Are You Enjoying God?


 

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MINISTRY VENTURES

Since Ministry Ventures was born 20 years ago, one of the constant messages we shared with ministry leaders is that “we are better than me.” We believe that close collaboration and walking with locked arms alongside organizations serving in similar spaces isn’t just good ministry, it’s also good business.

Over the last year we have realized that Ministry Ventures’ mission and the mission of Mission Increase are in very close alignment. As leaders we have always challenged ourselves to put into practice what we have preached to ministries.

Simply put, we’ve realized that we can have a greater kingdom impact together than we ever could separately. Therefore, it is with great pride and excitement that we are announcing the merger of Ministry Ventures with Mission Increase.

As of July 1, the Ministry Ventures content and several of their coaches will be merging with Mission Increase. Current locations that Mission Increase serves will continue to be served using both organization’s content, along with 3 new regions that Mission Increase will acquire where Ministry Ventures has had a strong presence - Atlanta, GA; Greenville, SC and the Denver/Colorado Springs area.

We invite you to watch this short video from Boyd Bailey, founder of Ministry Ventures endorsing the merger:

We look forward to keeping a relationship with you under the Mission Increase umbrella. Look for webinar opportunities and trainings in your inbox soon.

Finally, here is a short paragraph from Dan Davis, President of Mission Increase:

“Twenty years ago, on opposite sides of the country, the Lord was stirring in a few people’s hearts. The stirring was simple. The stirring was the same. How do we help Christian ministries grow, through biblically based fundraising and leadership training? Over the years Mission Increase (Portland, OR) has been a fan of the work of Ministry Ventures (Atlanta, GA) in the Christian non-profit space. We believe the Lord called us both to this work and that now we will be better together as we join forces. We look forward to seeing how the Lord expands our footprint from coast to coast. In the coming months there will be more information about the merger and our plans moving into 2020. In the meantime, if you are interested in finding out more about Mission Increase, please feel free click here for some short videos, including some ministry leader testimonials.”

Thank you for being part of the Ministry Ventures Community. We are thrilled about this new season and look forward to sharing more soon!

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org


7 Ways To Tell & Ask In Fundraising

Everyone that leads a ministry or runs a nonprofit has grappled with the tough task of fundraising. Asking donors for financial support, asking volunteers for their time and energy and asking key investors to partner with you consistently becomes a way of life.

Which of these 3 classical funding philosophies describes your current fundraising perspective? 

  1. George Mueller: “Don’t Tell and Don’t Ask”
  2. Hudson Taylor: “Tell and yet Don’t Ask”
  3. Dwight L. Moody: “Tell and Ask”

While there may be a time and place for each of these perspectives, in most situations I tend to agree with Author Scott Morton who said, “Money doesn’t always follow ministry. I’ve found that money follows asking.” 

One leader recently sent a testimonial about her first time trying the "tell and ask" approach...

"I decided to try out the tell and ask method which is not my typical style.  I made one phone call to a donor who introduced me to multiple friends who could all make significant donations.  He gave me advice for how to approach the friends and committed to the first 20k that we need to complete an 80k project if I can bring the friends on board to match his donation.  It is the largest donation we have been given to date.  It also has the potential to complete a housing project that we have worked on for many months. Thank you for helping me get out of the “grasshopper” mentality and ask bigger.  It is so true that we have not because we ask not."

If you freeze up making "the ask", here are 7 tips from Jon Bennett that will help...

#1 – Care more about the person than the gift.

People who have a lot of money are used to being hit up for all sorts of needs and causes. They are used to being treated like an ATM.

So don’t do it! Don’t build relationships with people just to put yourself in a position to get something, even if it’s for a good cause. Treat people the way you want to be treated, and that means caring about the person as a human being not just a potential donor.

#2 – Invest in the relationship before you ask.

By the time you ask someone to make a significant contribution, they should already understand what you do and why it matters. They should already be interested in your ministry and should already be involved at some level. The big contribution should not be their first contribution.

If the first thing you ask for is a significant contribution, you’ve missed the boat.

#3 – Understand it’s a process not a presentation.

