Raise Your Vision

July 07, 2015

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Volunteer Projects That Raise Money By Mike Stickler

If your ministry has many members, volunteers or congregants, volunteer projects that raise money are a good idea. Typically, the entire infrastructure for the project is in place and your group need only provide the manpower to generate cash.

Have you ever seen people wrapping gifts for tips or a small fee at Barnes and Noble or the local mall at Christmas? Many large chain stores and shopping malls will invite charities in during the holidays to perform this customer service. Make sure the location will provide the materials (paper, tape, bows, scissors, tags, pens); if not, buy them in bulk. Consider training for your volunteers to make sure everyone knows how to wrap a package attractively. As a general rule, don’t start your gift-wrapping project until December 15. American’s don’t Christmas shop that far in advance. Schedule this type of fundraising event closer to Christmas if possible.

Gift-wrapping calls to mind other seasonal sales projects. Your church youth group could sell Christmas trees or wreaths. For a Christmas tree sale, secure a site in a high-traffic location. You might need to obtain a permit, so check with City Hall first. If your church is in a good, well-traveled location, you could simply use the church parking lot. Talk to two or three local tree farms to compare prices, then place your order. Set your prices above what you are paying the tree farm; you might check other lots to make sure your prices are comparable. Set up your trees and your cash box, and make sure you have adequate lighting. Also consider offering coffee, cocoa and Christmas carols to make your sale more festive. During the fall season, your group could use this same model to sell pumpkins.

Food sales are also popular. From Girl Scout Cookies to candy bars, cheesecakes and Thanksgiving turkeys, your group can sell almost any food item at a profit. A simple Internet search using the terms “food, sales and fundraising” will turn up many sources. For those who want to avoid food items, novelty gifts, magazine subscriptions and candles are other options. The possibilities are endless.

One important note: the key to these projects is to use volunteers, not staff time. If staff members are implementing the project, your group will not generate much income. Staff time is costly, and when staff members are implementing sales projects they are taking time away from their other activities.

Freshen up on your Volunteer Procedures:

July 04, 2015

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10 Things God can't do By Mike Stickler

 

  1. God can't get tired. Isaiah 40:28
  2. God can't find something he can't handle. Jeremiah 32:17
  3. God can't be unholy. Isaiah 6:3
  4. God can't lie. Titus 1:2
  5. God can't break a promise. Psalm 89:34
  6. God can't remember sins he's chosen to forgive. Isaiah 43:25
  7. God can't make a loser. 2 Corinthians 2:14
  8. God can't abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6
  9. God can't stop thinking about you. Psalm 139:17-18
  10. God can't stop loving you. Jeremiah 31:3

I hope that encourages you today.

 

 

July 01, 2015

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5 Tips for Social Media Success By Mike Stickler

Since I coach a lot of ministry and nonprofit leaders, I’m always interested in best practices. So I was glad to have the opportunity to ask Mari Smith, one of the thought leaders in the area of social media, what tips she would offer to leaders who want to take advantage of social media to get their message out.

Mari offered five basic tips for social media success:


  • Be clear about your objective. What do you want to achieve with social media? Share helpful information? Built your e-mail list? Raise funds for your organization? Promote a project? Getting clarity about your objective will help you use social media effectively.
  • Use a consistent design. Your logo and look and feel should be the same across all of your social media channels. Your Facebook fan page cover image, Twitter background, blog design—all should match so you reinforce your “brand” each time someone looks at one of your updates.
  • Plan your content. “What do I post?” is a common struggle among social media users. Having a content strategy can go a long way toward easing that frustration while providing useful content to your followers. Looking at the calendar and mapping out a month’s or even a year’s worth of content can actually make it easier to come up with content. Plug in holidays, times of celebration and other special events. Have different themes for the week or the month or the quarter.

 A free tool that can help you with pre-scheduling posts is HootSuite.com. Facebook also has its own pre-scheduler.

  • Develop an engagement strategy. Social media’s strength is in its ability to get people interacting. So while excellent content is important, equally important is having a strategy for engaging with your readers—replying to comments, for example. It can make all the difference in whether people go back to your page.

