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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The Big Head & Long Tail of Fund-Raising

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

The Big Head (or sometimes “Tall Head”) and Long Tail is a popular concept in business and marketing that I first read about it in a Seth Godin book.  (I would recommend Seth’s blog and books as good resources for inspiration in creative fund-raising).

imgresThe idea behind Big Head and Long Tail is in most markets there is a “Big Head” and a “Long Tail”. The Big Head is one or a few companies that dominate a sector of the market. The Long Tail is everyone else.

Consider the soda industry.  Coca-Cola is by far the Big Head in the soda industry, making up more than 40% of the entire soft drink market.  If we want to make our soda-beast a two headed monster imgres-1we could add Pepsi, which controls another 30% of the soda market.  Together their soft drinks dominate the soda market, thus making Coca-Cola and Pepsi the Big Head(s). Yet, in the soda market there are hundreds of other companies producing a large variety of soft drinks in the world today.

imagesIn this graph Coke & Pepsi would be represented the red area, as they dominate the market.  The yellow line would then represent all the other companies in the world producing soft-drinks.

If you have read this far you may be asking, “What does this have to do with fund-raising?

The answer? Everything! 

The Big Head Long Tail is an exact mirror into what most of us raising support are trying to accomplish.  We are trying to raise a budget to get to the field and fulfill God’s call on our lives, and often as we do, we focus solely on the Big Head.

Look at the graph above again and think of your fund-raising.  For most reading this the Big Head (the red area) is probably the churches, pastors, and individuals already within your denomination / organization.  

So what is the Long Tail? The Long Tail represents everyone else in the world!

As we look at the graph and think on the Long Tail, I am not proposing an either / or approach but a both / and approach.  In other words, as you begin raising your support you most often focus on acquiring a Big Head. However, long-term success is going require you to also grow a long tail.

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HOW TO ACQUIRE A BIG HEAD

The best way to acquire a Big Head is to follow the instructions of your organization for raising up your support team.  For my organization this means calling all the pastors of my denomination’s district and asking to meet with the pastor and/or missions board, and requesting of them a service to present my vision to the church body. Whatever your organization trains you to do, follow the system and do good follow-up (for tips on follow-up see a previous post I wrote).  If you work hard and remain diligent you will acquire a Big Head over time.  Once acquired, never quit and keep sharing. For me that means I share with pastors in my denomination’s district and I keep reaching out to them – inviting them to join in my mission.  Keep your Big Head BIG!

“as you begin raising your support you most often focus on acquiring a Big Head. However, long-term success is going require you to also grow a long tail.”

However, the Big Head may not be enough to get you to 100% funded and on the field. This is where the Long Tail comes into play.

giphyWHAT IS THE LONG TAIL?

As I mentioned above, the Long Tail is everyone else in the world!  It is every church not in your denomination, every business, every non-profit (they are givers too!), every individual, every family member, co-worker, friend, stranger.  EVERYONE!  This is what is so great about the Long Tail – there is no end to how long it can grow.

In the Big Head there are limits, constraints, and competition.  These are almost non-existent in the Long Tail. 

Let me tell you a Long Tail story of a friend named Steve.  Steve was raising his budget and was invited to a mission’s convention.  The church invited several missionaries and put them up in homes of various families within the church.  Steve was given a room in the pastor’s mother’s house.  Steve hit it off with the pastor’s mother so well that she went to her son at the end of the convention and said, “Are you picking Steve up for support?  The pastor replied, “No mom, we just do not have it in the budget.” (ahem, the constraint of the Big Head). However, the mom said, “but he is a good man and has a good vision… you have to pick him up!  The pastor replied, “The only way I can pick him up is if someone commits to pay that additional support.  Remarkably, the mom responded, “Yes, I will give the additional amount of his support each month.

This story illustrates the secret of the Long Tail. Anyone could approach this pastor or church and ask for support (Big Head), but none of us could ever connect with the pastor’s mother (Long Tail) like missionary Steve did.  By the way, this mom got an 8X10 photo of missionary Steve and hung it in her living room – right between her son the pastor and his brother.  So essentially Steve is now part of the family!  Who knows, he may even be in the family will! Talk about growing a Long Tail!

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HOW TO GROW A LONG TAIL

Growing a Long Tail takes time but is quite easy.  Here’s how to do it: always, everywhere, at all times, and in every circumstance – share your vision! 

It is that simple. 

