Ghosting! When It’s Time to Make The Final Contact

Ghosting! It’s October so let’s talk about it now for obvious reasons.

You all know the scenario, chances are you’ve been there…

You reach out to a friend via phone and try to set up an appointment. No answer. You text them and ask if they have time for a quick phone call. Nope, nothing. Then you call again and leave a voicemail. Crickets. Then the process gets a little weird because you call again a couple of days later and still: NADA. Maybe you send another text several weeks after beginning the process, but you don’t know what to say. So you send something but don’t love it, bite your nails and then…na that wasn’t them that texted back…it was just MORE CRICKETS. And you’re wondering…did I just damage a relationship? What if I see them at Target? Do they shop at that one? Maybe I’ll drive to the one on the other side of town that’s farther away from their house. AWKWARD.

So what do we do with this whole ghosting MONSTER lurking under the bed? How do we appropriately handle the FEAR that rejection is happening before our eyes? I’ve got some ideas to combat the SCARY scenarios. Don’t SCREAM, let’s dive in (and okay, I’ll stop using the puns). There are 3 main things to keep in mind when you think you are being ghosted – let’s talk about them.

1. Don’t Jump to Conclusions

When you feel you are being ghosted don’t jump to conclusions. People are busy with their own lives, and your top priority is almost always NOT their top priority. They’ve got their own world swirling around them, so recognize that we have to meet people where they are at and contacting you back may not be at the top of their list. Don’t jump to the conclusion that if they aren’t Johny-On-The-Spot with getting back to you it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. It could mean a variety of things such as one or some of the following:

  • they are bad with returning phone calls / messages / insert media you used
  • they are busy
  • it’s a hard week
  • it’s a hard year. ahem… it is 2020.
  • they are out of town / country
  • they intend to but just haven’t gotten there yet
  • they are distracted
  • their phone broke?
  • they have a new number
  • they are potty training their toddler and are laser focused unto getting rid of cloth diapers for ever and ever amen (wait… just me?!)

Thus before making the conclusion you are being ghosted, here are ask some important questions of yourself. If you answer “no” to any of these things – then try that thing before jumping to conclusions:

  • Am I using the right contact method to reach them? Have I tried multiple ways to get in touch?
  • Are they actually receiving my phone call / message?
  • Have I tried enough times over a period of time, and given them long enough to respond?
  • Have they already expressed interest in giving but have had trouble responding recently?

2. The Final Contact

If you have have sufficiently tried to reach out to someone but are getting no response (see list above) then you may consider making The Final Contact. The Final Contact essentially is communication that attempts to honor the relationship when someone isn’t responding, and lets that person know you will not be contacting them again about support. Now, that being said I have some pretty strong thoughts about The Final Contact and how it works / doesn’t work that I need to share before proceeding further:

  1. Consider all of the questions above carefully before doing The Final Contact.
  2. You should NOT be doing The Final Contact if you’ve only tried calling a person twice or even 3 times. It should be after you’ve made several attempts, tried several communication methods, and given them time to respond. Many people make the mistake of believing someone’s silence is rejection and give up too quickly due to fear. Be confident, and remember you don’t have to apologize for inviting someone to be a part of the Great Commission.
  3. If a Final Contact is given too early you run the risk of offending cherished relationships.
  4. If you move to the Final Contact too early you also run the risk of no support from them.
  5. It’s likely that after you make The Final Contact, you will hear from the person who has ghosted you. It happens often.
  6. In wording your Final Contact, keep the door open a smidge that you may have a future assignment / time you raise support, and perhaps you will reach out again in the future (see example below – this doesn’t need to be emphasized, just accommodated for).
  7. You don’t make The Final Contact if someone has answered your calls and methods of communication, only if they don’t (unless it’s a nuanced situation). Don’t make The Final Contact you’re out for any circumstance that gets awkward that you don’t want to follow up on. No no.


So HUGE WARNING HERE: Don’t do it too early. However, well timed Final Contacts can help in putting the relationship in good standing. So what does a good Final Contact look like? This example of a Final Contact is written by my friend Grant Hoel who is a support raising coach and in full time ministry with Chi Alpha.

