22 Expert Tips on Fundraising Straight From Missionary Geniuses

I asked 23 fully-funded missionaries to anonymously answer the question: “If you could tell a new itinerating missionary one thing about raising funds, what would it be?” Their answers are pure gold.

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22 Expert Tips (4)

I pray you find these tips insightful and helpful. Do you have a favorite? Mention it in the comment section. Don’t agree with something? Mention it in the comment section.

Read here for more practical tips on fundraising.

End of the Year Giving Optimization

Did you know 10% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the year, and on December 31st most online giving occurs between noon and 7 p.m (stats from http://www.durhamandcompany.com). Needless to say, it’s a good week to be asking people to join your financial partnership team. So, how can you use this information to your advantage? My first two ideas:

Get back to face-to-face appointments and develop a social media campaign. 

Face to Face Appointments: If you have procrastinated over the Christmas break in asking individuals to become involved in your team – now is the time to follow up or schedule some face-to-face appointments! Start fresh today and into the New Year in relationally building your team.

Social Media Campaign: Secondly, answer this question for me:

Are you fully utilizing social media?

You should be! Remember, on Dec 31st most online giving occurs between noon and 7pm and 10% of annual giving is happening NOW. Thus, a good appropriate post on a new Facebook page would be a great start!

Straight from the Assemblies of God World Missions Mobilization Department, here is a How-To on building a successful Facebook Campaign. Take a moment to watch and then apply a Facebook campaign in your own financial partnership development.

As you think about what steps you need to take into the New Year with financial partnership development – don’t make the mistake of replacing the face-to-face appointment with a social media campaign. However, learn how to utilize both to relationally build your team of financial and prayer partners. 

How do I ask Individuals to Support Me Monthly: 5 Take Aways

You may be asking the question, dear reader, how do I effectively ask individuals to support me monthly? The answer to that question has a lot of moving parts, and as I begin this blog I want to continually answer that question through the posts that I write. To start with a simple answer, it is this:

AS RELATIONALLY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.

I want to reinforce this sentence by telling you about the journeys of two different missionaries whom I coach. Both recently raised their finances in record time. Let me tell you a little about them:

The Jones Family. The Jones Family is a family of four who raised their extensive overseas budget within 6 months. SIX MONTHS! Let me tell you, that is a feat for a family of four! 

Sally. Sally is a single woman, and a 21 year old college grad. Sally raised her budget within 5 months. She had never raised finances for a missions trip before, and particularly felt nervous that most of her friends were just out of college – and broke.

How did the Jones family and Sally do it? Well, the main successful commonality between them is this: they were always relational in their approach. So here are some things we can learn from The Jones family and Sally in their journeys  to raising their budgets relationally and successfully:

1. They set weekly goals and stuck to them. When raising your finances, knowing your vision is valuable and so is determination. Both the Jones family and Sally set weekly goals (that were obtainable) for themselves based on their vision and held onto those goals with determination. They hit their goals 90% of the time.

Take away: As you raise your finances, set weekly goals for yourself and find a way to make yourself accountable to them. Before you do, think about what you can handle each week and when you want to get to 100% before you set them. Typically I tell missionaries I coach that they need to make initial contact with at least 5-10 people each week – initial contact entails that they have either sent an invitation letter (setting up the face-to-face appointment) or they called someone asking for a face-to-face appointment.

2. They didn’t take short cuts. They met face-to-face with people. The Jones family and Sally both strived for each “ask” to be face-to-face, even if that meant traveling a little to see people and ask them in person. They didn’t merely call people, send out bulk newsletters, or Facebook blasts – they took time to ask people in the most relational way possible.

Take away: I’m not saying Facebook posts or newsletters are bad things. Both are effective tools when used accurately. However, those tools become detriments when missionaries try to make them the main way they do their personal asks. Whenever possible, try to meet with your potential partners face-to-face. If it’s not possible face-to-face, try meeting with them over Skype or Google Hangouts. When you ask, have a well thought out presentation and concretely ask for financial support.

3. They asked for a range or specific amount. When the Jones family and Sally did their financial asks they boldly asked for a range of monthly support or a specific amount.

