Get the Right Perspective, Get to 100%

I try whenever possible to stay away from the words “fundraising” and “donor“when describing support raising as a ministry worker. Instead I use the phrases “partnership development” and “financial partner“.

Why you ask? The nuance lies within the overall perspective of raising one’s budget.

The word “donor” denotes someone who gives blood, gives one time, or is involved in a limited transaction. “Fundraising” denotes car washes, bake sales, golf tournaments, and transactional events. Right? Right. Of course fundraising and donors are in and of themselves not bad. OF COURSE. However, neither indicate an ongoing relationship between the giver and the organization or ministry. If our perspective of raising funds leads us to believe all we are doing is fundraising, it is likely we will struggle raising our support because what we are doing is truly more than fundraising. Simply put: we do more than fundraise. We invite people to partner with us in ministry.

Conversely, partnership is defined as this: “two separate but equal parties, with separate but equal responsibility, working together to achieve a common goal.” 

I like that definition much more as it encapsulates a what a healthy perspective while raising a budget looks like. It clarifies that the one sending is vital to the ministry instead of merely standing on the sidelines. The word partnership keeps us mindful that we are to be good stewards of our resources as Christians, and stewards of our calling to the Great Commission – whether that looks like going or sending. “Partnership” says WE ARE DOING THIS TOGETHER.

Experience has shown me that ministry workers who know the difference (in their hearts and attitude) between “fundraising” and “partnership” are those that succeed in raising their financial partnership teams. And FYI, success looks different than just getting to 100% and getting to the field fully funded. Again, think perspective — getting to 100% is only part of it.

Success in partnership development looks like fulfillment, retention in partnerships, healthy mindsets, healthy relationships, joy, actual enjoyment in the process, and getting to one’s field in ministry fully supported.

The opposite of success is strained relationships, procrastination, anxiety, 80% raised budgets being “good enough”, and low attrition in partnerships.

I believe that success in partnership development is 90% perspective.

“If our perspective of raising our funds leads us to believe all we are doing is fundraising, it is likely we will struggle raising our support because what we are doing is truly more than fundraisingSimply put: we do more than fundraise. We invite people to partner with us in ministry.” 

Those that are successful hold Paul’s perspective when he says “Not that I desire your gift, what I desire is that more be credited to your account.” Philipians 4:17 

Successful partnership development knows those that join your team are a vital and dynamic part of your ministry.  Partner relationships become important, growing, and vibrant instead of obligations and burdens.

perspective

I challenge you to take a look at your perspective in partnership development. Is it a fundraising perspective, or one of partnership? Why is it important to see it differently than fundraising? What’s the difference?

You may not immediately see the difference, but as you work to find out what a biblical perspective of financial partnership looks like, it’s likely you’ll find it much more enjoyable and doable. Perspective leads to attitude, which determines action. You will do what you believe. Try and shift to a healthy perspective on partnership development. Having a wrong perspective may hinder you staying in full-time ministry long term, and can lead to stress every time itineration season rolls around again. Let’s not do that. Let’s do successful partnership development that leads to vibrant 100% funded ministry and healthy engaged partnerships.  – JF

 

 

Advertisements

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/

 

PAUL WRITES WITH SINCERITY TO HIS SUPPORTERS IN PHILIPPI – Support Raising Solutions

Yesterday Support Raising Solutions featured one of my blog posts on their site. I’m very honored, as I have gleaned much from SRS and their ministry. May I suggest checking out Support Raising Solution Bootcamps if you or your ministry are wanting quality training in the area of support raising. I went through a bootcamp in 2014 and loved it!

If you haven’t read the post check it out on their site in the link below.  – JF

Source: PAUL WRITES WITH SINCERITY TO HIS SUPPORTERS IN PHILIPPI – Support Raising Solutions

I’ve been reading the book of Philippians lately and from it I have been gaining wonderful insights in the area of ministry partnership development. Don’t you love Philippians? The tone that Paul carries throughout is so warm and kind. Philippians is a book full of encouragement and vulnerability and contains this well-known verse: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) A bonus is that it carries my favorite very-zealous-teenage-self verse, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21) Do you happen to know why Paul wrote to the Philippians? […]

 

5 Support Raising Lessons from The Widow’s Olive Oil

2 Kings 4:1-7

Let’s read 2 Kings 4:1-7.  Before you do though, a little precursor: If your anything like me, you may be tempted to read scripture on a blog post like a cereal box in the morning – as in – not throughly. I invite you however to slow down and take a moment and really read this woman’s story. You will find some great nuggets of wisdom in the area of support raising I promise.

