4 Support Raising Trends for The New Year

January 5, 2012

Missionaries, support raising

For the missionary, church planter and non-profit fundraiser support raising strategies always seem to be the same:  make the phone call, set up the visit and ask for the support.  Get out of your rut to take a big picture look at trends that are affecting the way we raise our support.  Some of these trends are specific to but not necessarily unique to Converge Worldwide.

#1 Individual Supporters vs. Church Support

Converge missionaries that have been on the field for ten or more years tend to have thirty or more churches who partner with them, amounting to 70-80% of their total support.  New missionaries who went to the field in 2010 and 2011 tended to have fewer than twenty churches and the individual support vs. church support mix was closer to 50-50.

In our training we are encouraging missionaries and church planters to focus more on individual supporters than in the past.  There are several reasons for this:

  1. it is more natural to ask a friend or acquaintance for support rather than a church with whom there is no relationship
  2. churches have cut back their missions giving, generally speaking
  3. churches are tending to partner with fewer individuals in larger amounts of funds
  4. individuals connect with individuals better than churches do
  5. its easier to get your vision out to individuals than to church staff

It is evident to me, and time will only tell, that this trend will continue.  Want to raise support for your vision?  There are 20 people waiting to partner with you immediately.  These friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and fellow church-goers will support you once you share your heart and vision with them.  If the people closest to you won’t support you, why would a stranger, or a church of 200 people with whom you have no connection?

#2 Smaller Gifts vs. Larger Gifts

Due in part to the individual support trend, the amounts of gifts coming in to non-profit agencies are decreasing in size.  In 2010, 97% of gifts given to non-profit agencies were under $250.  That’s more people giving smaller gifts.

This probably means that most of us partner in smaller amounts with more ministries.  Perhaps it is a flattening out of partnership focused around breadth rather than depth.

Last year my wife and I allocated $75 per month to use to support missionaries.  We could have used it to increase the one missionary we were already supporting.  Instead, we spread it out in $25 amounts to begin supporting three additional missionaries.  I think our action is emblematic of the larger trend:  support more people with fewer dollars.

The implication for the fundraiser is that we need more supporters for the same number of dollars.  The good news is that more individuals are reachable these days with social media.

#3 Social Media Integration

Any missionary or church planter not using social media today is behind the 8 ball.  Any missionary or church planter who is not using social media in three years will lose out on significant dollars to those fundraisers who do use social media.

Integrating your traditional support raising strategies with social media will make you a more effective fundraiser.  Here are a few benefits:

  • social media is cost effective, essentially free
  • social media meets people where they are and accesses them within their social networks
  • social media is people focused – it’s not all about your vision
  • social media provides immediate useful feedback to your message and approach

Social media allows you to engage your current partners, and find new partners, in conversations they are already having and in interests or spheres of life that are natural.

Consider these social media related facts taken from Blackbaud  infographics :

  1. using social media increases support raised by 40%
  2. fewer than half of fundraisers tap into their social networks using social media tools
  3. those who used Twitter for support raising gathered nearly 10x more support than those who did not
  4. 16% of new donors gave online in 2010, online, as in where they already are for their social media

Social media makes you relevant to a new generation of partners.  Any support raising strategy that ignores the use of social media is misguided and short-sighted.  There – I said it.

#4 Multichannel Fundraising

Multichannel means combining new fundraising methods, particularly incorporating new technologies, with traditional fundraising techniques.  Besides the aforementioned social media, two additional multichannel options include:

  • point of sale devices:  one company called Square allows you to attach a card reader to your smart phone so that you can swipe a credit card – imagine going to a partner’s house, you ask, they say yes, and you swipe their credit card to receive their contribution
  • cause related text messages:  asking people to send a text to make a contribution

Some of you will remember that the American Red Cross raised funds for the earthquake in Haiti using text messages, $10 a pop.  That effort raised $32 million dollars from 3 million donors.

The Example of Online Giving

One example of a newer channel for dollars is online giving.  We take online giving for granted these days, but ten years ago it was a new, strategic technology.  The amount of total dollars given in online gifts increased by 163% from 2009 to 2010 for international organizations.  If your organization does not provide for online giving, you are in the dark ages.

Check out these gaudy stats from Netwitsthinktank.com:

  • online giving went from $15 billion dollars in 2009 to $20 billion dollars in 2010, a 33% increase
  • online donors are younger, have higher incomes, give more the first time and give more over time than offline donors

More giving options will develop in the future.  The question is, will you be flexible enough to consider these new ideas?  These methods could be a significant source of income for your ministry in the near future.

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5 Comments on “4 Support Raising Trends for The New Year”

  1. Kevin Walton Says:

    Thanks for these words of advice. It is very helpful and seems very accurate of the current reality. Change or fail to connect. After our first term we used slide shows and printed letters, after our second term video clips and email notes, after our third term it was powerpoint, multi-media with a web-site, now… well you said it.


    • Brian Stankich Says:

      Kevin, it’s cool how you laid out the progression of your fundraising tools over the years. Well said and you obviously see the trends from a big picture.

      Recently I found the original table display board for our ministry when we first raised support in the mid-90’s. It was highly rudimentary 🙂

      The Lord bless your efforts in remaining contemporary!



  2. Shirley E. Wright-Masongezi Says:

    I’ve just taken a quick trip down memory lane because of Fulfill that I just read. I tried to sell my first slide projector I used when raising support with CRU before going to Nigeria back in the ’80’s. No one wanted it, so it’s in the attic reminding me of how far fund raising has come! On my second mission field I think I used a super 8 video camera that no one bought at another garage sale. So, it’s stacked on top of the big black leather slide projector case.
    Your stats reminded me of how President Obama raise so much support among younger people when he was first elected. Then I thought about my last trip to the Apple Store in Chicago and how each sales associate had a mechanism on their smart phone to swipe credit cards which made purchases so much faster & easier, rather than waiting to go to a sales clerk. Apple has truly stepped into the thick of things with how they do business.
    Sure appreciate you passing these recommendations on to us to facilitate friend raising instead of just fundraising.


  3. Brian Stankich Says:

    Shirley, you give some excellent examples for how business and politics are driving the technology for their own purposes. We the church can do the same thing. If we don’t adopt new methods and technologies, at least to some extent, we will be considered irrelevant, and unable to reach a new generation with the gospel.

    Thanks for your contribution (and kinda funny story of previous equipment!).



  4. lesmelissa Says:

    Is texting for a cause available to us as Converge Missionaries? Can it be?


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