OVERCOMING OBSCURITY

Below is another excellent guest post from Pastor Chris. If you haven’t read his previous posts you can find them herehere, and here. Thanks for contributing Pastor Chris and letting us glean from your insight! – JF

OBSCURITYThe state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.

When you are starting out on the path of fundraising your number one problem is OBSCURITY.  People do not know who you are.  More and more our culture is becoming relational.  People and churches want to know YOU before they know what you are called to do.  For this reason you must make it a priority to become known among the people and churches that you hope will fund your calling.

This problem is not unique to fundraising.  50% of all business start-ups fail in the first 5 years.  One author says 80% of all new business owners know they are failing in the first 18 months!  Some will have bad business plans, too much debt, the wrong location… but the majority simply cannot overcome obscurity.  Their potential clients do not even know they exist.

“Obscurity is the single biggest killer to a business or entrepreneur.” – Grant Cardone

Grant Cardone asks young business leaders two questions in relation to obscurity:

#1. How far will you go to get attention?

#2. How frequent will you be in your attempts? 

The ONLY correct answer is = “WHATEVER IT TAKES”

When it comes to fundraising we need this same attitude.  Please do not take this too far and manipulate “whatever” to mean being immoral or unethical.  I don’t believe Grant intended that and I certainly am not taking an extreme view of that word.  But we have to get the desperation that is in that phrase into our hearts and lives.  What will you do?  Whatever it takes!!!!  Will you face your fears?  Will you be uncomfortable?  Will you accept rejection?  Will you remain prayerful and positive?  Will you work 40 hours a week?  Will you work 60 hours a week?  Will you work 80 hours a week?  Your answer to all these questions and a thousand more must be “Yes – I will do whatever it takes!”

The reality of your situation is that there are lots of people with lots of money that want to give it to a worthy cause.  Trust me – there is NO shortage of money.  So how do you break out of the obscurity you are in, find these people, and get them to join your team?

#1 – You Must Renew Your Mind

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. -Romans 12:2 NASB

To break obscurity you must first stop seeing yourself as obscure. (Remember obscurity is the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.) The only way to do this is to constantly meditate on God’s word… then you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).

You are NOT obscure… You are a child of the Most High God!  He has made you the head and not the tail… He has set you above and not beneath… He has called you and given you a divine purpose and destiny.  He has made you an overcomer and more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus!

If you see yourself as obscure then you are obscure.  You cannot expect to break out of obscurity until you first break the obscure mindset that is holding you back.

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#2 – You Gotta Get Social

Personally, I hate Facebook and I don’t Twit or Tweet or whatever! Whether you love it or hate it: You Gotta Get Social!!  The people you are seeking to join you in your mission need to know you on a personal level. Do not wait to meet people.  When you call a church, ask for the pastor’s email.  Search for his name on Facebook and send a friend request.  If he gets to know you, his church is more likely to support you.

#3 – You Need to Dig Your Well

Harvey Mackay wrote the best book on networking long before Facebook and even before email, it’s entitled Dig Your Well Before You Get Thirsty.  If you should read his book you may be put-off as he describes how to set up your rolodex (some of you may need to Google “rolodex”).  Look beyond that technical part (or lack thereof) for the true heart of how to network.

Mackay opens his book with a story about getting a call from an old friend at 2am who was semi-hysterical and said he needed $20,000 that day or he would be at risk of going to jail.  He writes, “The strange thing is, I hadn’t talked to him in over ten years. I offered him a few thousand dollars, but I didn’t give him what he needed even though I could have.

Then Mackay asks a revealing question:

How many people could I realistically count on to bust a gut to help me out if I’d called them at 2am?

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#4 – You Have to Learn to Write

I am still learning this skill myself but if you say, “I’m just not a good writer” – you are most likely copping out.  Remember? – You said you would do whatever it takes!  A good amount of your support will come from writing letters, emails, and newsletters.  So learning how to do it correctly is important.  Write a lot!  If you write an appeal letter, ask a pastor you are friends with to give you an honest opinion. Did it sound needy?  Was it a crisis appeal?  Was it too long?  Was it boring?  Did it communicate the vision?  Did it make you feel connected?  By honestly assessing your writing you will get better.

#5 – You have to Learn to Speak

One Sunday morning after the church service the pastor was feeling quite proud about the message he had just delivered.  On the way home he asked his wife – “How many genuinely good preachers do you think there are in the world?  She muttered under her breath, “One less than you do.

If you think you are a good speaker you are in the most danger because you are probably not as good as you think you are! So regardless if you think you are a poor speaker or the best thing since Paul the Apostle, there is room for improvement.

Anyone can get up and say things in front of a church, but can you make your appeal with passion?  A pastor friend once said to me, “I cannot remember the last time I had a missionary in the pulpit who had a passion in his voice and a tear in his eye for the people of his calling.  Remember it is not what you say but how you say it.  You are not trying to convince people or sell them a product, you are endeavoring to share your calling from God and invite others to sacrificially join you in changing lives.

