Social Media Bonanza! Five Ways I Use Facebook in Support Raising

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By on January 4, 2017   /   12 Comments

The phrase “social media” was virtually unknown just ten years ago, and yet today, it seems our lives revolve around it. I admit we are a society of “technology addicts”, barely able to go five minutes without checking our phone—and all the many-faceted functions it now serves. There are definitely some drawbacks to staying glued to that little screen day and night, but there a few pluses—especially in the realm of ministry and support raising. Facebook, for instance, has ended up being an incredible blessing as I seek to minister to people who are near and far. On top of that, it can be an amazing tool to raising up new supporters by keeping them informed and appreciated. Here are five ways I am trying to make Facebook contribute to my life—not control it.

1. Find old friends

When Facebook first came out my college age kids were so embarrassed that I was considering opening an account. “Okay dad”, my daughter blurted out, “you can get a Facebook page as long as you promise you’ll never invite anyone to be your friend!” I reluctantly agreed and stuck to it for over 10 years. But I woke up one day and declared my independence from my daughter’s shackles and determined to go back and find (and “friend”) as many of my buddies as I could from my growing up and college years.

It was a blast re-connecting with all kinds of people whom I had shared memories with. It opened up a whole new world, full of surprises, but soberness too. Seeing what my long lost friends had given themselves to over the last 10, 20, 30, 40+ years produced a strong reminder in me to stay the course in my walk with God. Most of my old friends were married, some divorced, a few passed away. Some had been successful in their families and careers, other seem to still be wandering and searching and full of pain. Some had come to Christ and others still trying to relive the “good old days” of their youth. I have to admit, even though I hadn’t seen most of them in person for decades, exchanging posts and “likes” with them has given me a feeling of closeness I never would have guessed.

2. Affirm/pray for/inform friends from a distance

Periodically checking Facebook, I come across all kinds of postings from old and new friends. Just “liking” one of their pictures lets them know I’m thinking about them. Posting a “praying for you” note when they share about their mother’s cancer, or ribbing them about an ancient picture of them with shaggy hair are all ways to, not only stay in touch, but to let them know I still care.

God has given us a miraculous way to help fulfill Jesus’ final command on this earth: “to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts.” Maybe I can’t jump on a plane and see my old camp friend in Denver or the pastor I met in Nepal, but I can connect with them technologically, personally, even spiritually via the modern-day avenues the Lord has allowed us to have.

Lastly, when someone does come on your team, make sure you “friend” them. Whether you set up a separate Facebook account just for your supporters or not, be sure to use the medium to post pictures and videos of your ministry and family. As they see the people on your page you have led to Christ, discipled, or ministered to in some way, it lets them know they are getting a good return on their investment!

3. Set up personal appointments

Let’s say you’ve done a good job of tracking with your friends on Facebook as well as remembering their birthdays and anniversaries. If so, when it comes time to contact them about possible financial support for your ministry, it doesn’t feel like a cold call to them—or you. Why? Because the two of you have been exchanging “likes” and posts for a while! Reaching out for a personal visit can be just a natural outgrowth of the renewed friendship you’ve established over the previous months or years.

If the main way the two of you are communicating is via Facebook , then you sending a Facebook message may be appropriate. “Hey StrayDog*, I’m coming 2 Houston next week. Cud u squeeze me into your schedule on Wed or Thurs someplace? If you’ll allow me, I want 2 lay this ministry in front of u I’ve been posting bout/raising support for. Plus, it will be a great time 2 catch up. Can u do it? 🙂 I’ve set up a lot of appointments through Facebook messages. How about you? Try it! There is a whole generation out there that is checking it multiple times a day, and would love to get a message from you!

*Term of affection from our growing up days. You may not want to try this yourself!

4. Network connections

Maybe I am a creeper, I don’t know, but I enjoy seeing who knows who. I call it “networking”, of course, and we truly are just a few degrees away from almost anyone on the planet! Facebook lets me know who our mutual friends are, but will usually lists all of their other friends too. I have discovered and reconnected with some of my old buddies by perusing the friends list of current Facebook connections!

Hope you don’t think it’s weird, but seeing who the friends are of my Facebook friends allows me to know what circles they run in, and if I choose to ask my Facebook friend for a referral, I can mention a name or two I saw on their Facebook friends list. What’s the worst they could say to my request for an introduction to one or more of their friends? “No.” That’s right. So, don’t make it a big deal to ask them, and don’t make it a big deal if they decline. “We have not because we ask not” is what James 4:2 says.

