Heading into March, my goal was to add on 20 new monthly supporters to my ministry team. But just two weeks into my face-to-face meetings, everything came to a halt. Hugs and conversations over café lattes abruptly came to a stop. I was suddenly partnership building in a pandemic.
At first, I just paused. I naively thought, This will pass quickly. Or Doing partnership building that’s not face to face just won’t be effective.
But as a couple of weeks went by, I realized that I needed to stay focused, accept the new norm, and keep pressing on. I made a few adjustments to my presentation and format and jumped back in.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few do’s and don’ts to factor in as you continue partnership building to develop your support base in the coming weeks and months in the fallout of COVID-19.
Don’t lose sight of the One who holds it all.
God is still on his throne and in control. He is still the one you are asking to connect you with new supporters and ultimately, to provide the resources both for your supporters and you.
Don’t make excuses and stop now.
Instead, determine to press into the uniqueness of the situation and make the most of it. Stay in a place of prayer with your eyes firmly fixed on Him as the ultimate provider of your needs.
DO evaluate your meeting and presentation methods.
I’ve opted to adjust my presentation slightly to make it more effective for screen-sharing through a Zoom meeting conversation.
My friend Chelsea helped me walk through my presentation in Zoom so I could familiarize myself with the program functions, timing, and placement of things while sharing my screen. In addition, I opted to take my response sheet and made it into a Google form. I email that form to my potential partners right before my meeting.
Another option besides virtual meeting is a porch partnership meeting. Let’s face it. Most people are pretty desperate for some real face to face time with a friend. Enjoy the spring sunshine by scheduling a visit on the porch that still allows you to honor social distancing guidelines.
Don’t minimize the side benefits of partnership building.
Continuing to make phone calls, schedule appointments, and share God’s work has untold benefits both for you and your friends. Many people are desperate to see a friendly face and have a conversation right now–not to mention a genuine connection.
People also want to hear some good news right now–and you have exciting testimonies to share!
Keep in mind that it’s not all about the finances but instead about sowing your seed generously, trust that other good things will come from your faithfulness. When you share your ministry story, you are casting vision, educating, managing expectations, celebrating God’s goodness and providing much needed encouragement to your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Do acknowledge financial changes.
Take time at the outset to catch up with current circumstances of those with whom you interact. Have the current stay at home orders impacted their job and finances?
If they are struggling financially right now make sure that you acknowledge their current circumstances and factor that into your ask–keeping in mind, like in the story of Elijah and the widow (1 Kings 17:7-16), the ways God still may have plans for them via their generosity in tough circumstances.
Pray for God’s provision in their own lives. Current circumstances might require you to adjust your expectations while continuing to faithfully share what God has called you to, trusting in His time for a harvest.
Don’t drop the ask.
The last thing you want to do is shy away from the primary purpose of your meeting.
Be clear at the outset what your goals are. Clearly emphasize what you are asking the Lord for. Be sure to share why you are asking this person, and what you would like from them.
Do focus on relationships.
Personally, I long for ministry partners who have more skin in the game than a $50 auto-pay each month. My prayer is for men and women who will pray regularly for me and this ministry in which I’m partnering with the Lord.
I want to develop partners who reach out to me periodically to see how I’m doing or encourage me with a verse that God highlighted to them that morning in their devotions.
That means I have to be willing to do the same in my own partnership building. (As this article suggests, this season is a great opportunity to love more on those who support us.)
During this time when activities and entertainment options have been eliminated, many people have extra time and increased flexibility in their schedules. Make use of this time to strengthen relationships, make personal phone calls and evaluate the methods and frequency of communication with your supporters. Make use of snail mail to send an encouraging card or thank you note in your own handwriting instead of Garamond.
No more excuses. Affirm your goals, evaluate your methods– and keep seeking out those ministry partners that you need for the purposes God has for you.