Hi [Name], I hope everything is going well for you. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you recently to share about my upcoming ministry assignment to [City or Country] but I have been having trouble. It is possible that this is not the best method of communication for you or that you’ve been extremely busy and unable to get back to me. Or maybe you’re just not interested, and that’s okay. In any case, I wanted to let you know that this will be my last attempt to reach you in regards to this assignment. Also know that I really value your friendship and would love to catch up or hear how I can be praying for you at any time. If you are interested in talking about the ministry and how you could be involved, feel free to give me a call: (555) 555-5555. Either way, I look forward to catching up the next time I see you. Have a great week and God Bless.

Some thoughts straight from Grant on what a well-crafted Final Contact does:

  1. It provides the person the most charitable excuse for not returning your call.
    • “I know you’re probably super busy…”
    • “I understand that now may not be the best time for you…”
    • “You may not be able to give right now…” “And that’s OK!”
  2. Let’s them know that you will not be contacting them regarding support/financial partnership for this assignment.  You won’t bring it up unless they initiate it.
    • “So I just want to let you know that I won’t be contacting you again about this unless you bring it up.  If I’m wrong and you just haven’t been able to get back to me, just give me a call and we’ll pick up the conversation from there.”
  3. Affirms your relationship with them. 
    • “I just want you to know that I absolutely appreciate your friendship…” 
    • “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you or any way to pray for you…”
    • “I look forward to the next time we get to see each other…”

3. Don’t be Timid: Its The Great Commission (See Rejection post)

I get it, it can be SCARY to reach out to friends and family for support, and when that friend ghosts you in the process, it doesn’t feel good. But I think alongside having the Final Contact in our pocket, remembering that we are all called to the Great Commission as either goers or senders is one of the most important things to remember in the midst of asking for finances. Asking someone for financial support is okay and it’s even biblical. (If you doubt that to be true, here are some verses to check out) Also, what you are doing is downright cool and inspiring. Seriously. You don’t have to be ashamed about telling people about Jesus and you certainly aren’t the only one since the days of Moses who raised finances to do it.  You can be bold. You can be confident (and it actually helps). You don’t have to apologize for following God’s path, and you actually get to be an inspiration for those you connect with to follow their own paths with God! He’s actually the one that set it up for the christian worker to live off of support. If someone doesn’t join maybe someone else is supposed to. I can be as simple as that, if you let it be.

It’s hard to know what to do when a person isn’t responding to you, I hope some of these thoughts help in the process. Below is a song to help inspire you. As Grant put it to me when explaining his process on The Final Contact “Now may you confidently and effectively raise the funds you need to do the work in which God has called you. May you have even deeper and more meaningful relationships as a result of your support raising efforts.” – JF

10 Ways To Connect With Your Financial Partners (Without Taking Too Much Time)

Hey guys, I posted this 2 years ago and 5 years before that (with some changes of course), but I think this is one of the most important topics in the area of support raising there is and thus — here it is again! Easy ways to stay connected with your partners while you are busy in full time ministry! – JF

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 if 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, but it’s probably better to do one every other month. Keep them short and talk way more about ministry than personal things. Include pictures of active ministry (no vacation spots). Here’s a great link from the Support Raising Solutions blog on creating great Newsletters.

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.

imgres-1

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, Twitter, or TikTok 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.

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!

download

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.

Follow Up: 3 Practical Tips

As a support raising coach the question I probably get asked the most is about how to do effective follow up after a face-to-face appointment. Follow up tends to run the gamut of scenarios, thus I get a wide range of questions on the topic. From my experience, here are some of the main questions on follow up:

  • How do I follow up with someone who said they would like to give but hasn’t turned in their gift yet? It’s been a month! How long should I wait? What should I say?
  • How do I keep follow up from being awkward?
  • How do I follow up if they said they would pray about becoming a monthly partner, but weren’t sure during the appointment?
  • They keep saying they will turn it in but never do! What do I do?

Follow-up likely consists of one of the following scenarios:

  • You are following up with a financial partner who said they would like to give, but they are praying about an amount.
  • You are following up with a financial partner who said they would like to give and already knows the amount, but for whatever reason just doesn’t get the commitment actually turned in.
  • You are following up with a potential financial partner who said they didn’t know if they would like to give or not, and needs to pray about it and look at their finances.

It’s likely you’ve faced at least one of these scenarios if not all of them. I’ve been there, it can feel awkward to try to re-connect with a potential financial partner and get them to actually start their giving – but TRUST ME it doesn’t have to be.

