Using Texting As a Tool In The Support Raising Process (re-post from SupportRaisingSolutions.org)

This post comes from the wonderful people of www.supportraisingsolutions.org and the brain of Aaron Babyar, a friend and fellow partnership development coach. (Have you ever read The God Ask? You should!) Aaron and I on numerous occasions have conversed on coaching, support raising, and how we can better train workers how to biblically support raise. We have dialogued specifically about texting vs. calling, and when I read this post on text messages to potential partners I was beyond thankful for the brilliant explanation that Aaron gives to how texting can be helpful and harmful in the support raising process. This is an issue I regularly see workers struggle with, so I felt it definitely needed reposting here at jennfortner.com. I love Aaron’s sample texts – I think they are great templates to use as you develop your own language on financial partnership. Thank you Aaron and the SupportRaisingSolutions.org team! – JF

Using Texting As A Tool In The Support Raising Process – from supportraisingsolutions.org/blog/

“Hey (potential ministry partner), I am excited about my new role with XYZ ministry! I’d love to get together with you soon to share my vision, budget goals, and how God is using this ministry to change lives. Could we maybe grab coffee next Thursday morning?”

You hit send on your well-crafted text and wait for their reply.

Crickets.

Although texting seems to be a preferred method of communication these days, the majority of successful support raisers I have spoken with tend to avoid using texts to set appointments because of a high failure rate. There are a number of reasons for this, including a reality that some people might see the word “finances” or “budget” and quickly dismiss your appointment request without ever replying. When trying to secure an appointment, it is more personal and interactive to do so verbally, whether over the phone or face-to-face. Filling your appointment calendar by shooting out some texts certainly sounds appealing, but unfortunately text messaging in this stage of support raising often doesn’t work so well. You could literally communicate this very message to someone verbally and likely get a better response than sending a text message using the exact same words!

A helpful exercise might be to think of all forms of communication as tools in your toolbox. Not every tool is going to be the best instrument for every job. For instance, it’s unlikely you will ever need a sledgehammer when repairing your computer (though you might feel like you want to use one sometimes)! But if you want to break up concrete, you will want that sledgehammer and not a rubber mallet. When trying to set up an initial appointment, texting seems to act like a sledgehammer being used on the wrong job; however, that doesn’t mean you should never use that tool. Here are at least 3 other occasions when texting might be the right tool for the job.

1. Setting up an “appointment request phone call”

I’ve had times when people simply don’t answer their phone or return calls despite two or three attempts at calling. Maybe I even left a short voicemail or two in which I didn’t mention money, but they still aren’t replying. At this point, my new go-to method is to send a short text like this: “Hey John, this is Aaron Babyar. Sorry I keep missing you. Is there a better time to talk later today? Or perhaps is now a good time to talk?” Some people respond by calling me immediately. Many others eventually reply, which jump starts further communication. Note that I ended my simple text with a question or two. That might be partially why some are compelled to finally respond.

2. Confirming the appointment

I like to send a statement message 12-24 hours before a planned get together. For instance, “Jeff, I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at Kennedy Coffee.” This serves to help them remember our commitment to meet, and if perchance they have also scheduled something else during that time and accidentally forgotten about me, it also allows them time to rearrange their calendar. Meanwhile, it saves me from drinking coffee all alone, again, because I forgot to confirm…again!

3. Post-invitation follow up confirmation

When someone gives a “maybe” answer to potentially join my team, I’m careful to set a follow-up expectation during the meeting by saying something like, “Great. Sounds like we agree that we can follow up this Saturday. I will be praying for God to lead you and your husband as you process this potential partnership in the gospel.” Meanwhile I want to be praying for them, and I always send a recent newsletter as they are hopefully moving towards making a clearer decision.
Increasingly though, I have begun to send a text the day before our follow-up that looks something like this, “Sarah, thanks again for prayerfully considering joining my support team. We had discussed clarifying your decision by tomorrow. Let’s plan to touch base in the early afternoon.” I’ve had a variety of replies to statements like this: from people who have already decided “no” who text me their decision on the spot, to people who ask if we can wait one more day, to people who have already decided “yes” that respond, “Great. We are in for $150 a month. Talk to you tomorrow, and maybe you can tell us how to set that up.”

