10 Easy Ways To Connect With Financial Partners

 

Here’s a statistic that Bill Dillon, a guru in the support raising world and author of People Raising, has that I think you’ll find potent:

For every 100 people that stop supporting you:

66% of people stop giving because they think you don’t care about them

15% are unhappy with your organization

15% transfer their giving somewhere else

4% move away or die

Woah.

When I train missionaries on how to raise their support I tend to stay away from the word “fundraising” for many reasons, and when I really think about it — this statistic is at the heart of all of my reasons. Basically,  No one wants to invest in something that yields no return. If an individual gives a worker monthly support and feels as though the worker could care less about their giving, they will likely go somewhere else with their giving dollars.

And in my opinion, they should.

Ouch! Why you ask? Because the reason donors are investing in the Great Commission is because they are called to be a vital part of the Great Commission too. And if they are called to be a part of the Great Commission, why should they be made to feel as though their “vital part” is on the sidelines and forgotten?

I believe that one reason we forget to invest in the relationships we have with our financial partners is because we forget (or perhaps don’t have the paradigm) that they are as vital to the work that we are doing as we (as ministers) are. That being said, many christian workers on financial support struggle in the area of continually connecting with their financial partners even they have a high value for their relationships with them.

It makes sense. We are all busy. Ministers are typically very busy. I totally get it.

As much as I understand, I also believe it isn’t a valid excuse. There are so many easy ways to connect across continents in our world. As such, I would like to offer up 10 suggestions on how workers on financial support can continually, quickly, and easily connect with churches and individuals who financially invest in the kingdom work they are doing.

10 Ways to Connect

1. The Quarterly Newsletter

Here’s a no-brainer: Send your newsletters. You should do a minimum of four a year. Keep them short and talk way more about ministry than personal things. Include pictures of active ministry (no vacation spots).

2. Short Email or Letter

When you get on the field, pick 10-15 financial partners each month and email them a QUICK and SHORT personal hello/touch base. For example:

“Hi Sally, just wanted to touch base with you and see how you have been doing. You and Chuck are on our prayer list for this month and we are wondering if you have any updates or requests? Things here are going wonderful. We just finished with our building project and couldn’t be more excited to receive students this coming fall. There will be 10! We will definitely be busy with it but we are pumped! I am also really looking forward to getting back into teaching. Anyhow, hope you all are well and let us know how we can be in prayer for you.” – Jenn

See…how painful is that? It took me all of two minutes to write that… You may be saying, but what happens when they write back? If they do, take another minute of your day to promptly reply to those who responded to your email. If all 10 respond it will take you around 15-20 minutes to respond to everyone. Then, take the time to mention them in your prayers and follow up with that as you have time and God leads. Keep a simple notebook. Write them down. It will make all of the difference and mean so much to the people spending so much time praying for you.

Once you have gone through your 10-15 partners each month, circle back around your list. Put these on some sort of white board in your room or house to remind you, or put it into a calendar each month. Whatever you do, calendarize it in some way.

3. Postcards and Presents

Send small gifts or postcards to your financial partners. Tell them thank you for their continuing support.

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I recently received a postcard from a friend vacationing in Costa Rica. That postcard remained on my fridge for 2 months for two reasons: (1) My friend thought of me from a far off destination and it made my day getting that postcard! (2) It was beautiful! Personally, I’m a sucker for a pretty print of any far off destination.

Small gifts do not have to cost much to mean a lot.

4. Stay Active on Social Media

  • If you don’t already have one, create a Facebook page. Create a secret group if you are going to a sensitive country. Stay active on it while you are on the field. Pictures, prayer updates, short videos, scripture verses, and praise reports are all fantastic. *If you are somewhere sensitive keep that in mind while posting and follow the rules of your organization.
  • Consider getting onto Instagram and Twitter as well! This is not for everyone, and typically I say to start with one social media outlet (probably Facebook) and do it well. However if you have the time and know-how try one or both of these. I love posting on Twitter and have a personal Instagram page as a creative outlet. Both have been effective in communicating with friends and helping me to network on a larger scale.
  • Another great thing to think about doing in your secret Facebook groups or if you have a ministry page is a Facebook Live. If you choose tdownloado do one before hand promote the time your event will be taking place, and take care to choose a time that works well for your financial partners. When you do a Facebook Live event, make it a guided Q&A and consider doing your Facebook Live in an interesting place. That Facebook Live will record as a video so anyone not able to make the time can view later!
  • Facebook message your financial partners or like their posts. Stay active on your personal page (including Twitter or other social media outlets).

5. I’m Thinking Of You

Sometimes as I listen to audio sermons, worship sets, podcasts, or scriptures, I’ll check in with God and ask if He would like me to share any of those with my friends, family, or financial partners. If I feel prompted, I’ll send that sermon or verse to a friend on Facebook with a little message. These have to make sense and the sermons probably shouldn’t be overly convicting on major sins or anything. (Don’t imply that your friend has a problem). Use common sense. ie. Don’t send a message on tithing to a partner who hasn’t recently been giving.