“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” 2 Kings 4:1-7

So lets take a few moments to consider this widow’s story together. This woman’s prophetic, God-fearing husband is dead; making the widow a single mom of two boys with insurmountable money problems. As in, she doesn’t have any. Because she is so behind on payments, creditors are coming to take the two boys to be sold into slavery. From reading about the widow’s situation we can induct she is likely to be experiencing frustration, exhaustion, anxiety, stress, and loneliness amongst other things.

In her desperate need she seeks out the man of God (Elisha) for help. Elisha asks what she has in the house, and she says nothing at all but a lonely and useless jar of olive oil. (Have you ever wondered if that is literally all they had? I mean, do they even have straw beds in the house? Perhaps a dishrag? Only a jar of olive oil?!? What about a a pair of socks or a dust pan or broom? (I digress. I realize this is not the point.)

Essentially Elisha tells the widow what to do to save herself and her sons. Go collect empty jars from her neighbors and pray for a miracle of course! You have to know she probably felt crazy following his seemingly unhelpful instructions. I know I would. And not only does it seem absolutely NOT the right answer for creditors coming to take her sons, but then factor in the potential uncomfortable situations this creates for the widow. Maybe she has already asked her neighbors numerous times for resources and favors, making Elisha’s plan dig into her already existicolorgroupng wounds. Maybe there is a judgmental neighbor in the neighborhood, someone she wouldn’t want to ask a favor of in a thousand bad years. Maybe the neighbors are long distances away, making this task seem to be the icing on the cake of her exhaustion.

All of this to say if I were the widow I’d be in no mood for all of this faith business. But then again, she asked for it.

There are so many lessons on healthy support raising in this story I do not even know where to start!  For the sake of brevity, here are 5 lessons I’d like to point out:

imgresLesson #1: Having faith often doesn’t make sense and often makes us uncomfortable. I’m a very practical person. Sometimes to a fault. If God told me the solution to my epic mountain of a problem was to go collect empty jars from my neighbors I would think twice. Actually probably more than twice. I’d like to say I would do it, but I would be hesitant. For me the actual act of gathering the jars from neighbors would include a lot of faith, some embarrassment, awkwardness, and loads of uncomfortable self-talk (ie. “this person is going to think I’m crazy”, “she will give me a jar but has nothing herself, how can I ask?”, “she will give me a jar but will hang it over my head” ) Sound familiar?

When the widow acted on her faith and said yes to God’s plan, she experienced a miracle. It is likely that God may be asking you to act in faith so that He can provide. Maybe collecting jars to you looks like inviting someone to join your team that you haven’t talked to in eons. Maybe it is just asking someone that makes you uncomfortable. Let the self-talk go and ask God what He wants to do.

imagesLesson #2: Having faith DOES NOT mean we should sit around and wait for God to do all of the work. Have you noticed that God’s plan usually involves us actually doing something? Elisha could have clapped his hands and made the jar appear out of thin air, but typically that’s not how these things work. Just like the fish and five loaves, or Peter getting out of the boat – we often have to take action in our faith. We WALK by faith and not by sight.

In your support raising, you will always have what I call “manna moments”. It’s that thing where without asking an individual eagerly jumps on your monthly partnership team, or a church CALLS YOU and asks if you can speak at their next service. Most of the time, manna moments are the exception and not the rule. Sure God provided for the Israelites for awhile with manna from heaven, but at some point they had to move forward.


imgresLesson #3: Ask and you you shall receive. “We have not because we ask not.” (James 4:2) 
What would have happened if the widow asked even more of her neighbors for jars? Quick answer here: she would have had more money to live off of. What would have happened if she gave into the awkwardness and not asked her neighbors for the jars? Quick answer again: She wouldn’t have had enough money to pay her debts.