Sometimes, sending a text message is the perfect tool for the job. Be sure to know when to use it, when not to, and when to search through your toolbox for a different form of communication.

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10 Easy Ways To Connect With Financial Partners

 

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

Woah.

When I train missionaries on how to raise their support 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. Basically,  No one wants to invest in something that yields no return. If an individual gives a worker monthly support and feels as though the worker could care less about their giving, they will likely 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 and forgotten?

I believe that one reason we forget to invest in 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. 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. I totally get it.

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 workers on financial support can continually, quickly, and easily connect with churches and individuals who financially invest in the kingdom work they are doing.

10 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 way more about ministry than personal things. Include pictures of active ministry (no vacation spots).

2. Short Email or Letter

When you get on the field, pick 10-15 financial partners each month and email them a QUICK and 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 on our prayer list for this month 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. There will be 10! We will definitely be busy with it but we are pumped! I am also 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 two minutes to write that… You may be saying, but what happens when they write back? If they do, 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 15-20 minutes to respond to everyone. Then, take the time to mention them in your prayers and follow up with that as you have time and God leads. 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 10-15 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 a calendar each month. Whatever you do, calendarize it in some way.

3. Postcards and Presents

Send small gifts or postcards to your financial partners. Tell them thank you for their continuing support.

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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, short videos, scripture verses, and praise reports are all fantastic. *If you are somewhere sensitive keep that in mind while posting and follow the rules of your organization.
  • Consider getting onto Instagram and Twitter as well! This is not for everyone, and typically I say to start with one social media outlet (probably Facebook) 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.
  • Another great thing to think about doing in your secret Facebook groups or if you have a ministry page is a Facebook Live. If you choose tdownloado do one before hand promote the time your event will be taking place, and take care to choose a time that works well for your financial partners. When you do a Facebook Live event, make it a guided Q&A and consider doing your Facebook Live in an interesting place. That Facebook Live will record as a video so anyone not able to make the time can view later!
  • Facebook message your financial partners or like their posts. Stay active on your personal page (including Twitter or other social media outlets).

5. I’m Thinking Of You

Sometimes as I listen to audio sermons, worship sets, podcasts, or scriptures, I’ll check in with God and ask 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 or Video

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). Make-your-own-Video-1080x675If you don’t have time for a letter, create a quick video on your smart phone or computer and email it to the pastor. Ask the pastor to share that with his congregation or prayer group if possible.

7. Events

When you come back home, hold an 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.

Create connect cards for those interested in giving for the first time.

8. Face to Face

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. Really, this shouldn’t be optional!

9. FaceTime / Skype Meetings

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!

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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)!

In Closing

If you are a worker on financial support, I hope that these simple ideas to connect with your partnership base 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.

6 Practical Tips On Contacting Pastors For Support

This is a refreshed post contacting pastors for church support

However scary it can be, pastors / local church congregations are a great source of financial and prayer support. Thus I’ve put together a short list of tips to help calm those jitters and give some good starting places for those of you who share the same cold sweats and umm’s as I once did. I hope these help!

1.Start your journey by speaking with your home church pastor. 

Connecting with your home church pastor is one of the first things you should do when you begin raising up your support team. Start by setting up a meeting with your home church pastor. When you meet explain your ministry and share the specifics of your financial need. Ask if there is any protocol or advice your pastor has as it relates to financial partnership development. If you would like to get a monthly commitment from your home church, now is the time to ask. If you would like to get members from your church on your financial partnership team, ask your pastor for permission to invite them into partnership. He/She will appreciate you filling them in on your plans, and probably will be able to give you helpful tips and hints. The more communication you have with your home church pastor, the better.