6. The Church Letter or Video

Write a short letter to the churches that financially partner with you. Put a note in to the pastor to please read where he feels it appropriate to the congregation (small groups, prayer groups, Sunday school). Make-your-own-Video-1080x675If you don’t have time for a letter, create a quick video on your smart phone or computer and email it to the pastor. Ask the pastor to share that with his congregation or prayer group if possible.

7. Events

When you come back home, hold an event in key areas where your financial partners are. During the event provide desserts and coffee. Share stories from the field, answer any questions, tell them about your future plans, and thank them, thank them, and thank them.

These events can be as elaborate or simple as you want to make them. I would of course error on the side of taking care of your important guests by providing refreshments and some sort of dessert or snack – these also provide an incentive for your guests to come.

Create connect cards for those interested in giving for the first time.

8. Face to Face

In addition to the church event, when you come home set up one-on-one coffee times with pastors and friends and family that have supported you. Thank them and catch up on their lives while you were gone. Be relational and intentional. Really, this shouldn’t be optional!

9. FaceTime / Skype Meetings

Are you spending some time on FaceTime or Skype with your far away family and friends? Why not pick 6-12 financial partners per year to Skype or FaceTime while on the field? This is particularly good practice with financial partners that are giving sizable amounts or with churches and small groups that are partnering financially. Give them a real-time live update on where and how you are. Take them into an actual ministry event via Skype or FaceTime on your phone if you can. They will be floored at your thoughtfulness and most likely continue to financially partner you throughout assignments to come.

10. Text them!

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There are multiple programs available that will allow you to set up video and picture messaging while on the field. If you have a urgent prayer request, why not send a group text message out to your financial and prayer partners with a picture detailing your prayer need? If you have a praise report, send a text and allow them to celebrate with you (of course, keep in mind time zone differences so that you are not texting them at 2:00am)!

In Closing

If you are a worker on financial support, I hope that these simple ideas to connect with your partnership base help you. Let’s remind our financial partners that they are important to us and to the Great Commission! Let’s keep our attrition rates up with our financial partners by spending just a little time letting them know that we care. Let’s value them! Let’s realize that they are vital part of what we do. Amen? Amen.

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Here I Am, Or There You Are?

I recently listened to this Eurasia Conversations podcast episode that I just had to share with you.

The podcast is short, but all 10 minutes pack a powerful message on how to practically appreciate financial partners. Omar Beiler, Regional Director of Eurasia speaks to our attitude and perspective by bringing up a powerful question — are we making people feel stronger or weaker in our interactions with them?

Here’s one of my favorite lines from the podcast:

“We are servants of Jesus. I don’t have a right to expect support from a church, but I think I have an OBLIGATION to ASK because the task is bigger than me.” – Omar Beiler

Take 10 minutes and listen! I bet you’ll be a better support raiser for it. Here’s the link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9URJrTqAYt0aEdJOElyLVdZOGs

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Start 2017 Off Right!

Did you know that 45% of the American population make New Years Resolutions? In general this is the month that the nation is thinking about health, wellness, and personal goals. Are you? Though I didn’t make New Years Resolutions per say, I know I am thinking about my personal goals for this year. As I have been developing my own for 2017, I found these Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions from 2017 interesting:

Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2017:

#1  Lose Weight

#2 Get Organized

#3 Spend Less, Save More

#4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest

#5 Stay Fit and Healthy

#6 Learn Something Exciting

#7 Quit Smoking

#8 Help Others In Their Dreams

#9 Fall In Love

#10 Spend More Time With Family

Can you relate to any of these? For those of you thinking about your 2017 goals along with me, I’d like to add the goals below for your consideration. Consider making 2017 your best year of living a healthy lifestyle of ministry partnership development. Without further ado, here are some goals to consider in making 2017 a fabulous ministry partnership development year:

GOAL #1: DO BETTER AT KEEPING UP WITH YOUR EXISTING FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERS. Where do you find yourself on this spectrum:

  1. “COMMUNICATION ROCK STAR”: You have always been good at regularly contacting your financial and prayer partners. You keep up with at least a few of them each month by email, text message, phone call, or skype. You continually write your newsletters and are very personal with those whom support you.
  2. “KINDA STRUGGLE BUT E FOR EFFORT”: You have had seasons at being good at communicating with your financial and prayer partners, perhaps here and there emailing the ones you felt comfortable with. However if are were honest you haven’t done much besides a few group Facebook posts and newsletters.
  3. “#EPICFAIL”: You have never been good at contacting your financial and prayer partners. You avoid contacting them, feel awkward when you do, and struggle to write newsletters.

So where do you find yourself on the spectrum?