Take away: Don’t leave your financial needs nebulous and in the hands of your potential partners to guess. That’s awkward for them. Tell them what you need and provide them with parameters. A couple of reasons for this: (1) It will greatly help your friends and family to know what you need, particularly if they aren’t used to giving to missions. (2) People will default to the least amount possible, so you want to ask them for an amount that stirs their faith.

If you are asking for a range make your range comfortable for you to ask for, but also not too low. Also when providing a range make a graph
to explain if necessary. When asking for a specific amount, make sure to stay silent while they respond to what you just asked them. You don’t need to apologize or provide nervous “filler.”

Fundraising Pyramid Image[1]

4. They believed they were asking their potential partners to invest in the Great Commission, not just their ministry assignment. Perspective in raising support is a powerful thing, if not one of the most important ingredients to success (or lack there of). Sally and the Jones Family believed that when they asked their friends and family for financial support, they were involving them in more than just their need for money. They were involving them in the Great Commission and thus were not apologetic about it.

Take away: If you aren’t at that point in your thinking / perspective you, you are not alone. But I do challenge you to ask God to change your perspective. Spend time in the word and seek understanding on support raising in the Bible. There are over 700 direct statements in the Bible about finances, find some of them and study. As you read ask yourself why God set up the Christian worker to live off of support, and why He wants you to do it as well. (Some places in the Bible to start reading: Philippians, Nehemiah, 2 Kings 4, and 1 Corinthians 16 or check out my workbook and buy a complete Bible study on fund-raising.)

5. They didn’t stop when it got challenging. Both the Jones Family and Sally were both hesitant to begin the process of raising their support. They also both had real fears and genuine obstacles, just like you probably do. Even though they were hesitant and ran into hard weeks while raising their budgets: they kept going and continued to ask.

Take away: Don’t let fear, a bad week, obstacles, or a “no” keep you from asking. Remember, when you invite people onto your team in a relational way, really you are asking them to get more involved in the Great Commission. When you run into a hard week (and you will, I promise you are not alone) just keep going and continually ask God for help along the way. He will provide what you need if you keep moving forward — but the key is you have to keep moving forward.

So as you look over these 5 take aways think about how you can invest and create your team relationally. As you do, you’ll find yourself growing in ministry and more happily (and quickly) raising your support.

What do you think as you hear The Jones Family and Sally’s stories? How can you raise your finances as relationally as possible?

Tips on Fundraising and Non-Fundraising Events

Speaking to people face-to-face in one-on-one settings remains the best way to ask potential partners for support. However, fund-raising events, non-fund-raising events, and speaking in small groups can also be effective ways to build your team when done correctly. Below are the three types of events, and I strongly recommended that you add one or several of these to your FPD strategy.

FUNDRAISING EVENTS

These events are typically something like an ice-cream social, cultural dinner, cookie and dessert night, etc.,  when the missionary asks for financial and prayer support. Missionaries hold events like these for multiple reasons, and here are some main reasons you might want to hold a fundraising event:

  • You want to extend your contact base and raise awareness.
  • You will only be in town for a matter of days, and you want to connect with multiple people at once.
  • You are having a hard time getting ahold of multiple people who are all a part of the same community.
  • A financial partner or prayer partner of yours wants to host a fundraising event for you, and perhaps some of these are people you are meeting for the first time.

If you hold one of these events, it’s crucial to keep the following in mind:

  1. Don’t let it become a shortcut. Don’t let a fundraising event take the place of face-to-face appointments. The most effective way to raise financial partners is still to ask one-on-one, not in a large group setting. It’s tempting to think of fund-raising events as a shortcut, but even while fund-raising events can be exciting and raise a lot of support in one night, they tend to leave missionaries with holes in their contact list if done incorrectly. Also, keep in mind that fund-raising events will typically raise only a fraction of your budget and most likely lead to one-time gifts rather than monthly commitments (which are much harder to raise).
  2. Get a guest sign-in sheet. If you host a fundraising event, it’s crucial to have a guest sign-in book so you can collect guests’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses. Then you can follow up with them after the night is over, either to send thank-you cards for those who gave or to ask for a face-to-face appointment with those who don’t give or who give one-time gifts.
  3. Be excellent. As I’ve coached multiple missionaries over the years, I’ve seen missionaries succeed at fundraising events and others who haven’t. I’ve noticed that those who have successful fund-raising events typically have one thing in common: they go out of their way to make the event excellent. Decorations, unique cultural foods,  thoughtful planning, videos that make an impact, great coffees and desserts—they all make a difference. Don’t plan your event last-minute; put thought into it, and consider what your audience wants.
  4. Be creative. I’ve seen missionaries do bake sales, T-shirt sales, jewelry sales, elaborate house shows (concerts) with local musicians, and more. Think about what you can bring to the table, and get creative! These count as fund-raising events as well and can be very effective. Although typically these types of events raise only a small portion of your budget, they can help.
  5. Choose a good time for your audience. Maybe it’s a weekend lunchtime that would work best, or maybe a weeknight would work best. Typically, it varies for your audience. If your audience members are faithful churchgoers, then don’t do a Wednesday night or Sunday night. If your audience is younger, perhaps a weekend is not the best, because they go out of town over the weekends or make a lot of plans. If you can’t figure out when would work best, poll some key people you want at the event. Make sure you don’t make your event too long. Two hours is probably the max.

Here are some suggested things to include in your fundraising event:

  1. Guest sign-in sheet (mentioned above).
  2. A referral. If you are hosting a big event, consider having someone touched by your ministry start off the night referring you. Don’t be too humble. These are good times to get people involved, and sharing more about who you are is always helpful.
  3. Some type great of food or dessert. You don’t have to break the bank; people love Sam’s wholesale cupcakes, and they are cheap! Eurasia Cafe can help with your coffee needs. Perhaps you have a baker or cook on your team. You could also ask someone on your financial partnership team to help out.
  4. Clearly share your vision. Make sure you share the vision of ministry that the Lord has given you clearly and boldly. You want to give details of your assignment, but be careful not to talk too much. When you share, it should something between your five-minute window and your face-to-face appointment. Create an outline, and practice before you share.
  5. Show a video of your ministry. Perhaps the ministry or the missionaries on the field have created a video. Consider showing it to your audience (if it’s good!).
  6. Make a trusted individual do the ask. Sometimes it is helpful to have another missionary, charismatic friend, your pastor, or the pastor of the community you are speaking do the ask for you. Make sure this person can knock it out of the park and be unapologetic about your needs. Make sure he or she also understand your needs. You want to be sure to ask someone passionate about you and what you are doing, or at the very least, someone who can make an effective ask. If you can’t find that person for your particular event, don’t be scared to do it yourself.
  7. Bring your computer and commitment forms. Find the best ways for your audience to give. Online is the best, of course, so have iPads or laptops available with the giving page pulled up. Put commitment forms in strategic places, perhaps on the tables 

There are many different things you could do with fund-raising events. When planning them, always write down your main goals of the event first, and work backward into the details. Continually think while planning what you hope to happen and how you hope to achieve that outcome. Holding fundraising events can be a very effective way to raise a small or large portion of your budget. Think of holding your own!

NON-FUND-RAISING EVENTS

These are events similar to fund-raising events; however, at a non-fundraising event you do not ask for any finances. These type of events are good for the situations like the following:

  • You have just returned home from a ministry/missions trip. This could be a MAPS assignment, MA assignment, or something similar, and you want to share stories from the field and thank your partnership team.
  • You want to raise awareness about your ministry to a group of people you do not know well and grab contact information for face-to-face appointments.
  • You have spoken at a church that has become or has been a part of your partnership team. You don’t want to ask for finances, but you would like to get to know the congregation better.

I love non-fund-raising events. Personally, I believe they have an advantage over fund-raising events, because they ultimately lead you into face-to-face appointments. Ideas and tips for these remain the mostly the same as for fund-raising events, but again, you do not do the ask, and hold out until it can be more of a personal delivery.

These type of events are also a fabulous idea after you return home from the assignment you are currently gearing up for. Holding a non-fund-raising event will let your partnership team know they matter to you and give you the opportunity to thank them, connect with them about your future plans (or future assignment!), and show you are invested in them. Please consider doing a non-fund-raising event after your next ministry/missions endeavor.

small-group

SMALL GROUPS

Typically, small groups are around 3 to 12 people, making them more intimate settings than fund-raising events or non-fund-raising events. Small groups typically fall into these situations:

  • A church small group or home group has invited you to come and speak on your ministry.
  • A group of friends or the family of someone on your partnership team is giving you a platform to share your vision of ministry and potentially ask for finances.
  • It’s important to remember that while speaking in small groups is the second best way to ask people to join your partnership team, it isn’t the best way.  Don’t let small groups take the place of face-to-face appointments.