2. Remember each church and pastor is different so accommodate accordingly. 

There are numerous ways to try and connect with pastors. Unfortunately the process is not cut-and-dry and can depend pastor to pastor. Try a variety of ways based off of their style, church feel (is it more modern or classic?), and what you know about the pastor / church. Do your homework before contacting a pastor and find out what programs their church has, what type of feel the service is, etc. As the process of connecting with a pastor may not be the same every time, here are some good ideas of what it should look like:

Your contact process should look something like:

Email or snail mail with pastors packet → phone call pastor → meeting with pastor → church service

Facebook message to pastor → get response from pastor → meeting with pastor → church service

Phone call to pastor → get response from pastor (may have to call numerous times before pastor answers) → meeting with pastor → church service

Whatever you think is the best way to contact, make it creative and memorable. Seek creative ways for pastors to remember you and the ministry you represent. When you do speak at a service or visit a church your goal is to make a dynamic and lasting impression on the pastor and the congregation. Whenever possible present with a another medium besides your words – use video, testimony, display tables, etc.

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3. Communicate clearly. Have a phone script handy if it helps. 

When you get a pastor on the phone or have a face-to-face meeting with a pastor, here are some helpful topics to clarify:

  1. Would they like you to share at a service?
  2. If so:
    1. How long would he/she like you to speak?
    2. What is the order of service?
    3. What is the dress protocol?
    4. What are the service times?
    5. Is there a prayer meeting or Sunday school you can attend before service? (definitely do this!)
  3. How does their missions giving work? Is there any protocol that exists?
  4. Would the church be interested in giving a monthly commitment?
  5. Are there any opportunities for you to engage with the congregation / serve the congregation outside of regular church service?
  6. If the church does commit monthly, what would the best way to update the congregation be as you are in your field of service? Paper newsletter? Emailed newsletter? Video update?

If you think you’ll miss an important question on the phone due to nervousness or just because it is hard to remember everything – create a simple phone script to use when calling. Include some or all of the above questions and write out what you want to say. Use that phone script at least until you become comfortable talking to pastors on the phone.

4. Consider reaching some pastors via Facebook if you have a preexisting relationship with them.youve-got-mail-gif-tom-hanks-send

Some recent statistics I have seen within my organization have shown that pastors are checking their Facebook messages faster than they are their office phones. Be careful which pastors you ask over Facebook as Facebook often is a pastor’s personal space. For those pastors you already have relationship with, I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out via Facebook if you are having a hard time reaching them on the phone.

5. Make a Case Document

Case Documents are for churches, events, small groups, and great for emails and snail mail to pastors. They include information on yourself and the ministry you are working with. By the use of simple graphics and a good looking template, the Case Document can show a level of professionalism that you want to have and that pastors will be looking for. Write it almost like a colorful resume. Here’s a simple outline and a example below:

Outline of a Case Document:

Page 1: Color photo (include family if married) and our calling to ministry and your spiritual testimony

Page 2-3: Ministry experience, education, and training

Page 2-3: Description of ministry target and problems you ministry attempts to solve

Page 3-4: Your ministry strategy and outcomes

Page 3-4: Financial explanation/appeal

Hook Case Doc

6. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged!

Don’t give up in calling or seeking out pastors. It’s true, they are busy people and can sometimes be hard to get ahold of. Give them the benefit of the doubt though, generally their busyness is for a good reason. Be kind and gracious with pastors and never start to feel a sense of entitlement for their congregation’s commitment or for the pastor to even call you back. Always put the ball in your court when it comes to contacting a pastor, and always be kind.

Typically it may take upwards of 10-15 phone calls before you are able to reach a pastor. That’s okay, just stick with it and don’t give up.

Treat your time with churches and pastors as ministry, not as merely support raising. Seek ways to bring messages of hope, healing, and blessing to the church today. Ask the Holy Spirit for a special word for the pastor and congregation. Be ready to pray for anyone the Lord brings your way. Be the first to arrive and the last to leave.

