Home > Fundraising, Ministry, Relationships > Raising Financial Support for a Living: Support Preservation

Raising Financial Support for a Living: Support Preservation

Okie doke, this is the final post on Raising Support unless there are specific requests. So, in this post I intend on addressing how to Cultivate your Support Team. To cultivate means “to promote or improve the growth of by labor or attention” (dictionary.com).

To labor or give attention to requires a level of commitment from you. Here are 6 commitments that I recommend you be steadfast in. (Notice the present-progressive tense of each.)…

  1. Praying – ask them for prayer requests
  2. Informing – keep them updated
  3. Thanking – communicate gratefulness
  4. Investing – helping them ($) on a mission trip
  5. Relating –  get to know them!
  6. Gift-Giving -give them thoughtful gifts (i.e foreign tea, magnet, card, etc.)

SupportER raising never ends. So, I recommend that once you reach 100% you continue to devote an avg of 2 hours/week to supporters. This time may include writing a newsletter, skyping, sending texts, praying, purchasing a small holiday gift, writing thank-you cards,  etc. Unfortunately, this is one of the first responsibilities dropped from a supporter raiser’s priority list. And that’s why 66/100 supporters don’t feel cared about and quit giving.

Now, that I have established commitments I want to expand ways to INFORM. I’m expanding on this one, because it tends to involve every other commitment. Plus, it is the one that most people have questions on. Also, your supporter’s vision and spiritual health is greatly affected by the quality of your involvement with them. So, here are some ways to inform your team…

5 Ways to Inform:

1) Newsletters:

  •  Send out 4-6 per year
  • Pick 4 months out of this year to send them out.
  • Send emails in between newsletters.
  • Send newsletters even if you only do short-term or occasional mission trips, so that supporters can see the fruit of their investment in daily life. My home church advised that I do this after I raised support twice for a summer project. Even though I was a full-time student, they considered me their missionary and thus wanted to hear from me while I was away at college. I should have been more diligent with this.

How-to?

  • It should read like a front page, not a novel.
  • Via snail mail, Mail Chimp, and consider this website to save on overseas shipping.
  • To create one use: Word, Pages (Mac), or download Newsletter Templates.
  • Include: titles, schedules, #s, color ink, quotes, contact info, pictures, readable font size & color, fun facts, upcoming events, personal things God has been teaching you, ups & downs. (Not every newsletter needs all of this, but keep these in mind.)

2) Emails:

  • Minimum, 1/month ( I had a supporter ask that I send out weekly emails.)
  • These should start even before you are done raising full support.

How-to?

  • Use Subject line appropriately & creatively.
  • Avoid long attachments or lengthy paragraphs.
  • Proofread.
  • Short bullet points & pictures
  • Respond Promptly!
  • Don’t assume privacy.
  • Remember, less is more. – Make sure they can see the end of your email in their email inbox.

3) Phone calls:

  • Avg 1/year for each supporter.
  • Make a goal to call 1 supporter each weekend or 1 day a month to call multiple supporters.
  • Just enjoy them. Get to know them.

How-to?

  • Sunday afternoons are a good time.
  • Voice-mails can leave an impact, too.
  • Ask about families, jobs, and overall well-being.

4) Visits:

  • Minimum, every 2-3 years
  • Make the most of “off the field” times.
  • Supporters know that you’re busy, but many want to see you while you’re home.
  • Give an outline in your Newsletter of what cities you will be in and when before coming home from furlough.

How-to?

  • Bring a gift of appreciation.
  • Visits at home really communicate partnership to a supporter.
  • Set up a visit 1-2 weeks before you intend on getting together.

5) Gatherings:

  • Every 1-3 years
  • These include: Cookouts, Going Away Parties, your wedding, baby showers, birthday dinners, etc.
  • It is a great way to informally connect with many people on your team.

How-to?

  • Have a supporter host a dessert/coffee get-together in their home for a group of supporters.
  • Think for room set up, invitations, food, planning, etc.
  • Have plenty of informal catch-up time, but a consider having a small slice of formal time to communicate something collectively to your supporters (i.e picture slideshow, DVD of ministry, or answer questions).
  • Have an informative table w/ pictures, newsletters, business cards, support info, etc.

Social Media

Technology makes updating ridiculously convenient. Discover the top ways your supporters want to be updated. Use some, but not all of these options. Also, keep in mind that you may have a handful of supporters who do not own a computer or prefer a letter. Keep track of how often you are sending them updates via snail mail & thank you cards.

  1. Social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  2. Blogging/Twitter: Plan to update a blog bi-weekly. We use a video blog that combines YouTube & blogging along with our Twitter feed on the sidebar.
  3. Video: Vimeo Video, YouTube, etc.
  4. Email: Mail Chimp, Gmail
  5. Other: Text messaging,  Whatsapp (for international texting), Google Docs, Skype, FaceTime.

Giving Accountability

Raising support puts the support raiser in a sometimes awkward position. Finances are typically an area that is very private and thus a place many Christians are not being held accountable in. The nature of your job causes you to both be held accountable to your commitments and to hold them accountable to their financial commitments. So, I wanted to briefly address how to handle a situation where the supporter has not been giving as they have promised.

  1. Evaluate whether or not you have been faithful with your commitments to them. Does this person feel involved/cared for? I know of someone named “Melissa” who had been given a letter for support money from a relative who is a missionary. Melissa’s husband had recently passed away and she had not heard a word from the missionary about it. Melissa was so offended and hurt that she would remember to ask for money, but not remember to be with her in her mourning. I understand how it is hard to be faithful to so many people. But, I don’t blame Melissa for feeling this way either.
  2. If a month goes by and the supporter hasn’t given any or has given less than the promised amount I would just make a mental note of it.
  3. If a second month goes by, I would call him or her and genuinely ask how they are doing, remind them of their commitment, and ask if there is a way I can help them in meeting their goal. Also, I’d remind them of the importance of their giving and ask them to try and make up for the month(s) that they missed.
  4. Avoid having money-talks via text or email.

Remember, people want to give. Sometimes you will have to take a not-so-comfortable step to help them do this.

In conclusion, remember that you are called to cultivate your team. This requires diligence and work. However, I think you will find it incredibly enjoyable and rewarding, too! It is easier to keep a supporter than to get a new one!

~~~Which communication method is your strength? Which is your weakness? What needs to change in how you communicate and connect with your supporters?~~~

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