Maybe you find yourself somewhere in between “Communication Rock Star” or “Kinda Struggle but E for Effort”? Or maybe “#EpicFail” doesn’t even begin to describe your lack of efforts? Wherever you find yourself in that spectrum make 2017 the year you start with regular (and quality) communication with your financial and prayer partners. Make regular social media posts, newsletters, emails, skype conversations, and phone conversations a priority in your existing ministry schedule.  Go beyond the newsletter. Get beyond the mass communication and become relationally driven. Don’t just get a team of people giving you checks every month and wondering what your up to – strive to keep your financial partners informed and make them actual friends. Contact them personally and ask how they are doing, and how you can pray. Give personal updates. I PROMISE this is a BIG DEAL. Remember, without your financial and prayer team you WOULD NOT be ministering to your particular population. Make them feel valued and it will make all of the difference to them, and ultimately to you.

GOAL #2: ENSURE YOUR FINANCIAL PARTNERS CAN EASILY GIVE ONLINE. A recent study done by Dunham&Company shows that 67% of donors ages 40-59 said they have given online. That percentage is up by 20% since 2010. If your organization provides a way to give online, make sure you readily offer that option to your potential financial partners and that you make it easy for your financial partners to give online. Create giving instructions that can be emailed or texted out for your financial partners or get into the habit of walking them through the steps of online giving yourself.

GOAL #3: BEEF UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. The same study mentioned above by Dunham&Company shows that 26% of donors said they have given to a charity’s website as a result of being asked on social media. This is up by 20% from only A YEAR AGO. Wow. I love this quote on the findings:

“It’s important to not misinterpret the findings,” Dunham says. “Donors are not responding more to requests for support from organizations through social media. They are responding to friends or others they know who, through social media, ask them for support of a specific charity, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Social media for nonprofits is still primarily a means to build community and engagement rather than a fundraising tool.”

What we can say about social media at this point is this: it is a very effective tool to build community and engagement. I’m not saying to ask for blanket support on Facebook. Nope. Nope I’m not at all. But I am saying consider making your social media presence more intentional in 2017. Use exciting videos, informative posts with pictures, and infographics to grab people’s attention. Stay up to date on what is going on with your financial and prayer partnership team. If you do use Facebook for “the ask”, make sure you create a structured Facebook campaign.

GOAL #4: MAKE YOUR PRESENTATION GREAT. If you are regularly speaking inside church congregations or small groups, make sure what you are saying is as effective as it can be. Don’t have a mediocre presentation – make it great! Video yourself giving your next sermon or 5 minute window in front of a congregation. Spend some time going through that video and thinking of ways you could improve. Send it to a few trusted friends for a critique. Having their honest feedback could be what takes your presentation from “meh” to “YESSS!!” If you haven’t polished your presentation in awhile go through it with fresh eyes thinking of ways to improve. Maybe you could add a short video, or a visual of the population you serve? Maybe you could add a new effective story?

GOAL #5: STAY (OR GET) ORGANIZED. This goal is pretty self explanatory. If you are struggling in an area of staying organized, get back on the horse. Being organized with records of who you have asked, who has given, when they have given, how much, etc. is important to have in the genesis of a lifestyle of partnership development. If you are organized you will have more time for ministry and more time for staying connected with your financial and prayer partnership team – it’s that simple. Great programs for this are: TNTMPD, MPDX, or iMissionsPro.

GOAL #6: USE VIDEOS. According to statistics found on the www.Cadre31.com website videos on landing pages increase conversions by 87%. Not only that, 65% of audiences are visual learners and visual data is processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than by text. Let the reader understand: videos are a big help in effectively communicating your visionIf you have not created a high quality video that communicates your ministry vision I highly suggest you make it a priority to do so. Spend some time looking at the videos found on Cadre31’s site for some great examples.

If you are not in the habit of making videos (not necessarily high quality – just home videos used to communicate) on social media, get into it. Another statistic states that by 2017 90% of all web traffic will be video.

GOAL #7: PRAY FOR YOUR FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERSHIP TEAM. When was the last time you made prayer for your financial partnership team a regular part of your prayer life? Have you ever prayed for your team? If you haven’t taken the time to talk to God about your team, then start in 2017. There are multiple benefits of praying for your team that go beyond the obvious. For starters remembering your team in prayer will promote your desire to stay connected to them, naturally have you asking what is going on in their lives, and will remind you that they are a vital part of your ministry.

zachgalifianakisthumbsuThere you have it! May your 2017 be a year filled with happy and relational support raising! Consider making some of these goals your own in 2017.

Podcast on Financial Partnership Development

Recently I was honored to be on the family podcast of one of our areas in Eurasia talking about Financial Partnership Development. On the podcast we talk about partnership development topics such as how to build and maintain good relationships while busy in ministry, adding new financial partners, and much more.

Take a listen by following the links below:

 

Podcast 1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ac8ug933tlca5yi/November-2016.mp3?dl=0

Podcast 2: https://www.dropbox.com/s/23uhw5e4fwnwxpo/December-2016.mp3?dl=0

How Postcards Are The New Postcards: Testimony from a Ministry Worker

Recently I received a letter from a ministry worker that I thought would be helpful to share with you. Essentially the letter is on the importance of keeping up with your financial partnership base, particularly through the form of postcards.