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Remember in all of this: you are following God in your calling in a radical and dedicated way, and you are also ALREADY a minister in the body of Christ. Just by EXISTING you are inspiring and provoking (in a good way!). In this season you have the opportunity to inspire others in the body of Christ to follow the path God has called them to, whatever that looks like for them. Use the platform / coolness God has given you to inspire! And don’t forget to communicate your needs clearly and in an honoring way to the pastor and the body of Christ. Have fun out there, it’s a great experience to challenge and call the body of Christ to join in the Great Commission!

How To (and How NOT TO) Share Your Budget

This will be a quick post on sharing your budget with friends and family members. Here’s what I have to say: don’t!

Okay just kidding. Kind of.

There will be times it’s appropriate to share your specific budget figures with friends and family, but most of the time it’s best to speak in percentages. Less is always more, unless someone asks for specific numbers.

Why you ask? Let’s explore one major reason.

It is possible if you share your specific budget details, the person with whom you are sharing the information will make uninformed judgments on your lifestyle in ministry. Let’s use an example to illustrate. Say you are fresh out of college and share with a potential partner who is also fresh out of college that your budget to go overseas is $3,500 in monthly support for two years and a cash budget of $30,000. That’s reasonable right? Well lets say that peer is struggling to find a job and could only dream of making that much money each month. When you share this information quickly with them in a face to face appointment, they don’t have the ability to see what goes into that $3,500 per month and $30,000 in cash (overseas insurance, cost of living is higher due to the country you are going to, language learning school, etc.). To them your budget merely seems extravagant in the wake of their own circumstances. In contrast, an overprotective family member may do some mental math on your behalf and evaluate that you aren’t making enough for those two years.

All of that to say, if you share your budget details off the cuff in your presentations, newsletters, etc., people are simply prone to make judgements they are not qualified to make.

So what is the solution? Talk in percentages! Change the sentence from “I need $3,500 in monthly support and $30,000 in cash” to this: In order to go over seas I need to raise 100% of my budget. Would you be willing to partner with me at $100 a month?

BONUS: Did you notice in the sentence above I also did NOT mention my need for cash gifts? That is strategic as well, as typically it is much harder to raise monthly support than it is one-time / special gifts. Potential partners (and people in general) tend to default to the least amount of commitment possible, and if you are giving the people an option during your face-to-face appointments to give one time they will take you up on it! This will leave you with less in monthly commitments. Your partners will be patting themselves on the back because they gave, and you leaving disappointed that you didn’t get a new monthly partner.

So as a rule when making the ask: stick to percentages and ask for monthly support alone. 

Now, I realize you may be asking if there are exceptions to this rule? Of course there are. Responses to “asks” are as varied as there are people, and here are some examples of when to deviate:

  1. If you are talking to a pastor about church support, go ahead and share the specifics of your budget straight away. Pastors are different than individuals, as they tend to know more about the landscape of needs involved in ministry. Typically it’s helpful for them to have specific information on your budget, so share away!
  2. If an individual asks what your budget is, go ahead and share. I would advise you to have something written up for this scenario that shows some of the line items in your budget to make it understandable for those who ask.
  3. If someone cannot commit to giving monthly support, then ask if they would like to give a special / one-time gift. True it is far better to ask someone for monthly support, but if they can’t commit – definitely explain they can give to your cash budget / give a special gift.
  4. If you are sharing a specific goal on a Facebook campaign or special post on social media, it is okay to share a line item in your budget. For instance, a couple I coach for #GivingTuesday recently challenged their friends on Facebook to help them raise $1,000 toward their budget on Giving Tuesday. They shared in their videos and posts that the $1,000 would go toward their language learning costs specifically. They didn’t share the entirety of their budget, but they did project a specific need out of their budget with their audience.

I hope this helps in your communications of your specific budget. You don’t have to share all of the details to ask and to keep people informed! Have any thoughts on the subject? Share them in the comments!

 

What Is Your End Of The Year Strategy?

