Raising Support

Continuing the money theme of recent posts, I wanted to share some of my experiences with raising salary support.  First, let me say this.  I’m no good at it, and I hate doing it.  I don’t like to feel like a fundraiser, and though I think I’m pretty good at communicating vision, I don’t enjoy raising support.  But I knew in order for things to happen, then I’d have to get over it quick.  So here are some of my thoughts on fundraising.

1. I didn’t start from zero.  My family and I had about four months of income set aside before we even started.  We knew we could make it for four months without a dime of support.  That honestly helped us jump off.  I think this is key.

2. I was prepared to work wherever to make money.  I would have gotten a job if necessary.  For me, I knew this was a call of God, and I would do whatever was necessary to launch this church.  I don’t think there is any room for wishy-washy stuff when it comes to church planting.  Having doubts is normal, but you’ve got to be willing to be in it for the long haul.  I didn’t have to get another job, but I was willing to. I was willing to live off credit cards if necessary – that’s how serious I was about the calling.

3.  I began with a series of letters to everyone I knew, just letting them know what I was doing.  I followed that up with another letter about a month letter asking for support.  If we didn’t hear from people after a few letters, we stopped sending them updates.

4.  When someone agreed to send monthly support, we sent them pre-stamped envelopes to make things easier.  I didn’t bombard people with letters.  I sent out monthly e-mail updates to let people know the progress.  I think people want to know that their money is making a difference.  People want to support something that is working, not just finance someone’s hobby.

5.  Some people that I thought would support us hands down, didn’t respond.  And others I hardly knew jumped in big time.  I heard a lot of "I’ll pray for you."  That’s always cool when people mean it, but honestly, it’s a cop out most of the time.

6.  I didn’t do this well enough, but you really should follow up letters with personal phone calls.  Someone suggested that you send out 10 letters and make the follow up phone calls, and then send out the next letters. 

7.  I asked for support for one year.  I think people want to know that there is an end in sight.  That one year would get us to our launch date, and I believed that once we launched, the church would be able to take care of a large part of my salary.

8.  I met with pastors but we honestly didn’t get much support from churches other than our two sponsoring churches.  You would think that churches would love to support church plants, but there is still a lot of territorialism.   One pastor told me that we’d had a lot of churches try to start in this area and that we were pretty saturated.  Plus, they were going to start a church in a couple of years.  Now that’s some nice contradictory advice.  🙂

9.  I continued to lead weekend retreats and stuff (still do actually).  I enjoy doing this, I feel like it’s part of my calling, and the extra money helped pay the bills.

10.  I sold my Taylor 714 Guitar on eBay.  I miss it, but figured that eating was more important than strumming.

11.  After our grand opening, I did another "round" of letters because we had a win to celebrate.  I think raising support is easier after a win.  And I say again, people are more inclined to give  to an organization that is fulfilling it’s mission.

12.  We did a special push around Christmas to get some equipment and supplies.  That resulted in a lot of one time gifts that were huge blessings.

13.  In the end, it really is a matter of faith.  I hated the support raising side of things, but God took care of us.  We used up most of what we had set aside, but you know, that’s what we set it aside for.  I wouldn’t trade where we are now for anything.  I don’t think any of this stuff is rocket science advice – there’s lots of helpful information out there in the church planting books.  The biggest thing is just to keep people updated, communicate the vision, celebrate the wins, and just ask.

Here are some Word documents of my support letters.

Download announcement_letter.doc

Download support_letter_1.doc
Download support_letter_2.doc

Download support_letter_3.doc

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2 comments so far

  1. randel hambrick on

    hey michael.. i know you wrote this a long time ago, but your letters are no longer accessible. would you mind sending them to me when you get a chance? thanks so much! we are beginning the fundraising stage..

  2. Patrick Sievert on

    what randel said…

    could you please send me the letters when you can?


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