Year End Giving: Turn On The Jets and Drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes

PSA: We have about a month until turkeys get carved.

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You know what that means?

Well, let me tell you! In the support raising world it means NOW is the time to LASER FOCUS on face to face appointments with individuals. I mean, sure, technically in my book it’s always time to laser focus on face to face appointments. However now it’s particularly more important than any other time of year. If you need some reasoning as to why, let me indulge you with two thoughts:

1. In general, families are very into their routines in school and work this time of year. Think about it from your own experience – is this generally a locked down time of year for you? Are you in a good routine with work or schooling? If it isn’t right now, is it just a curve ball outlier? Was this time of year a routine heavy one for you growing up?

Routine is good news for scheduling an appointment or reaching someone on the phone. According to Gallup – 55% of Americans go on trips in the summer.

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According to one estimate by Travel Agent Central – 35% of American’s take a trip in the spring. Interesting. Those vacations taper off after September and typically the only traveling people are doing is during the holiday weeks.

2. As the Christmas season hits it can be more challenging to schedule appointments due to your personal schedule and the schedule of your potential partners. However, note that December is the best giving month of the year. Though people are feeling generous in December, time is more limited than usual. (Think Christmas shopping, special Christmas gatherings, school parties, lots of family. You get the idea. You know.) Thus, early to mid November is a great time for scheduling appointments before people’s calendars fill up.

Okay, pause for a MASSIVE CAVIAT HERE: Don’t hear me say you need to stop reaching for appointments in December! I think it’s actually VERY STRATEGIC to do so because people want to give in December. What I’m saying is it may be a teeny more challenging to lock something into the calendar immediately. If that happens, don’t be afraid to schedule something several weeks ahead for mid-January after schedules have cleared and the Christmas lights are off.

So everyone, my advice is to turn on the jets and drink a lot of pumpkin spice lattes in November over appointments. Okay? You’ll be glad you did.

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Do you want more information on Year End Giving? Check out some great ideas on the post directly below this one!

 

 

It’s The Final Quarter: Fall Giving and Year End Giving Strategies

We are well into the final quarter of the year. You know what that means? It means it’s time to start thinking about your Year End Giving Strategy. I know, I know…you’re thinking come one Jenn, it’s SEPTEMBER. But truly, it isn’t too early to start thinking about your strategy for the best giving time of year.

I say this every year – but around 31% of ALL GIVING in the States occurs in the month of December. 12% of giving occurs in the last three days of the year. And maybe you aren’t singing jingle bells just yet (as I write this it’s a sweltering 94 degrees outside – so trust me I’m not either!), but here are some things to think about ahead of time to get your strategy in place.

  1. In September, October, and early November, it’s great to LASER FOCUS one’s efforts on face to face appointments. If you can, kick it into overdrive and set goals for more appointments and initial contacts than usual! Why? Well, overall it’s one of the easiest times of year to schedule appointments. Summer is over and people are into routine, school is back, people are fresh – they are checking their calendars and not overwhelmed with plans. Plus, coffee dates are even more appealing with pumpkin spice lattes (amiright?!?)!
  2. Toward the holidays there are additional touches you can create to show your existing team you care as well as generate some excitement and cash gifts. After Thanksgiving, let things shift a bit from business as usual (while still reaching out for F2F appointments). 
  3. Build out your Year End Giving Strategy BEFORE Thanksgiving. If you let it slide until after Thanksgiving, you’ll most likely miss out on some strategic opportunities due to poor planning.
  4. September and October are also excellent months of the year to reach out to churches. Lots of churches schedule services far in advance so calling in September or October may get you service in January or February 2020. If you wait to reach out to a pastor/church until November or December, you may get radio silence until January due to the church’s busy holiday schedule.

With all of that being said, here’s a break down on some specific ideas for Year End Giving.

1. FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A

The main content of a FB Live Q&A should be comprised of giveaways, trivia / info on your assignment, questions for the audience, and time to let them as you questions. Make it simple and fun, and promote it however you can before hand. Consider doing one somewhere towards the beginning-ish of November. Here are some thoughts on a Facebook Live from a worker who did one last year:

REFLECTIONS ON A FACEBOOK LIVE Q&A:

“I used my iPhone because it has a better camera than my chrome book. If your laptop has a good camera though, I’d recommend using that because I think it’s easier to the comments that come in. I basically had my computer off to the side reading comments from there. Also FYI if you start the live on your phone vertically you have to keep it that way-it won’t switch over if you turn your phone. I’d recommend starting horizontal.”

“I did giveaways of books. They were just what I had on hand as I thought of giveaways last minute. I had a prayer book for XX as well as some of the books from my ministry.”

“My trivia was how I did the giveaways. Some was about me and my testimony and others were about the country.”