You can probably tell by now, there’s a relational theme here. But asking for a significant contribution is more of a process than a presentation. Bring someone along and helping them develop an affinity with your cause is absolutely key to asking for anything.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: Make seven personal touches for every ask. Remember, cultivation is more important than solicitation.

#4 – Do your homework.

When you do sit down for coffee with a potential donor, you should be ready for the conversation. Sure, this means you know your ministry and the opportunity inside and out (the Ministry Overview is a great tool for this).   But you also need to do your homework on the person:

  • What do they really care about?
  • What causes do they already support?
  • How do they spend their time?
  • What kind of things do they like?
  • Where are they already involved?

Prepare for the meeting – not just by knowing your needs but by knowing the other person. A lot of this information should come out naturally as you’ve built a relationship, but do your homework.

#5 – Talk about benefits not just needs.

Most ministries and non-profits get this backwards, and that’s understandable. Of course you’re excited about the ministry. Of course you’re excited about the opportunity. You are highly committed to your cause and you believe in what you’re doing.

So when you go into these meetings, it’s easy to lead with the opportunity and talk all about the ministry. But this is a mistake.

Make it about the donor, not your organization. Talk about what can happen in the life of the donor, not simply what you’re going to do with the money. Make it about benefits to the person, not the needs of the organization.

Why should this person give? What’s in it for them? If you can’t answer those questions, you’re not ready to have the conversation.

#6 – Don’t be afraid to ask.

The biggest obstacle to fundraising isn’t the economy or the abundance of opportunity. It’s often fear.

There will come a time in the life of every ministry leader when you have to make a bold ask. And in these moments, it’s time to go for it. Don’t let fear cripple you. Don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from having the conversation.

It may feel awkward, but do it anyway. Very few people will give without being asked, so own it.

#7 – Be ready to follow up and follow through.

If you hear a “yes,” great! It’s time to follow up. Make sure you say thanks, provide instructions, and keep building the relationship.

But “no” also means it’s time to follow up. Say thanks. Keep sharing stories. Keep building the relationship. Remember, it was about the person not the donation.

Follow up work is some of the most important work in fundraising, so don’t skip this step.

 


Action Steps

Are you cultivating relationships with potential donors? Who are two or three people you need to reach out to this week?

Emily Fitchpatrick

Director of Client Services

emily@ministryventures.org


When The Giver Receives

“Mary picked up a jar of extremely costly perfume and she anointed Jesus’ feet.” John 12:3

Most of us do well with caring for others yet sometimes proudly put their needs ahead of our own, denying what our soul truly longs for.   We become imbalanced, thinking our giving is the only way to achieve good in the world.

What would your life look like if you learned to receive better?

Jesus is about to embark upon his final journey to Jerusalem, his final act of giving here on this earth.  He is going to the cross and Mary senses it.  We underestimate what her thoughtfulness, her care means to Jesus, as she lavishly pours expensive perfume over his body.  Her acknowledgement of who Jesus is and what He is about to step into offers Him comfort and strength.

And Jesus receives it fully.  The Greatest Giver of all allowed extravagant love to be poured over Him. 

Mary views Jesus’ life as sacred, understanding the ways of God at a deeper level than others at the dinner table that night.   Some argued this extravagance should not be wasted on this Helper. Yet Jesus allows Himself to feel comfort, intimacy and affection.  Her act is a confirmation to Jesus that He is walking in the Father’s timing.  “She has saved it for the time of my burial.”  John 12:7

Givers, we sadly miss out if we fail to follow Jesus’ example here and refuse to receive when others see our life as sacred.  Maybe it is because we don’t view our lives as sacred. Refusing help, intimacy and generosity from others is really refusing all of these things from God!   It can be as simple as receiving a compliment, receiving help with a menial task, or receiving grace when we are tired and need a break.

When I feel resentful of giving to the needs around me, it is usually because I have not allowed God or others to comfort and bless me first.  Resisting God’s invitations of silence, solitude and community leads to a weak soul and a weak ministry.  The Father prompted Mary to give boldly and generously to His Son that day, helping Jesus finish his assignment.  And He will prompt people to do the same for you!

 

Jesus—Open my eyes to how I can receive better from You and others today.

 

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org


Where is Your Heart this Holy Week? (Part 2 of 2)

Where is Your Heart this Holy Week? 

