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


3 Ways To Maximize The 8 Second Attention Span

We live in a world of information overload and the average human attention span is just 8 seconds. With this statistic in mind, I have listed 3 ways you can maximize those 8 seconds while still providing the right amount of information to your donors.

 

  1. Less is more.

 

Create communications that are clear, engaging and show real life impact. Drip feed this information throughout the year in bite size pieces. Many people scan read. When crafting communication pay attention to your opening paragraph. Capture their attention. Make good use of bullet points, headlines and white space.

 

  1. Become a storyteller.

According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, of social media users who support nonprofits online, 56% said that compelling storytelling is what motivated them to take action in the first place. Charity Water uses Instagram to tell the stories of families who have been given access to clean drinking water. The Denver Rescue Mission uses their website to showcase inspirational stories. Hope International uses a blog to communicate stories of life impact.

 

  1. Collect and share data.

Determine what data you should be collecting at your organization to measure mission fulfillment. Share that data using infographics. Infographics help you cut to the chase. The colors, icons, and general organization of an infographic draws the eye and keeps a person’s attention. Here’s a blog from Classy with 10 great samples to give you ideas. You don't need to be a graphic designer or pay a lot to create a nice visual. Canva provides a free platform to create infographics and other designs using a variety of templates.

 

While there is a place for white papers and reports, the majority of our general donor communication should be simple and sweet!    

 

For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 

Emily Fitchpatrick

Director of Client Services & Coach

emily@ministryventures.org 


The Balancing Act Of Working With A Board

If you’ve been through MV training, you’ve heard us talk about the fact that your ministry can only rise to the level of your Board.  We also talk about the balancing act of leading a ministry and working with a Board.  This is more often than not the biggest pain point for ministry leaders.

As a former Executive Director, I’ve worked with Boards that were simply incredible!  They loved our ministry passionately and generously. They respected my role and the staff who worked so hard and showed it in lovely ways. They made courageous and faith-filled decisions to move the ministry into kingdom work we never dreamed we could do.  They made me so very proud to be working with such an extraordinary group of people!

On the flip side, other Board members I’ve worked with were just incredibly awful.  They didn’t trust my leadership or our staff, they micro-managed, or never cared enough to even know what was happening.  They made me cry over my dinners and dread the following days.

You might know what I’m talking about?

If you find yourself entering this new year with tension or conflicts within your Board, you are not alone.

A few months ago, we caught up with Dan Lewis from The River Foundation & CEO of Next To Lead to get his advice on how to resolve Board disagreements effectively. He has some encouraging tips to share.

https://ministryventures.wistia.com/medias/hwqm6cwge9

For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 

 

Cindy McDaniel, MV Coach

cmcdaniel@ministryventures.org


The Best Version of Yourself in 2019

 The Best Version of Yourself in 2019

 

  1. Grow friendship with God at a greater pace than growing your ministry and discover His provision and power in all you do.

 

  1. Notice what energizes you and what depletes you, make adjustments and do more of the former.

 

  1. Become more aware of the false self which says “I am what I do”, “I am what I have”, “I am what other people say and think about me” and dethrone it.

 

  1. Create space for more silence and solitude in your days, weeks, months.  Detach from the noise and distraction, attach to God’s heart in the stillness and grow more confident in His love for you.

 

  1. Understand that the best thing to bring to your leadership is a transformed self, so be true to practices and rhythms that fill you and ask, “what does my soul long for?”

 

For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 

Beth Bennett, Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org

 


Little Things

Little Things You Can Do To Invest Big In Donor Care:

• Thank them with a hand-written note. This is one of the coolest things you can receive in our digital age.

• Treat each donation as the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

• Keep your message simple and emotional. Being complicated doesn’t make something better. In fact, complexity makes it less likely you’ll be remembered when you ask for money next time.

• Thank before you Bank! Send a thank you text, call, email or letter FAST.

• Send a custom greeting card rather than a letter on your stationary.

• Always include a ministry progress update, no matter how small.

• Send a “Behind the Scenes” post card of your ministry in action.

• Send a short video from your smart phone of your ministry in action.

• Send reports on how their gift is being used-clarify specific details around ministry impact.

• Change who is saying “Thank you”.

• Develop a “donor centric” style of communication, how do your givers prefer to be communicated with? Ask your givers how they would like updates on the work of your ministry.

• Ask how you can pray for them.

• Pray for them...text a scripture with a prayer.

• Give gifts (books, gift cards, CD’s, DVD’s) on special occasions: births, anniversaries, birthdays.

• Take to dinner as couples.

• Travel as couples: marriage retreats, Generous Giving, mission trip, vacation, etc.

• Introduce to others in your network.

• Turn Thursday into “Thank You Thursday” and make thanking people a part of your weekly routine.

• Say no to form letters.