Who in your organization will be responsible for engaging your readers? Some bloggers always answer readers’ comments themselves. Others have someone in the organization do it—someone who understands the values and standards of the ministry or nonprofit. Mari has a saying: “Content is king, but engagement is queen. And she rules the house.”

  • Track and measure. This is the best way to tell whether you’re accomplishing your objective (see #1). If your goal in using social media is to raise funds for your organization, how well is it working? Are you reaching the right market? Are you getting more fans or followers?

If you want to dig deeper and compare the features of different social media, you’ll find detailed comparison charts here and elsewhere on the Web.

Which of these practices would you work on first?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters for The Raise Your Vision Online Forum

 Would You Like To Learn More? Download the Podcast Here:

June 25, 2015

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Why Should Churches Use Social Media? By Mike Stickler

I suppose it’s no secret that churches, Christian ministries, and nonprofits have a hard time staying up with trends. They always have. Typically they are 20 years to even 40 years behind on trends. Now, the gap has been narrowing somewhat in the last decade or so, but there is still a lag. This is especially true when it comes to adopting trends in technology.

Social media is no different.

But I believe that ministry leaders as well as nonprofits should get up to speed in tapping the incredible opportunities offered by social media.

The main reason is what we might call “top-of-mind awareness.” Make your presence and your message known. As Mari Smith recently pointed out, “You have these people really all over the world, with their mobile devices, their smart phone, in their hand, and they have their entire community in their hand. And if they like something, if they love something they’re going to share it with all of their friends. The average number of friends people have on Facebook is about 130.”

Think of the ways you and your ministry could use social media to get your message to a wider audience. With just a website alone, you could have another platform to share or expand your message. You could stream your Sunday worship services online and reach people who perhaps couldn’t travel to church that week. You could offer different products—recordings of sermons or services, books, resources that families could download to study at home.

Twitter and Facebook are great vehicles for leaders to share their insights every day or several times a week.

Mari summed it up well when she said, “You’re in an institution where you want to connect with more people. You want to grow whatever it is that you have. You want to expand your message out there. And these online sites are just absolutely one of the most profound ways of doing that.”

What creative ways can you use social media to spread the word about your organization?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters at The Raise Your Vision Online Forum

 Would you like to learn more? Join Mike and Mari download this free Podcast

 

 

All information and images property of The Vision Group, Ltd. © 2015 Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.

June 22, 2015

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Getting a response to your emails

Recently I was working with one of our clients and was asked – how do you get through the white noise of communication? Whether it's using email or social media what is the most effective way to reach those with your message. So here are some tips.

Be Authentic:
AVOID the marketing/sales feel. I have a good friend who told me that he almost never reads my emails.  "Why," I asked? 

"Well, I get so many emails that as soon as I see color in an email I delete it, I consider it junk. Like the junk mail I get at home, it never makes it past my front door because I swing by the trash can on the way up the driveway."

Humm... That one conversation changed the way I thought about all my communication. I seldom use graphic emails or artwork. Try to make it as real and as authentic as possible. Be provocative or funny but always positive. Short and sweet, use as few words as possible, but make it as long as necessary, which can be a challenge. Use subject lines that are funny, inquisitive or off the wall to get your reader to read the message just as personal as you can make it. Use arrows >>> to get the action point across or maybe bullet points. Keep in mind that most people are going to skim your message so you want to draw their eye to the take action points. What do you want them to do? Click on a link, right? Prime the pump with something that gets the reader interested in looking for more. Have fun with it.

