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
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.
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!
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.