Did you know that last year 31% of ALL GIVING in the States occurred in the month of December? Or to put it this way, did you know that 12% of giving occurred in the last three days of the year?

That’s right. 12% all in 3 days.

Did you know that twenty-five to thirty percent of ALL DONATIONS come in at the end of the year (November and December). Thus begs the question: Do you have a end of the year strategy for financial partnership development? If the answer is no, or you were even tempted to coast in November and December and simply eat Christmas cookies, Christmas shop, and watch Elf and/or the new Star Wars movie 6 times in one week… I plead with you to keep those percentages in mind and reach higher. Why? Because people are going to give – and they want to give to someone they know. Thus you may want to figure out how that giving can be to you and your ministry cause.

Here are a couple of ideas for your year end strategy:

1. SEND OUT A REGULAR NEWSLETTER at the beginning of November, even if you have done one recently.

  • Keep it to 1 page – be brief.
  • Keep it ministry focused with specific stories.
  • Say thank you.
  • Don’t do any asks on this newsletter.

2. CREATE A CHRISTMAS / END OF YEAR LETTER Sometime before December 31st (think about sticking it in the mail the day after Thanksgiving) send out a end of year letter to your existing financial and prayer partner list.

Include the following components:

  • Merry Christmas greeting.
  • Express your authentic thankfulness for your support team. Emphasize and focus your letter on the impact your partners are having.
  • Percentage update of where you are at raising your funds.
  • A gift-wrappy-Christmasy-wonderful-snowy graphic that has your organization’s giving website / ways to give. (Make it pretty – I made the one below in 5 minutes using Canva.com)
  • An actual ask in the letter for finances (yep, this is the only time of year I say go for it on a letter!). Consider making it about one story of a life changed or need.
  • Do a nice handwritten PS.

Tips for end of year letter:

  • Switch this up from a regular newsletter. Use a slightly different template than a regular newsletter and maybe make it more like a letter.
  • Don’t send an ask end of year letter to anyone who recently (probavly within the past 2 months) started giving (or gave 1 time) or recently increased their giving. Maybe just send them Christmas cards instead. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many asks.
  • Consider creating a different version of your end of year letter maybe those who haven’t started giving yet or didn’t give when asked. Change particulars as needed for the audience.
    • Perhaps for people who have said that they can’t give – give them a soft opportunity to give but change the thankfulness for being on your support team and instead thank them for their prayers and involvement in your life.
    • For those you haven’t yet met with, change the particulars to reflect your desire to meet with them soon and thank them for the involvement in your life. You may want to include a soft ask but not as bold as to those you send it to who you’ve already met with.
  • Snail mail your end of year letter.
  • Keep it to 1 page make it look really nice!

From the Montgomery family

3. HAVE AS MANY FACE-TO-FACE APPOINTMENTS AS POSSIBLE NOW. Are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for face-to-face appointments? Particularly in November and December? Let me tell you, experience has taught me that it can be a GREAT time for face-to-face appointments. Don’t stop reaching out to connect with people over coffee and making the ask. Some tips:

  • Pay for their coffee.
  • Get a small gift for your potential financial partner and bring it to your appointment.
  • Try and set up the appointment sooner than later. If they cant meet before the end of the year, put something in the calendar for January. Allow a couple of extra weeks to put something on the calendar.
  • Make it about them when you meet as much as it is about you. Ask questions and get excited about who they are.
  • Send a thank you card within 48 hours after you meet – regardless of responses!
  • If you cannot reach someone toward the holidays, don’t sweat it. Try reaching out to them again in January.1-Gift-Wrap-Main

4. SEND YOUR FINANCIAL PARTNERS / PRAYER PARTNERS CHRISTMAS CARDS / SMALL GIFTS. December is a great time of year to express your thankfulness to your support team. Go above and beyond that newsletter! Either send a Christmas card after your newsletter or perhaps with it. Christmas cards should be handwritten and possibly include a small gift of thanks. It can go a long way in letting your financial partners know you care about them.