#6 – You have to Learn to Ask

You may be bold in the pulpit, but if you are obscure when it comes to “the ask” you may find your support raising going slowly.  Be convinced of who you are and of your calling.  Be confident that you are not asking for “yourself” (you are not begging). You are simply saying – Has God touched your heart with this vision and will you use your resources to work with me?

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#7 – You Should Make a Schedule

You are going to get busy with many things that will keep you obscure. Thus, create a calendar to guide you daily in overcoming obscurity.  If you are raising support for the first time I would recommend:

  • Tweeting as often as you like, but no less than once per day
  • Posting on Facebook no less than once per day
  • Sending one E-Newsletter per month
  • Mailing one paper snail-mail newsletter per month

If you are using other networking platforms like LinkedIn, make sure you add them to the schedule.   You should also add in how many personal phone calls you will make per day, and how many personal emails you will write (and send) per day. 

#8 – Lastly, You Ought to Go to EVERY Event That You Can… and STAND OUT!

If your district or denomination hosts events, go!  If your home church has events, go!  If friends invite you to the park, go!  Don’t make every event just about your financial needs, but work to build life long relationships.  If you do that the funds will come naturally (see my previous post on how to grow a long tail).

Look for ways to stand out, both personally and with your mail and media.  Get creative!  Use your own photos when sending post cards.  Hand address envelopes and if you know the person write a one-line sentence on the back of the envelope.  When you go to an event, if you can, wear something that makes you stand out – especially if you can get something from the country of your calling.  This season of fundraising should become the most hectic and crazy and social and fun period of your life.  If done correctly fundraising is FUN-raising!   

Obscurity is your #1 hindrance to raising your budget.  Make Overcoming Obscurity your #1 goal, and you will be well on your way to reaching your budget in a timely manner.

– Pastor Chris

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New Expert Tips on Support Raising From Workers at 100%

One of my favorite questions to ask workers who get to 100% is “If you could tell a new worker raising support one thing what would it be.” I’ve done some posts on this before, but thought I would gather some new answers for you. I hope you find these encouraging. I know I do! – JF

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Missionary Geniuses Drop Knowledge: 22 Expert Tips

This post is from a repeat, but I think there are little nuggets of wisdom everyone raising their finances should read – so if you haven’t – here are expert tips from those who have gone before you and gotten to 100%.

22 Expert Tips (4)

10 Blog Posts I Love for Successful Support Raising

I have a gift for you.

I love picking up bits and pieces from other ministries on support raising. Over the years I’ve done my fair share of digging from various viewpoints – nonprofits, ministries, and other missions sending organizations.

Thus, here’s a list of 10 inspiring blogs and websites that cover a wide variety of subject matter on ministry partnership development as you close out your year! Your Welcome! Merry almost Christmas friends!

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  1. Cadre 31 Classes: Cadre31 is a company who specializes in telling your story via video. They have a tab on their website dedicated to education on creating your own videos, watch and learn!
  2. TedTalk by Jia Jiang on facing rejection. The possibility of rejection and/or facing it is hard – this video on the subject is incredibly inspiring and entertaining.
  3. Video from Global Frontier Missions on Unreached People Groups. This video is so helpful if you are raising your finances to reach a tough population. Check it out!
  4. Seeing Your Donors As Partners by 101Fundraising maybe one of my favorite blog posts EVER on the subject of financial giving. Get inspired and get perspective.
  5. This guest post by Pastor Chris (on my blog) reminds us that a season of itineration looks a lot like a season on the ministry field. I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with obstacles and fears in raising their support.
  6. Thanking Donors on Social Media from The Balance is a great for those looking to make their social media interactions count. It has some fantastic ideas to get the gears going on your own social media strategy.
  7. This TedTalk from Amanda Palmer on The Art of Asking may be the most helpful TedTalk I’ve ever watched. This is not Christian content by the way, but gives incredible insight.
  8. Do you want to become a better public speaker? Are you afraid of public speaking? Here’s a post from RealSimple on conquering your fear.
  9. Being negative hurts YOU. Are you negative and don’t even know it? Check out this blog post on positive thinking during your season of raising support by Michael Hyatt.
  10. Reaching out to millennials can confound as you support raise. Gosh, I’m a millennial and sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what to do. Here’s a great post on the subject.

I hope some of these posts help you like they have me. Do you have a favorite blog post? Share it in the comments! – JF

 

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough: 5 Lessons from 2 Successful Support Raisers

Here’s a beginning question everyone asks when raising support: How do I effectively ask individuals to support me monthly? The answer to that question has a lot of moving parts, to start here’s 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.

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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 a christian worker. (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.”

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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?

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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/