By Aaron Babyar
The following article is in partnership with SRS and was originally published via supportraisingsolutions.org.
“Hey (potential ministry partner), I am excited about my new role with XYZ ministry! I’d love to get together with you soon to share my vision, budget goals, and how God is using this ministry to change lives. Could we maybe grab coffee next Thursday morning?”
You hit send on your well-crafted text and wait for their reply.
Although texting seems to be a preferred method of communication these days, the majority of successful support raisers I have spoken with tend to avoid using texts to set appointments because of a high failure rate. There are a number of reasons for this, including a reality that some people might see the word “finances” or “budget” and quickly dismiss your appointment request without ever replying. When trying to secure an appointment, it is more personal and interactive to do so verbally, whether over the phone or face-to-face. Filling your appointment calendar by shooting out some texts certainly sounds appealing, but unfortunately text messaging in this stage of support raising often doesn’t work so well. You could literally communicate this very message to someone verbally and likely get a better response than sending a text message using the exact same words!
A helpful exercise might be to think of all forms of communication as tools in your toolbox. Not every tool is going to be the best instrument for every job. For instance, it’s unlikely you will ever need a sledgehammer when repairing your computer (though you might feel like you want to use one sometimes)! But if you want to break up concrete, you will want that sledgehammer and not a rubber mallet. When trying to set up an initial appointment, texting seems to act like a sledgehammer being used on the wrong job; however, that doesn’t mean you should never use that tool. Here are at least 3 other occasions when texting might be the right tool for the job.
1. Setting up an “appointment request phone call”
I’ve had times when people simply don’t answer their phone or return calls despite two or three attempts at calling. Maybe I even left a short voicemail or two in which I didn’t mention money, but they still aren’t replying. At this point, my new go-to method is to send a short text like this: “Hey John, this is Aaron Babyar. Sorry I keep missing you. Is there a better time to talk later today? Or perhaps is now a good time to talk?” Some people respond by calling me immediately. Many others eventually reply, which jump starts further communication. Note that I ended my simple text with a question or two. That might be partially why some are compelled to finally respond.
2. Confirming the appointment
I like to send a statement message 12-24 hours before a planned get together. For instance, “Jeff, I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at Kennedy Coffee.” This serves to help them remember our commitment to meet, and if perchance they have also scheduled something else during that time and accidentally forgotten about me, it also allows them time to rearrange their calendar. Meanwhile, it saves me from drinking coffee all alone, again, because I forgot to confirm…again!
3. Post-invitation follow up confirmation
When someone gives a “maybe” answer to potentially join my team, I’m careful to set a follow-up expectation during the meeting by saying something like, “Great. Sounds like we agree that we can follow up this Saturday. I will be praying for God to lead you and your husband as you process this potential partnership in the gospel.” Meanwhile I want to be praying for them, and I always send a recent newsletter as they are hopefully moving towards making a clearer decision.
Increasingly though, I have begun to send a text the day before our follow-up that looks something like this, “Sarah, thanks again for prayerfully considering joining my support team. We had discussed clarifying your decision by tomorrow. Let’s plan to touch base in the early afternoon.” I’ve had a variety of replies to statements like this: from people who have already decided “no” who text me their decision on the spot, to people who ask if we can wait one more day, to people who have already decided “yes” that respond, “Great. We are in for $150 a month. Talk to you tomorrow, and maybe you can tell us how to set that up.”
Sometimes, sending a text message is the perfect tool for the job. Be sure to know when to use it, when not to, and when to search through your toolbox for a different form of communication.