Summer Time is Support Time

Ludvig (not his real name) was on a full-time support trip with his wife, Ethel, and their one-year-old child. They had been given 8 weeks to focus on support raising. Their goal was $1000 in new monthly support, which was just a portion of the $2300 they needed to raise to be at “full support” for their now larger family.

They were acquaintances of mine, though we did not work closely together (i.e., we were not on the same team). Three weeks into their trip, I was in Central America on a ministry trip and felt a sudden prompting of the Holy Spirit just to email him and ask him how it was going.

He told me that in the first three weeks they had raised $50.

My heart sank. I asked him, “Who is your support coach?”

“We don’t have one.”

“Would you like one?”

“Yes.”

“I will coach you, but you have to do exactly as I ask.” (I do not normally do support coaching.)

“Agreed.”

Over the next couple of days I spent 2-3 hours on the phone with him, talking about their travel plans for the upcoming weeks, as well as how many people they intended to visit, etc.

The first thing I discovered was that they were not challenging any of their partners to increase. They were very fortunate that almost all of their partners were clustered in a three-state area. They planned to visit more than 50-75 current donors, but were not challenging any of them! “We have not seen them for several years. It feels awkward to ask for increases. So I just want to connect. Maybe get some new names.”

We talked through that, after which I asked him one question: “Is the purpose of this trip to raise new support, or to ‘connect’ with existing partners?”

After a pause: “Raise new support.” I then told him he needed to prioritize:

  • IF his purpose was new support, THEN he needed to do ONLY those activities that were consistent with that goal.
  • I reminded him he was already continually “connecting” with them through their newsletter, thank yous, etc.
  • I told him he needed to challenge both financially and for referrals in every appointment.
  • I also told him, humorously but frankly, that having a 1-year-old in tow was the very best resource he had: “If there was ever a compelling reason to ask for additional support, that is it!”

He owned his goal and the steps; he did not do it because I asked him to, but because I was helping him reach his goal. Not every partner increased and not every partner gave names. But most did.

After the remaining 5 weeks, he told me they had raised over $1000 new monthly, and had extended their trip another 3-5 weeks because they had so many new names to follow-up on and they were experiencing continued success. In the end, they saw God provide more than $1300 in new monthly commitments, and maintaining the same focus part-time over the following year saw the remaining $1000 come in.

To manage this and work with him, I also required him to use TntConnect to log everything: every phone call, text message, appointment, etc…. then send me the weekly “Coaches Report” found on the Analysis View.

Action Point: I share this story not to burden you, but to encourage you to try some things with your support raising:

  1. Just Ask. If you have not challenged your supporters to increase their giving lately, just ask. Make it a goal to challenge 90% of your partners to increase. But please, please, do NOT do it through a form letter. Face-to-face appointment, by handwritten letter, or by phone.
  2. Focus. If you need to raise support, don’t do any other support raising activity. Every activity you do should be focused on that one thing. Defer other important things (such as making a brochure, reshuffling names in a spreadsheet, making cookies) to later.
  3. Use TntConnect to help you build and manage an increase strategy. Use the new Campaign Builder I referenced two weeks ago to help you quickly identify your four tiers of contacts, so you can develop a fund-raising strategy specific for each tier. Or use the new Exclusive Saved Groups to move your existing contacts through a structured increase strategy of namestorming, ask for appointments, challenge, call for response, etc.
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