Share your vision with passion.  Share it with conviction.  Tell everyone what you are going to do and why you are going to do it.  Then ANYTIME anyone shows interest or asks how they could help – tell them how to do so. You don’t have be a salesman, and you don’t pressure your friends or family to support you; but you should let it be known what you need and how they can join you in your mission.

“…always, everywhere, at all times, and in every circumstance share your vision!”

Not too long ago I was visiting my father who was in a nursing home.  The wife of the owner of that nursing home came out to the pavilion where we were sitting.  She casually asked what I did and I began to share about my ministry.  As I shared she was intrigued and asked many questions. So many that we spoke for about an hour.  When we finished she then said, “I know my husband will want to talk to you.  He will only have about five minutes because he is busy today but I want him to meet you. She left and returned in a few minutes with her husband, introduced me to him, and we began talking.  His five minutes turned into an hour. Before I left that day he went to his office and wrote me a check for my ministry and has given several times since to our work.

The work of acquiring a Big Head can be scheduled, but growing a Long Tail can happen anytime and anywhere.  Don’t let your passion for your mission become just a “job.”   Instead, let it be your lifestyle and your tail will grow extremely long!

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Start 2017 Off Right!

Did you know that 45% of the American population make New Years Resolutions? In general this is the month that the nation is thinking about health, wellness, and personal goals. Are you? Though I didn’t make New Years Resolutions per say, I know I am thinking about my personal goals for this year. As I have been developing my own for 2017, I found these Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions from 2017 interesting:

Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2017:

#1  Lose Weight

#2 Get Organized

#3 Spend Less, Save More

#4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest

#5 Stay Fit and Healthy

#6 Learn Something Exciting

#7 Quit Smoking

#8 Help Others In Their Dreams

#9 Fall In Love

#10 Spend More Time With Family

Can you relate to any of these? For those of you thinking about your 2017 goals along with me, I’d like to add the goals below for your consideration. Consider making 2017 your best year of living a healthy lifestyle of ministry partnership development. Without further ado, here are some goals to consider in making 2017 a fabulous ministry partnership development year:

GOAL #1: DO BETTER AT KEEPING UP WITH YOUR EXISTING FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERS. Where do you find yourself on this spectrum:

  1. “COMMUNICATION ROCK STAR”: You have always been good at regularly contacting your financial and prayer partners. You keep up with at least a few of them each month by email, text message, phone call, or skype. You continually write your newsletters and are very personal with those whom support you.
  2. “KINDA STRUGGLE BUT E FOR EFFORT”: You have had seasons at being good at communicating with your financial and prayer partners, perhaps here and there emailing the ones you felt comfortable with. However if are were honest you haven’t done much besides a few group Facebook posts and newsletters.
  3. “#EPICFAIL”: You have never been good at contacting your financial and prayer partners. You avoid contacting them, feel awkward when you do, and struggle to write newsletters.

So where do you find yourself on the spectrum?

Maybe you find yourself somewhere in between “Communication Rock Star” or “Kinda Struggle but E for Effort”? Or maybe “#EpicFail” doesn’t even begin to describe your lack of efforts? Wherever you find yourself in that spectrum make 2017 the year you start with regular (and quality) communication with your financial and prayer partners. Make regular social media posts, newsletters, emails, skype conversations, and phone conversations a priority in your existing ministry schedule.  Go beyond the newsletter. Get beyond the mass communication and become relationally driven. Don’t just get a team of people giving you checks every month and wondering what your up to – strive to keep your financial partners informed and make them actual friends. Contact them personally and ask how they are doing, and how you can pray. Give personal updates. I PROMISE this is a BIG DEAL. Remember, without your financial and prayer team you WOULD NOT be ministering to your particular population. Make them feel valued and it will make all of the difference to them, and ultimately to you.

GOAL #2: ENSURE YOUR FINANCIAL PARTNERS CAN EASILY GIVE ONLINE. A recent study done by Dunham&Company shows that 67% of donors ages 40-59 said they have given online. That percentage is up by 20% since 2010. If your organization provides a way to give online, make sure you readily offer that option to your potential financial partners and that you make it easy for your financial partners to give online. Create giving instructions that can be emailed or texted out for your financial partners or get into the habit of walking them through the steps of online giving yourself.

GOAL #3: BEEF UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. The same study mentioned above by Dunham&Company shows that 26% of donors said they have given to a charity’s website as a result of being asked on social media. This is up by 20% from only A YEAR AGO. Wow. I love this quote on the findings:

“It’s important to not misinterpret the findings,” Dunham says. “Donors are not responding more to requests for support from organizations through social media. They are responding to friends or others they know who, through social media, ask them for support of a specific charity, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Social media for nonprofits is still primarily a means to build community and engagement rather than a fundraising tool.”

