This blog post is an adapted version of a post this week by my friend Sus Schmitt who writes the blog eQuipping for eMinistry (e4e); she gave me permission to extract and apply her post to our TNT community. You can read her full post here.
Jesus taught by example that there are two different ways to relate to people:
- By investing in a core group of people. Jesus had a large circle of followers, a group of 70 He sent out, 12 disciples, and 3 in particular whom He really invested in. We know Jesus did not play favourites yet He invested in them to different degrees.
- The amount of the gift is not directly proportional to the value of the gift. The widow’s mite was greater in value than all of the wealthy donors’ gifts.
As we consider our partners, we have to grapple with these two seemingly conflicting concepts.
- We cannot invest equally in all of our partners all of the time. I cannot send the same thank you gift to all of my partners. Or I cannot financially justify a flight cost solely to visit a partner who only gives $10 per month.
- Yet I appreciate equally the partner who gives $10/month as much as the $200/month partner.
So when I talk about principles for prioritizing partners, recognize that I am not talking about the spiritual aspect but rather the practical aspect of effectively managing my time from a support raising perspective. It makes sense for me to invest proportionally more time in the partners who invest more proportionally to our support.
I first learned the principles of prioritizing partners by reading Scott Morton’s excellent book Funding Your Ministry. This goes hand-in-hand with the Annual Plan. (Read Sus’ previous blog post on this too: Seven Ideas for Planning Your Best Year Yet in MPD Communication.)
Sus divides her partners into three groups representing roughly 1/3 of the total giving. In a typical pyramid, the top 1/3 of giving comes from a much smaller number of partners than the middle and bottom thirds. Here is Sus’ example on reaching out to her three levels of partners. She labels her three groups simply as A (top-level), B, and C (bottom-level).
How to Use Your A & B Lists throughout the Year
Decide what you would like to do. Set up your preferred way to keep track of whether partners are A, B, or C, and set up your preferred way to remind yourself to do these tasks.
Try these ideas or something similar:
PHONING (We haven’t implemented this yet.)
- All in the A list… phone annually (for us, two per month)
- Plan to phone through the B list every two years (for us, two per month)
- Work through the C list
- All receive a greeting card with a personal note every year (e.g., an anniversary card)
- Our B list receives an additional greeting card annually (e.g., an anniversary card and Easter Card)
- Our A list receives 2 more greeting cards annually (e.g., an anniversary, Easter, and Thanksgiving card)
- All receive a Dayspring birthday greeting on Facebook when Facebook alerts me (see point 3 in Seven Ideas for Planning Your Best Year Yet in MPD Communication).
- All receive a Christmas card
In her blog, Sus explains this using another support raising software that does not have TntConnect’s built-in Pyramid Builder (called Campaign Builder).
I can easily divide my partners into three equal groups, equal in the sense of 1/3 of total giving. In the example below, our missionary has about $82,000 in annual giving from 110 donors.
Assuming this was my partner list (it is not), this would show me that the top third of giving to our ministry comes from 11 partners, who gave at least $1,950 in one of the last three years. My next 20 partners gave the second third, and 79 are the final third. I cannot fulfill my ministry without all three groups, but I also cannot invest equal time in all 110.
Putting this plan into action in TntConnect
My three levels constantly change throughout the year (because giving patterns change). But I want to “freeze” my plan to my partners today. So I can convert today’s displayed pyramid to Saved Groups.
I start by pressing the Build Campaign button in the Campaign Builder. This starts a campaign that I will name 2018 Action Plan.
Turns my Campaign into Saved Groups:
Now I am able to work on my plan of action for each level.
- My blog post on the Campaign Builder
- Sus’ Schmitt’s blog post on How to Divide Your Partners by Priority
- Sus’ Schmitt’s blog post on Seven Ideas for Planning Your Best Year Yet in MPD Communication