5. CREATE A FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN IN NOVEMBER OR DECEMBER. A well crafted, intentional, relational Facebook campaign can be helpful during these months of giving. Keep in mind, this is only if you have gotten far enough in your financial partnership (75-80%) to start one.

6. SEND OUT AN EMAIL ON DECEMBER 29th or 30th. Include the following.

  • Greeting of happy new year for your partners
  • Remind them of your ministry as they execute their giving.
  • Use that christmasy-graphic and update it to be new-years-y with a clickable link on giving online.
  • Don’t include a formal ask. Just thank yous and the graphic on how to give online.

7. DUST OFF YOUR CONTACT LIST AND TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT IT. Now is a good time to go back to the beginning of your season of itineration. Dust off that old initial contact list and go through it with a fine comb. As you comb through it create a new list of those you were not able to get ahold of, those who have committed to give but haven’t started yet, and those you never asked because you got too scared (whhaaatt you say?! How did she know that?!), and those that you just simply have yet to ask. Take that list and get back to contacting them about joining your team. BONUS POINTS: As you go through your list text / email / Facebook message those that are highlighted to you and just say hi.

I hope you find these ideas helpful in building your strategy! – JF

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Here I Am, Or There You Are?

I recently listened to this Eurasia Conversations podcast episode that I just had to share with you.

The podcast is short, but all 10 minutes pack a powerful message on how to practically appreciate financial partners. Omar Beiler, Regional Director of Eurasia speaks to our attitude and perspective by bringing up a powerful question — are we making people feel stronger or weaker in our interactions with them?

Here’s one of my favorite lines from the podcast:

“We are servants of Jesus. I don’t have a right to expect support from a church, but I think I have an OBLIGATION to ASK because the task is bigger than me.” – Omar Beiler

Take 10 minutes and listen! I bet you’ll be a better support raiser for it. Here’s the link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9URJrTqAYt0aEdJOElyLVdZOGs

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Help! I Don’t Speak Mailchimp!

If you find yourself daunted by beginning a email newsletter to your partnership team, you are not alone. I get numerous questions from workers wondering how to best set up snail mail and email newsletters.

One of the most popular services for electronic newsletters is Mailchimp. Mailchimp is a free online e-newsletter creator. Though Mailchimp is relatively easy to use, it does come with a learning curve even for more the more computer experienced of us out there. It uses language like “Campaigns” “Segments” and “Subscribers” that isn’t cut and dry for everyone. Thus, this post is a I-don’t-speak-Mailchimp step by step guide to sending your first e-newsletter. Keep in mind this post is for the beginners out there – I see you! Here we go friends.

Step 1: Get onto Mailchimp. If you haven’t already, create a username and password and login into Mailchimp.

Step 2: When you set up your account – click “Subscribe to Getting Started.” If you click this handy feature, Mailchimp will send you emails that will be helpful in creating future newsletters (in Mailchimp lingo these are called “Campaigns”).

Step 3: Build your List of people to send e-newsletters to.

A. Click “Lists”Mailchimp ListsB. After clicking on Lists, click “Create List”.mailchimp lists 2C. Fill in the List’s name, what email address you’ll be sending this from, your name, and other information needed.

D. Next, Mailchimp will pop up a screen that says “You have no contacts” and give you a choice to either “Import your subscribers” or “Create a signup form” to get started. Unless you have a blog you want to create a sign up form to get subscribers from – you will either want to import your contacts or click “Add contacts” (see screen shot below) and add them one by one manually.

Some people (like myself!) like to add them manually so there aren’t any glitches in the process of getting them from one program to another – but it does take time. So choose what works best for you. Mailchimp Lists 3** If you do choose to import your contact list typically you’d either do so by .csv files (this is good if you keep your contacts organized on your computer using a program such as “Contacts” for Macs or “Address Book” for PCs) or by copy and pasting from a file (for instance from Excel). Either way you may have some cleaning up of your files to do, so be patient! mailchimp lists 4E. When you are done importing or manually adding the subscribers to your List, you are ready to move onto Creating Your Campaign!