Thus this post is dedicated to all of you out there who have been in ministry partnership development for awhile. This post is also for those traveling overseas for ministry. Keep in mind however, postcards can work no matter if you find yourself domestically or internationally called / serving. Without further ado:

Dear Jenn,

I have a story to tell you.

The postcards…

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Over a year ago you challenged people to write postcards to their support teams. I went out and bought some to start, but in busyness I never got started. Finally, I got around to them at the beginning of this year. I was doing great writing the postcards, and then I counted how many I still had left. I still had way over 100, more like 150, to go. I wasn’t even half way through and felt like I had written a million postcards. I felt discouraged and stopped for about a month.

Then, I got with it and finished. I wrote somewhere around 250 postcards total, to every single person or church that has regularly supported us–whether they started 2 months ago or have been giving since we first went out. Honestly, I was bored to death with what I said.

“Assembly So-In-So, When we see your faithful gift come in each month, we are so grateful. Your partnership enables us to build His church in Holland. Thank You.”

I wrote that or some variation of those same lines, postcard after postcard. Of course, I got especially good on the variations toward the last 50. I was so bored, yet, with every one I wrote, I WAS grateful. I looked at how many gave to us so faithfully over so many years. I saw the incredible faithfulness of our home church and the churches and individuals that sent us out. We have some that give just $5 a month, many at $50 or $100 and some with several hundred a month. I wrote to them all.

I was so bored, yet, with every one I wrote, I WAS grateful.

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Today I just looked at our monthly giving from July. We had a huge month with NOT ONE SINGLE SPECIAL GIFT. It was comprised solely of all the people who regularly give. Many of those on our support team will miss a month or so, but no one missed this month. There are many months we will have a special extra few thousand from someone and that brings our overall budget up.

This month none of that–just faithfulness. And a great month.

Not only that, what blew me away was the new and renewed commitments. Usually there are 2 or 3. Today there are 27 NEW COMMITMENTS.  A few of those 27 increased the commitment. Some have given to us regularly and never made the commitment, but they took the time and made the commitment. Others have given for years, but never renewed it. This month, they renewed it.

Moral of the story: Postcards work.

Thanks for the encouragement to do something that is boring, but so worth it.

– Sincerely, “Kathie”

You Need To Listen To This Podcast

Recently a friend of mine from Support Raising Solutions, Aaron Babyar, was a guest on a great podcast called EngagingMissions.com. He spoke on the topic of support raising.

I think every ministry worker needs to hear it. Including you.

Think of this podcast episode like a audio syllabus for a upper-level support raising class at a fancy university. Also, if you have been searching for better language to describe what you are doing in raising up a financial partnership team, steal every one-liner Aaron says and turn it into your own vocabulary. Here are some great examples of Aaron one-liners for stealing purposes:

Begging and inviting — those are diametrically opposed.

My supporters are a part of my ministry because they are in it with me.

“Believe and have faith that it all depends on God, but meanwhile, work like it all depends on you.”

Take an hour to listen sometime this week and thank me later – here’s the link:

http://engagingmissions.com/em140-aaron-babyar/

 

Dealing with the Monster of Rejection

A subject that comes up regularly in the hearts and minds of ministry workers raising their finances is that of rejection. Eeew. I know, I’m going there. We are talking about it…

To explain a little further what I mean when I say “rejection”, I define “rejection” as facing the fear of rejection and/or what happens when we are given a “no” when asking for financial support.

I’ve gathered some insights from various ministry workers that I coach to speak on the subject of rejection. Before sharing those, I would like to share 5 thoughts that may turn the lights on the monster lurking in the corner.

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Re·jec·tion
rəˈjekSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc.
    “the union decided last night to recommend rejection of the offer”

Facing rejection can be daunting to even think about in the context of raising funds. Will I damage the relationship? Will they say no? Will I be awkward? Will they be awkward? Will they answer the phone? Are they screening my phone calls? Do they not like me now that I’ve asked them for an appointment? Am I annoying? Did I ask for too much? If I call them and ask to get their commitment in what will they think? It goes on and on. All of these thoughts I’ve absolutely had myself and have talked with other workers about on a regular basis.

As far as actual rejection goes, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you, it’s a sure fire thing while raising your funds (and let me point out, while in ministry in your field) you will deal with some form of rejection. I know – shocker. It just happens.

Whether it is the fear of rejection or actual rejection that is hanging you up from accomplishing your goals (or is just getting in the way of this being a great season of life in ministry) here are a couple of thoughts on combating the fear of rejection, or the “no” itself:

1.People have different giving goals, sometimes it just isn’t about you, it’s about them and the Lord. Not everyone is meant to join your financial partnership team, and that is okay. Tithes and offerings are a very personal thing between a person and God. For a lot of people giving directly links them to the cause they are passionate about, and giving may be their only outlet of involvement with that cause or ministry.