Part 2 of 2

It was a hard week for Jesus and for His followers, that first Holy Week. Let’s look at a few of the responses of the heart surrounding Holy Week from the perspective of those closest to Him.

If you missed part 1 of this post with the first 4 responses of the heart, CLICK HERE.

Let Jesus meet you as you consider these scenes.

5. Believing Heart - Jesus has revealed Himself personally to me and I stand on that revelation despite what others say.

Mary’s believing heart is in stark contrast to the disciple’s unbelief that Jesus is alive. We are all at different stages of the journey and growth. Supporting each other, being patient with each other, challenging each other and learning from each other are key aspects of community that keeps our hearts strong.

6. Doubting Heart - I will not believe until I see Him.

Thomas felt like an outsider. He was not present when Jesus appeared to the other disciples. He could not get wrapped up in the exciting new faith journey of the others until He saw Jesus for himself. Christ lovingly responds to his doubting heart, and shows him his wounded hands and side. However, Jesus states there is even a more blessed life when we believe without seeing.

7. Slow of Heart to Burning Heart - I was unable to recognize Him in my circumstance at first.

The first response of the two on the road to Emmaus was “thickheaded”, but as Jesus walks with and unveils scripture, their hearts burn with fire and passion. (Luke 24:32). Never underestimate the power and change of perspective available to you when you let Jesus teach you.

8. Restored Heart - Take me back to my first love and show me how you accept me today, Jesus.

Jesus restored Peter’s wayward heart after breakfast by the sea. He did not leave Peter alone in condemnation after he messed up. Peter is broken and in a new place to receive the love and comfort of Jesus. The acceptance we receive from Jesus lays the foundation for a tremendously fruitful life!

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org


Where is Your Heart this Holy Week? (Part 1 of 2)

Where is Your Heart this Holy Week? 

Part 1 of 2

It was a hard week for Jesus and for His followers, that first Holy Week.  Let’s look at a few of the responses of the heart surrounding Holy Week from the perspective of those closest to Him. Let Jesus meet you as you consider these scenes.

 

  1. Heart of Apprehension - Where is Jesus taking me now?

 

Disciples are not sure of what to think as they sense a stir during the parade into Jerusalem, yet it would be difficult for them to not see the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy in front of their eyes.   Staying grounded in the Word of God will help us stay grounded in times of uncertainty.

 

  1. Emotionally Tired Heart - I want to be intimate with you, Jesus, but I am too worn out.

 

While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks his disciples 3 times to stay with Him as He prays. And 3 times they fall asleep. Although I am certain Jesus was disappointed in their lack of emotional support, He let it go.  He understood their humanity and did not hold it against them.  He ultimately entrusted them to the Father’s will and timing, knowing that the Holy Spirit was coming and would finish the good work in them.  Being aware of what others are facing will grow compassion in us, allowing trust and release of the outcome into the Father’s hand.

 

  1. Divided Heart - Why do I care so much about what other people think?

 

Peter gave into his false self when he denied Jesus 3 times.   He was more concerned about what other people said about him, turning away from his true identity as a beloved son of God.  Peter was confronted by his weakness, one he had a hard time admitting.   He couldn’t see his need for Jesus to wash his feet the night before and I wonder if he wished he would have received from Jesus more freely.  Living in our true self means growing in awareness of what our hearts need to feel His love for us.  And then creating space to receive it.

 

  1. Faithful Heart - I am going to worship even if Jesus seems dead to me.

 

Mary and the other women go to the tomb with spices, caring for Jesus’ dead body.  They follow Him and want to be near Him even if He physically is not with them.  Remaining constant in our affection for Jesus (and others) even when we don’t feel like it or when we have nothing to gain is the sign of a surrendered, faithful life.

 

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org


Why Succession Planning?

Why Succession Planning? 

I sat with a major donor this week and a ministry leader seeking his support. The donor, who is considering a significant gift, asked the ministry leader if he had a succession plan? Thankfully, this ministry leader was prepared and immediately pulled out a document from his binder that contained the details of the plan.

Are you prepared to answer this question? 