Here are 3 loaded practical tips for good follow up no matter what scenario you find yourself in:

1. Good Follow-Up Starts At The Appointment!

Start setting yourself up for good follow-up during the appointment by following the two C’s:

COMMUNICATE: If your potential partner needs time to make a decision make sure they understand that you will be following up with them. Clearly describe the next steps with them before you walk away from the meeting. This is so important. Essentially unless the answer to your ask for support is “no”, you absolutely must communicate your intention to follow up with them, during the appointment. If an individual says they would like to join your team, but isn’t ready to start immediately, then ask if they have an idea when they would like to start their giving and ask if they know how much they’d like to give. Communicate with them that it helps you to know when they set it up so you can keep your own records. Once you get the approximate time they’d like to start tell them you’ll follow up with them if you don’t see anything go through around that time, to make sure they have what they need to get it set up. (It really doesn’t come across as pushy, just communicative, particularly if you think through your wording before the appointment. **Pro Tip: If this makes you nervous, write out your wording for various scenarios on the front side of your appointment and get your language down. It truly is important to communicate expectations during the appointment and not just let it go.)

CALENDARIZE: Give a clear time frame for follow up. Tell them when you will be contacting them by suggesting a specific date and time. You can call or text them for follow up, and it may be helpful to ask them what their preference is.

Here’s a sample conversation on follow up during an appointment using the two C’s:

Worker: Thanks so much Jeanie for becoming a monthly partner, we are so excited and blessed to have you as a part of our team! Do you have an idea yet of how much you’d like to give and when you’d like to get it set up? 

Jeanie: No, not yet. I need to go and look at my finances to figure out how much. 

Worker: That totally makes sense. If you could let me know when you do sign up that would be so helpful to me, so I can keep my own records and make sure it aligns with headquarters. Do you have an idea yet of when you’d like to get started? 

Jeanie: I’ll need to look at it, but probably in a week or so. 

Worker: Cool. I’ll shoot you a text to follow up if I don’t see a text from you in let’s say two weeks… Would that be enough time? Just find out if you have everything you need to get signed up and have an amount, and so I can make sure everything goes in correctly. We are so grateful.

So your aware too – we will be communicating what is happening while we raise up the rest of our team and once we get to the field via newsletters. We will send those out at least once a quarter, and we also have a secret Facebook group that we will keep regular updates on. It’s called XXX and I’ll add you tonight, so be looking for it. We also pray regularly for our partnership team, so once I get to the field you can expect me to email you several times to find out how we can be praying a little more specifically. We are really excited to have you alongside of this journey. Do you have any questions? 

2. Follow-up Is Normal. Stick With It!

The need to follow up with individuals after face-to-face appointments is not uncommon at all. When someone pledges to give, but doesn’t get started immediately it can often be put on the back-burner. Let’s be honest: Them starting their support is not weighing on their mind near as much as it is yours! Their good intentions can get buried by busyness or tight finances. But, if an individual says they are going to give, let’s give them enough dignity by taking them at their word and believing the best. Let’s not let paranoia slip in and assume the worst. It may just be as simply as reminding them or finding the simplest/quickest way they can start giving. Never blame them. Ultimately it is up to us to help them bridge that gap from the saying to the doing!

It may take several follow-up calls, text messages, or emails before they actually sign up or get started. That’s okay, don’t grow weary. Let them know you understand they are busy.

3. Idea’s on Wording to Get Rid of The Awkwardness!

Here are some ideas for avoiding discomfort or clumsiness when you make that next follow-up call:

  • You are calling because you were not clear about following up during the appointment:

“Hi Robert. Hope I am catching you at a good time. I sure enjoyed our lunch together. As I thought about how we ended our time, I realized I may not have been as clear as I should have been on the next steps. It seemed like you definitely wanted to support us, but I don’t think I was specific enough on exactly how and when to get started. Can I fill you in on that?

  • You are calling to make sure your records are accurate:

“Hey Jeanie, I’m working on getting an accurate reflection of where our support level is at for the upcoming ministry in Spain, and to make sure my records align with what the office has. I actually haven’t seen the first gift come through from you yet – wondering if that is something you have already done or if it’s something your still interested in doing?”

  • You are following up via text after doing great with the two C’s during the appointment.