In small groups, have some of the following available:

  1. Printed materials and/or videos. These could be the same you use for face-to-face appointments. Give them some sort of information to take home with them, if possible. These could be brochures from your ministry/mission field or printed materials you make yourself (like your packet resume). If your ministry/mission field has a promo video, show it during the small group meeting.
  2. Sign-in/sign-up sheet. Have a way to get their contact information for later. That way you can thank them if they give a gift or follow up with them afterwards for a face-to-face appointment or some sort of financial ask.
  3. Your computer and commitment forms. Make it easy for any in the small group interested in giving to do so. Have your giving website bookmarked (if you have one), and have your forms ready to go.
  4. Your best ask. Be confident and bold while sharing. If you are speaking at a small group you are not overly familiar with but have been invited into, be bold and ask for financial partnership when appropriate. Don’t be passive. Give them the opportunity to respond.

Nehemiah 1&2 – Tips for Raising Your Support Straight From The Bible

Ask God to change your paradigm from simply raising funds to inviting people to take a bigger part in the Great Commission.

Lets all take a quick moment and read Nehemiah 1-2.

Most if not all trainings on how to biblically raise support reference Nehemiah chapters 1-2. Nehemiah is a great example that relates to the missionary calling and talking with individuals 1 on 1 for financial support. Two main points are seen in Nehemiah 1-2: (1.) to show the importance of opening up one’s mouth and actually asking and (2.) casting clear vision to those who would potentially partner with us.
I challenge you to read Nehemiah this week and the weeks to come during your season of financial partnership development. Take your time and ask God to show you how to biblically raise your finances. Ask God to change your paradigm from simply raising funds to inviting people to take a bigger part in the Great Commission.

Here are a few amazing partnership development tips we can pick up from reading the book of Nehemiah:

1. Continually (and always) cast your vision. Move yourself away from just getting money to getting the people in your life behind the vision of your life. Most of the time we are so focused on getting to 100% support that we never really embark on the journey of building a support team. Press into the ongoing effort of building and developing a team. Never miss an opportunity to cast the vision of what God is leading you to do and what you have asked your team to invest themselves into.

2. Continually help your ministry partners see that they are a part of a significant team. Check out Nehemiah 3 and notice all the different types of people that Nehemiah brought together to accomplish the work of God on his heart. Those who continually let their partners know they are a part of the BIG vision not only raise their funds faster, they will raise their funds with committed long-term partners! Communicate continually through your language and actions that they are a part of a big team God is using to accomplish what is on His heart – fulfilling the Great Commission.

3. Don’t give into your wrong assumptions. Do not let the enemy convince you that the people in your life don’t want to give or partake in the Great Commission. And don’t let the enemy tell you that a person doesn’t want to be on your team. Let God decide that with them! Listening to these type of assumptions will keep you from doing the very things that foster a healthy and growing relationship with our ministry partners. Likewise, don’t let the enemy convince you that when you challenge your team of partners to do even more for you, that they will not want to partake in the opportunity. Take a moment and read Nehemiah chapter 4. Nehemiah needed to add a few things to his project and challenge the people working with him to do more. You’ll find that as you involve your supporters beyond just praying and giving, they will take more ownership of your ministry and being on your partnership team. (think referrals, hosting desserts, and partners becoming advocates)

4. Be your team’s biggest cheerleader! Brag on them! Involve them often. Encourage and love them often. Nehemiah was a tireless advocate for those who were standing with him building the wall and everyone saw it and wanted to be more involved. And what is one of the biggest opportunity to serve your partnership team: be committed to pray for them. In Nehemiah 4:4, he understood that he must stand in the gap for his team. Do likewise. Share your life and prayers with them and see what happens.

As you read Nehemiah apply these intentional principles to your partnership development. You will find excited ministry partners because of it, and as you grow your partnership team you will find them ready to go with you in the long haul.