What we can say about social media at this point is this: it is a very effective tool to build community and engagement. I’m not saying to ask for blanket support on Facebook. Nope. Nope I’m not at all. But I am saying consider making your social media presence more intentional in 2017. Use exciting videos, informative posts with pictures, and infographics to grab people’s attention. Stay up to date on what is going on with your financial and prayer partnership team. If you do use Facebook for “the ask”, make sure you create a structured Facebook campaign.

GOAL #4: MAKE YOUR PRESENTATION GREAT. If you are regularly speaking inside church congregations or small groups, make sure what you are saying is as effective as it can be. Don’t have a mediocre presentation – make it great! Video yourself giving your next sermon or 5 minute window in front of a congregation. Spend some time going through that video and thinking of ways you could improve. Send it to a few trusted friends for a critique. Having their honest feedback could be what takes your presentation from “meh” to “YESSS!!” If you haven’t polished your presentation in awhile go through it with fresh eyes thinking of ways to improve. Maybe you could add a short video, or a visual of the population you serve? Maybe you could add a new effective story?

GOAL #5: STAY (OR GET) ORGANIZED. This goal is pretty self explanatory. If you are struggling in an area of staying organized, get back on the horse. Being organized with records of who you have asked, who has given, when they have given, how much, etc. is important to have in the genesis of a lifestyle of partnership development. If you are organized you will have more time for ministry and more time for staying connected with your financial and prayer partnership team – it’s that simple. Great programs for this are: TNTMPD, MPDX, or iMissionsPro.

GOAL #6: USE VIDEOS. According to statistics found on the www.Cadre31.com website videos on landing pages increase conversions by 87%. Not only that, 65% of audiences are visual learners and visual data is processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than by text. Let the reader understand: videos are a big help in effectively communicating your visionIf you have not created a high quality video that communicates your ministry vision I highly suggest you make it a priority to do so. Spend some time looking at the videos found on Cadre31’s site for some great examples.

If you are not in the habit of making videos (not necessarily high quality – just home videos used to communicate) on social media, get into it. Another statistic states that by 2017 90% of all web traffic will be video.

GOAL #7: PRAY FOR YOUR FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERSHIP TEAM. When was the last time you made prayer for your financial partnership team a regular part of your prayer life? Have you ever prayed for your team? If you haven’t taken the time to talk to God about your team, then start in 2017. There are multiple benefits of praying for your team that go beyond the obvious. For starters remembering your team in prayer will promote your desire to stay connected to them, naturally have you asking what is going on in their lives, and will remind you that they are a vital part of your ministry.

zachgalifianakisthumbsuThere you have it! May your 2017 be a year filled with happy and relational support raising! Consider making some of these goals your own in 2017.

Podcast on Financial Partnership Development

Recently I was honored to be on the family podcast of one of our areas in Eurasia talking about Financial Partnership Development. On the podcast we talk about partnership development topics such as how to build and maintain good relationships while busy in ministry, adding new financial partners, and much more.

Take a listen by following the links below:

 

Podcast 1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ac8ug933tlca5yi/November-2016.mp3?dl=0

Podcast 2: https://www.dropbox.com/s/23uhw5e4fwnwxpo/December-2016.mp3?dl=0

Connect Cards are Awesome.

Have you ever spoken at your home church, small group, or fundraising event and gotten stuck at your back table talking to a particularly chatty individual? All the other people scurry to lunch before your conversation ends and you feel the wave missed opportunities that just passed?  Whomp.

Insert a wonderful tool to help combat: connect cards!

What’s a connect card you ask? It’s a stack of cards you put on your display table, chairs of an event, and/or attach to Sunday morning’s bulletin. Connect cards give you the ability to follow up with interested people after a service or event is over, and is an effective tool all about facilitating more face-to-face appointments and building relationships with the body of Christ. Below there are some examples of connect cards from various workers I coach. (thanks guys!)

Now, don’t go off quite yet and make your own. I want to explain something important first – here we go – pay attention: keep in mind that connect cards are only appropriate in certain circumstances.

“Connect cards are only meant for events, services, and small groups where you have gotten permission to connect personally with individuals about giving.”

Connect cards should only be used when they fall in accordance with a pastor / leader’s protocol in giving. So don’t assume that these cards can be placed on chairs of a congregation without communication or sneakily stuck into bulletins on a Sunday morning. Connect cards are only meant for events, services, and small groups where you have gotten permission to connect personally with individuals about giving.