For example, let me give you a story: Say “Joe” is very passionate about disaster relief aid, but Joe works a full time job in food service and never gets to volunteer due to a busy and irregular schedule. Thus Joe is very passionate about providing finances to several disaster relief organizations and does not have much room in his budget to give to something that doesn’t fit within that context. Then you ask Joe to financially partner with you for reaching college campuses and Joe tells you no, because he just started supporting a new relief effort.

Now you have two choices here: (1) You could walk away from Joe feeling defeated because he didn’t partner with you monthly, and maybe even feel like somehow the relationship is damaged or awkward because he said no. Or (2) you could walk away celebrating that Joe is able to directly influence the thing he is passionate about, just like you are by starting your journey with ministry to college campuses. So which would you choose? Which do you normally choose? What do you automatically think when someone doesn’t give to you?

(Keep in mind, you could easily insert a pastor of a church into this story as easily as “Joe”. Churches have numerous projects, causes, and workers vying for their financial attention. Celebrate with churches who give in general, even if it isn’t to you!)

2. You don’t have to apologize I think this is one of the most important things to remember in the midst of asking for finances. Asking someone for financial support is okay and it’s even biblical. (If you doubt that to be true, here are some verses to check out) Also, what you are doing is downright cool and inspiring. Seriously. You don’t have to be ashamed about telling people about Jesus and you certainly aren’t the only one since the days of Moses who raised finances to do it.  If it means anything, I give you permission: You can be bold. You can be confident (and it actually helps). You don’t have to apologize for following God’s path, and you actually get to be an inspiration for those you connect with to follow their own paths with God!

3. Remember this is God’s thing, not yours. If He has called you surely He will provide for you. Also, He’s actually the one that set it up for the christian worker to live off of support. He can sympathize, Jesus empathizes (Luke 8:1-3), and has a plan for you and for your financial team. If someone doesn’t join maybe someone else is supposed to. I can be as simple as that, if you let it be.

4. Perceiving rejection is typically worse than actual rejection. What do I mean? If your anything like me, most of the time the real battle doesn’t even leave your own brain. Often times we become our own worst enemy when it comes to raising our finances. If you think about it, the real worst thing that can actually happen in raising your funds is asking and hearing a “no”.

However, I don’t think that we let that be the worst thing. I actually think the worst thing that happens to us is in the battle of our own minds – and as we focus on  perceived thoughts that may or may not be true we become jaded, upset, unfocused, unsure of our calling, etc etc etc. Practical combat here: avoid the troubles this creates by being clear in your asks and let the actual “rejection” be the worst thing that can happen (because really it’s not that bad!). Truly, sometimes the fear of rejection is more real than your actual being rejected is.

5. Just because a pastor or individual doesn’t immediately call you back doesn’t mean they are rejecting you (or mad at you). Try to keep in mind that it’s not always about you. People have busy lives and are not as keen on raising your support as you are. Pastors are busy and have a lot of various priorities. Individuals lives can get busy and inboxes can get full of emails and to-dos. Give those you try to contact a little grace and don’t give up too quickly. Don’t tell yourself they have said no before they have had the chance to.

If someone doesn’t connect with you after multiple attempts that’s okay. Give it a little time and try again. Maybe their season of life is a busy one. Here’s where it may get scary: sure, maybe they don’t want to join your ministry team. But you don’t know that until they say no. Whatever the case actually is, in your assessment try and assume the best before the worst and whatever you do, keep moving forward.

6. BONUS: Don’t give up! If you are reading this it is probably because you are doing something awesome God has called you to. If that is true then He has given you grace for it and He knows your obstacles and fears in the midst. I think the main thing I have learned in my personal experiences and from coaching is simple: keep your perspective biblical and your know that God has got this. Amen? Amen.

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To go along with these thoughts, here are a few more thoughts on rejection from workers who have recently gotten to 100% with a team of committed financial partners:

Worker 1: Someone once told me “God already knows your partners; you just have to find them.” That helped a lot in dealing with rejection. If someone says no, they’re just not one of the ones God had in mind for my team!

Worker 2: I would say that the hurt of rejection is a result of the expectation that said person is going to become a partner…so for us the biggest let downs are the ones that come from those people we though “for sure” would join our team. If we walk into support meet-ups having the understanding that it’s the Spirit doing the real convincing (even though it’s our jobs to communicate accurately and be straightforward), then we would walk out with the understanding that no matter how it ended, the Lord is in it and He’s the one forming our team.
From a practical stand-point, I would add that it’s better that you hear a “no” from a potential partner rather than a “yes” only to have that commitment fall through months down the line while serving on the field! (That helped me, anyway!)

Worker 3: Last week after reaching 99% fully funded, I lost a $200/mo supporter, and when I was praying about it I laughed! I thought “God is my supporter” (this sounds cheesier now that I’m writing it down.) I’m just saying – rejected? No. Trust God and keep going. One thing I’ve learned: It’s not about me.

