WHY WON’T THEY JUST ANSWER THE PHONE?!

A note before we get started, this post will be a great companion to Ghosting! When It’s Time to Make the Final Contact, so make sure you read that post as well if you have’t already! – JF

Do you wonder what to do when a potential supporter doesn’t answer the phone? I’m sure you’ve run into a scenario like this one:

It’s Tuesday evening at 5:30pm and you call Stephanie hoping to connect and ask her for a face to face appointment, but she didn’t answer. Sadly Stephanie didn’t answer your text after you called either. Whomp. Okay, you tell yourself, par for the course. No biggie. Try again later. So you try Stephanie again on Thursday (early afternoon this time) but it’s still crickets so you leave her a voicemail and say a prayer. Nope. Nothing. Now it’s Saturday and you decide to send another text message and ask if Stephanie has time to connect soon. Nada. Now it’s the following week on Wednesday, you try Stephanie’s phone again and she doesn’t answer so you send her a quick email and wait.

And after all of this you are wondering; WHAT HAPPENED? Did I cross the line? When do I stop trying to reach someone who doesn’t answer the phone?

And here we are folks. Have you been there? Are you wondering how do you proceed when someone doesn’t answer phone calls or texts? 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? Should you send another text? One more email?

I’ve been there. Below is some advice I hope you find helpful!

VOICEMAILS AND INITAL CALLS

If you are reaching out to a prospective partner for the first time via phone and you reach them: HUZZAH! CONGRATS! If you don’t reach them on that first try, try to remember it’s okay and NORMAL. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to talk to you. Breathe deep. And here’s a little hack: if that first attempt goes to voicemail, consider hanging up without leaving a voice mail. This gives you the ability to call back again a day or two without need for explanation.

Another consideration for the first phone call without an answer (and no voicemail) is sending them a brief text message directly after the failed attempt that says something like the following:

“”Hi Stephanie! it’s Jenn Fortner. Could you let me know if there’s a good time to chat for a couple of minutes this evening (or another time soon that works better)? Or I’ll just try you back in a bit. Thanks!” (wording taken directly from a worker who used this and said it was gold!)

They may or may not answer the text. If they don’t answer, don’t give up! Call again, and this time leave a voicemail and communicate the following:

  • 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. You don’t want to give them too many details as to why you are calling, so keep the information short and to the point.
  • If you are calling without prior context (no invitation letter), communicate that you are wanting to talk briefly and mention that you will be calling them back.
    • It should go something like this:
      • “Hi Stephanie! Hope you are doing great. I would love to catch you sometime soon – if you grab a minute give me a call but I’ll try to see if I can catch you at another time. Have a great day and hope to talk to you soon!”

TEXTING

If you feel more comfortable texting rather than calling, consider sending someone a text before you call them (or after you call them – as explained above). In a text prior to calling – ask if it would be a good time to call and that you’d like to speak with them briefly. A brief warning here: Don’t skip ahead and ask for an appointment on a text… I know, texts seem SO MUCH easier than phone calls. Truly, texting is a whole other subject so head here if you want more details as to (1) why a combination of a text message and phone call is better than just a text message for scheduling appointments (2) how do text without giving too much information or (3) why is no one answering my texts.

HOW 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 some advice:

  • 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.
  • 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, prior to this try hard to avoid written messages in asking for appointments whenever you can (lots of reasons for why can be found here).
  • 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 Stephanie Jones (no voicemail). (brief text message afterward Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn Fortner. Could you let me know if there’s a good time for you to chat this evening (If not another time that works?) Or I’ll just try you again in a bit! Thanks” )
    • July 2nd – Attempt two to call Stephanie Jones (brief voicemail Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn Fortner. Hope you are doing great. Just trying to reach you and don’t want to take too much of your time, about a ministry thing. Give me a call if you grab a moment or I’ll try and call you soon. I hope your at the beach or something! I know you were talking about going. Have a great day!”
    • July 7th – Attempt 3 to call Stephanie Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn again. Just trying to reach you, If you get a chance give me a call, but I’ll probably try you again. Hope to chat you soon.”)
    • July 21st – Attempt 4 to call Stephanie Jones (Text before: “Hey Stephanie, just trying to reach you one more time. 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 Stephanie Jones (maybe voicemail or no voicemail with a text after, but something like this: “Hey Stephanie. I’ll go ahead and email you on the thing I’m trying to connect about to see if that works better for you. I’m sure your busy and hope you guys are having a great summer. If you get a chance to check your email that would be great. Thanks Stephanie!”)
    • August 20th – No answer from email. You text The Final Contact (see post for wording).
  • If still you get nothing from emailing or texting it’s likely time for The Final Contact. Make sure you read this important post if you haven’t already to word that crucial text the best way possible.

