The Challenge: Connecting Donors to a Clear Mission
For Freedom’s Promise, which operates in the critical yet crowded anti-human trafficking space, clearly answering that question meant the difference between thousands of lives saved in Cambodia versus closing up shop altogether. While the programs in country led to clear transformation in so many lives, describing the work and impact to an audience totally unfamiliar with day-to-day life in Cambodia proved challenging.
For years, the team asked the question - “How do we describe what we do?” - in a way that connects with the networks back home who carry the financial, volunteer time and expertise we need. Calling in Tailored Fundraising advisors, eight board members and the former executive director met for a strategy session to determine whether the organization should merge with another group or if they could identify that clear mission and vision.
“We knew what we were doing on the ground in Cambodia was good and really important,” said Tiffany Atkinson, a former Board member who is now the organization’s executive director. “We just did not have a clear path as to how to get the work translated to messaging that would build capacity stateside.”
The Solution: Creating the Language of Impact
Four questions during that strategy session turned the tides. Thankfully, the board engaged them before they took a vote:
Though the challenges Freedom’s Promise faced included the very real need to build financial support so the work could grow, the questions they worked through that night were not financial in nature. Yet they are inextricably tied to the overall health of the organization first, and then the financial stability, because their answers reveal the critical connection between an organization’s mission and its donors. It’s that connection that can lead organizations to (re)discover their purpose, (re)frame their approach to fundraising with a Biblical mindset, tell a motivating story and create plans that engage donors and maximize impact.
“You can ask questions all day long and keep plugging away to the point of exhaustion, but one of the best things that happened to Freedom’s Promise was our humbling of heart and bringing in help. With the guidance of our Tailored team, we received outside perspective, clear direction and goals, and coaches who walked alongside us all as we begin to implement the strategy and then begin the fundraising needed to carry it out,” said Tiffany.
Three months of donor research, developing a Strategic Funding Plan, and creating a consistent message for all communications ensued. Further coaching helped Tiffany and others translate their unabashed belief in the work of Freedom’s Promise into a relationship-based fundraising strategy.
The Result: Engaged, Long-Term Donors who Share Mission & Impact
After a couple years of focused, hard work, the organization began doubling in capacity - financially and staff-wise - for about 3 years and now are steadily increasing both their operations and their impact.
Even through website refreshes, transitioning the Board of Directors from a working board to governing, new programs and programs ended, changing staff members and even challenges resulting from the region’s political unrest, the mission of Freedom’s Promise thrives. And so do the men, women and children in Cambodia who will now never know the life of a slave.
The Challenge: Maximum Effort. Not Enough Return.
Heath Hubbard’s statement hits all too close to home for so many missionaries. Heath and his team felt called to go to Tokyo and plant churches. But the funds hadn’t come. Maximum effort. Little output tangibly. Prayer covered the work, yet the practical need of funding to responsibly reach the field didn’t happen.
Too often, this scenario causes missionaries to question their purpose, and if they are, in fact, meant to go to the field. While that is always a critical question, it can often be wrongly attributed to simply not having an effective message, ask, and plan that connects potential donors right to the impact, even though they won’t be in the field.
The Solution: Accountability through Coaching, and Learning to Say the Right “No”
At Tailored, we use a months-long coaching approach to help missionaries get the funding they need to go to the field and carry out God’s work. It happens through:
Through this work, Heath’s team learned to connect the prospective donor to the impact of the work with a very clear and specific ask. They gained the confidence to transform a mission-minded request into a very clear vision for impact. The donors finally knew how to engage in the work, what their hard-earned dollars would do, and that they were more than just giving money to the work.
“When we had a plan in place, fundraising stopped being frustrating and discouraging like it used to be,” says Heath. “Almost every person we met with said yes to partner. It wasn’t necessarily at the level of support we asked, but they engaged. I know it’s not because we had the best team. It’s because we connected the work we’re doing to the person we asked in a way that they understood it and could help create the impact.”
The Result: More Than Enough
The numbers show the impact: In 6 months, Heath and his team raised commitments for $2,000 monthly, and another 6 months later, had raised an extra $70,00 in one-time donations to begin ministry. Finally, through a year-end event, the team raised an additional $20,000 to send a launch team right to the field.
But the relationships built with partners are also clearer now, more transparent and confident from both sides. “You’re doing this the right way,” said one partner. “You said all the right things and you are good at this!” Said another: “Making a $10,000 ask is hard, and you did it. Thank you for asking me to be a part.”