Week 8? yes, there is a series of posts. If you are stuck on the subway, or in a waiting area, or perhaps the lovely airport terminal, you can read the rest of them here. If you are just up late breaking between Netflix episodes, get off your phone/tablet and go to sleep. Tomorrow you is going to be pissed at tonight you for zapping all his/her energy with your late night online meandering.
In this post I want to pull a series of learnings together on Fund Raising that I’ve collected over the past year. Just 11 months ago I began the Summit Network Church Planter’s Residency (which is another post coming but dude if you are thinking about planting plug yourself into a strong sending culture or be frustrated.)
I would thread these all together like an article but you really just want the bullets. That’s what blogs are for. So here are ____ (I’ll try and remember at the end of the article to put the # in) lessons in fund raising for church planters (btw, I honestly enjoyed fundraising. And I dreaded it going in. I didn’t like the travel, but I loved my time with the people God put me in front of):
- It’s not fund-raising, its trust raising. That is a quote from an entrepreneur friend who was kind enough to give me an hour of his time last September. “Money will follow trust. Trust is what you have to build with any potential supporter.” SO. TRUE. Trust, in this arena, is the result of someone being convinced of your character, your competency, and your vision. When they buy in on those 3 things, they will be more than just donors, they will be advocates! This was exhilarating for me. I stopped worrying about $ and focused on relationship building. The result were several good new friendships, some hilarious interactions, and an ever deepening conviction in my soul about the vision of Mercy Church.
- You’ve Got 3 Minutes. Ok, probably my favorite meeting was with a pastor of a church 4 hours away from Raleigh. Basically, I spent a whole day driving for one meeting. And I think it was my favorite fundraising meeting with a church. The lead pastor has a long track record of being a generous, strong leader who has helped many churches get up and running. I walked in the room and after a brief intro said “ok talk to me.” So, I shot him straight & clear about what we were doing. No BS, no fluff. For 3 whole Minutes. Then he peppered me with questions. Like some kind of American Ninja Warrior Challenge for Pastors. I guess I passed. He looked at me and said “Ok, we will be in and here’s what that will look like…” I was out of there in under 20 minutes. Listen, if you are talking to the right people, they will see right through any BS. Leave it at the door. Breathe your vision, know your research & budget, and be flexible with your strategy. Glossy brochures are nice, but you should not look at it once. You will get tips and you need to remember you don’t know everything rookie. If you can’t give a compelling vision in 3 minutes, you aren’t doing it right. Work on it. Share it with honest friends ad nauseam. Because you only have 3 minutes!
- “10% of the way to my goal!” is. not. inspiring. You know those kickstarter campaigns where the person says “I’m only $995 away from my goal of $1k!” You and I are both thinking…”You only put in $5? is that how much you believe in your own vision? and nobody else is on board?” This goes back to point 1. If you are only 10% of the way to your goal when you sit down to talk with me, I’m wondering why. Your potential investor is thinking either your vision isn’t compelling, or you don’t have the skill set needed to carry it out. So they are unlikely to trust you. And that’s smart on their part. My entrepreneur friend Chris gets all the credit for showing me this one too. Break your goal down into parts with timelines. I began with a 3 year lump sum need. And he helped me break that down into what I needed in the next 3 months. all the sudden 10% became 50%, and abstract long-term goals became concrete present ministry needs. I’m not saying to do gymnastics with your numbers, I’m saying like any BIG goal, find some milestones you need to hit and invite your supporters in on them.
- Learn from the best. I’m a fan of the christian support raising training programs that are built into most para-church organizations like Campus Outreach & Cru, etc. BUT, the most talented fund-raisers are the men and women who’ve made a living doing it in the for-profit arena. Find someone who has started a business, or who works in the start-up space, or man even just watch the show SHARK TANK if nothing else. 2 things will happen: they will unveil a totally different thought process that has lots of good cross-over to your goals. AND your big bad goal will not seem at all intimidating to them. Who do you know in the private sector? Ask them if you could run your vision by and get help crafting it in a way they would craft it for an exec level board meeting. I promise it will be worth it.
Ok I’m stopping. You need to get some rest. I need to write a sermon or do something else church planters do.