Finance Fridays: Church Plant Fundraising (part 2)

As part of the church planting series that we have been walking through, we have broken up church plant fund raising into two parts.  Last week, I wrote about the idea of fundraising, today Jon Sturdevant will share a little bit about how to raise funds for the church you are planting.

You’re ready to plant.  You’ve got a vision for your ministry, a mission to fulfill, a calling, support from your mentors, and all the money you need to get going, right?  Well, probably all but that last part.

How do you move the chains?  Pray for the right people to make commitments?  Yes, absolutely, but, you have the responsibility to connect with people as well.  I used to work for a guy who regularly reminded us that “We trust God for the outcome, but we’re responsible for the results.”  Amen.  How does this apply in our context?  We’re going to pray expectantly, allowing us to be confident, and get a little uncomfortable.

The first thing you need to do in the fundraising process is identify people in your sphere of influence who are in a position to help you achieve your goal.  Some of them are wealthy, some are not, but all have a real heart for reaching people in a new area and are willing to sacrifice for your cause.  Some in your sphere are connected to others who are in positions to invest in your ministry, and inevitably some will just surprise you (best not to plan for these though).

Each of these people needs to hear from you in a personal way.  Letters and emails won’t do the job.  Whenever possible, meet with as many of these people as you can.  Tell them what you’re doing, but don’t assume they’re interested.  Your first conversation should be pretty one sided: you should be doing almost all the listening.  Ask a lot of questions: what are their ministry and giving passions?  What gets them excited?  Do they know others who would be interested?  Then, thank them sincerely, and evaluate areas where your new ministry lines up with their interests.  When appropriate, go back to them and get bold.  You’re a church planter, so you are no doubt bold with the gospel.  Funding your ability to be bold with the gospel requires that you to also be bold with your asks!

Two Examples of Follow Up Conversations

Jon, I really enjoyed our conversation last time we met.  I was thinking about what you said and it seems that there are a couple of areas of my new ministry that may really excite you.  Would you consider supporting us?

What do you think?  Good?  Bad?  Indifferent?  Awful?

Awful.  What are you asking for?  What should that person expect in return?  How does their gift make a difference?  Will it be enough to make a difference, or will you need 100 other gifts before you can hit the field?  None of these questions are answered in this example.

Try this:

Jon, thanks again so much for your time.  I was thinking about what you were telling me about your interest in urban ministry.  Let me tell you more about the neighborhood we’re going to move in to.  We plan to launch in six months, and we’re lining up the puzzle pieces to make everything happen.  I’d like to ask you to consider an initial gift of $15,000 to support us as we get started.  That will pay our rent for the first six months, and allow us to establish a base for our ministry.  When you have the chance, it would be great if you could come take a look at the space and then consider this opportunity.

Now that donor has been challenged.  He knows you have done your homework and have a solid plan, knows exactly what his investment yields, and likely admires you for asking with confidence.  When approached by other organizations this is likely how he is being asked.  He will expect to be impressed.

After the Ask

Now, and this is huge, make sure to thank and inform people well.  Include both those who have invested and those who have chosen to wait.  Leverage the available technology to provide them with regular updates about your ministry and, especially for your larger givers, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and share some of your big wins with them.

As investors, they’ll share in your joy.

How have YOU asked people to financially partner with YOUR church?


About the Author: Jon Sturdevant

Jon is a strategist for Generis, and he partners with churches, missions organizations, and independent schools as they seek to accelerate generosity and advance their mission. His key focus is counsel for developing a culture of generosity, whether it is in conjunction with a capital funds project or with some other type of vision funding. With a passion to serve the church and para-church organizations he has served a wide variety of churches and non-profits, and draws from experience founded in institutional development and a marketing education. Jon collaborates with many different ministry, business, and educational leaders. He works with high capacity donors, governing & advisory boards, and in many areas that create successful vision and fundraising – marketing & publications, media & production, annual giving, planned giving, major gift development, and alumni relations. Contact him: @jonsturdevant 630.430.7796