Fundraising. Ugh. At least that’s how I used to think of fundraising, before I thought about it as “Gospel-partner raising.”
1) The first thing you must know about fundraising as a church planter is you must read this book: “Funding Your Ministry,” by Scot Morten.
Before I started to raise support, someone who had lived on financial support to do ministry full-time told me this: “Read this book, and do EVERYTHING it says (he emphasized “everything”). And in 3-6 months, you’ll be fully funded.” That was enough of a pitch for me. I recognize that the book is not the latest to hit the market. In fact, there might be better books than this out there, but after a pitch like that, how could I say no? I only needed to raise partial support. I read the book, didn’t do everything it said, and raised the amount I needed in 3-6 months.
2) Put the shoe on the other foot (and quit complaining, “I don’t like asking people for money.”)
You’re NOT asking people for money. You’re asking people if their heart gets excited about the ministry you’re a part of, and if they’d like a piece of the pie. You’re asking people if they’d like to PARTNER WITH YOU in Gospel ministry. And if you don’t ask people to partner with you in Gospel ministry, you’re robbing people of the blessing of giving towards the building of God’s kingdom. So quit robbing people, quit your complaining, tell people about the dream God has put in your heart and the ministry their financial support will free you to do, and then ask them to partner in the Gospel with you, with a financial commitment.
Putting the shoe on the other foot has helped me tremendously with this one: if I had a friend, doing some stellar Kingdom of God stuff, and they had a financial need, I would want them to ask me. I want to come alongside them and help them do the work God has for them to do. If I have a student from our church doing mission work over the summer, I want to be asked to support them financially. If I have a friend church-planting, I want to be asked to partner with them. And so when I approach people, I remember that I would want to be asked, and I’m assuming they too want to be asked. People, like you, are waiting to be asked to partner in Gospel ministry.
3) “It’s all in the approach.”
My friend John said this quote on the regular for about three years of his life. But John is right, it IS all in the approach. If you want to build your financial support team with Gospel partners, you need to know three things right away*:
1. If you write a letter asking for support, 10% of those folks will respond in the affirmative.
2. If you have a phone conversation, 25% of those folks will respond in the affirmative.
3. If you have a face to face conversation, 50% of those folks will respond in the affirmative.
*from Funding Your Ministry by Scot Morton
Get face to face. Do everything you can to get face to face.
It’s all in the approach, and here is how I usually approach the situation: I make a phone call. In my phone call I start with a little bit of small talk but quickly move to the purpose of my call. I tell them I’d like to set up a time, face to face, to meet and share with them about Robyn and I’s ministry with Jacob’s Well in Minneapolis, and then to ask if they’d consider coming on board our financial support team. I ask if they’d be willing to meet. Then we schedule a meeting.
There. The cat is already out of the bag. They know the purpose of our get together. There’s no bait and switch, or awkward transition, or “Oh, by the way, will you consider financial partnership with us?”. They already know the question is coming when you get together, face to face. They already know the purpose of the meeting: to hear about your ministry, and then to decide whether it’s something they’d like to get behind and become Gospel-partners in.
There’s a lot more to fundraising than that, but that gets us started. I’d also recommend talking with someone who fundraises for ministry themselves.
A short recap:
1. Read the book
2. Quit complaining and put the shoe on the other foot
3. Get face to face.
Do these things for the sake of the Gospel; for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom!
BY NATE RAY – PASTOR OF JACOB’S WELL IN MINNEAPOLIS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA – http://www.jacobswellmn.com/