5. Help set up appointments for others

I have a burden to help our new (and veteran) staff get to full funding. I will sometimes ask one of them to give me the schedule of what cities they are raising support in. I look up all the people I am Facebook friends with in those areas, and individually/personally message each: “Curt, hey bro, hope you and the fam are doing okay. I’m wondering if you would you and/or Sara would do me a personal favor. Would you be willing to find a few minutes in your schedule next week to meet with Katie, one of our new staff girls? She is an awesome young woman, and I want her to meet you, and get a chance to share her ministry vision with you. Whether you are able to come on her support team or not is purely between you and the Lord. I just wanted to connect you. Are you open to getting a phone call from Katie, and maybe meeting with her? I would be so grateful!

There are hundreds (yea, thousands!) of Facebook “friends” I have that I’ve never approached for personal support. Why not at least explore the possibility of them meeting with one of our new or veteran staff who are raising support? Again, what’s the worst they could say?! I get about half of them saying they would be open to getting a call and setting up an appointment. It is about the easiest way I’ve ever seen to connect people I care about for a support appointment. I love it!

How about you?

What ways have you used Facebook to enrich your support team or of those staff around you? Share it in the comment section for all to see!

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  • Marion Stolte

    Hi Steve,
    So glad you brought this up! Facebook (and other social media) can be a great tool for connecting / reconnecting with people from various circles of relationships. For me, it’s another one of those ‘touchpoints’ I use in keeping relationships current. And sometimes it is the only way I can reach people (to find out their mailing address or phone even) – often through private facebook messaging. They respond quickly there, when they don’t respond to an email!

    I am cautious, though, in my posting of pictures, etc. so that no one would feel like a project. In other words, I don’t say “this is who I’m discipling, etc.” I might say “This is a great group of people that I get to be a part of here in my hometown. We love doing life together.”

    I also realize that I am still representing my organization/ministry even when I post as a private person on Facebook, so I try to give careful thought to my posts or even my likes.

    Thanks for pointing out the positives of social media, Steve and how important it is to use these various avenues well in our ministry partner work.

    Blessings, Marion

  • thanks for your post, Marion. Yes, there is a whole list of things NOT to do on Facebook too. You hit on a couple of them. I pray Christian workers would have wisdom and discernment in the use of social media. Have a great year Marion!

  • Great post! Thanks so much for your encouragement and help for so many!

    • THANK YOU Doug for your decades of service unto the Lord and thousands of others. We are grateful for your life and ministry and worldwide impact SIM is making. Have a great 2017!!

  • Jeremy Doorten

    Great article Steve. This is refreshing to read through.

    Last week I had a short term missionary use Facebook to set up a post that lead to an online funding link to help her raise funds for her short term mission. She made a very positive post and only picked people she knew directly from her home church. One of the approx. 100 people really became irate and was deeply offended that this person tagged them in a post that was intended for fundraising purposes. Their issue was that “the missionary couldnt even both to ask me face to face”. Unfortunately the offended person took to social media to discredit the use of “tagging” for fundraising efforts.

    It is nice to hear of the other more positive ways Facebook has impacted fundraising.

    • Personally–If someone tagged a bunch of people (and includes me) just trying to promote one of their causes or products,and now it shows up on my timeline, I know I feel a little violated. And then if I discover it was unsolicited appeal for funds, it feels a little abusive. How about you?

  • Scott Anderson

    Great thoughts. Facebook has been a great tool for us to use in working on our support. We hit a wall for awhile where it felt nobody was answering their phones or returning calls. Frankly, it was pretty discouraging. Then we started to try to connect with people through Facebook to set up meetings. This began a boost in raising up ministry partners. Especially ones that lived far away. We were able to set up many phone call meetings and have experienced good fruit from that.
    We also utilize Facebook for a private group with our ministry partners as just another connection point to keep them informed as to what is going on. It also helps remind us about partners birthdays and anniversaries.

  • Titus

    Thanks Steve. Great list!

    Here are two other ideas:
    1. You can create a Facebook Group that is invitation only so you can keep your supporters updated on your ministry activities and be more candid then you would be on your general Wall. Still discretion is needed.

    2. You can create a Facebook List that will bring up the Wall Posts of only the people on that list. I created a list of my supporters (and some others who like to follow our ministry) so I can make sure I am seeing their posts and staying up to date with them.

    As you are developing new relationships (for support or ministry) you could also make some specific lists to help you intentionally connect with them.

    Titus

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