Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Money Game
A good rule is you need at least two years of some type of support to give yourself a realistic chance. Sure, you can find some other job outside the industry to help support yourself, but chances are it won’t be enough. The fact is it’s never easy raising personal support. But trying to raise support to be a media missionary is perhaps the most difficult task imaginable. Whether you’ve been raising support like I have for over 20 years or you are just starting, it will always be challenging. If you are going to the foreign mission field, chances are there are organizations that will teach you and assist you in raising your support. Unfortunately, that’s not true for media missionaries.
Here at Media Missionary School, we have put together a list of ten guidelines to help get you started.
1. Support is a Biblical concept. There is no shame asking for money. You must settle it in your mind that you are not begging, but that you are a worthy investment. In fact, your donors are fulfilling God’s plan by giving to your ministry. And God will bless them for supporting what he has called you to do. The Bible teaches that a Kingdom worker is worthy of his support. Paul, in fact, stopped tent making to preach full time and received support from followers of the churches he founded.
2. Make a list. Most organizations that help in fundraising will always tell you to make a list of your family and friends. This is Fundraising 101. Who do you know? That includes your parent’s friends and the parents of your friends as well as those in your church. These are the people who know you and love you. In fact, they will probably provide the bulk of any support you receive. They are also a good source for potential leads because they can make a personal recommendation.
3. Cold calling. One of the most difficult concepts in fundraising is cold calling. What if you don’t have the personal contacts of family and friends. What then? A good place to start is to find out if there are any Christian business men and women in your community. This requires you to become a detective. Are there any business newspapers or publications in your area? Chances are they have published a list of private or family companies. Your potential donors could own a car dealership, grocery store or a manufacturing company.
Check out company websites for their mission statements. This can give you a good indication whether or not they are open to Christian causes. Do your homework. Find out everything you can about the company and who they support. You want to talk to the business owner if possible. Otherwise see if they have a community relations director. That’s probably the gatekeeper you will make first contact with that will help you in receiving possible financial support. Your best asset is your youth. Christian business people are more likely to help you because you are just starting out in life, and you are willing to dedicate yourself to God’s work. So use it to your advantage.
Other possible sources for support include private or family foundations. Usually you can find a list of foundations that operate in your areas on the web or at your local library. There are also local churches where you can apply for support to the mission’s board. But that’s a long and difficult process and may not be worth the effort.
4. Kill the giants. Fear of failure will derail any chance you have to raise your support. Just like the 12 Hebrew spies who went into the promised land, ten of them came back paralyzed with fear. Only two believe they could take the land. You have to believe that you can enter the land and take what God has given you. Don’t be scared when somebody says no. It is not a personal rejection of you or your ministry. Shake off the dust from your feet and move on. Your worst enemy is fear of what people might say to you. So kill the giants.
5. You only get one chance at a first impression. There’s never been a more true statement. Your first impression must be rock solid. Whether it’s through a letter, e-mail or phone call, have your game together. Know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Be clear and precise. Do you know your mission? Do you understand your purpose? What are you doing and how are you going to do it? When and where does your ministry take place? These are the things that you need to be on point and precise.
6. Try to get a face-to-face meeting. If there is a “holy grail of fundraising” for personal support, then it is the face-to-face meeting with a potential donor. It is so easy to say “no” over the phone or through an e-mail. Your mission is to avoid this. Sure, you have to make first contact. But your goal is to wet their appetite and get them interested. Don’t go for the “Ask”. Get a meeting. You’ll be surprised when you sit down with somebody eyeball-to-eyeball. Chances are you will walk out with a check. It requires more time and effort on your part, but the results are worth it.
7. Put it in Writing. Nothing will impress potential donors more than a well-written ministry plan. Never go to a meeting without one. It should contain your budget, how you are going to spend your time, and what type of results you expect. And, of course, no plan is complete without a well-written mission or purpose statement. So take some time, get your thoughts together, create a plan and put it on paper. It also helps to add graphics and design work to give it a polished finish.
8. Demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm. Nobody will support you or give you money if you are not passionate about your ministry. This has to come from the heart and, obviously, it must be sincere. Be enthusiastic that you have a plan for real change and you are going to make a difference. The key to passion is to have the right balance. Sometimes you can turn off donors if you have too much passion and enthusiasm. So find the right tempo.
9. Build relationships with your donors. It’s wonderful that they have decided to support you and that you have left their office with a check in hand. But this is only the beginning. Don’t expect them to continue to support you if they only hear from you when you need money. Your goal is to build a long-term relationship. In order to do that, you must stay in contact and let your donors know what you are doing and the results you are achieving. There are plenty of ways you can accomplish this—through e-mails, blogging, a website, newsletters and electronic newsletters. The point is stay in contact.
10. Stay positive. There are some stretches in raising personal support when nothing seems to be going right. No one will return your calls or answer your e-mails. Let me tell you by personal experience, it’s very easy to lose hope and convince yourself it’s not going to happen. You must stay positive and focus on the good things God is doing in your life and through your ministry. Often we don’t see what God is doing below the surface. Many times he is preparing the way and already creating opportunities that we have yet to see. Without question, raising personal support requires us to be patient and to wait for God to move. It can be a test of our obedience and willingness to trust God for our provision. Remember, it is not the donors who are providing your support. It is God. Your donors are only a vehicle that God uses to show his provision.