It's looking more and more likely that 2021 will be the year we move from the COVID Era into the Post-COVID Era, and I know none of us could be happier about that. It's been a hard past year of ministry, during which essentially everything about our jobs has changed. But with the rapid distribution of vaccines on the horizon, we can begin to hope for a return to normalcy (although some areas will take longer than others).
One of the most impacted areas of Cru's ministry as a whole has been Fund Development - limited gatherings, financial hardships, and more have made it challenging to know the best strategy for engaging our partners. As you and your teams work to decide what will work best for your in 2021, I'd like to pose a few questions and then a few potential Development activities depending on the answers to those questions.
One of the most impacted areas of Cru's ministry as a whole has been Fund Development - limited gatherings, financial hardships, and more have made it challenging to know the best strategy for engaging our partners.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
#1 - What restrictions do you anticipate will still be in place for ministry in your area?
There is no doubt that each team will have a different answer for this question. Some areas of the country are being far more conservative with their restrictions on gatherings and work while others have been less conservative. Remember to consider all potential sources of restrictions:
Local, State, & Federal Government
Your employer / sending organization
Specific venues' guidelines and capacities
Ask yourself what size of gatherings (indoor & outdoor) are currently available and make an educated guess about what those numbers might be in the Spring when a vaccine is (God willing) widely available.
#2 - What is the general consensus among partners and the local community?
What do you partners think? I'd suggest choosing 5-10 of your most committed partners to call and ask how they feel about the potential of ministry involvement over the next year. Don't just talk to one or two people - ideally, you can find a group of partners who represent a diversity of thought and experience.
Try to ask more than just, "Would you come to our Vision Dinner if we had one?" Learn how they are feeling now and how they expect to feel throughout the year. Are they more comfortable with a smaller gathering? What about ministry involvement - when might they like to attend a ministry event or resume their volunteering?
#3 - What are your financial goals for the next year of ministry?
Most teams saw a dramatic drop in their budget in 2020 because few teams were able to match the success of in-person events. That said many teams also saw a dramatic drop in expenses - in fact, some teams have told me that they've never been in a better spot financially!
As we return to a new normal at some point in 2021, your financial needs will return as well. Are you ready?
But as we return to a new normal at some point in 2021, your financial needs will return as well. Are you ready for any opportunity that could arise? Assuming that you are back to in-person ministry, what will your overall need be to reach your scope?
POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
OPTION #1 - IN-PERSON VISION DINNER
Many of you will answer the three questions above and realize that an in-person fundraising event is still an option this Spring, even though it may be smaller or at a different venue. If it is deemed safe for you to meet, your key partners are on board, and you have financial needs that must be met, you should consider going for it. Of all the options listed here, a Vision Dinner has proven itself to do the best job of developing your local partners.
The last thing you want is to make your guests feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Again, it may be wise to aim for a smaller event this year. If your usually have a 150 person dinner, it may only be 65 this year. Remember that the last thing you want is to make your guests feel uncomfortable or unsafe. If you don't think you can hold an event like this, consider another option.
OPTION #2 - MAJOR PARTNER WORK
This is the highest 'bang-for-your-buck' option on the list. If you have partners who could consider giving a significant gift and they would feel comfortable meeting with you, you can have just a few meetings to cover a large portion of your budget. The downside of this option is that you are only engaging a few partners rather than many, but it may be your best shot this Spring depending on your situation.
For help with Major Partner work, post in the TeamGold Forum or check out the new Training section of our site that will go live later this month.
OPTION #3 - DIGITAL EVENT
In September, we added an entire new guide to our site for planning Digital Events. These are still a great option for some teams, especially if you won't be able to meet in person or are lacking a local support base. Watch this video for help deciding about a Digital Event:
OPTION #4 - SMALL GATHERING
A potentially powerful option for you if gatherings are only allowed in small numbers would be to gather 10-15 of your greatest partners together to update them on the ministry and ask them to consider giving. If you remember the principle of the Critical Few, 80% of your funding will come from just 20% of your partners. Essentially, this option would gather those 20% of your partners to ensure that you still have that 80%.
You can think of the program/content similarly to a Vision Dinner, except much less formal. What's important is that you still remember all parts of AIC (Appreciate, Inform, Challenge) and make sure your event does all three. While this type of an event doesn't develop any new partners, it can be a great option for a year like 2021.
OPTION #5 - MAILED APPEAL
If none of the above strategies feel like a good fit for you this year, you can always try sending an appeal through the mail. While far less effective than the other options, a mailed appeal keeps your partners aware of the ministry, gives them a reason & opportunity to give, and informs partners about the changing realities of ministry. To those who hear this option and groan that it won't raise any money, let me say this: it's better than nothing! The financial outcome of a mailed appeal largely depends on how well you follow up with partners after the initial contact.
The worst thing you can do is nothing.
No matter what the future holds for your team, you will need funding to do the work God has called you to do - in fact, Development is an integral part of His calling. You can't let a year go by without finding a way to engage your partners and make new connections, especially if you took last year off.
Whatever you do, make sure you don't forget Development over the next 6 months and throughout all of 2021. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
Do you have questions or thoughts to add? Leave a comment below!