• Call to ask how they are doing and what they are working on.  Be interested in their lives, not just their donations.

• Send iPhone videos that are personal. They don’t have to be well-produced… authentic is actually better.

• Information is a huge form of appreciation.  Treat donors like insiders and make sure they know what’s coming well before the general public.

• Send helpful resources.  Links to articles, book recommendations, etc.  It shows you’re thinking of them and helps them grow as individuals.

 

For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 

Questions? Contact me anytime!

Emily Fitchpatrick, Director of Client Services

emily@ministryventures.org

 


What Do Major Donors Want?

What do major donors want?

 

This is a common question we receive at Ministry Ventures.

 

Before we dive into this topic, it’s important to define what a major gift is for you. The term “major gift” means something different at every nonprofit. For example, a new start-up may consider $1,000 a major gift, while another more established nonprofit may consider $10,000 a major gift.

 

While there are variations to what may be considered a major gift, all nonprofits have this in common when it comes to major gift fundraising…

 

It takes time!

 

Major donors typically like to get involved slowly, learning more about the nonprofit as they go along. Major donors like to make good decisions about their investment. This takes time and communication from you! Regarding major gift fundraising, we can learn a lot from well-known Christian philanthropist David Weekley, President of the David Weekley Family Foundation.

 

He says “In our philanthropy, we look for three fundamental principles in an organization: High Leverage; they accomplish a lot with a little. Scalable; they have the propensity to grow to impact millions of people. Sustainable; over time their model utilizes some type of self-generating revenue.”

 

The David Weekley Foundation website says their strongest partners display the following traits:

 

  • A unique and well-defined mission;
  • Excellent programs or services that clearly advance the mission;
  • A clear path to measure results;
  • A three to five-year strategic plan;
  • A business model and cost structure demonstrating that the organization will make a greater impact in a more efficient way as it grows;
  • Strong executive talent with a coachable spirit;
  • A strong and effective Board of Directors, or a desire to establish one, and;
  • A spiritual integration plan or willingness to create one (for our Christian partners).

 

These are all admirable traits and provide a great framework for any nonprofit seeking to develop and grow a major gifts program.

 

Remember, results take time and relationships matter.

 

Want to dive deeper? 

 

Recommended Reading: The Giver and The Gift – by Peter Greer and David Weekley

 

Thankful for you.

Emily

Questions? Contact me anytime!

Emily Fitchpatrick, Director of Client Services

emily@ministryventures.org

For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 


Relationships First, Money Second

“My dear and precious friends, whom I deeply love...now arise in the fullness of your union with our Lord. My heart overflows with joy when I think of how you showed your love to me by your financial support of my ministry. I mention this not because I’m requesting a gift, but so that the fruit of your generosity may bring you an abundant reward.”  Phil 4:1,10,17

 

Attention ministry fundraisers...notice Paul’s heart:

 

1.  His foremost desire is for the people of Philippi to understand, walk in and experience their true identity, which is fullness in Christ.  This is ultimately what Paul (and God) wants for us all.  He wants us to be so unattached to the world and trying to be happy based on what we have because we are so attached to satisfaction that comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus. “I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance...because I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me...” v 11-13

 

We, too, are inviting people to detach from the false sense of security that money brings, and attach to being felt and known by Christ, which brings true fulfillment.

 

What practices help you get to this place of secure identity?  We can’t give what we haven’t experienced.  

 

2.  As Paul lived among these people, listened to and experienced community with them, a deep love was developed.  This was a process and took intentionality.  He recognized these generous givers with his pen and his words.  He noticed, named and acknowledged their sacrifice.  He realized growing relationally with his givers was an important part of his ministry, and he gave ample time to it.   “For even though you have so little, you still continue to help me at every opportunity.” v 10

 

How do you see fundraising as ministry?  

 

3.  Paul knows that when people release their money into God’s hands to do God’s work, they will be rewarded.  He isn’t saying desire for reward is to be our primary motivation, but he is not hesitant to talk about the rewards of giving either.  And there are many—freedom from the bondage of “keeping up with the Jones’”,  seeing hungry stomachs filled, lives released from addiction, marriages transformed.  Not to mention the feel good endorphins released in our brains!

 

Know that when you ask people for funds to fuel your God given ministry, their lives will be better.  Simply put, it’s good for people to give!  And you are giving them this opportunity, for which they will thank you.

 

This is the stuff great relationships and effective fundraising are made of, mutual edification!  For the giver and the fundraiser.

 

Your friend in ministry,

Beth

Questions? Contact me anytime!

Beth Bennett, Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org

For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 


3 Simple Things to Express Appreciation in a Fresh Way

It’s November and the time of year we all focus on saying thank you to our ministry partners. 

 

We can’t operate our programs without our donors, board members and volunteers, but how can we express sincere gratitude without it sounding trite?  How can our appreciation be expressed in a unique way?

