The 2nd Time Around: Raising Additional Support, Engaging Existing Supporters, Building Church Partnerships, and Engaging Lapsed Supporters

Several years back I did a blog post on Pre-Itineration for anyone who was about to come off of a ministry assignment into a new season of support raising. I get questions all of the time as to where to start if you have existing support and are coming into a season of raising additional support. Usually additional questions follow, such as:

  • How much time should I spend on engaging existing supporters and asking for increases?
  • How much time reaching out to pastors and churches is appropriate?
  • How should I reach out to pastors and churches?
  • What do I say to those who have supported me when I come home? What’s the best way to communicate with them?
  • What should my newsletter reflect?
  • Where do I start again?!?!

To expound on the old blog post, I wanted to create something particularly helpful for a worker who has raised a full budget and is coming home from being overseas to raise additional support. However, this post isn’t only for the overseas worker, and there of course can be multiple reasons for raising more support. Whatever the case it is for you, I think you will find this blog post helpful to think through your strategy or at least for tucking away for when it’s you find yourself in this situation.

To communicate some ideas on the subject, I chatted with two AMAZING overseas workers (thank you so much to both of you!!!) who have recently come back to the States to raise additional support. First, we will start with my friend Emily* (yup — named changed for security). She has lived overseas on assignment for multiple years and recently came back to raise support as a career worker. When she came back to the States she knew she had an increased budget and that she would like to return to country as soon as possible. I asked Emily some questions about her overall strategy such as where did she begin and what did she specifically do? Keep in mind, within our organization Emily is allowed and encouraged to ask a lot of churches in our denomination, and her answers reflect that ability. Below are her responses.

Question 1: Emily, where did you start with your support raising as you made the transition from first term to second?

“I will give you the whole timeline! Just a note, A and B are where I started with the initial announcement to my supporters of what was next as far as my assignment goes, but it was really what I did later on the bore the most fruit. 

A: About six months before the end of my ministry term, I started by reaching out to my District Director (our denomination gathering of sectional / local churches) to let him know I was returning to the States soon. I did this specifically to ask him if I could begin getting on calendars of churches before my official approval as a worker going from associate to fully appointed. Every district is different, and he gave me the green light to start calling those I had relationship with to get on their calendars for services and to inform them of my transition. 

B. I sent out two emails initially. One to churches partnering with me and another to individuals currently partnering with me. I informed them of my next steps without getting too detailed about things that would confuse them–and focused on the fact that my budget was increasing. I thanked them for their faithful partnership. I asked them to consider increasing or even doubling their partnership. (Some fruit came from this -those who wanted to increase, did).

C. THIS was super fruitful: I posted a social request asking people to connect me with their pastors. I had a lot of response from this! I made sure to cast vision that they were multiplying my effectiveness by getting me into their churches. (I have attached this post)

D. I did several Facebook Lives leading up to Giving Tuesday. What was effective from this, was that is seemed to make people want me to speak at their church. I didn’t get a lot of gifts but got a lot of invitations which then led to pledges.

E. Sent Pastor Packet > Follow up call > Follow up email> Repeat. This can seem so extremely monotonous and time consuming…BUT

  • I sent out packets with a case document, prayer card, and a handwritten note. I included in the correspondence that I would be calling them soon.
  • I diligently called through my district twice.
  • I emailed every pastor I could find an email address for directly following the phone call/message. 

That three point of communication was a winner for me. I had conversations with many people, not on the initial phone call (leaving the message is what is valuable there if they don’t pick up, so you can even do this on weekends), but usually on follow-up. On each mode of communication, I mentioned the others (I’ll be following up next week with a call … ) to let them know I was planning on a conversation and not just sending them information. 

F. OK, the magic here for this last one was connecting with pastors at District Council towards the end of my itineration journey getting my final percentages. I walked into general council at 85%. I emailed our District Director to ask him if they could highlight me on stage and finish me up (you never know unless you ask!) and he gave me a two-minute window that got me in front of everyone I had been having conversations with. This led to the final commitments I needed and many conversations. I believe District Council (again, our denomination gathering of sectional / local churches), if done well and preferably later in your itineration journey, can be very effective. THIS was when I looked back at all my calls, emails and mail-outs and really saw that they had been fruitful and worth the time because everyone in that room knew who I was from previous communication–even if I hadn’t heard from them. 

Question 2: Emily, what did you focus your time on and how?

I spent the majority of my time making phone calls, emailing, and keeping up records (an ongoing spreadsheet of communication), and this will come as a surprise, but also writing thank-you cards, even when people said no.  Those phone calls, emails, records and thank-you cards took the most time. However, it was also the most fruitful times as those phone calls and email led to appointments and services, which led to partnership. 

A phone call tip: If you have a reference, use it! Ask your District Director if you can use their name. Something I routinely started with was “Pastor ____ told me to reach out to you as I itinerate”. It may sound pushy but it just lets them know that someone they respect is pulling for you and they should too. 

Below are some screen shots of posts and copy I have referenced! – Emily

I also made this and used it recently in an email. I modeled it after an update another worker couple I admire recently did.

Okay, that’s Emily’s wonderful strategy! The second worker couple I’d like to highlight are the Smiths. They are currently raising support for a longer assignment as career workers and have developed some excellent materials to give to pastors and individuals I’d like to highlight.

First, I’d like to highlight the Smith’s pastor packets. The Smiths are emailing these to pastors whom they have not met with a handwritten note that says they would love to connect with them and will be calling within the week. Notice the packet information is several pages long as opposed to a shorter Case Document. (Case Documents are also super effective – but a longer version could be helpful in some circumstances like this!) Here’s a few snapshots of the packets.

The Smiths are taking this same packet and tailoring it for individuals (which by the way is such a cool idea!). They have made changes to the packet that include the levels of giving chart below (instead of full budget details that are given in the pastor / church packet). They have also changed the individual packet to include individual friendly language and change the size to be a mini packet.

Included with the mini packet is a handwritten card. (see below)

I hope these ideas help as you begin to craft your strategy for entering into a new season of support raising! For other ideas on how to get started: check out this post I mentioned in the beginning. Have any great ideas that have worked for you? Share them in the comments!