Worker 4: God has hand-selected every church and individual financial partner that will get us on the field. Never let those pastors or financial partners that do not feel personally led by the Holy Spirit, or do not currently have the funds to support, feel like they have failed. Smile at them warmly and honestly and tell them the faith you have in God for getting you to the field. Typically they already feel both shame and regret for not being able to support you. Do not let them walk away feeling like they let you down. If we can’t handle this “rejection”, how will we handle the rejection when those we serve reject Christ when we share the gospel?

I hope you find some of this helpful. When dealing with the monster of rejection, remember to turn the lights on. It may not be as scary as you think!

Have thoughts? Post them in the comments!


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Busy? 10 Easy Ways to Keep Up With Donors While On The Field

This past month I traveled for the majority of the month, visiting various christian workers I had previously coached. Those workers are now on the field in active their respective ministry roles. In almost every conversation I had with them, they touched on the need for help connecting with their financial partners while leading very busy lives on the field.

Thus I wanted to take a little time to share on my post on this topic again and update it with a few new ideas. (If you have read the old post, this one will have a few new ideas – so please read again.)

If you are a worker already in your field of ministry – this post is for you! And now for the post:

Here’s a statistic that Bill Dillon, a guru in the support raising world and author of People Raising, has that I think you’ll find potent:

For every 100 people that stop supporting you:

66% of people stop giving because they think you don’t care about them

15% are unhappy with your organization

15% transfer their giving somewhere else

4% move away or die

Woah.

Investments that Count

When I train missionaries on how to raise their budgets I tend to stay away from the word “fundraising” for many reasons, and when I really think about it — this statistic is at the heart of all of my reasons.

No one wants to invest in something that yields no return.

If the people/church giving a christian worker funds every single month feel as though the worker could care less about their giving, they will go somewhere else with their giving dollars.

And in my opinion, they should.

Ouch! Why you ask? Because the reason donors are investing in the Great Commission is because they are called to be a vital part of the Great Commission, too. And if they are called to be a part of the Great Commission, why should they be made to feel as though their vital part is on the sidelines?

I believe that one reason we forget to invest ourselves into the relationships we have with our financial partners is because we forget (or perhaps don’t have the paradigm) that they are as vital to the work that we are doing as we (as ministers) are. (Side Note: I call “donors” by the term “partners” or “financial partners” because donors also give blood – look up the definition – you’ll be surprised)

That being said, many christian workers on financial support struggle in the area of continually connecting with their financial partners even they have a high value for their relationships with them.

It makes sense. We are all busy. Ministers are typically very busy.

As much as I understand, I also believe it isn’t a valid excuse. There are so many easy ways to connect across continents in our world. As such, I would like to offer up 10 suggestions on how ministers on financial support can continually – and easily – connect with churches and individuals who financially invest in the kingdom work they are doing.

Minister to Partner: Ways to Connect

1. The Quarterly Newsletter

Here’s a no-brainer: Send your newsletters. You should do a minimum of four a year. Keep them short, and talk more about ministry than personal things. Include pictures of active ministry and not vacation spots.

Here are two “do not’s” with newsletters:

The Vacationer Newsletter

I recently got a newsletter that made me jealous. And not in a good way. There were pictures of vacation spots all over it, making me wonder (from my desk in the middle of a rainy Missouri day) why I couldn’t go myself? I want to go to these wonderful, beautiful, far off destinations to do “ministry” instead of supporting someone else as they take these paid looking vacations; however, I know my job, and my calling is here.

Sure I knew that they were active ministers, or else I wouldn’t have started supporting them in the first place. However, there was something as I was reading that felt just a twinge off and left me wondering. Let’s not put the people that are giving us the opportunity to minister in that place of wondering. Let’s keep our newsletters active in ministry.

The Negative Newsletter

I have read a lot of newsletters over the years. And can I say one thing I see over and over again? A negative outlook. I believe I’m with the majority when I say positive newsletters win verses negative newsletters all day, every day. Sure prayer requests are important, and of course there is the need to be honest. However, the general feel of your newsletter should be one of a positive outlook and experiences. No whining. No complaining about how hard it is to raise your finances. Keep your newsletters vision based and focused.

2. The Digital Hello

When you get on the field, pick 5 – 10 financial partners each month and email them a short personal hello/touch base. For example:

“Hi Sally, just wanted to touch base with you and see how you have been doing. You and Chuck are, of course, on our prayer list and we are wondering if you have any updates or requests. Things here are going wonderful! We just finished with our building project and couldn’t be more excited to receive students this coming fall. I am really looking forward to getting back into teaching. Anyhow, hope you all are well and let us know how we can be in prayer for you.” – Jenn

See…how painful is that? It took me all of one minute to write that… You may be saying, but what happens when they write back? Then, take another minute of your day to promptly reply to those who responded to your email. If all 10 respond it will take you around 10 minutes to respond to all of the emails. Then, take the time to mention them in your prayers and follow up with that as you have time. Keep a simple notebook. Write them down. It will make all of the difference and mean so much to the people spending so much time praying for you.