Why is this so important? Well, a lot of churches do their missions / ministry giving by collecting offerings and disbursing where the church leadership collectively decides. That means if you were to come into that congregation and ask all the people inside to give to you personally, it may mess up what the pastor, board, and leadership of the congregation has decided to give to. You DO NOT want to be that person. #boo

Thus, connect cards are preferably only when you ask the pastor / leader “how does your congregation do missions / ministry giving?” If they say you may connect with individuals inside of the congregation on your own, ONLY THEN do connect cards come into play.

Connect cards are ideal when speaking to your home church (after you’ve figured out the protocol with your pastor on giving), small groups, fundraising events, and the like. If you do use connect cards, make sure to explain them from the platform in which you are speaking from – letting everyone know how to fill them out and what they are for.

I hope these help you as you seek to build out new relationships as you interact with the body of Christ! See the examples below and have fun building yours!

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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”

Emma’s Top 5 Tips to Get to 100%

From time to time I ask workers I coach to provide a top 5 list of what worked in their overall partnership development strategy. *Emma was a worker who reached 100% fully-funded within a few short months, and I thought she would be a perfect person for you to glean from. Without further ado, here are Emma’s top 5 support raising tips.

(*Emma’s name has been changed to protect her identity) 

1. Make a Crafty, Well-Executed, Invitation Letter. I got a lot of compliments from people on my invitation letters. The design evolved a lot throughout the process, but the basic philosophy was to make a letter that was cute, hard to ignore/forget about, fun to read, and fun to make (kept me from getting bored!). Same deal for the thank-you notes. I’ve attached some pictures below. 

2. Have Patience and Time. I invested ridiculous amounts of time in my face-to-face appointments. My ministry partnership development training gave me a lot of badly needed structure and organization (which I could not have done this without). I found that extravagant time invested in face time with potential partners yielded rich returns not only on pledges, but also on life stories, advice, prayer, encouragement, and relationship.

My longest face-to-face was 4 hours. It actually revitalized me when I was in a support raising slump. My longest phone call was 2 hours, but gave me the opportunity to speak life into someone struggling with depression and also witness to them about Christ! (I prayed for this person over the phone and they broke down in tears saying that they had felt an amazing presence of God!) The time I invested was totally worth it for me. 

“I found that extravagant time invested in face time with potential partners yielded rich returns not only on pledges, but also on life stories, advice, prayer, encouragement, and relationship.”

3. Ask the Unexpected People. As I type this email, I have just received a $100 monthly pledge from someone who I have not talked to in over a decade. Almost without exception my most generous, enthusiastic, and faithful partners are people I either met briefly one time, or haven’t kept in close touch with over the years. I heard in my training that it ISN’T those you expect to help who do, and found this to be very true! This has also given me a lot more confidence in asking.  

“Almost without exception my most generous, enthusiastic, and faithful partners are people I either met briefly one time, or haven’t kept in close touch with over the years.”

4. Take a Sabbath. I am a dismal Sabbath-taker and need so much growth in this area. After my sending organization’s training I decided to get serious and I got an accountability partner who was also raising her own funds. With her accountability I picked out a middle-of-the-week day (people tend to want to meet on weekends, and church can be work when you’re in ministry) to lounge around in PJs, bake, read the Bible and devotionals for hours, and watch kung fu movies on Netflix. I found that this not only rested me, but also gave me perspective and helped me evaluate where I was spiritually and emotionally each week. It was great motivation to work harder the rest of the week so I could take that full day off. 

5. Use a Short Video. I got a quick 3-minute blurb from a video created by my senior workers in France. It is a video with people and places from the actual city and church plant, and I used my smartphone to pull it off of YouTube and show to potential partners during appointments.

The video not only established a great emotional and visual connection to the ministry, but it gave me a short break where their attention was off of me so I could breathe, pray, and assess how the appointment was going. It also saved me a lot of talking because it explained the vision of the ministry with uplifting background music. As far as security concerns go, I carried around a pair of small headphones so that if the meeting was in a public place, people could watch it without every person in a twenty-foot radius hearing about the mission. 

– Emma

As her coach, I saw Emma succeed by sticking with the process and remaining consistent week after week. I also saw her creatively think outside of the box, but while doing so use the principles and techniques she knew from training to be tried and true.

Have you been successful in getting to 100%? Give us some of your tips in the comment section! – JF

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