Raising support again is not about waiting for people to get the hint and support you. There must be action on your part, and your part is to invite others to join in what your doing and be a part of the Great Commission.


imagesLesson #4: God wants to involve others, and it is about more than just you and your needs. 
As I stated above, God could have just snapped His fingers and provided enough oil and jars for the widow. But He didn’t. I believe He wanted the widow to act in faith but He also cared for the neighbors. He wanted to show Himself to them. He wanted them involved for His glory.

You may think you it would be lovely to just get paid via check for the ministry work you do. I’ve been there. I get it. But think about the team you are building around you and I challenge you think about the big picture. Just as God didn’t want to provide the miracle in a vacuum for the widow, the same goes for you. He’s all about them being involved, revealing hearts, and moving them forward in the call on their lives and of the Great Commission too. Think macro, not micro. Think no vacuums.


imgresLesson #5: Listen to God, not to your fears. 
Again, the self-talk going on in my head if I were the widow would be un-ending. It’s likely that you could be experiencing something similar as you step out in faith. But I challenge you to be like the widow and WALK by faith and not by sight. To move beyond the awkwardness and boldly ask. To involve others, even the uncomfortable ones, in the story. I challenge you to listen to God and not your fears.

Let’s be like the widow people.

God will provide the oil if we go get the jars. – Tweet this

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.

The Secret Ingredient to Successful Support Raising

I started this website and blog in November of 2014. Since I began I have been grateful to get out some (of what I hope to be) helpful information to a growing audience. Up to this point I have focused the blog on practical information and tips for those in their season of financial partnership development. To develop the blog further I would like to add a layer of attention to the biblical basis for raising support. There is much to say on the subject, and as I grow as a partnership development coach I am finding that the majority of successful partnership development lies within one’s attitude and perspective on the subject.

images-1

Did you know that there are 700 direct statements on the Bible having to do with wealth? There are over 100 indirect statements as well, making finances a major area of focus within the scriptures. But are we focused on what the Bible has to say? Are we studying what the scriptures say as we raise our support, or are we concerned only with what our current culture says about it? Do we wonder and seek to understand why God set up the christian worker to live off of support, or do we see it only as a necessary evil? Are we really concerned with ministering to our financial partners and including them in the Great Commission, or are we only focused on getting to 100% raised and onto our “real jobs”? Are we ruled by our fears or by scripture?

Through coaching I’m finding that the overall culture (including our potential donors, churches, American culture, etc.) and the culture of our sending agencies often dictate our attitudes on support raising much more than the Bible. Often times we find ourselves shaped unknowingly by our peers and co-workers raising their own finances. Have you ever heard another christian worker or missionary say that raising their finances is a drag? Or they wish they could just get back to the field? Have you heard someone say they just wish the season could be over? Have you ever heard them express that they’ve done all of the stuff they are “supposed to do” but just can’t understand why people won’t give? Have you heard them express negatively about pastors being hard to reach and churches having tight pockets?

I believe it’s okay to be honest and real with hardships within situations. And with raising your finances, I would be remiss in telling you that hardships won’t happen. However, I do believe that often times we haven’t been trained in biblical mindsets when it comes to itineration, and our negativity can spread like wildfire without us even noticing. Often times the christian workers I advise begin their season of itineration with little to no knowledge of scriptural examples of financial partnership. I was in the same boat as I began my own journey – so if that’s you my point is not to shame you. I’m not writing this to shame anyone. I’m writing it because I believe we need to start educating ourselves and our workers what it means to raise our support from a true biblical perspective.

Do you want some places to start?! Oh good I thought you would never ask!! Here are some scripture verses I hope over the months to expand upon, and that I believe are great starts to a journey of education on the biblical basis of financial partnership development:

Numbers 18:21-24

2 Kings 4:1-7

Nehemiah 2:1-9

Luke 8:1-3

Philippians 4:10-19

1 Corinthians 9:1-14

From my experience, those that seek out knowledge and a mindset based on biblical financial partnership development will find themselves happier, calmer, and more fulfilled by this season of ministry. They also happen to get to 100% a lot quicker…so what’s the secret ingredient to successful support raising: BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE.

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

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.