Once you have gone through your 5 – 10 partners each month, circle back around your list. Put these on some sort of white board in your room or house to remind you, or put it into some sort of calendar each month. Whatever you do, calendarize it in some way.

3. The Traveling Present

Send small gifts or postcards to your financial partners. Tell them thank you for their continuing support.

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I recently received a postcard from a friend vacationing in Costa Rica. That postcard remained on my fridge for 2 months for two reasons: (1) My friend thought of me from a far off destination and it made my day getting that postcard! (2) It was beautiful! Personally, I’m a sucker for a pretty print of any far off destination.

Small gifts do not have to cost much to mean a lot.

4. Stay Active on Social Media

If you don’t already have one, create a Facebook page. Create a secret group if you are going to a sensitive country. Stay active on it while you are on the field. Pictures, prayer updates, videos and praise reports are all fantastic. *If you are somewhere sensitive keep that in mind while posting and follow the rules of your organization.

If you have the time and know-how, get onto Instagram and Twitter as well! This is not for everyone, and typically I say to start with one social media outlet and do it well. However if you have the time and know how try one or both of these. I love posting on Twitter and have a personal Instagram page as a creative outlet. Both have been effective in communicating with friends and helping me to network on a larger scale.

5. The “I’m Thinking of You” Share

Facebook message your financial partners or like their posts. Stay active on your personal page (including Twitter or other social media outlets).

Sometimes as I listen to audio sermons, worship sets, podcasts, or Scriptures, I’ll ask the Lord if He would like me to share any of those with my friends, family, or financial partners. If I feel prompted, I’ll send that sermon or verse to a friend on Facebook with a little message. These have to make sense and the sermons probably shouldn’t be overly convicting on major sins or anything. (Don’t imply that your friend has a problem). Use common sense. ie. Don’t send a message on tithing to a partner who hasn’t recently been giving.

6. The Church Letter

Write a short letter to the churches that financially partner with you. Put a note in to the pastor to please read where he feels it appropriate to the congregation (small groups, prayer groups, Sunday school).

7. The Homecoming Event

When you come back home, hold a non-fundraising event in key areas where your financial partners are. During the event provide desserts and coffee. Share stories from the field, answer any questions, tell them about your future plans, and thank them, thank them, and thank them.

These events can be as elaborate or simple as you want to make them. I would of course error on the side of taking care of your important guests by providing refreshments and some sort of dessert or snack – these also provide an incentive for your guests to come.

Recently, a ministry couple I coach held one of these type of events but made it a fundraising event (this type of event means they asked for monthly commitments from friends and family at the event. A non-fundraising event means you only ask for contact information and do not ask for commitments from your guests).

They took care to have a sign in book at the front door that collected people’s contact information as well, and they had a pastor come up and share with the guests about the value of missions and their ministry. They raised a total of $1,200 in monthly support in one night.

8. The Homecoming Coffee

In addition to the church event, when you come home set up one-on-one coffee times with pastors and friends and family that have supported you. Thank them and catch up on their lives while you were gone. Be relational and intentional.

9. The Real Time Facetime / Skype Meeting

Are you spending some time on Facetime or Skype with your far away family and friends? Why not pick 6-12 financial partners per year to Skype or Facetime while on the field? This is particularly good practice with financial partners that are giving sizable amounts or with churches and small groups that are partnering financially. Give them a real-time live update on where and how you are. Take them into an actual ministry event via skype or Facetime on your phone if you can. They will be floored at your thoughtfulness and most likely continue to financially partner you throughout assignments to come.

10. Text them!

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There are multiple programs available that will allow you to set up video and picture messaging while on the field. If you have a urgent prayer request, why not send a group text message out to your financial and prayer partners with a picture detailing your prayer need? If you have a praise report, send a text and allow them to celebrate with you (of course, keep in mind time zone differences so that you are not texting them at 2:00am)!

I personally use ReachModo for these purposes. It allows me to communicate while on the field and to set up a Text to Give option and a Text to Connect option that helps tremendously while itinerating. (Text to Give is when someone wants to start giving financially, and Text to Connect is when someone wants to sign up for prayer alerts and newsletters.) I then use the service to group text everyone on my ReachModo list. As I said above, there are numerous programs available for this type of service like Constant Contact and ReachModo. Keep in mind that you need to use a service that is secure, and check in with your organization that you are following your organizations security protocols. Check it out and you’ll be glad you did.

If you are a minister on financial support, I hope that these help you. Let’s remind our financial partners that they are important to us and to the Great Commission! Let’s keep our attrition rates up with our financial partners by spending just a little time letting them know that we care. Let’s value them! Let’s realize that they are vital part of what we do. Amen? Amen.

Want to know more about how to connect with financial partners? More practical help while raising your funds for ministry? Check out the Financial Partnership Workbook: Biblical and Practical Tools to Raise Your Support. 

How to Effectively Communicate with Your Financial Partners: ANSWERS FROM ACTUAL FINANCIAL PARTNERS

In continuation of my previous posts Hard Questions with Thoughtful Answers:  Q&A With Support Raising Geniuses, here are some “Hard Questions with Thoughtful Answers” from another perspective. The perspective of those that give. 

