By Aaron Babyar
The following article is in partnership with SRS and was originally published via supportraisingsolutions.org.
You may have previously heard that I was a failed support raiser for a few years before I attended an SRS bootcamp. I wasn’t even able to raise 25% of our need, and I felt like a terrible failure.
There were many reasons for this, but a big one was that I didn’t have any plans for how to use my time, and how to chart my success outside of actual money given. I hadn’t built a good list of contacts, I didn’t know how to ask for referrals, I made too few calls and averaged too few appointments, among other problems! I needed to get training, and I needed to get S.M.A.R.T.
Perhaps some of the support raising staff you are coaching seem to be in the same boat. Maybe you’re wondering how they are spending their time. They seem to say some of the right things when you ask questions, but you’re not convinced they are really building momentum. How do you help them? What should you measure? How do you ask questions without discouraging?
Of course, there are some basic preventative steps in advance of this frustration point:
You do want to be building your relationship with the support raiser you are coaching, making sure they are staying spiritually healthy and getting the training they need to succeed.
But it is also vital to help them learn to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound goals in support raising.
Let’s look at a Not-So-S.M.A.R.T. support raising goal:“I want to make a bunch of phone calls, so I can get some appointments and eventually get fully funded.”
This sounds like a great idea on the surface, but that’s the problem isn’t it? It doesn’t go below the surface. It’s a vague, simple, and hard to measure. Progress will be questionable at best.
Here’s an example of a S.M.A.R.T. support raising goal:“In order to get fully funded, I accept that it will take several weeks or months of making “asks” to reach my goal.
There will be many a Yes, No, and Maybe along the way, so I must make a lot of asks.
Therefore, before Friday of each and every week, I want to set up at least 10 support raising appointments for the following week.
If necessary I will make 20 or more phone calls on Monday, and each day after until I have at least 10 appointments set up for the following week.
Meanwhile, I will engage with those pre-set-up 10 appointments each week, and make the appropriate follow-up communications.
This will continue for at least the next 100 days / 15 weeks/ 150 appointments – unless I reach full funding first!
I will track my work efforts along the way, and submit a weekly report to be reviewed by my coach and accountability partner.
Meanwhile, I will take 1 full day off every week, and have some personal time with my wife and each of my kids.”
So what makes this example so S.M.A.R.T.?Specific: There are a lot of specifics in there. In this instance, getting many appointments for making many “Asks” is the key component.
Measurable: The numbers 1, 10, 15, 20, 150 can all be charted in chunks over time, and are listed in the S.M.A.R.T. goal. At any given time the support raiser can determine where they are in their flow of daily or weekly goals. Sometimes in my successful support raising process, I had to work 6 full days. Other times I was able to accomplish what was necessary in a bit less than 5 days. The need for appointments, for connection with my family, and a full day off determined my schedule each week. Sometimes I would work ahead, sometimes I had to work extra because I had fallen behind.
Achievable: Ten appointments are usually not easy to come by, yet are quite possible if you are working at it full-time. I’ve spoken with people who were averaging 2 appointments weekly and others who averaged 20 appointments a week while still taking at least 1 full day off for sabbath/rest/worship. The “2” people usually quit. The “20” people usually needed an extra rest day here and there to prevent burnout. However, because they put more emphasis on getting appointments than on tracking how many phone calls they had to make, they got fully-funded faster than normal!
Relevant: If you’re going into full-time vocational ministry, this sort of workload may seem completely on par with the type of focus you will need to do your job well after the primary fundraising push. However, the level of dedication needed to get to full-funding might even require taking a few month break from your weekly 2 hour women’s Bible study group or coaching a little league baseball team for a season. Whatever you need to set aside for a time, your smart goals demand focus, and you need to have some Big Mo’!
Timebound: “Before Friday of each and every week…” Assuming it’s Monday morning, you still have five full work days to fully reach the stated goal. Your schedule will vary, but if this exact goal is accomplished and repeated the next week and over the next 15 weeks, there is a force from your focus that will make impact!
If you have walked the walk, those you oversee are much more likely to listen when you talk the talk. Your oversight is crucial in helping them to set and sometimes manage, measure, or change their goals.
As a support raising leader, your role is significant in allowing them to find success in being Spiritually Healthy, Vision-Driven, and Fully funded. For God’s glory, let’s help them be S.M.A.R.T. about their goals!