“I announced it a couple days ahead of time, and went Live the day before just for a few minutes to make sure everything worked well. You can also practice going Live on your own feed by setting your security settings to “only me”. I did that just to set up the lighting, and to make sure my background was not too distracting. I also think it would be helpful, if you had somebody reading the comments to you. As a single gal, I was wishing that I had asked somebody to do that for me in the midst of it. Also, my parents had come up with quite a few questions that I had on hand just in case people were not engaging, or the questions lagged for a minute.”

2. GIVING TUESDAY

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Giving Tuesday, which occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a day for non-profits and others raising funds to solicit donations. It is a GREAT DAY to post something online asking friends and family to give.

The example below is from a family who was going to a sensitive location. For Giving Tuesday they set a specific goal of $1,000 to go to pre-school and language learning. They promoted throughout the day (and prior!) by posting multiple times it on their Secret Facebook Group, which was comprised of people who were already a part of their team either in prayer and/or finances. They also created a post prior to Giving Tuesday on their regular Facebook page, asking if anyone was interested in hearing more about their journey. Then they added those interested parties to their Secret Facebook Group so that they could see the posts.

Do you want to know if they made their goal? Screen shots of their posts and progress are below. For security purposes I am not sharing the totality of their ADORABLE video, however, I did write down their script and have it below. It’s a great example of how you can raise over $1,000 in cash in ONE SINGLE DAY with a little bit of effort and excitement. By the way, the Smiths were EXCELLENT at face to face appointments and had a solid team in place by the time Giving Tuesday was in place. You may think Giving Tuesday wouldn’t work for an already established team…but see below for the results!

VIDEO SCREEN SHOTS:

VIDEO SCRIPT:

Jason: “Hi guys, we are the Smith family. This is baby Justin, my wife Sara, and I’m Jason. Justin just turned 1 year old yesterday (all: YAY!) We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!”

Sara: “After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday if there is anything left in your bank account today is what is called “Giving Tuesday”. It’s an opportunity to bless people who are in the process of raising money. Many of you know that we are moving to X in the spring and we have been in the process of raising our monthly budget. But we also have to raise a cash budget up front. We are asking our friends and family on Facebook to consider giving us a cash gift of $25. Our goal is to raise $500 for Justin’s school and $500 for our language learning training for a total of $1,000 in just 1 DAY! You can give towards Justin’s school which will give him the opportunity to learn language, learn the culture, and make friends. Or today you could choose to give to our language training which will give us the opportunity to learn X and connect with people in their language.”

Jason: “Now it’s super easy to give, all you have to do is click the link and it will take you straight to the page where you can give. Then if you would send us a Facebook Message telling us which of these two things you gave towards – that way we can keep a running tally. Otherwise we won’t know for a couple of days, and that’s way less exciting.”

Sara: “Thank you friends for your generosity we appreciate you more than words can say.”

Both: “Happy Giving Tuesday!”

*funny bloopers with Justin and family at the end

*graphics displayed on video about link with arrows, Giving Tuesday, and Thank You. 

*fun music in the background – light and airy. 

POSTS:

Giving Tuesday 1

Giving Tuesday 2Giving Tuesday 3Giving Tuesday 4Giving Tuesday 5Giving Tuesday 6

3. NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER

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.
  • Use it to promote any Facebook Live or Giving Tuesday efforts you will be doing.
  • Say thank you!
  • Don’t do any asks on this newsletter.

4. CHRISTMAS CARD / YEAR END LETTER

Do Christmas cards along with a year end letter sometime before December 31st (think about sticking it in the mail the day after Thanksgiving). I think it’s a good idea in some circumstances (see below for more on this) to bundle these two and stick them in the mail together, the card of course being Christmasy with the year end letter inside. Send these out to your existing financial and prayer partner list.

Include the following components:

  • Merry Christmas greeting.From the Montgomery family
  • 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 to the right 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 year end letter:

  • Switch this up from a regular newsletter. Use a slightly different template than a regular newsletter and make it more like a letter.
  • Don’t send an ask year end letter to anyone who recently started giving, just gave one time recently, or just increased their giving. (probably within the past 6 months). Just send them Christmas cards instead. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many asks.
  • Consider creating a different version of your year end letter to 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. 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 year end letter.
  • Keep it to 1 page make it look really nice!

5. FACE TO FACE NOW!

Have as many face-to-face appointments as you can NOW. Generally speaking, it’s the best time for F2F in October and early November. People are into their routines and willing to give. In November and December are you are tempted to put the breaks on contacting individuals for F2F appointments? Sure, time for interaction may level off the weeks of holidays but experience has taught me that it can also be a GREAT time for face-to-face appointments; particularly if you are in from out of town and catching up with family members or old friends! Don’t stop reaching out to connect with people over coffee and making the ask. Some tips:

  • Try and ask them for a F2F early. Give them a couple of extra weeks to put it in their calendar.
  • Get a small gift for your potential financial partner and bring it to your appointment.
  • 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.
  • Pay for their coffee.

6. SMALL GIFTS

Send your members of your partnership team small gifts. December is a great time of year to express your thankfulness to your support team. Go above and beyond that newsletter!

7. FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN

A well crafted, intentional, relational Facebook Campaign can be helpful during these months of giving. Consider creating a Facebook Campaign in October, November, or December if you haven’t already done one recently. Keep in mind, this is advisable only if you have gotten far enough in your financial partnership (75-80%) to start one. Also, for Facebook Campaigns don’t do one for the end of the year if you already plan on doing Giving Tuesday and a Facebook Live Q&A. Try to pick between Giving Tuesday posts + a Facebook Live Q&A, or doing a Facebook Campaign. It’s best to NOT do all a couple of weeks apart so that you don’t over saturate your social media audience.

8. EMAIL AFTER CHRISTMAS

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.

OTHER TIPS:

  • Stay consistent with your goals and shoot for a multi-channel approach. The secret sauce for creating a successful year end strategy is all about sequence. What does that mean? Essentially, sequence is you creating a goal and using that message/goal consistently to create a multi-channel integrated approach. Your goal should be consistent across any blogs or websites, social media, email, and written mail.
  • Have your strategy in place and communication pieces written BEFORE November.
  • Sequence maximizes the return on your effort and time investment. Stay consistent.
  • Try to get a hook when creating your goals. Maybe an image, theme, tagline, story.
  • Try to be eye-catching. Be compelling.
  • Less is more. The fewer words the better. Try to keep letters, etc. personal and short. Keep videos as short, fun, and informative as possible.
  • Don’t send a year end letter to anyone who just started giving, gave a special gift, or increased their giving in the last six months. Just send them a Christmas card.
  • Customize two different letters: one for on-going financial partners, one for non-givers.
  • In your wording, focus on the partner. Example: “There is hope, and that hope is you.” Talk about how your partners make the world better with their gift: “You gave 50 kids the gift of Jesus last year with your donation, and now you can do more.” The partner and the partnership between you becomes the hero of this story. Acknowledge their important role in your mission.
  • Don’t let your partners only hear “asks” from you. Be sure you stay on top of personal communication. The routine newsletter that arrives in early November will be helpful – 1 page with pictures, ministry focused with specific stories. But get beyond that and reach out in micro relational ways to your team.

HOW TO TALK TO YOUR AUNT MERLE AND COUSIN GARY AT CHRISTMAS

I know from my own experience and coaching numerous workers that seeing relatives over the holidays can be stressful, and can be particularly stressful when raising support. Do you make an ask, or just conversation? How much detail should you go into about your assignment with that relative that isn’t a believer? What’s with all the side comments and disapproval from Aunt Merle?!

Sigh.

Unfortunately, I can’t give a formulated response to how to handle every conversation with your relatives. There are simply too many variables, such as the strength of the relationship, how far along you are with raising your budget, if you have had a personal conversation with them or appointment prior concerning support, etc. Making an ask during Christmas may be the best course of action, however it may also not be the time for it. How does one know? The only thing I can offer here without knowing your exact situation are a couple of quick tips:

  1. If you are going to make an ask during Christmas, I would consider trying to prepare your relatives prior, making sure they understand you want to set aside time to talk with them specifically about your assignment and ask if they would like to join some aspect of your team. Essentially, treat it the same as you would prior to an appointment, it’s just the appointment may be during Christmastime.
  2. If you are having trouble figuring out the best course of action on how to approach family members over Christmas about support, consider asking a seasoned worker or coach on how to best approach these important conversations. Sometimes having a sounding board, and particularly one with experience, can be extremely helpful. Don’t be afraid to get into the weeds with your coach or mentor and explain the relationship dynamics.
  3. When talking about support or your assignment in general, err on the side of boldness and confidence. The more confidence you have in yourself and in your ministry, the more your relatives will too.
  4. Not too much unlike, #3, favor honorable directness over beating around the bush when talking about support. Don’t hem and haw around the subject. Experience has shown me the more up front about it the better.
  5. Lastly and most important: this Christmas, strive to be a good listener.

Listening is one of the most important skills you can learn to perfect in conversation, and all it takes to do so really is a little mindfulness. When it comes to Christmas, you will undoubtably have numerous opportunities to practice! Thus, my main piece of advice is to strive to listen. Be present in the moment, and present with the person in front of you. You can try literally telling yourself  (maybe not out loud though, so those relatives believe your sane) to focus on the people around you and not on yourself. Think about listening more than you speak. Believe that your aunt Merle and cousin Gary have something to teach you, because truly everyone has something to teach you!

All of that being said, below are 10 easy steps to become a better conversationalist. Try and keep these things in mind as you speak with those relatives that may challenge you this Christmas.

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Be a listener that is seeking to understand, not just seeking to get a word in and reply. Your relatives will appreciate your attentiveness and chances are you will feel more inspired and fulfilled by being mindful of the people around you and really focusing on them. Treat your Christmas parties, celebrations, and interactions with relatives as an opportunity for ministry! I pray you have a Merry Christmas friends!

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.

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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