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Funding Missions

A Missionary’s Guide to Partnership Development

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Written by McKenna Von Gunten

Partnership Development isn’t built upon monetary transaction but upon relationships. Relationships take time and effort to maintain and often include a long process of deepening trust to develop a true genuine friendship.

The process of Partnership Development and raising financial support is not about you. It’s about the vision of seeing every people, tribe, tongue, and nation come to know and understand the character of God and His deep love for them. 

By partnering with God’s heart and going through the stages of Partnership Development to find your dedicated partners, you are able to invite others into the work God is doing all over the world. 

In this blog post, we will go through a step by step process of what Partnership Development looks like and how to go through the cycle of becoming fully funded. To learn more about what Partnership Development is, read our blog on why it is putting an end to traditional fundraising on the missions field.

The 6 Stages of Partnership Development

1. Gather your contacts

Before you start sending out your newsletters, it’s important to know how many people you need to contact in order to find your dedicated partners in financial giving.

First, you will need to create an excel sheet to keep track of all your contacts. Make it organized and easy to read. This is going to be helpful for you later.

Second, you are going to gather each individual’s contact information. Your contact list will not be complete unless you have both their phone number and physical home or mailing address as they are key components for the next three stages of Partnership Development.

Another helpful tip would be to organize your contact list by geographical location.

To discover how many contacts you should have, read our blog on how many people it takes to support a missionary.

2. Send out a newsletter to each individual’s physical address

An introductory newsletter should not ask for financial support. Instead, it should include:

  • Who you are: How has God called you into missions?
  • What you are doing: Where are you in life right now?
  • Where you are going: Where and how is God leading you in the future?

Read our full blog on how to write an effective newsletter.

3. Send postcards in the mail as a reminder of your newsletter

Your postcards are sent a week after you send the letter. This is a reminder to your contacts to read the newsletter that you sent them and letting them know that you’re going to call them about it the following week.

A postcard should include:

  • A picture of you on the front
  • Your favorite verse or quote
  • An encouraging message on the other side about how excited you are while letting them know about the coming phone call

4. Call each individual contact on the phone and ask if they’ve read your newsletter

When calling people on the phone, here are some tips to remember:

  • Smile. It makes a huge difference in how people will respond to your call.
  • If you call and nobody picks up, don’t leave a voicemail. You should only leave a voicemail if you’ve called them three times that week and they’ve never responded. By the end of the week, if they never called back or picked up the phone, remove that contact from your list.
  • If they do answer the phone but they haven’t read your newsletter, encourage them to read it and tell them you’ll call them back tomorrow. It’s better for them to read it and know what your conversation is going to be about so that they can talk about it.
  • If they have read about it, ask if they have any questions for you.
  • Then, ask for a face to face meeting. Set a time, date, and place to get together and talk about what God is doing in your lives. If they live in another state, schedule another phone call. Never ask them to become long-term partners until the face to face meeting or second conversation over the phone.

This is creating credibility in the long-run. Through the letters, postcards, and phone calls, you are building a relationship with each of your contacts and creating a safe place for people to voice their questions and concerns and have a conversation about what’s happening in your life as well as theirs.

5. Have a face to face conversation

Treat them out to coffee. Know their likes and dislikes. Invite them over for dinner at your house for a homecooked meal. Ask questions and get to know them as a person. Don’t just take up this time talking about what you’re going to be doing. Your goal is to build trust and maintain a friendship.

During your conversation over coffee or dinner, you will be bringing up the hard question to know for sure whether or not they are on board with you in the vision you’ve hopefully shared during your time together. Once you ask if they are willing to partner with you and commit to monthly giving, there are only two answers you are looking for:

  • Yes, I would love to partner with you
  • No, I can’t right now with the season of life I’m in

Never settle for the response, “maybe, I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it,” or, “I’ll have to talk to my spouse about it.” You’re about to lose a potential partner if you don’t require a follow-up meeting with them or give them a deadline for when they have to give you their answer. You need to know the answer so that you can move on and not spend mental energy on worrying about who is supporting you and who’s not.

If they do say yes, be excited! This is a time to rejoice and celebrate with each other by praising God for providing a team beforehand and getting to join together in the work He is doing all over the world through partnership.

6. Send thank you cards

The most critical part of Partnership Development is following up with your contacts–especially saying thank you to those who have said yes to partnering with you.

Create or buy beautiful cards and send them to everyone that you had a face to face meeting with–or over the phone conversation about partnership–including those who said they can’t support you right now. Those relationships still matter and they could be potential partners down the road.

How the Cycle of Partnership Development Works

Partnership Development is like the song, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” where you can have multiple people singing different parts of it at the same time. This is best explained when looking at individual weeks, where it takes strategic planning and you only focus on groups of ten people from your contact list at a time in each stage of the cycle.

Week 1:

Print out letters for the first group of ten people, add a handwritten signature, put them in envelopes, and send them in the mail.

Week 2:

Send a postcard to each individual in your first group as a reminder of your letter and that you’re going to call them about it next week. Mail out letters to your second group of ten people as in week one.

Week 3:

Call your first group, asking if they received the letter and had a chance to read it. If they have, ask if they have any questions and then schedule a face to face meeting. Write postcards to the second group as a reminder of your newsletter and phone call, and mail out letters to your third group of people.

Week 4:

Begin having face to face meetings with people from your first group about partnering with you. Call your second group, send postcards to your third group, and begin mailing letters to your fourth group.

You will continue in this cycle until you complete your contact list. This could be a few weeks to a couple months–depending on how long your contact list is. It is going to seem a bit hectic for a while, but once you get the hang of it, you can start planning your days around face to face meetings, phone calls, and making sure all your letters and postcards are mailed out at the beginning of the week.

If you want to learn more about Partnership Development, read our blog here. Remember that the Lord already has a team out there for you.

“The Lord doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”

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