A deceased advertising exec helps me with support raising

This is a free bonus post about support raising, not really related to TntConnect.

I just stopped in to Staples (an office supply store in the U.S.), and honestly it was to use the restroom and not to buy office supplies.

As I left the restroom, I passed some of their office furniture, and on a desk was a stray book from their very tiny book rack. It was titled It’s Not How Good You are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, by Paul Arden—an advertising executive who passed away in 2008.

Curious, I picked it up to see if I could get the gist of it in 5 seconds before leaving the store. It was a small book with big page headings, wide margins, and a large font. Two minutes later I was sitting in one of the office chairs skimming the book. Ten minutes later I had skimmed about 75% of it. Then I purchased it and left the store with it.

Why is that?

Because I realized the book was about support raising.

My main takeaway—which I hope to gather more of when I can actually sit down and read it fully—is that my attitude is the #1 predictor of my forward motion. But I also got some other things from this rapid skimming:

  • The easiest way to get to a goal is to write it down in the first place and pursue it unswervingly
  • Failure is awesome and extremely helpful. The most successful people have failed a lot. It’s the people who play it safe who never seem to move forward much.
  • It’s a lot easier to talk to a client (e.g., potential ministry partner) in a language they understand… instead of trying to get them to understand my language.

And this isn’t the first book that struck me this way.

Outside of the support-raising “greats” (Funding Your Ministry and The God Ask), the greatest book I ever read on raising financial support was The 7 Deadly Diseases of Ministry Marketing by Doug Brendel. A book about fund-development for small (and large) ministries, I ‘found’ it in the lobby of a hotel at a conference on ministry operations that I was attending in February 1999.

This was not a book for any of my sessions, and another attendee must have either discarded it or forgotten it. Or so I thought when I picked it up and skimmed the chapter headings. But God had put it there for me, and it absolutely transformed how I both think and act about raising financial support for my ministry.

In November 2012 I read The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough. This deeply-researched history on the building of the Panama Canal contains, smack dab in the middle, several pages about an obscure Frenchman, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, who undertook to get the forsaken project sold to a leery American Congress. Thirty thousand people died while the French tried to build the Panama Canal before abandoning it 10% finished. The U.S. government was intent on building a canal, but in Nicaragua. How did he almost single-handedly change the mind of hundreds of key decision-makers? By employing the very same principles of building relationships that are so critical to raising personal support:

  • Believing unswervingly in our calling
  • Seeking referrals at every opportunity
  • Being generous with gifts to those who support our work
  • Thanking everyone who should be thanked, immediately

My point in sharing about these three books is that in each of these cases, these books had absolutely nothing to do with raising personal financial support. Yet amazingly, it is from unlikely sources like these I have found some of the most helpful principles that I apply in my support raising.

(The connection to TntConnect: TntConnect helps me put these principles into practice.)

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