If a major donor considering a large gift to your organization asked you this same question, are you prepared?  If not, don't feel bad. You are not alone. In fact, a 2017 study from Board Source indicated that fewer than 3 in 10 nonprofits have a succession plan in place. However, with 10,000 Baby Boomers (those most likely to hold executive-level positions in nonprofit organizations) retiring each day, now is the time to get started. Don't wait until you find yourself in an emergency situation. The most effective succession plans proactively map out the ways in which an organization plans to handle both expected and unexpected leadership changes.

A succession plan is absolutely critical for the future of your organization. It will help the organization avoid pitfalls, provide the board with a clear path to move forward during times of change and maintain long-term sustainability.

Where do you start? 

Below are a few free resources to help you.

  1. The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has provided a sample succession plan to use as a template in creating one of your own. You can view it here. 
  2. Board Source has developed an executive transition timeline to use as a resource guide. You can view it here. 

I hope you will consider this very healthy nonprofit leadership practice in the near future.

Your friend in ministry,

Emily

 

Emily Fitchpatrick

Director of Client Services & Coach

emily@ministryventures.org


Leaning into Lent

Lent = subtract things from my life in order for God to do new things.

The wilderness, Jesus found, was an important place of subtraction. Evidently the Father knew there were things in Jesus’ humanity that needed subtraction, purification, preparation for the new things Jesus was about to walk in.

Jesus was led into this wilderness, not forced or coerced.  “He was taken by the Spirit from the Jordan into the lonely ordeal of testing by the accuser for forty days.”  Luke 4:2

He was taken there on the heels of his baptism and hearing of God’s great delight in him.  The Wilderness.  What a strange place to end up after a hearing a word from God like that.

Or is it?

Maybe God knows best, and He knows how prone our humanity is to rely on the false self.  Maybe He knows what we are about to experience in the big world out there after a spiritual high.  And maybe He knows that given to our own devices, it may not end up well.

So he leads us into the wilderness where the stakes are not as high.  If we falter here, only His eyes see it, and He can lovingly get us back on track.   But if we presumptuously bypass the wilderness and go our own way, in our own time, all eyes see our pride and we are forced to deal with humiliation and shame.

In the third test, Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple (highest place) and tried to get him to jump down where angels would save him.  However, Jesus didn’t fall for the opportunity to show off and gain a following in a sensational way.  This would have drawn a crowd, drawn attention to himself, and drawn him away from the cross.

Instead, He chose the discipline of secrecy.  He lived and moved out of the limelight, eager to get away to be alone with God.  Even His post resurrection sightings were very limited and low key.  He was secure in His true self “I am the Father’s beloved.”  He detached from the false self  “I am what other people say and think about me.”

What is your pinnacle?  The places you are tempted to draw attention to yourself in order to gain love from God and others?  Ministry and service can be a form of self-promotion.  Social media platforms and materialism seek to put us in bondage.

We are invited into the wilderness season of Lent where subtraction, if we let it, happens and God changes us. In the hidden places of surrender where no one sees the wrestling.   In the quiet, secret moments away from the crowds, which is the true place of transformation.

Yes, it is lonely.  But seasons of loneliness are good for the soul.  We come out more confident in God’s love for us and we come out able to withstand the pull of other voices demanding us to be someone we are not.

 

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org


Working From Gods Comfort and Love

“You are filled to overflowing with his comforting love” (Phil 2:1)

What a beautiful promise and what a tragedy that so many of us do not experience on a regular basis. Comforting love from the Father.

Instead, ministry leaders tend to work for this love, not from it.

We work hard to help others, feel accepted by God, be used of Him for His glory. But friends do not use each other, and God is longing to satisfy and strengthen with His quiet enjoyment of us.

If the boldest declaration from heaven about Jesus is that He is God’s beloved Son, then the most important thing about us is the same. Jesus’ behavior follows God’s pleasure. His work, actions and ministry followed a secure attachment to the Father’s love. We tend to do the opposite, behaving our way to “worthy enough” and exhausting ourselves while doing it.

Most are not even aware of rejecting God’s comfort, yet where we go for comfort will be the telling factor of whether or not we are experiencing this patient, unhurried, satisfying love.

“I will extend peace to her like a river…you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child,so will I comfort you…”. Isa. 66:12-13

When was the last time you felt God’s quiet enjoyment of you?

A sense of well-being where you relaxed and let the internal walls of your heart come down?

“Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make. And we don’t have to kill ourselves to get there…always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. Because we ARE the Beloved. It seems that all of us human beings have deep inner memories of the paradise that we have lost. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us. That’s the truth of our lives. That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself.”

– Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen

Let this Valentine’s season be your invitation to claim your belovedness and experience His comfort. Create space in next few days to be alone with God with no distractions for at least an hour. See God carrying you and quietly enjoying your presence as Isaiah 66 portrays.

Beth Bennett

Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org


The Keys To Donor Retention

There’s one often-overlooked aspect of fundraising that actually can bring you the biggest return on investment.

Study after study shows this is the closest thing to a fundraising silver bullet and it’s where you should invest the majority of your fundraising time.

I’m talking about donor retention.

What is donor retention?

If you’ve been involved in non-profit fundraising for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the words “donor retention.” It’s a fancy sounding term that just means keeping donors. Here’s the distinction:

  • Donor acquisition – reaching new donors.
  • Donor retention – keeping existing donors.

 

Your donor retention rate is the percentage of people who donate to your organization again. So, if 100 people donated to your ministry last year, and 60 of them donate this year, then your annualized donor retention rate is 60%. The national average is, according to a recent national study, is 48%. How do you compare?


Why should you care about donor retention?


1. It’s way tougher to reach a brand new donor.

Roger Carver recently said this: You have less than a 2% chance of a gift from a brand new donor who doesn’t know you. But you’ve got a 20-40% chance of a gift from a lapsed donor, and a 60-70% chance of a gift from an active donor.

In other words, the people who are already giving or have given in the past are far more likely to give again. That means the time you invest in donor retention will have a greater payoff than time you spend on donor acquisition.

2. Long-term donors who give recurring gifts take lots of the pressure off.

When you know the bases are covered, it allows you to lead with freedom and confidence. Imagine going into a new fiscal year knowing the majority of your budget is covered by existing donors who will happily engage for another term. That’s what can happen when you have a strong donor retention plan.

Donor acquisition sounds more important, but donor retention is more helpful.

3. It’s one of the most cost effective fundraising strategies you have.

Non-Profit Quarterly reports: It typically costs around five times as much to solicit a new customer as it does to do business with an existing one. Acquisition costs through direct forms of marketing are high. This is particularly the case in the context of fundraising, where it typically costs nonprofits two to three times more to recruit a donor than a donor will give by way of a first donation. It can take twelve to eighteen months before a donor relationship becomes profitable.

In other words, if you’ve already absorbed the costs of donor acquisition, focusing on retaining them and helping them grow in generosity is a much better use of your resources.


What are the keys to donor retention?


Here are some things you can do to take immediate action.

1. Focus. The first step in improving your donor retention levels is making a conscious choice to focus on it. In short, you’ve got to decide it’s important enough to keep it a priority in the face of countless other priorities.

2. Knowledge. Getting to know your donors as individuals is absolutely key to keeping them engaged over a long period of time. So don’t rely on mass emails and form letters, be willing to make personal phone calls, have coffee for no reason in particular and get to know people on a personal level.

3. Relationship. Getting to know your donors opens the door to having a relationship with them. Your donor is not your database – he or she is a unique individual.   You’ve got to be there for them if you want them to be there for you. That’s how any relationship works. The key to donor loyalty is being loyal to your donors!

4. Appreciation. Any donor retention strategy should be built on thankfulness. Phone calls, thank you notes and public appreciation are not only helpful to keeping people engaged, they are just good things to do. Thank your existing donors constantly using all means at your disposal. How aggressive should you be here? John Lepp says: Say thanks until your donors tell you to stop.

5. Communication. A good donor retention strategy is intentional, not just responsive. That means you can build the strategy in advance and execute it throughout the year. When you send letters and emails, make sure you fill it with stories and pictures. That does far more to keep people engaged than plain information. Stats may inform your donors, but the stories you tell will inspire them.


Action Steps

  • Make a personal phone call
  • Have coffee for no reason in particular
  • Get to know people on a personal level
  • Keep saying "Thanks!"

Do you have questions about donor retention or donor care? Let's chat!

Emily Fitchpatrick

Director of Client Services & Coach

emily@ministryventures.org