I hope you find these as helpful as I have! Wow. What great responses! Thank you to the pastor and individual who answered these questions. And ps. – thank you for giving to the work of the Great Commission. I hope it is said often enough to you how vital you are to the work of God. Truly, you make it possible.

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A Canonized Thank You Note

I’ve been reading the book of Philippians lately and from it I have been gaining wonderful insights the area of ministry partnership development. Don’t you love Philippians? The tone that Paul carries throughout it is so warm and kind. Full of encouragement and vulnerability, it is a book that houses one of the most famous verses in the entire bible “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” 4:13 and it carries my personal favorite very-zealous-teenage-self verse, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philip 1:21

Do you happen to know why Paul wrote the Philippians? I didn’t know until I became a ministry partnership development coach and started digging for areas of bible study on financial giving. Here’s what my New Living Translation Bible has to say about the book of Philippians:

“While under house arrest, Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians to thank some dear friends who had sent him money. In this letter he told them about a joy that does not depend upon external circumstances because it is rooted in Jesus Christ, who gives it freely. Paul began by expressing his thanks to the Philippians.”

My New King James Bible says it this way:

“Paul wrote Philippians as a thank you note to the believers of Philippi, for their help in his hour of need.”

So essentially the whole book of Philippians is an example of a canonized thank you note to supporters?!?! A CANONIZED THANK YOU NOTE!!

Before sharing some of the insights I’ve had from realizing this amazing-ness, let me back up a little and set the stage of Paul and the Philippians.

While writing the Philippians Paul was on house arrest in Rome. The Philippians sent Epharoditus with their support on a journey that took approximately a month for Epharoditus to reach Paul. That is quiet a difficult journey (Epharoditus got so sick that he almost died! 2:27, 2:30) and an investment for the Philippians.

In the midst of the Philippian church sacrificing so much; Paul was old, tired, and on house arrest.  Therefore most likely Paul was not in much need of finances at the time. Paul and the Philippians most likely had a growing relationship but were not extremely familiar with one another. In the past the Philipi church had supported him in an ongoing way (4:10, 4:15, 4:16) after Paul had only visited them on a short visit. The letter suggests they potentially had stopped their support before due to difficulties getting Paul the finances (4:10). Their newly continued financial support (and their commitment shown by sending Epharoditus) probably came as a surprise and a blessing to Paul. Something of the equivalent to Paul of a financial supporter buying you a new car.

Paul was so moved by this that he sent Epharoditus back with the letter to the Philippians. Consequently I think we can learn a lot from Paul’s thank you note to the Philippian church.

Here are 2 insights from Phillipians I trust you’ll find helpful:

1. True Vulnerability, Concern, and Friendship with Our Supporters

In Philippians we find true vulnerability from Paul as he shares his thoughts on his suffering and dying state in chapter 1. He remains venerable and honest with the Philippians throughout the book, giving the entire book a warm and encouraging tone:

“For I have told you often before, and say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.” Philippians 3:18

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” Philip 1:3

“Dear brothers and sisters, I love you and long to see you, for you are my joy and the reward of my work. So please stay true to the Lord, my dear friends.” Philip 4:1

Throughout the book Paul gives us a great model of relationship to strive for with our support team: they should be the joy and reward of our work. As in, they should be true friends and partakers with us in ministry. Do we see our team as actual partners in the work we are doing? Or do we view them merely as a necessary means to an end? Do we view our relationships with our team members as our joy and reward? Are we communicating honestly, vulnerably, and with concern to our financial supporters? Are we treating them like friends?

2. Don’t Just Seek The Gift

Philippians 4:17 blows me away every time I read it:

“Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.” Philip 4:17

Paul isn’t merely seeking the gifts of the Philippian church as he writes the Philippians his thanks. His worldview is given away here, showing us Paul’s true motivation – and it’s not money. He is motivated by the desire to see the Philippians reward in heaven as true partakers in the Great Commission. This perspective and worldview of our support team may not be instantaneous, but I can say from experience as a coach: those ministers that seek to grasp this concept, that view their team as real partakers in the Great Commission, make the best support raisers I know. Once we stop thinking of our fundraising as a means to an end we will succeed in fundraising – as it will come secondary to enhancing the kingdom of God – which is our primary concern as ministers (and Christians!) anyhow. Are you just wanting money from your team? Are you desiring what will be credited to their account in heaven? Do you see them as partakers with you in ministry?

One of the most quoted scripture verses of all time is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” Now that I know why Paul wrote the Philippians and that he wrote it with so much concern, love, and vulnerability to his support team,  verse 14 means so much more to me:

“I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

Let your team share in your “troubles”. May they be an active and vital part in what you are doing. Let your heart towards them not be about money, but that they are credited in heaven for their vital part in the Great Commission. May they become your friends and truly a “support team” around you. May your relationship to your team be like Paul and the Philippians.