Step 4: Create Your Campaign! 

A. Start creating your campaign by clicking in the upper left hand corner “Campaign”.

B. If you have a new account, Mailchimp will take you to the screen below that says “What do you want to create?”. Choose “Create an Email”. (If you have an existing account click “Create Campaign” on the upper right corner of Mailchimp’s screen first, then the screen will ask “What do you want to create?” choose “Create an Email”.)

create campaign mailchimpcreate an email mailchimpC. Choose “Regular” for your email type. Choose a campaign name, then click “Next” at the bottom right of your screen.

D. Choose the List you are sending your Campaign to. This should be the List you just made in Step 3. Then, click “Next” on the bottom right of your screen.

E. Fill in your Campaign Info. Make sure when filling this out to chick “Personalize the To Field” so your subscribers get emails addressed to them personally. When you are finished click “Next” on the bottom right of your screen.click personalize field boxF. Now it’s time to select a Template. There are a lot of pre-made templates out there that are great! If you’d like to go the easy route click “Themes” and explore until you find one that works for you. If you want to choose a Layout and build the template yourself go for it! Simply click “Layout” and choose the one that works best for you. You’ll spend some time custom making your Template by choosing design and content elements. (Mailchimp also has a couple of helpful links in the Layout feature that will help you get started). choose theme mailchimpG. Now that you’ve chosen and designed your Template, it’s time to actually put together your newsletter. When you create your newsletter, you can choose to add some of the elements on the left side as you wish (such as additional text, images, graphs, etc.). To do so simply drag and drop where you want the element to the right side of your screen onto your existing Template.Start creating mailchimpH. When you are done creating your newsletter and carefully writing your text, I recommend previewing your Campaign and sending a test email to yourself first – so you can make 100% sure your e-newsletter is awesome!send a test email mailchimpStep 5: Send Your Campaign and Your DONE! 

Now that your done – click “Send”. You have successfully sent your first e-newsletter using Mailchimp. Congrats!

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I hope this tutorial is a help to those who don’t speak Mailchimp. Godspeed and good luck my friends, and may your future e-newsletters be awesome.

If you want more information on how what content to include in your newsletter, go to this previous post I did on the subject.

*Mailchimp will NOT create a PDF version of any Campaigns you create, so you CANNOT send snail mail newsletters using Mailchimp. My suggestion is to use a service like Mailchimp for e-newsletters and create a snail mail newsletter in another program – and make them similarly branded and cohesive. 

What If They Don’t Answer The Phone?

Here’s a common scenario I’m sure you’ve faced:

You call a potential partner multiple times hoping to get a face-to-face appointment, but you just cant seem to get them on the phone. You’ve called different times of the day but it’s just not working. Your frustrated and you’ve reached a level of voicemails that seems too close to stalker mode to try again.

How do you proceed? When is it time to switch means of communication and try to reach them another way? When is it time to stop trying to connect all together? Below is some advice I hope you find helpful!

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VOICEMAILS AND INITAL CALLS

To begin, if you are reaching out to a prospective partner for the first time via phone and you reach their voicemail, my advice is to hang up without leaving a voice mail. This gives you the ability to call back again within a day or two without need for explanation.

If you call the 2nd time and don’t reach them, leave a voicemail and communicate the following:

  1. If you sent an invitation letter first, tell them that you were calling in reference to the invitation letter you sent them a week ago and would love to connect with them further. If you are calling without prior context (no letter), communicate that you are wanting to talk briefly with no explanation.
  2. When communicating don’t give too much information on the phone or on voicemail – make it brief!
  3. Tell them that YOU will be calling them back at another time and hope to reach them. Also mention that they can call you back. This gives you the ability to call them again without feeling awkward or demanding and puts the ball in your court. (you always want the ball in your court!)

Here’s what my voicemail may say to someone I want to invite if I haven’t sent them a letter:

“Hi Julie, this is Jenn. Hope you are doing well. Hey I was wanting to talk briefly. I may call you back later, but if you have a second please call me back first.” 