“Hey Jeanie, hope you are having a good evening. Just following up after our dinner a couple of weeks ago, thanks again for your time and for joining our team. We are so grateful. Really, there are no words! I know I said I would shoot you a text to follow up – I haven’t seen anything come in yet so wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed anything come through on our end. If we haven’t missed anything – have you had a chance to pray about an amount and start time? And is support something you are still wanting to do? If you need it I can text you the giving link and answer any questions.” 

If you did a good job with the two C’s of follow up during the appointment (Communicate & Calendarize) there will be virtually no awkwardness when you do the actual follow up. You’re simply making good on the commitment you made. If you didn’t make a plan for follow up with the two C’s during the appointment, absolutely follow up anyway – using number 1 and 2 above are two great ways.

Other Quick Tips on Follow Up:

  • Provide all the information they need to sign up during the appointment and follow up.
  • Communicate with potential partners your target date for starting your assignment. This will help create a sense of your need, urgency, and your preferred time in which to start their giving.
  • Don’t procrastinate following up. If you say you will call at a certain time, do it!
  • Following up with potential partners IS NOT OPTIONAL. You will miss out on support if you do not “put the ball in your court” and follow up.
  • Call back on the exact day and time you said you would. If you are not faithful, they will not feel the need to be faithful!
  • Make it as easy as possible for them to give. Provide simple ways for people to give in the shortest time possible. This may be texting them a link to your donation website or finding other creative ways to make committing simple.
  • Ask your potential partner what their preferred mode of communication is for following up, texting or calling are usually the norm.
  • Lastly, make sure to make time to ask how they are doing and use the conversation as an opportunity to build a stronger relationship. Starting and maintaining a personal connection with them is what will keep them investing and praying over the long haul!

6 Support Raising Goals for 2019

Here are some goals to consider in making 2019 a fabulous ministry partnership development year:

GOAL #1: BE GREAT AT KEEPING UP WITH YOUR EXISTING FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERS. 

Start the year off right with a commitment to regular, quality communication with your existing support team.  Here are some tips on how to beef up your communication efforts this year:

  1. Spend some time organizing your social media, including any Facebook groups you’ve created for your partners. Develop an ongoing plan for regular posting this year. If your stuck for ideas, look at what other workers are doing who seem to have healthy support and social media a strong social media presence.
  2. This year, do more than just send a quarterly newsletter to your team. Move your communication beyond that, and find various ways to reach your team personally. Of course, keep doing the newsletter, but also think of ways to communicate individually with your support team members such as sending individual postcards, saying hi on Facebook Messenger, sending a text, sending a video, Skyping, etc. Statistically speaking, the majority of people who stop giving do so because they don’t think the person they are giving to cares about them. Remember, without your financial and prayer team you WOULD NOT be ministering to your particular population. Make them feel valued and it will make all of the difference to them, and ultimately to you. Strive to keep your financial partners informed and make them actual friends. Contact them personally, ask how they are doing, and how you can pray. Give personal updates. I PROMISE this is a BIG DEAL.
  3. Set weekly and monthly calendar reminders for ongoing communication with your team. Have ongoing reminders pop up on your phone / computer and rotate who gets a personal email (or whatever medium you choose), so that you have reached out at least twice a year personally to everyone on your support team. The communication can be comprised of a brief update of how you are, asking them how they have been doing, and if they have any personal prayer requests. It doesn’t have to be long to be effective.

GOAL #2: STAY (OR GET) ORGANIZED. This goal is pretty self explanatory. If you are struggling in an area of staying organized, get back on the horse. Being organized with records of who you have asked, who has given, when they have given, how much, etc. is important to have in the genesis of a lifestyle of partnership development. If you are organized you will have more time for ministry and more time for staying connected with your financial and prayer partnership team – it’s that simple.

GOAL #3: MAKE YOUR PRESENTATION GREAT. If you are regularly speaking inside church congregations or small groups, make sure what you are saying is as effective as it can be. Don’t have a mediocre presentation – make it great! Video yourself giving your next sermon or 5 minute window in front of a congregation. Spend some time going through that video and thinking of ways you could improve. Send it to a few trusted friends for a critique. Having their honest feedback could be what takes your presentation from “meh” to “YESSS!!” If you haven’t polished your presentation in awhile go through it with fresh eyes thinking of ways to improve. Maybe you could add a short video, or a visual of the population you serve? Maybe you could add a new effective story?