SWITCHING COMMUNICATION METHOD

If it’s evident after several failed phone call attempts that the phone is not for them, try switching to text, email, Facebook Messenger, or a combination of some of these things. How you choose to switch it up should largely be placed on past communication you’ve had with that potential partner.

If you don’t hear back from that potential partner after switching modes of communication, try sending the Final Contact. After that Final Contact, you may consider putting that person in some type of organization system you have kept with other potential partners, noting the times you tried communication. And lastly, consider reaching out again after several months of waiting. You never know after several months or when you’re closer to the finish line if that person may get inspired to give. It’s possible that they just needed some time to think about it.

IN SUMMARY

There’s a lot of contingencies in the world 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!

THE CLOSE: How to Close Appointments Like a Pro

Having a great Close to your Face to Face Appointments is almost as important as having a great Ask. What do I mean by the “Close”? Essentially, closing your appointment comes right after The Ask and includes elements like next steps, setting expectations, and getting the financial partner on-boarded to start their giving.

Do you know if your closing your appointments well? Let me ask you a few questions so we can gauge it together:

  • Are you having trouble getting verbal commitments turned in to actual gifts? Do you feel like your chasing your tail?
  • Are you having issues with new partners giving to your organization correctly? Are they seamlessly giving without any hiccups, misdirection of funds, or accidentally just giving one time instead of monthly?
  • Do you think your new monthly partners have clear next steps and expectations of how you will communicate with them?
  • Do you feel like after you’ve done your appointment the real challenge comes in getting ahold of them to turn it in? (why yes! I am aware this question is a bit redundant to the first question!)

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions – your Close may need a little work and tweaking. Or a lot… It could need a lot of tweaking. I find in the workers that I coach if the Close is not in ship-shape, the process of follow up can become extra cumbersome and challenging. Here are some quick tips to help you tighten up your Close and get those new partners on-boarded to your team.

3 FOLD COMMITMENT:

First things first! While closing your face to face appointment set clear expectations to your new financial partner with a commitment to your team. My commitment suggestion comes in 3 parts: (1) work hard on assignment, (2) communicate regularly, (3) pray for your team.

Imagine you just started giving 100$ a month to a new missionary. As a giver, you would probably like to know what to expect after you start your giving. Right? Right. Therefore, let your shiny new partners know how you will be communicating with them – is it through newsletters and a Facebook Secret Group? Is it via email? WhatsApp or iMessages or Direct Messages? Do you have a TikTok or Instagram account dedicated to your ministry? Do you have a Secret Facebook Group? How often are you doing your newsletters? This is all helpful information to include during the Close of your appointment. I like to do this in my 3 fold commitment to them. It goes a little sum’ like this:

“As a team member I would like to make a 3 fold commitment to you. First, I promise to work hard while I’m on the field, reaching the X people for Christ and working diligently to make relationships with the X people through X Y and Z. Secondly, I promise to keep you updated regularly. Though I won’t be able to connect as consistently via phone because of the connection in X country, I will be keeping my team updated regularily through bi-monthly newsletters and my Secret Facebook Group. The Facebook Group is titled X and I will send you an invitation to it tonight, so be on the lookout. My hope is to shoot out updates there every week. Please feel free to comment or like things there, but keep in mind even though it’s “secret” I still need to be sensitive to not giving too much information due to X country. I also intend to email you from time to time, which leads me to number 3! Thirdly, I would love to pray for you on a continual basis and will be reaching out via email from time to time asking for prayer requests. Please keep me updated as well with any prayer requests as time goes on. My desire is for this to really be a team, as I simply cannot do what I am doing without you. Any questions about that?”