Here’s a voicemail to someone I have sent a letter to first:

“Hi Julie, this is Jenn. Hope you are well. Hey wanting to talk briefly in reference to that letter I sent. I’ll give you a call back, but if you have a second please call me back first. Thanks!” 

636095868639176352-1100213583_GTY_texting_kab_150729_12x5_1600TEXTING

If you feel more comfortable texting rather than calling, consider sending someone a text before you call them. In the text ask if it would be a good time to call and that you’d like to speak with them briefly. Don’t skip ahead and ask for an appointment on a text

I know, texts seem so much easier than phone calls. So why do I (and other financial partnership coaches out there) advise not texting for appointments? One major reason is it’s harder to say no to someone when they are asking for something verbally. Reading a text or Facebook Message can be forgotten unintentionally, easily be ignored, or conveniently ignored (let the reader understand). Right? Right. Phone calls are also more relational than texts. They often come across as more genuine, confident, and professional. And lastly, phone calls give you more of an opportunity to explain why you are calling and share more smoothly why you want to meet. If you share in a text that you are wanting to talk about financial support, it will likely read like a billboard (as my friend at Support Raising Solutions Aaron Babyar says). If you say it in a conversation, it seems much more palatable. So call people. I know you don’t like it. But do it.

images-1HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I CALL BEFORE I QUIT? 

Don’t give up too early, but don’t move into stalking mode either! Neither are good! How often do you call? And when do you throw in the towel? Here’s my advice:

  1. Typically, go 2-3 times beyond what you are comfortable with in trying to reach someone on the phone. From what I’ve seen, we are likely to stop ourselves short in attempted communication way too early. It’s likely our fear of rejection or insecurities in asking will get the better of our reaching out way before we become too pushy and cross a line.
  2. Switch up your mode of communication after several attempts via phone (my advice is 3 attempts at the very least) to a text message or a Facebook message. However, avoid written messages in asking for appointments whenever you can.
  3. Stagger your attempts at calling. Consider waiting a couple of days before trying again if you’ve gotten radio silence thus far. It may look something like this:
  • July 1st – Attempt 1 to call Sally Jones (no voicemail).
  • July 2nd – Attempt two to call Sally Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Sally it’s Jenn. Would love to connect with you on something – I may try to call you back, but if you get a chance give me a call.”)
  • July 7th – Attempt 3 to call Sally Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Sally it’s Jenn again. Just trying to reach you on that thing I mentioned in the last voice mail. If you get a chance give me a call, but I’ll probably be trying you again. Hope to chat you soon.”)
  • July 21st – Attempt 4 to call Sally Jones (voicemail AND Text before“Hey Sally there is something important I would love to discuss with you – and briefly. Can we use the phone for a minute?”)
  • August 7th – Attempt 5 to call Sally Jones (voicemail that tells her I will email her with information: “Hey Sally, it’s Jenn Fortner. I’ll go ahead and email you on the thing I’m trying to connect with you on to see if that works better for you. I’d love to connect soon if possible. I’m sure your busy but if you get a chance to check your email that would be great. Thanks Sally!”)

SWITCHING COMMUNICATION METHOD

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Essentially what I did with Sally is switch modes of communication. Instead of calling again I am now switching to text and email for the time being. It could be that I would decide to switch the communication method just to text, or to Facebook Messenger, or to just email. How I choose to switch it up is largely placed on past communication I’ve had with Sally, and what I’ve noticed her communicating with to me and others in the past.

With Sally if I don’t hear anything via email or text from her at that point, I may put her in some type of organization system I keep with others I was unable to reach, and I will most likely try to reach out again after several months of waiting.

IN SUMMARY

There’s a lot of contingencies in the wide wide world or financial partnership development and phone calls, but I hope this post helps a bit as you think about your strategy in reaching people who don’t like to pick up the phone.

What are your thoughts? What works best for you? Post it in the comments! I’d love to start a discussion here!