GOAL #4: PRAY FOR YOUR FINANCIAL AND PRAYER PARTNERSHIP TEAM. When was the last time you made prayer for your financial partnership team a regular part of your prayer life? Have you ever prayed for your team? If you haven’t taken the time to talk to God about your team, then start this year. There are multiple benefits of praying for your team that go beyond the obvious. For starters remembering your team in prayer will promote your desire to stay connected to them, naturally have you asking what is going on in their lives, and will remind you that they are a vital part of your ministry.

GOAL #5: SPEND MORE TIME LISTENING. Research states we retain around 25% of what we hear, and in an average conversation we spend around 60% of our time listening. We take the skill of listening for granted, but may I suggest let’s get really good at listening 2019! Be interested in other people above yourself, don’t listen with the intent to reply – listen with the intent to understand. It will make all of the difference in your communication and how others perceive you as a leader in ministry.

GOAL #6: USE VIDEOS. According to statistics found on the www.Cadre31.com website videos on landing pages increase conversions by 87%. Not only that, 65% of audiences are visual learners and visual data is processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than by text. Let the reader understand: videos are a big help in effectively communicating your visionIf you have not created a high quality video that communicates your ministry vision I highly suggest you make one in 2019.

May your 2019 be a year filled with happy and relational support raising!

tenor

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.

listening-5c-20_34854966 (1)

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!

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.

imgres-1

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!

download

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.

Here I Am, Or There You Are?

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

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

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

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

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

there-you-are

How to Make an Effective Ask at an Event or Small Group: Combat the Bystander Effect

I was a psychology major in college. Loved it. I learned about the brain, personality, and counseling. It was all super intriguing stuff. In one of my classes I remember learning about the sociology principle of diffusion of responsibility. Maybe some of you know of it? It’s the principle that states that people are less likely to take action or responsibility in the presence of a large group of people. When referring specifically to responding to an individual in distress, it’s also known as the bystander effect.

Though it may not be helping an individual in distress, I think the principle of diffusion of responsibility comes into play in a huge way when asking for financial support. Think about it. Here’s a scenario:

You are sitting in a church service and a missionary comes to the platform to speak. You like what they have to say and are drawn by their level of passion and the tone of their voice. You pick up bits and pieces, but you are distracted by the need for more coffee or maybe your wiggly kid. At the end the missionary clearly shares that they are in need of monthly financial support and you look around the room at everyone else. You think simultaneously that you are looking forward to lunch and that you hope some of these good church folk give generously to the missionary speaking. You even consider giving yourself. Then, your wiggly kid spills your coffee on the floor and you don’t think about it again until your walking out the church door. You see the missionary is smiling at you as you walk past and you hurriedly tell the missionary “thanks for sharing, we enjoyed it!” and walk out the door. And scene.

Familiar? This is the principle of diffusion of responsibility. Totally. AKA this is why we ask for financial partnership one-on-one, face-to-face.

466020483

Take that scene and think about it – if you’re sitting in a large group of people you will be less likely to give if the person asking is not directly asking YOU. You’ll be sitting in the congregation, just like everyone else, thinking that there are plenty of others in the room that will likely give. And the problem is everyone in the room is thinking THE SAME THING. Thus a real problem occurs when speaking to a group of people – large or small.

As I pointed out, the absolute best way to ask someone to join your monthly financial partnership team is in person, and best done one-on-one. Right? Right. However, there may be times you are asked to speak to a small group or at some type of an event. And keeping that personal interaction and the principle of diffusion of responsibility in mind – what do you do? What if a friend offers to throw you a dinner party to raise funds? What if your church wants to host a fundraiser specifically for your assignment? What if a small group at your church wants you to come and speak?

What do you do if you want the personal connection that a face-to-face appointment offers, but you want to jump on the chance to interact with a small group or say yes to that event?

First off, even with the bystander effect in mind, sharing at a small group or event is a great way to garner contact information and connect with people you otherwise may not have the opportunity to interact with. And it’s always a bonus to make new connections and widen your contact base! So say yes when new connections can be made from sharing at a small group or doing an event! Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about how to make that group ask in the best way possible.

486880955

THE TWO MAIN OBJECTIVES WITH ANY SMALL GROUP / EVENT

With all small group / event opportunities you should have two main objectives:

  1. To make an clear, bold, ask – live at the event.
  2. To grab contact information from everyone at the event in order to follow up with face-to-face appointments where appropriate.

Let’s break both objectives down and talk about the how-to’s involved.