SET GIVING EXPECTATIONS:

“Yes” comes with a wide variety of nuances. It’s like a buffet out there guys. Some will say they need to pray about an amount prior to committing, others will say they will commit 75$ and turn it in tomorrow morning, still others will just say they will turn it in “soon”. No matter their response – make sure to ask two things: (1) If they know the amount and (2) when they would like to turn it in by.

This is important for two reasons:

  1. Because it gives you a frame of reference as to when to expect their commitment turned in by.
  2. Because it helps you know how to respond and set up your follow up accordingly, which can be varied. For instance, if they say they will turn it in this week then your response could be “Great Shelly, that’s going to be so helpful to get to my goal of 50% by the end of the month. If I don’t see it come in by the end of the week I’ll shoot you out a text (you may ask if they prefer text or phone call) to see if you need a reminder or have any questions about how to set it up – does that work okay?” Or, say for instance they indicate they need to pray about the amount. You can then respond with “Great Shelly, do you think a couple of days would be sufficient for that or would you need more time?” (Shelly says a couple of days is sufficient) Then, “Okay, I will text you for follow up Wednesday to see where you’re at after a couple of days to pray If I don’t reach you, I may try and call to reach you. Does that work for you?

SHORT PERCENTAGE GOAL:

Setting a short percentage goal is a little trick I’ve been proselytizing lately. So what does setting a percentage goal mean? Let me explain by setting the stage for this one:

Sally has just said yes to joining your monthly partnership team and has told you she will get it turned in this week. A month has gone by and unfortunately you didn’t do a good job on your close with creating follow up expectations or creating percentage goals. Whomp. To combat situations like this in the future, when Sally tells you she is going to join your partnership team at 100$ a month and will get signed up this week, the next thing you say to Sally is “Oh my Sally! This is so great as it helps me get to my goal of 75% by the end of May! If you can get that turned in this week that would get me closer to that goal and of course closer to 100% by August. I really appreciate it.” See what I did there? I created a short percentage goal to let Sally know it matters when she gets her monthly commitment turned in. A lot of new financial partners don’t know that you will never be able to get to 100% unless they turn in their commitment (though this can vary based on your organization), and the reason is because you haven’t told them! Thus, make sure to communicate clearly (and gently…and nicely, you know what I mean) what your needs are. Creating a short goal that is less than a month away is perfect for getting a little urgency in and communicating that you are working toward getting to 100% in a timely manner. Doing so will help you get commitments turned in efficently.

SET FOLLOW UP EXPECTATIONS:

As a support raising coach I have seen that setting clear follow up expectations can make or break your season of support raising. Essentially you want to do 3 things while setting follow up expectations during your appointment:

  1. GIVING EXPECTATIONS: As above, ask them when they would like to give and how much. (If they are praying / thinking it over this still applies just tweak it)
  2. SHORT PERCENTAGE GOAL: As above, give them a short percentage goal and communicate your needs for having them turn it in.
  3. COMMUNICATE AND CALENDARIZE FOLLOW UP: If they are praying about an amount or unsure of their giving, set a time frame and let them know you will follow up with them. An example could be this: “Great Sally! Thank you so much for praying about a commitment. How much time do you think you need to pray about it? A couple of days? (*Sally says yes) “Okay, how about I text you on Friday and find if you’ve come to any decisions? Would that be okay?” (*Sally says yes) “Great, and if I don’t get ahold of you Sally I may try to call. Thank you so much for praying!” The same process works if they say yes and they get it turned in in a couple of days, just change the wording a bit to something like this: “Okay, if I don’t happen to see it come in by Friday or Saturday I will shoot you a text and see if you need a reminder or any help getting it set up. I’m so thankful Sally and appreciate you being a part of this team. Your giving now will help me reach my short goal of getting to 50% by the end of the month, and 100% by August! Thank you!”

A text to Sally for follow up would look something like this: “Hey Sally! Thanks so much for praying about joining my partnership team. I really loved our time together and am so grateful. Have you come to any decisions? Let me know either way and I appreciate you!”

