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!

 

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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!” 

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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!

 

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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