Think 4-7:
In order to find that sweet spot of reaching as many as possible, but not irritating them.  Here is what I find works, email them even four days (including weekends) seven times – that's 28 days of messages on this one subject. Here is what I suggest for communication progression:

  1. Tell them about your Vision – If they take action (buy, subscribe, donate, sign-up) remove them from further communication on this topic with a thank-you.
  2. Celebrate the first set of responses, tell them about the great response and the numbers. Or quote someone who was excited to participate. If they take action (buy, subscribe, donate, sign-up) remove them from further communication on this topic with a thank-you.
  3. Take another swipe at casting vision, but this time focus on lives changed - If they take action (buy, subscribe, donate, sign-up) remove them from further communication on this topic with a thank-you.
  4. Celebrate with a personal testimony from someone who made a sacrifice - If they take action (buy, subscribe, donate, sign-up) remove them from further communication on this topic with a thank-you.
  5. Take another swipe at your vision, but this time talk about how it will impact a community - If they take action (buy, subscribe, donate, sign-up) remove them from further communication on this topic with a thank-you. Starting to see why to remove them? Add an attachment, like an executive summary or invitation.
  6. Celebrate getting close to your goal and remind them of the urgency to get involved - If they take action (buy, subscribe, donate, sign-up) remove them from further communication on this topic with a thank-you.
  7. Use this email to ask if you can personally connect on the phone of Skype. If you done a good job at being personal, they'll want to connect. Wrap up your impact and celebrate how this will make a difference. Thank all those who participated, and reminder that the opportunity is coming to an end.

Do all of this while remaining authentic in your approach. You'll want to cut (and paste) corners here. Don't! Be genuine, creative and authentic. If you are, they'll enjoy your communications and maybe want to talk.

Follow Through.
It's amazing how many people who claim sales as a living don't actually do their job.  While this is not a sales process, do follow through by making a connection. Here is what I do: I use the same process above to see if I can get a call or Skype call with them.  But I break it up over a longer bit of time. This time think 3-2-1...

Three emails, every two days then take a week off to actually have the calls. So my schedule would look like this.

  • Week One:

Day One – Email #1
Day Three – Email #2
Day Five – Email #3

  • Week Two:

Conduct the calls, while doing all the other things in your life.

  • Week Three:

Circle Back around on those you missed or couldn't get scheduled. Use the same process as listed. You will be quit surprise how many will schedule a time.  Be formal and make it important. Don't do the "call anytime thing." Make an appointment and you call them. Even reconfirm the night before. Value their time and expect them to do the same.

Have an email draft of what you want them to take action on, BUT always customize it a little bit. Conclude the email with a request for a follow-up time to talk again, usually within a week. That keeps the conversation and relationship going. The goal here is to make every contact grow the relationship to your Vision. As they do, they'll contribute, buy, sign-up,  etc.

June 19, 2015

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Freebie Friday: Building Capacity Podcast

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June 19, 2015

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The Joy of Asking Someone to Give By Mike Stickler

One aspect of ministry that leaders often dread is asking people to give to the ministry. “I feel like I’m manipulating people when I go to them and ask for money,” leaders say. And the people often grumble, “They’re always asking for money.”

Not much joy on either side when giving is viewed that way, is there?

But sometimes a little change in perspective can make a big difference. As the saying goes, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

Have you thought about the joy involved in inviting people to give? My friend Art Ritter made this point recently. He said,

Giving things away can be as joyful as you can imagine. And it can be just as joyful to meet those who are going to help you in your ministry. After all, look what you are offering. You are offering an opportunity to work with God. Can you imagine that? What an invitation: “join us in doing God’s work here! Join us in working with God in making things different.” What a change. What a change in life!

That puts fundraising in a new light, doesn’t it?

So when we put together a fundraising event or simply share a need, we’re giving others an opportunity to join in the work of the Lord. If that doesn’t bring joy, we might need to adjust our perspective. As Art said, “This is great stuff! And we should be very joyful at the opportunity to do it. What do you think about that!

What aspects of funding your ministry bring you joy?

You can hear more about Effective Ministry Leadership from Mike Stickler on this week's featured program. Mike is also one of the presenters for The Raise Your Vision Online Forum.

 

 Would You Like to Learn More? Join Mike and Art Download this free Podcast

All information and images property of The Vision Group, Ltd. © 2015 Use, unless expressly given by the Company in writing, is unlawful by U.S. Copyright Law.

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