I'm demotivated. I guess I have fundraising fatigue. How do I get back into the groove of fundraising?

Not a simple answer here, but rather two more questions and a tip:

  1. Can you identify what is specifically demotivating you? Usually, "fundraising in general" is not the problem. It is often phoning for appointments, searching for names or making an ask. Identify what demotivates you and "Cast your burden on the Lord" (1 Peter 5:7).
  2. Secondly, are you alone in funding? On Your Own Fundraising (OYOFR) is difficult even on good days! What fellow gospel-worker can you invite to partner with you? I recently heard of two mission-workers who watch each other on muted Skype while they make their phone calls. "Two are better than one..." (Ecclesiastes 4:12). 

TIP:

Set 60-90 minute time limit. For example, I say, "This morning I will spend 90 minutes getting my Top 25 Worksheet in order—no more than 90 minutes!" Or, "Tonight I will spend 60 minutes phoning. And then I am stopping!" Interestingly, I usually exceed my self-imposed time limit because God's Spirit energizes me—good things start to happen! I actually enjoy it.

Taking little steps of faithful obedience puts joy back into what feels like a dreary task. Try 60-minutes—no more! I dare you!

DOWNLOAD THE TOP 25 WORKSHEET

How much time should I schedule for fundraising?

I hesitate to answer this question because there is no one right answer. But I've found this "no-answer" reply doesn't help. At the risk of legalism, here are some guidelines. Where do you fit in?

Ministry Status___________% of budget raised________ Time allotted for MPD

Rookie, just beginning........................0.........................................80-100% of time

Short 1-2 year assignment.................0-50%...............................80-100% of time

In first 2-3 years of ministry.............25-60%.............................80-100% of time

In 4-6th year of ministry...................60-80%..............................80-100% of time

Whenever in ministry.........................80-100%.............................25% of time

Whenever in ministry........................100-110%.............................10% of time

Staff Leader (added projects).......100-110%..............................20% of time

National Director.................................... -- ......................................30-40% of time

Until you reach 100% of your funding goal, most of your ministry time should be spent in fundraising.

80-100% of your time in funding! Some ministry workers struggle to focus exclusively on one thing for 40 hours a week. If so, work a few hours at other aspects of your ministry or at your secular job so you are energized to throw yourself into funding for the bulk of the week. 

Somehow, we have allowed the notion that it is okay to be casual about full-funding, even if it takes years. Some missionaries in the US have never been fully funded--ever! 

Many organizations have full-funding policies but do not enforce them. So their staff languish at 60-85% year after year, not realizing the negative effects both on them and the people in their ministries. For example:

  • Pressure in the home. Wives instinctively feel the financial pinch before their visionary husbands (usually). If Momma ain't happy...
  • Fewer ministry options. Staff workers downsize a weekend retreat because of money concerns. Or they postpone sending a newsletter. Or they decide to stay home from a staff meeting.
  • Think about money all the time. When missionaries are behind in funding, their mind drifts toward finances when they are at rest. But it is not restful! Admit it! What are you thinking about when you are broke? 
  • No savings. Many missionaries "get by" at 85%, but they do not save at that level. And sooner or later, the car will need tires. Or when it's time for a much needed vacation, where will the money come from?

How much time should you set aside for fundraising? 100% until you are fully funded with the money "in the house!" 

Should I give an opportunity to give in every letter?

No. Though some ministries stick a courtesy pledge card in every newsletter it might be counter-productive.  The donor already receives an official receipt (I hope!) and that receipt package has a turnaround form for future giving (I hope!).  If your organization does not provide that service then you will need to insert a receipt and turnaround document for the next gift yourself.

For most cultures I recommend you only make an appeal for your general budget once a year and once more for a special project (if you have one) such as a trip to another country or hiring a new staff, etc.  In your regular quarterly or bi-monthly newsletters say thanks only and nothing else about funding.

Should every request for funding via email be followed up with a phone call?

If you are referring to a mass cash appeal mailing to 100-1000, then phoning everyone is too daunting. If you anticipate making 100-1000 phone calls to follow up on your letter, you won't send the letter!

But phoning to follow up individual letters asking for support—"YES!"

Thoughts on letter follow-up phone calls:

  1. To maximize the work you already put into your mass appeal letter, phone 5-15 readers and say you are "following up on the letter I sent." Though the reader may not remember your letter, don't be discouraged! Re-describe the cash project and ask if they will prayerfully consider the gift. Possibly 50% will give!
  2. I find a "letter-phone combination results in the 80% yes-rate. I do it this way: 
    • Phone to ask if I can send a "5-pound-letter" with a ton of stuff about my ministry and an invitation for support. Most will say "yes, send it" if they have been on your mailing list.
    • I send the "5-pound-letter" with the personal appeal personally signed. The letter package includes a pledge card, return envelope, ministry literature and my photo.
    • After a week I phone: "Did you get my 5-pound-package?" (Humor.) I take my time to ask about my appeal, and we talk for 20-30 minutes.
  3. If you seek monthly support, then a letter alone is usually dead in the water. Follow up phone calls are essential to get a yes for monthly.
  4. Phoning is time-consuming and frustrating because people don't "pick-up." Use social media to find out when to call. But phoning is worth it because it enables your partners to hear your voice and feel your passion.
  5. Take notes as you talk, and it is usually appropriate to ask if you could pray for them before you say good-bye. And don't say "Bye-bye!" That is how babies talk!

 

I can’t imagine fundraising the rest of my life? How do I handle that oppressive thought?

Easy.  Stop trying to imagine doing it the rest of your life!  I’ve been doing it 40 years and I can’t imagine doing it the rest of my life either!  God doesn’t give grace in advance of when you need it.  Hebrews 4:16 says He gives “grace to help in time of need.”  You don’t need it yet!

But He will give you grace to get on the phone tonight to make a few calls!

Also, you may not be called to being supported by donor gift income for life.  Called “for now” is okay.  One day at a time.