This is a Guest Post by Nathan Beaird.
Like many of you, I’ve been on a mission trip. And like many of you, I needed financial assistance. I wrote the letter, inserted the appropriate name, and sent it off. However, with the advance of computers, “going green”, mobile phones, and social networking sites, physical hand-written letters have become endangered.
I think the last time I got a hand-written letter I panicked thinking someone had been kidnapped. Now that people can do almost everything online, anything that requires them to return a check in the “snail-mail” seems too tedious, and may result in nothing for you. I believe I’ve found something that will change the art of fund-raising and empower Missionaries, as well as churches forever.
I wanted to find a way to embed something similar to a PayPal account on a website, or create and email a link to a savings account on the web. I thought if someone could just get to that account in the least amount of clicks possible, and contribute with a credit or debit card- I could raise this money pretty fast!
Then I found out about SmartyPig.com. Open an account with them, set up a savings goal, and SmartyPig tracks how long it will take you to reach that goal.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “I can do this through my bank.” Well that may be, but I doubt very much that your bank creates a widget that you can embed on your blog, webpage, Facebook profile, MySpace, or any other social networking site. Your friends and family that want to contribute to your savings goal, can do so in two clicks of the mouse and they didn’t even have time to complain about stamp prices. I’m not saying to scrap the idea of the letter, it’s raised a lot of money for people to take the gospel all around the Earth. You could even include the link in the letter!
Although SmartyPig is great for missions giving, I’d like to outline several other helpful uses for churches:
Scenario #1- The Need
Maybe your church is raising money for a new soundboard for the auditorium. Of course you have a presentation to the congregation initially, maybe a “thermometer” chart in the bulletin that shows how close you are to your goal, and most certainly a bake sale or staff vs. youth basketball game of which all proceeds go to the new soundboard. All these things are great, but they only reach the people that come to your church, and only the ones that come on a regular basis.
There’s millions of people that use Facebook and email, to not utilize the widget feature seems crazy! You could send out an email with the link to the savings goal that you’ve set up for the new soundboard and they can give right there. They, in turn, can email it to their friends and so on. Your soundboard goal has now become viral and people who are “Kingdom Minded” all over the world are giving you $10 out of their pocket because it’s easy, and they don’t mind helping out a fellow ministry. Also, because the site is FDIC Insured, they know it’s not a scam.
Scenario #2- The Event
Youth Groups and Children departments in every church attend or host summer camps or special events for the kids. Again, the announcement is made from the pulpit, and reminders in the bulletins. However, with the same viral effect as the last scenario, friends, relatives, and co-workers are able to help financially support these kids. Just set a goal, (i.e. We want to send 50 kids to Camp this year!) and send the link out. In your email you could breakdown the cost per child and let them know that they could send 1 child to camp for X-amount of dollars. Don’t forget to embed the widget to the church website or any Facebook, MySpace, or blog page!
Scenario #3- The Disaster
Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people. Hurricane Katrina left thousand homeless and still rebuilding their lives. We as the “Global Church” are commanded to help victims of disasters like these. With SmartyPig.com, you would be able to set up a goal to buy food, water, sandbags, tarps, or anything else that’s of need. Set the goal, breakdown how much it is to sponsor X-amount of items. Email the link or embed the widget on your social networking site.
These of course are only four ways to utilize and leverage this technology for Christ, but as you get into it, I’m sure you will find several more uses for this tool.
Remember– make it easy for people to help you, and they will!