**Please note, it’s always best to get a new financial partner on-boarded during the appointment, so shoot for that when they choose that entree of the buffet table! It’s like getting the steak! Or maybe like getting the soft serve ice cream after dinner when you were a (big) kid. Remember buffets?!?!**

GIVING INSTRUCTIONS:

Have you ever tried to give a reoccurring gift to a worker/ministry and felt like you were doing rocket science? Unfortunately the process isn’t always easy, and yet again comes with another buffet of options for the giver. Online? On the phone? Via check? It’s likely there are multiple ways your new financial partner could give, and typically not everyone will want to set it up the same way. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for your new financial partner to give. To do this, provide a short sheet of giving instructions. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be helpful! If you don’t know various ways that someone can give to your organization, learn all of the processes and make sure you understand how each works.

So I hope these were helpful! Now you’ll be pro level closing your appointments and getting new financial partners on-boarded to give! Recap:

  • 3 Fold Commitment
  • Giving Expectations
  • Short Percentage Goals
  • Follow Up Expectations
  • Giving Instructions

Aaaaannnnd Closed.

How To Make Your Own Prayer Card on Vistaprint

I’m excited to share this wonderful tutorial on How to Make Prayer Cards on Vistaprint. I didn’t make it, a friend of mine in ministry at a sensitive location did. I’d tell you her name, but I can’t, so we will just call her “Designer Debbie”. What I can say is please use this link if you end up using Vistaprint to make your Prayer Card. By using it you will give Designer Debbie discounted materials for future use! WIN WIN http://reward.vistaprint.com/go.axd?ref=TBNJM5

My girl DD is also a really great designer and makes Prayer Cards along with other promotional materials (case documents, connect cards, etc.), so if you want to skip the DIY – contact me and I can get you in touch with her.

So what is a Prayer Card? Think of it as a business card for ministry. Typically they are small, display your tagline, picture, ministry, and contact information. They are helpful for giving out at events, face to face meetings, short conversations, etc. and provide the recipient a quick glance at your ministry and way to keep your contact information. Often these go on refrigerators as prayer reminders, go in invitation letters, thank you cards, pastor packets, and the like. Read along to find out more on how to make your own! Thanks Designer Debbie!

7 Things I Am Learning About Support Raising During A Pandemic

What day is it of whatever this is? If you’re like me, you’ve lost count somewhere along the way. As our groundhog days have gone on I have been busy coaching workers who are on the front lines of raising their support, many for the first time. I’ve been carefully listening and dialing into what is working and what is not. Thus, I wanted to take a moment to share some tips I have learned from coaching numerous workers raising their support during the Coronavirus. Here we go:

  1. If you have not done a newsletter in awhile (or you did recently, just pre-Coronavirus), NOW is the time to do one. I’ve been hearing workers mention that the number one question they are getting from their supporters and potential supporters is “are you still going to do your ministry assignment?” Stave off any doubt your supporters have by sending out a short newsletter that shares the following:
    • Reassure them you are feeling your call to ministry now more than ever! Remind them there are amazing opportunities to minister as people are searching for meaning and faith right now, and you’re excited to get on the front lines.
    • Yes, you are still called! Yes, you are still going to the field / on staff / your assignment! Let them know you are working as you are able to minister during this time, continue to raise support, and pray.
    • Ask them if they have any specific prayer requests.
    • Write a hearty thank you for their continued giving during this season. Let them how grateful you are. It’s huge they are committed to giving.
    • Don’t be afraid to keep it short and to the point.
  2. Video conference appointments are working. I have been taking with many workers who are having great appointments with individuals and are adding to their support teams during this time, Thus, don’t think of it as a time to stand still and do nothing! Reach for Zoom appointments using a mixture of discernment, wisdom, common sense, and prayer. When you do ask for an appointment, follow the guidelines found in this post and develop your own scripts.
  3. I coach a couple who shared this idea I thought was brilliant: for local appointments, think about having “porch picnics” with those who are comfortable. Their instructions:
    •  Get a Signup Genius ready (www.signupgenius.com)
    • Send link to potential supporters after you have called and asked for a appointment (or those already on your team that you want to build relationship with and see) to schedule appointments
    • “Take them” to dinner/lunch/coffee. (go pick something up with washed and sanitized hands or use UberEats or GrubHub or DoorDash)
    • Hang on porch at a distance
  4. Staying spiritually healthy matters. I talked with a couple yesterday who mentioned they are praying together for a different church every day, and are viewing this time as an opportunity to dial into their prayer life separately and together as a couple. They feel blessed to have extra time to bulk up spiritually. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine that this couple won’t be lead into great opportunities as a result of their heart and prayer life. Go and do likewise.
  5. Facebook / Instagram Live Q&As can be a good way to stay active and are FUN! As we all know, there are a lot of people online right now. Why not utilize that opportunity by doing a Facebook Live Q&A or Instagram Live and talk about your upcoming assignment? 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 ask you questions. Make it simple and fun, and promote it however you can before hand.  This post outlines some details on the subject.  (*sensitive workers — this is doable for you too with some extra precautions and permissions!)
  6. Continue having ministry moments. Ask pastors if you can help serve their congregation (if you have technical skills they could probably really use you)! Ask friends and family members how they are doing, just because. If someone comes to mind take a moment and reach out. What you sow you will also reap, so continue to sow into your relationships.
  7. Having a good attitude and staying empathetic matters. Remember, your ministry doesn’t start when you get to your assignment – it starts now! And hey, I totally get it, of course this time is challenging! I SEE YOU. But here’s a wild thought: God knew about the pandemic and still chose YOU for this time. Knowing that, choose to be the inspiration of courage and hope to someone else, as chances are they need it. Chances are you will be inspired by being an inspiration. You will be blessed by being a blessing. Stick with a good attitude. Stay empathetic and serve those around you in everyday small ways. One worker I know realized she is getting a lot of joy from having flowers on her kitchen table and tending to her plant babies. She is now driving around to her existing partnership team (who are local) and putting small plants on their porches with a short note of encouragement. What a great idea!

Friends, I hope some of these tips help or get the wheels turning on ideas of your own. What has been working for you? Post it in the comments! – JF

Partnership Development and The Coronavirus: Part 2

Many of you are faced with questions as to what should I do during this early time of the coronavirus. From the workers I connect with weekly, I’ve heard everything from “I’ve been having appointments this week on Zoom and they have been great”, to “we don’t know if best to wait and not ask for appointments this early into the pandemic.” I wanted to write a synopsis of what I have been thinking through this past week as we are navigating together. Here’s an update on some of thoughts (or just think of it as an expansion) since last week when I wrote Partnership Development and the Coronavirus Part 1:

1. This is not the time to do nothing! This is a great time to:

  • Build your online presence. Everyone is online right now! Do you have a Facebook group? Set it up! Do you have Instagram or TikTok? (guys, I don’t have a TikTok yet but I’m thinking about it) Set it up! Have you tried FacebookLive? Go for it.
  • Reach out to existing partners or just friends and family and ask how they are doing, and be an encouragement. Many of them will remember the times you reached out without asking for anything. Look for opportunities to serve and stay ministry minded:
    • send postcards (with washed hands)
    • send texts
    • send cards from your kids (with washed hands)
    • send videos from your kids
    • put a bag of coffee or a chocolate bar or something from a small business on their doorstep if local. if you don’t want to spend money go pick some flowers…there will be some in the next several weeks!
    • update your team with a newsletter

2. When thinking of continuing to reach out to individuals here are some thoughts:

  • It’s not time to pause completely or indefinitely. God still called you to ministry and that hasn’t changed because there is a pandemic. People need ministers now more than ever. It may be time to be sensitive and loving while thinking through your asks, and it may not be the right time to ask for some people in your contact list, but that doesn’t mean that your asks need to come to a full stop.
  • When going through your list it may not be business as usual. Use a mix of prayer, discernment, and common sense while thinking of who to reach out to in the next 2 weeks (or more). Do your homework and think critically: Are they a small business owner? (you may table reaching out to them for the time being) Are they someone you would have reached out to for a distance video call anyhow? Are they ministry minded?
  • When you do ask for a social distance video appointment with an individual here’s some specific thoughts on how to proceed:
    • Always start your phone call with 3 questions: “Hey, how are you doing? How are you doing in the wake of coronavirus? How can I be praying for you?” 
      • Take your time with their response and really listen with attuned ears. Ask follow up questions and don’t be afraid to get into the weeds. Let this be a ministry moment.
    • After you have listened, tailor your response to asking for a video appointment depending on their answer:
      • OPTION A: They said they are “fine” (sheltered in place / social distancing / but fine). If they say this you respond with:

“That’s great. I know it’s been a challenge and if their are any prayer needs that stand out let us know. We are calling because we feel our call to ministry now more than ever (to X – maybe a brief summary of your ministry assignment is needed) and are still raising up a team of financial and prayer support partners. You definitely came to mind as someone we would like to be a part of that. Realizing that this is a crazy time, we are wondering if we could schedule a video call sometime this week or next to tell you more about our ministry vision and goals and see if you could join some aspect of our team?” (proceed from there…)

      • OPTION B: They said they are struggling (financially, emotionally, etc.). If they say this respond with:

“We will absolutely be praying with you during this time with your prayer needs (insert here several of the things they mentioned that are challenging). Here in a minute if it’s cool we would love to pray with you, and would love to maybe follow up with a text or phone call in the next couple of weeks just to see how it’s going. We really want to pray with you. We were originally calling because we are feeling our ministry call now more than ever (to X – maybe a brief summary is needed), but let’s table that for now because there are so many things going on. Maybe at some point in a couple of months we could tell you more about that if that’s okay? (response) For now let’s pray…” 

    • If you are responding to OPTION B it may feel inappropriate to let them know about your ministry and why you were originally calling, though I think in a lot of circumstances that would be fine. Stay sensitive and use discernment.
    • Write scripts out for OPTION A and OPTION B and don’t be afraid to use them on live phone calls.
    • Stay organized. If you say you will reach out again, actually reach out again. If you say you’ll be praying, you need to actually pray.
    • Check in with your coach (or if you don’t have one, reach out to veterans within your organization or others who are also support raising that you trust) on a regular basis. If you are running into nuanced situations, ask for thoughts.

3. When reaching out to churches here are some thoughts:

  • If you are reaching out to a pastor during this time, always start by asking the pastor “Hey, how are you and your congregation doing during COVID-19? What are some things we can be praying with you about?” 
  • Same conversation applies with OPTION A and OPTION B above, just tailor it to the church. Stay sensitive. Realize now may not be the time to ask them for anything but prayer requests and that’s fine.
  • Do your homework. Does the church have a strong online presence? Does it look like they haven’t got everything online yet? Great places to check are the church’s website, social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram, etc. If it looks like the church hasn’t posted several services online yet you may want to wait until it looks like they have made progress.
  • A lot of churches have seen reductions in their offerings and now may not be the best time to reach out to some churches, and that’s okay!
  • If you are close to a church(es) that you live near, ask if they need help with food distribution or assistance in setting up their on-line services (if you already have this expertise).
  • Stay sensitive and ministry minded. Always ask the pastor what works best for them and if now is a good time.

I hope some of these tips help! In closing, remember you are called and that God is still on the throne! You’ve got this. Go back and read the scriptures and stay spiritually healthy during this time. – JF 

Partnership Development and the Coronavirus

Many of you in the middle of raising support may be wondering what to do during this unprecedented time. Today there are more school closings, limitations on gatherings of more than 10 people, more chaos at airports, overall social distancing, and the like. We don’t know yet how the coronavirus will affect ministry workers raising support. Dave Dickens of CRU recently offered some brilliant thoughts on his email newsletter list that I wanted to share with you at explaining some helpful things to help you navigate this chaotic season (some of it is slightly adapted to serve this blog’s audience):

    • Let’s be prayerful. Pray for those affected by the pandemic, for ministry leaders who need to make tough decisions, for people’s financial situations, and for open hearts and gospel conversations as people are confronted with a broken world.
    • Reach out to ministry partners to ask how this is affecting them. Create meaningful conversations (via text, phone calls, FaceTime, etc.) and have a ministry mindset when connecting. Send your partnership team texts, emails, or phone calls. Be ready to see your inbox fill up! If you have kids at home from school, maybe have the kids do artwork and write handwritten notes of appreciation and love to your team.
    •  Here’s a sample text reaching out: “I know we are all navigating uncertain times, and was thinking of you today. How are you doing, and how is the coronavirus affecting you? I’m taking some time to pray for you today. Let me know if there are specific things I can be praying for!”
    • Send a coronavirus update prayer letter with specific prayer requests related to your assignment.
    • Because everyone is social distancing and at home, over the next few weeks it may be easier to reach people, and people are definitely wanting to talk. People are more likely to be on social media as well. Think about ways to add value in those spaces and reach out.

