Why should your donor care?
Sharing the “SOTO” — the “story of the one” — the account of a life changed through the work of the ministry — sometimes nicely bridges the gap between what the ministry needs the money for and what the donor will sit still to learn about.
- “We’ve got to book the hall now in order to prepare for the crusade.”
(Sorry, but the truth is, I don’t really care. Tell me about Lorraine, who was strung out on drugs but somehow came to Christ through the last crusade you staged.)
- “We need new computers in order to process ministry correspondence and donations more efficiently.”
(Sorry, but I still don’t care. Tell me about Patrick, to whom God gave a whole new life through our ministry, because someone like me gave generously!)
The Story of the One solves another common problem: the issue of raising money for “one thing” and spending it on “another thing.”
Certainly if you raise “designated” money for a specific project, you have a legal and moral obligation to spend the money on that project.
But what if your ministry does three different things, but the only time your donors respond strongly is when you describe one of the three?
The solution is always to talk about one thing — and that’s somebody whose life is different today because of your ministry. With that “story of the one,” the mechanics by which that person was ministered to becomes less important to the donor.
- “Carlos has a safe Christian home today because friends like you gave to this ministry.”
- “Debbie carried her baby and gave him up for adoption because friends like you gave to this ministry.”
- “Sharon is a healthy, vibrant Christian today because friends like you gave to this ministry.”
Never mind how your foster placement program works, how your crisis counseling center operates, how your intervention volunteers coordinate with the local police department. That’s all well and good — but I want to give to your ministry because you told me about Carlos and Debbie and Sharon.
- We often find that a ministry accomplishes seven or eight distinct functions, but five or six of them have no “sizzle” for fundraising. What to do?
The leaders of one honorable charity insist on rotating through their various departments, appealing to donors to support each one in turn, and explaining in laborious detail how each outreach comes about. The ebb and flow of gift income is inevitable: some of the outreaches have far more pizzazz than others.
While some ministry marketers may believe that “equal time” is the only ethical route to generating support for their work, it’s possible that the opposite is true: Maybe it’s unethical to do less ministry, or do it less well, for lack of funds — simply because each department of your ministry insists on its day in the sun.
Tell your donors the story of someone whose life was touched and transformed by God through the work of your ministry, and nothing could be more legitimate.
We don’t know exactly how Jesus and His disciples met their financial needs; those details aren’t important. What we do know is how their ministry impacted lives. That’s what’s important.
It has often been pointed out that Christ calls us not to be His lawyers but rather His witnesses. The marketing of your ministry can be reduced to the same simple strategy. You can, in effect, let individuals tell “what happened to me” — and if what happened to them is good, you have an “automatic” instrument for inspiring people to help it happen again to others.
Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and make like a detective. Find the bodies. Tell the “story of the one.” Let the evidence of your ministry speak for itself.
You’ve been charged with having an effective ministry. Can you be found guilty?