As a ministry making a huge difference in the world, finding funding can still be difficult!
You’ve developed a killer strategy to meet a real need in the world and impact many lives. But sometimes it’s hard to get donors to invest in your solution. You need to come up with a real strategy to take what you see as a true need, and make plans to address that need while integrating your financial partners into the plan.
This is so important because directly connecting the person giving to the impact couples funding and success without any hindrances.
Funding flows most freely when it’s the only thing holding you back from impact. But defining impact clearly for your donors and potential donors can be a big challenge. Now, a great strategy consists of clearly defined ways you can measure the progress of your ministry/solution. This way of measuring progress of your ministry may or may not be new to you, so consider carefully if you have clearly defined the terms and measurements of your own ministry’s success.
3 Clear Ways to Communicate Your Ministry is Making a Difference
1 - Connect Financial Partnership with Measurable Impact
You can clearly see the need and you want to communicate both the need and the solution to your donors. In order to do that, you need to clearly define each part of your solution; impact is only one of those parts. Connect the dots between financial partnership and measurable impact in your organization. You can find a clear explanation of this connection in our blog, The Easiest Approach to Managing Your Donors. So many organizations muddle these measurements both internally and externally, making it difficult for you and your donors to know if your ministry is really making a difference. Because you need to clearly communicate your solution to a specific problem, your solution can be divided into these four parts.
Inputs - what you actually spend dollars on (facilities, staff, materials, etc.).
Outputs - the direct result of that investment (a new tutoring program, transportation to remote villages, 350 vaccinations, people hear the gospel, clean water, etc.).
Outcomes - the short-term change caused by the outputs (increase in graduation rates, healthier families in the village, small local church is started, etc.).
Impact - the long-term difference of the outcomes (more thriving communities, better families, Bible teaching within a people group, etc.).
While this may seem clear cut, there are some key differences drawn out in these definitions you need to consider in your own definition of terms when presenting a strategic solution.
If you, the organization, purchases it, it’s an input not an output. For example, you may purchase a campground facility, which makes that camp an input. And the campers who have life changing experiences there, that’s the output.
If you can control it, it’s an output not an outcome. Meaning that preaching the gospel is an activity you can control and an output, which makes individual conversion an outcome.
If you can measure it on an annual basis (eventually), it’s an outcome not impact. For example, graduation rates going up is an outcome, while the increasing health of a community is the impact.
Now that you’ve begun to communicate in clearer terms, you should be able to easily make a connection between financial partnership and measurable impact in your organization. This is a first and foundational step, so work to get it right. Is this still clear as mud? We can help with a strategy day for your missions organization, just contact us here.
2 - Shrink the Distance Between Financial Partnership and Measurable Impact Even Further
Armed with your clear connection between financial partnership and measurable impact, your second step to show your ministry is making a difference is to shrink the distance between impact and donor to as small as possible. You want to make it so that it’s stupid-simple how giving makes a difference.
The clear connection to measurable impact allows you to make a financial ask around outcomes. This can give you the right balance between controlling the solution and measuring the result.
So, take sharing the gospel at a camp, for example. Ideally, every single ask for funds is:
Motivated by an outcome → individual conversion
Built around an output → sharing the gospel
Explained by an input → location for people to gather
Connected to the impact → another person joyfully redeemed for eternity
Shrinking the distance between a person’s giving and their impact also involves a measurement around the outcome that can be reported back to them.
Most of the time, the distance between giving and impact is too far removed simply because we ask around inputs or outputs. When we ask for finances around the inputs (campground) or outputs (sharing the gospel), we don’t lead the financial partner to the impact (the person whose life changed). Failing to make the connection between the financial partner and the impact by focusing too quickly on the inputs or outputs will minimize the funding capacity of any strategy for any mission.
3 - Align Your Fundraising Around the Measurable Impact
Allowing for increased and sustainable funding in your strategy is the goal of working through the first two steps. Lastly, you can now align all fundraising activity around measurable impact so that as funding increases, so does impact; and as impact increases, there is a sustainable financial model to support it.
It will probably take some time to transfer every fundraising activity in an organization to this model, but you can do it one activity or program or team member at a time. Eventually every single fundraising activity needs to have this as its motivation. Developing programs or solutions or strategies without this structure of a direct connection between giving and impact will ultimately decrease its funding.
Kiley Hawkins, Co-Founder
On the weekends, when I’m not cheering on the Liverpool Football Club, you’ll find me working outside on my farm. At Tailored, I get most excited about helping organizations achieve alignment around their mission. It's a privilege to be a part of other organizations by thinking strategically and creatively to connect funding and impact.