Here are some thoughts to expound upon what Dave writes:

  • Have you had a hard time staying organized? Are you caught up on thank you cards? This may be a good time to clean up your organization for financial partnership development. It also may be a good time to upgrade branding, overall materials, or if you don’t have an active presence on Facebook or other social media platforms to start.
  • It probably goes without saying at this point, but meeting face-to-face in person will likely be off the table for a bit (at the very least for some people). Think of partners to reach out to via video appointments. It may be wise to change course of action and instead of reaching out to your “A” list, reach out to those who would be long distance appointments anyhow.
  • It also may be a couple of weeks of relative pause on some people (maybe not all, but some) you were wanting to reach out to – that’s okay and understandable. That also doesn’t mean it’s time to do nothing. Pray, use discernment and common sense before asking for an appointment. If you have a coach, reach out to ask their thoughts on nuance situations – that’s what they are there for!
  • Many churches are not able to congregate during this time, so if you do reach out to a pastor ask for prayer needs. If you are asking for support from the church, suggest possibly doing a window online with them (especially in checking up for a already scheduled service) and be creative. It also may be good to hold off on connecting with some churches for a few weeks while they think of how to shepherd their own flock during this time.
  • One worker sent me an idea of scheduling a face to face via video conferencing, and going the extra mile to send that family some food or a snack and have it placed at their door for the appointment. Creative, thoughtful, and ministry minded!

I hope some of these thoughts at least get the wheels turning as to what to do for the next couple of weeks. It’s definitely not cut and dry. As Dave writes, “in the midst let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and remember His words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 New International Version). Wisdom to be sure.

Also remember, ministry doesn’t start when you get into your full time assignment, it starts now! Ask God how you can serve those around you during this season.

What are your thoughts or questions during this interesting season?

7 Ideas for Better Support Raising Habits in 2020

Happy 2020 everyone! Guys, I love January. There’s nothing like a fresh start. Every conversation, podcast, and sermon is trending this month towards goals, habits, and health and I am INTO IT.

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So, not to add to the pile of all those resolutions you have made, but OKAY! I’m going to add to the pile…

As you are thinking through your New Years Resolutions, I would challenge you to find something to add to your list when it comes to partnership development. Novel idea right?! If you are in full time ministry and live off of support, working on your financial partnership development is a VITAL part of your life. How you view it and treat it are fundamental to your success and longevitiy as a minister.

That being said, are you slipping into any bad habits? Is your communication strong with your partnership base, or has it slipped to the dusty corners of your to-do wishlist? When was the last time you wrote a newsletter? When was the last time you reached out to an old friend or prayed for them just because? Could your vision statement or your print pieces use a little refinement? How’s your attitude as it concerns raising support? Do you love and nurture your support team or tend to neglect involving them in your ministry?

My intention is not to overwhelm you if you have slipped into a few bad habits, but maybe adopting a few of these small changes (or coming up with ideas of your own) could make 2020 and beyond easier and more enjoyable as it relates to ministry and your partnership development. Here are a few ideas to consider:

1. In 2020, PERSONALLY connect with everyone on your partnership team on a quarterly basis. 

Consider bumping up your communications with your partnership team. Perhaps create a goal to reach out directly to every partner (churches and individuals) on a quarterly basis. Here are some ways to consider reaching out:

  • Direct message on Facebook
  • Emails
  • Short video from your phone
  • Text message or WhatsApp
  • postcard
  • Written letters

Reaching out to a supporter personally doesn’t have to be lengthy to be effective. Some ideas:

  • Just say hi
  • Ask how they are doing and how you can pray for them
  • Share a podcast or a sermon if they come to mind
  • Share a verse you love and are studying
  • Say happy birthday
  • text a picture of a ministry event with a quick thank you.

