in November and December and simply eat Christmas cookies, Christmas shop, and watch Elf and/or the new Star Wars movie 6 times in one week… I plead with you to keep those percentages in mind and reach higher. Why? Because people are going to give – and they want to give to someone they know. Thus you may want to figure out how that giving can be to you and your ministry cause.
Here are a couple of ideas for your year end strategy:
1. 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.
- Say thank you.
- Don’t do any asks on this newsletter.
2. CREATE A CHRISTMAS / END OF YEAR LETTER Sometime before December 31st (think about sticking it in the mail the day after Thanksgiving) send out a end of year letter 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 below 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 end of year letter:
- Switch this up from a regular newsletter. Use a slightly different template than a regular newsletter and maybe make it more like a letter.
- Don’t send an ask end of year letter to anyone who recently (probavly within the past 2 months) started giving (or gave 1 time) or recently increased their giving. Maybe just send them Christmas cards instead. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many asks.
- Consider creating a different version of your end of year letter maybe 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 but 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 end of year letter.
- Keep it to 1 page make it look really nice!
3. HAVE AS MANY FACE-TO-FACE APPOINTMENTS AS POSSIBLE NOW. Are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for face-to-face appointments? Particularly in November and December? Let me tell you, experience has taught me that it can be a GREAT time for face-to-face appointments. Don’t stop reaching out to connect with people over coffee and making the ask. Some tips:
- Pay for their coffee.
- Get a small gift for your potential financial partner and bring it to your appointment.
- Try and set up the appointment sooner than later. If they cant meet before the end of the year, put something in the calendar for January. Allow a couple of extra weeks to put something on the calendar.
- 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.
4. SEND YOUR FINANCIAL PARTNERS / PRAYER PARTNERS CHRISTMAS CARDS / SMALL GIFTS. December is a great time of year to express your thankfulness to your support team. Go above and beyond that newsletter! Either send a Christmas card after your newsletter or perhaps with it. Christmas cards should be handwritten and possibly include a small gift of thanks. It can go a long way in letting your financial partners know you care about them.
5. CREATE A FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN IN NOVEMBER OR DECEMBER. A well crafted, intentional, relational Facebook campaign can be helpful during these months of giving. Keep in mind, this is only if you have gotten far enough in your financial partnership (75-80%) to start one.
6. 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.
7. DUST OFF YOUR CONTACT LIST AND TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT IT. Now is a good time to go back to the beginning of your season of itineration. Dust off that old initial contact list and go through it with a fine comb. As you comb through it create a new list of those you were not able to get ahold of, those who have committed to give but haven’t started yet, and those you never asked because you got too scared (whhaaatt you say?! How did she know that?!), and those that you just simply have yet to ask. Take that list and get back to contacting them about joining your team. BONUS POINTS: As you go through your list text / email / Facebook message those that are highlighted to you and just say hi.
I hope you find these ideas helpful in building your strategy! – JF