 

 

1.  Do A Heart Check—If I am honest, am I reaching out to say thank you because it’s November and it is expected?  Is this just another “have to” that is piled on my plate?  Or do I have rhythms in place which allow me to STOP and consider more deeply the tremendous privilege I have to be in the Kingdom, to receive God’s love, and to be in community with people that are changing the world?  If not, then before I am in a state to express appreciation to others, I must be kind to myself.  Take a day of reflection alone with God where I can be filled first and feel celebrated by God before I can thank and celebrate others.

 

 

2.  Be Fully Present—No matter what type of “Thank You” you are considering, make sure you are all there.   If you are meeting personally with people, give them your undivided attention, phones turned off, naming what unique aspect they bring to your ministry team.  Your  people will feel loved, acknowledged and seen. If you are writing a hand written note, keep in mind this old fashioned way of expressing thank you is still one of the most effective!   You can be sure that your message WILL get read and it will be very memorable  and special.  And your words will likely be re-read over and over as that thank you card sits on their desk.  Include a scripture or meaningful quote.  Use your pen to pastor and care for your donors, board members and volunteers.

 

 

3.  Be Specific—In your thanks, let people know how they specifically have helped move your ministry to a new level of impact because of their heart, expertise and dollars.  Be specific in their input, but also be specific in what their energies have accomplished.  Use current stories and numbers.  Celebrate milestones with them.  Make them feel that without them, a certain Bob or Susie or Joe simply would not have been reached.

 

Your friend in ministry,

Beth

Questions? Contact me anytime!

Beth Bennett, Director of Coaching

bbennett@ministryventures.org

For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org 


Termination Is Tuff! Here Are A Few Best Practices To Assist.

It’s a day every ministry leader dreads.

Despite all of your coaching and counseling, one of your staff members is just not performing as expected and it is time to part company. Or worse, reduced revenue means you have to lay off someone through no fault of their own. Or worse than that, they have violated one of your ethical principles or harassed an employee, volunteer or client. Terminating an employee, for whatever reason, is never a happy occasion.

Wouldn’t it be easier to turn off the alarm and take a sick day?

Since that won’t make anything better, let’s look at a few things that will. These are things to do before performance issues arise. Do these consistently, for every position, every employee, every volunteer, and it will make your life easier in the long run.

First and foremost, always get legal counsel from your ministry’s trusted attorney. What follows are best practices but is not meant to be legal advice.

Have written job descriptions for every position in your organization including volunteers. If one person is currently fulfilling more than one role they should have an equal number of job descriptions. Make sure you have a personnel file for each employee and keep it up to date. If you have a large number of regular volunteers you do not need a file for each of them. If you have an issue with a volunteer then you can start a file for them.

Have a formal, written performance review with every employee once a year. Your evaluation should have space for the employee to make comments. Have them sign it and put a copy in the employee’s file. Have informal reviews with every employee on a regular basis, at least quarterly. Include any notes from the reviews in their file. Base all reviews on the written job descriptions and any short term assignments or objectives that have been agreed upon with the employee.

Have a board-approved policy for how you will handle employees who are not performing to the standards established by their job description. This should include what action steps you will take at various stages. As an example, after the first notification of unmet expectations, there should be a probationary period for the employee to improve. State the length of the probationary period clearly.

Notify the employee verbally and in writing of their failure to meet expectations and what they need to do to improve. Include specific, measurable goals for them to meet during the probationary period. And include everything you (or their manager) will do to help them improve such as training, mentoring, etc.

Make sure you have board-approved policies for ethical misconduct. These should include the consequences for violation of the policy. For example, does the first offense result in termination or is there a probationary period. Different policies can have different consequences as long as they are clearly stated in the policy.

In addition to standard policies on things like abuse and harassment, consider if you need to have separate, additional policies about the treatment of your clients. For example, if your ministry serves abused women or those trapped in prostitution, you should have policies about how, if ever, male staff and volunteers interact with them. Include these in a personnel policy manual that you review with every new employee on their first day. Have them sign a form stating that they have reviewed all the policies and add that to their file.

You should also have a volunteer manual that includes the appropriate policies and job descriptions. Volunteers need to review it and sign a statement that they have read and understood them. If you have a large number of volunteers, consider putting all of this online, including the signature form.

Creating job descriptions, evaluation forms, personnel policies and employee manuals is not easy. I hope you never need them! But if you have done this heavy lifting upfront, when you have to terminate an employee for poor performance or an ethical violation it will not be a surprise to them.

And hopefully, you won’t dread it quite so much.

Questions? Contact me anytime!

Arnold Kimmons, Coach - Upstate South Carolina

Director of Operations and Finance

akimmons@ministryventures.org

For more faith-based nonprofit resources, visit www.MinistryVentures.org