These little habits of regular communication make a big difference!

Here’s an idea, if you’ve never sent postcards from your city or country maybe 2020 is the time to do it! Chunk your list and make a goal of sending 10-20 postcards out a month.

2. In 2020, write thank you cards within 48 hours of a face to face meeting or as an acknowledgement of a new gift.

Scott Morton says it best in a short video here.

3. In 2020, refine your public speaking skills.

Are you going to be doing a lot of public speaking while on itineration? Mark it as a chance to develop or refine your skills by studying the subject and applying a few new tips. Here’s a short list of some quick reads on the subject:

4. In 2020, start a daily habit of using a to do list.

It is a nifty time to become more organized with apps such as Microsoft ToDo, Todoist, Any.do, and more. If you haven’t downloaded an app, give one a try, it may be just the thing that starts better organization patterns in your daily life.

A key to success with to do lists is to use what works for you! Some people prefer purchasing a big white board and using it for reminders, others love the apps like the ones above, still others prefer good ole sticky notes or a paper list. Consider utilizing a variety of these methods when creating a to do list habit, studies show that if you put them in multiple places more gets done! Whatever works for you, in 2020 try creating to do list habits that help you stay organized and on top of what needs to get done.

A couple more tips:

  • Here’s a great article on creating a more effective to do list.
  • If you already have a to do list and use it regularly, are there any other areas you could improve your organization in 2020? Maybe it’s creating a habit to check your calendar on a regular basis and if you’re married, sync it with your wife or husband.

5. In 2020, refine your vision statement.

Knowing who you are, how you were called, and what you want to do in ministry is important, right? Right.

“A mission statement is not something you write overnight… But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.”  Stephen Covey

We know mission statements are important, but it can be challenging to find the time and energy to sit down and refine one’s mission statement. I would argue though, taking that time to blow the dust off of your mission statement (whether that’s a personal or a team missions statement) is crucial to success.

“People are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope with all of their might.”  Stephen Covey

Even businesses struggle to maintain their vision statements, and recent research has showed that over half of employees (52%) cannot recite their business’s vision. All the while, a recent report shows that “sense of purpose” in work is the second most important criteria for millennials considering a job. Interesting.

If you want more information on vision statements and why they are so important to success, I’d recommend picking up a copy of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (Personally it is one of my favorite books EVER and goes in depth on the subject.)

6. In 2020, rebrand.

Have you been thinking for awhile it’s time to take your “brand” to the next level? Maybe it’s reordering new prayer cards that feature your newest child, or taking your Case Document and Connect Cards to the next level. Or maybe it’s thinking through a new newsletter template or features that align with your Facebook Group posts and website.

I’d say anything you can do to stand out, look professional, and raise the bar with quality communication and materials really does make a difference! Make 2020 the year to do it! The picture below is an example of a packet given to pastors that really stands out. Notice the fancy envelope and the beautiful graphics.

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7. In 2020, read Philippians. 

Did you know that the book of Philippians is an ancient thank you letter for support? You’ll find Philippians perhaps to be the warmest tone that Paul undertakes in all of his writing, and it’s all in the context of church and mission partnership. Therefore, there are some huge keys given throughout the book that I believe generate a thankful, grateful, and biblical perspective on partnership. I’d challenge you in 2020 to get into Philippians and read it through the lens of partnership, particularly if you are looking for biblical inspiration or a bit of an attitude / perspective kick in the right direction.

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In closing, making changes to your lifestyle habits can be SO CHALLENGING. Remember to give yourself a lot of grace. When creating new habits being positive really makes all the difference. Another game changer when creating goals is to make your goals specific and measurable to help attain success. For instance, if your overarching desire is to “do a better job communicating with my partnership team” you may create a goal that says “reach out to each financial partner at least once quarterly throughout all of 2020” or “write a newsletter once a quarter, Facebook group post once a week, and send a postcard to each financial and prayer partner in 2020.” instead of “do a better job communicating“.

I hope these help spark some ideas for you! Happy 2020! -JF

 

 

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:

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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!