An Urgent Campaign Idea

And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

Matthew 20:30-33


QUESTION: When you present a financial need to your partnership team, do you ask for a specific amount or do you just share—or maybe even just hint—at the need and hope they catch it and give generously?


If Jesus, both omniscient and loving, knew what the blind men wanted (to gain sight), why did he ask them what they wanted?

I have learned the importance of asking specifically when presenting financial needs.

We are unexpectedly in need of a new vehicle for our family, and want to present a special giving opportunity to our partners. Because I have both a fairly large amount I am trying to raise (over $10,000) and my need is urgent (this month), I quickly prepared a Campaign to present this need to our partnership team.

I realized this was the perfect opportunity for me to use the Campaign Builder for the first time! (I have written about this many times, and taught in in classes, but this is the first time I have been able to use it for my own campaigns.)

The Campaign Builder in TNT allows me to automatically categorize a list of contacts into four specific levels based on giving history. (My list of contacts that I used was “My normal monthly newsletter list minus about 10% who I either never send appeals to, those who recently gave a special gift, and those who have reduced their monthly giving in the past year.”)

The top-level group is the highest third of giving, then the second and final third. The fourth level has no giving history so they cannot be financially categorized (but I will challenge them anyway). Statistically, this will create a pyramid because my top-third of givers is a smaller number of partners than the bottom third. (In fact, while the feature is called a “Campaign Builder”, in fund development we call it the Partner Pyramid.)

2018-03-21-Campaign_Pyramid

The Campaign Builder in TNT looks like this, with each level being a different colour; notice to the right of each level is the # of contacts that make up that group:

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[ This sample Campaign Builder is created using my TntConnect training database. These numbers do not reflect my current team, nor the current capacity for our own partners. ]
I pressed the “Build Campaign” button (not shown above) and TNT automatically (a) created the Campaign in my list of campaigns and (b) Created a set of Saved Groups for the campaign itself, with a sub-group for each level. The sub-groups were exclusive, meaning that any contact can only be in one sub-group.

I will not go into further details as I could write an entire book on the subject of assorted features related to Campaigns, Promises, and Allocations. But for this blog post, let me say these things:

  1. I really, honestly, used the Campaign Builder for this specific fund appeal. I’m not just giving a hypothetical example.
  2. After I launched the Campaign Builder, I was able to manually move some contacts up or down into different levels just for this appeal.
  3. After I built the campaign and had the contacts assigned to each of the four levels, I planned my fund appeal strategy for each level separately. (That is the entire idea of a Partner Pyramid: You approach each level with a different challenge).
  4. For my Top-level partners, I am going to call them personally and challenge them.
  5. For my Mid-level partners, I am challenging them for a specific amount based on their past giving. These are tiered from $150 up to about $300.
  6. For my Entry-level partners, I am challenging them for a range based on their giving. These vary from “$25 to $50” to “$100 to $150”.
  7. For my Prospects, I am challenging them for a modest suggested range ($50 or $100). If any of these give, it may the first gift they have ever given to our personal ministry.

In my next blog post I will share how I came up with the ranges to challenge for, based on each partner’s giving history and our total need.

 

 

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Prioritizing Your Partners

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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

GREETING CARDS (Read more ideas for sending holiday cards. I order in bulk from Current Catalog.)

  • 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.

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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.

 

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Turns my Campaign into Saved Groups:

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Now I am able to work on my plan of action for each level.

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It’s that time: Year-End Campaigns

The end of November is the time when many missionaries send special gift appeals letters to their partners, giving them an opportunity to send a special gift. For some missionaries this is because they have a genuine need for additional funds. But for many missionaries, it is because their partners are seeking opportunities to give during the Christmas season.

This year, the “Appeal Tracking” feature in TntConnect was renamed as “Campaign Tracking” to reflect the expanded tools that TntConnect was offering. There is so much more to a campaign than just an appeal. I won’t go into that here, though. For this post, the principle is the same: It is year end, and for many people that is time to send a letter to their partners about a year-end giving opportunity.

TntConnect is incredibly helpful in preparing year-end special gift appeals. TntConnect can help you do these things:

  • Select the group of contacts to send the appeal letter to
  • Prepare the mail merge for the letter and the envelope
  • Record the sending of the letter to the selected group
  • Record the individual gifts given in response to the appeal, separate from the partners’ regular giving.

I personally think TntConnect’s powerful “Special Gift Appeal Tracking” feature is the #1 most “under-used” feature in TntConnect. You can read more about it in this step-by-step guide. (Note: This step-by-step guide was created in a previous version of TNT, so it still uses the words “Appeals” and “Appeal Tracking”, but you can figure that out.)