OBJECTIVE 1: THE LIVE ASK AT A SMALL GROUP OR EVENT

When sharing at a small group or event make a clear, bold ask. To make that ask the most effective possible, come super prepared. Chat with the leader of the group or pastor beforehand and make sure you know the details needed. This would be some of the following:

  1. How long will you be expected to speak?
  2. Dress code?
  3. What time does the event / small group start and end? Address / directions.
  4. What is the program for the event / small group?
  5. What do you need to bring?
  6. Is there any protocol the leader would like you to follow when asking?
  7. Any special instructions or things you need to know?
  8. Are you allowed to make a clear ask during the event?

When you arrive mingle with the group and introduce yourself to anyone you do not already know. This will help the bystander effect for many people. Have with you the needed pledge forms / giving information and any printed materials you typically take with you to an appointment.

cheer

When you share, fill in the WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE WHY of what you are doing. Make sure to talk about how you were called and take the opportunity to inspire those you are sharing with to follow their own callings. One of the most important questions you can answer to any group when sharing about your assignment is “why you”. Why you are going, why you are called, and why is this important to you.

When you make the ask – make it bold and clear and spell out what your needs are.  Do not assume they know. Don’t leave them to fill in the gaps.

OBJECTIVE 2: GRABBING CONTACT INFORMATION AND FACE-TO-FACE FOLLOW UPS

As I stated the downside to any small group or event is the diffusion of responsibility / bystander effect. What’s the best way to combat this problem when speaking to a group? Insert connect cards, the super hero of event asking! images

You can find out more about how to make your own connect cards in the link above. Essentially they are cards where individuals fill out their name, address, phone number, and check little boxes that apply to their level of interest – such as “interested in more information” “give me your newsletter!” “make me a prayer partner” and “I want to give!”

How do you use them? During your time speaking at a small group or event, hold up the connect cards while you are presenting and explain them. Something along the lines of “I would love if you took a moment right now – yes while I’m talking – and fill out this handy dandy card I’m holding up. It gives us a way to stay connected with you and share information on what is happening overseas. It also helps us if you’d like to join our prayer or financial partnership team. Please go ahead and fill it out and if you’d be so kind – find someone from your table to collect them and give them to me afterwards.”

imgres

Boom. Now you have shared clearly from the platform what you will be doing, why you are going, that you need financial support, AANNNND you also have contact information to call people after the event (preferably as soon as possible after the event – like 24 to 48 hours). When calling, thank them for attending the event/small group and find out if you could meet with them face-to-face to answer any questions and find out more about them. Engage each person based off of what they checked in the check boxes. This removes the bystander effect as you invite them relationally on your team. When meeting with your new friends take time to find out who they are and build relationship, and ask if they’d like to join your team.

So now that we have the basics of our main two objectives in asking groups and small groups, here are some special notes to keep in mind:

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT SMALL GROUPS

  1. Connect with the leader before hand and discuss some of the questions above – like how long you’ll be expected to share.
  2. Ask questions about the group to the group, people love talking about themselves – and groups like to share what makes them special.
  3. Bring donuts! Everyone loves donuts! imgres
  4. Find out how you can stay connected with the group at large. Ask them to adopt you as a group in prayer.
  5. Revisit that same group (if it still exists) when you come back from the field or into the area to strength relationships.
  6. Have each member of the group fill out a connect card, and explain the connect card while you are there.

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT EVENTS

  1. Prepare the program you will be following prior to the event and add elements that make it extra interesting and informative. Come up with attention grabbers and interesting stories of lives changed.
  2. Find ways to add value to those attending.
  3. Decorate! Make the event enjoyable and attractive.
  4. Have food, dessert, or coffee available.imgres-1
  5. Time your event to insure that the most amount of people can make it as possible.
  6. Share a video. If a few of your ministry team members are already serving, ask if they would create a video for you explaining what they are doing and how much they want you funded and on the field with them. If your ministry has a video that already exists, share it (keep videos pretty short though).
  7. Have a ministry co-worker, friend, or pastor speak on your behalf during the event. Consider having a pastor or well known figure make the ask for you to the crowd.
  8. Have pledge forms and connect cards on each table before guests arrive. Explain about the connect cards and pledge forms from the platform when speaking.
  9. Make your presentation appropriately professional, clear, vulnerable, and real.

Do you have any tips for sharing in small groups or events? Share them in the comments! I would love to hear them!