By Connie Hougland
What is it about clichés that drive us crazy? For me, I think I get annoyed by them because often they are truth in a clever package. And, I’m not always ready for the truth! So what about the cliché: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail – is there some truth wrapped up in that one? I think so.
Typically, there is one thing that is not lacking in the ministry community – passion. We have passion for the cause, passion for the people, passion for the call God has given us, passion for the Kingdom. . . . But rarely do we get a passion for development planning. We have our eyes on the prize – we know that our ministry is the latest greatest thing since sliced bread and all we need is money to make it happen. All we need is for someone with deep pockets to ‘get it’ and fund the whole thing, right?
Reality is not quite that simple. We know that God’s greatest resource is people, so it would make sense that God’s economy would include utilizing His greatest resource to build up ministry. Since we know we need people to make this work, then we need to have a plan to engage people with our ministry. What if we looked at our Development Plan as not only a means to an end for our ministry but as an outreach and serve to givers?
We believe every ministry should be intentional about reaching out to supporters. Below are what we consider to be vital elements of a Comprehensive Development Plan for Ministry:
- A Communications Strategy: The vision, mission and values of your ministry must be expressed clearly. This tells people clearly why they should give.
- An Online/New Media Strategy: What was once cutting edge has now come to be expected; at the same time, how will your ministry stand out?
- A Creative Giving Strategy: People love options, and not every giver is the same. Support can come in a variety of ways from a variety of sources.
- A Major Donor Strategy: Those who partner with you through substantial gifts are investing God’s resources in His Kingdom. How do you communicate ROI?
- A Community Engagement Strategy: Celebrate, communicate and interact with your world.
Through the coming months, we will address the points listed above in more detail. Each month’s Giving Solutions for Ministry newsletter will highlight one strategy (sign up here). In addition, we will provide templates, ideas, and other resources on our website.
Keep in mind when you are asking people to engage with you financially you are giving them the opportunity to invest the resources entrusted to them to be put to work for God. To put it into clichés: we must ‘put the shoe on the other foot’ and ‘walk in another man’s shoes’ when it comes to fund-raising. Ultimately, our aim in fundraising is not just growing the dollars in the bank but growing the giver’s hearts.
Connie Hougland is Vice President for Servant Christian Community Foundation.