Recently, I received a phone call from a dynamic young lady (let’s call her Esther), who had seen me speak and wanted to invite me to her first women’s ministry event. By the end of what quickly evolved into a coaching/mentoring session, Esther reminded me of where I was twenty-five years ago, when I launched my women’s ministry: enthusiastic, passionate… but naïve.
Like Esther, I felt a strong call to serve women. But looking back, I wish I had the much-needed support at the start, in the form of coaching/mentoring, as I have now. As a result, although there were many highs, there were also times of feeling clueless, frustrated and isolated. I even wanted to quit. Thankfully, I held on but I have learnt many lessons along the way.
During my discussion with Esther, it became apparent she needed direction about her new ministry/event. Whilst we covered several topics, the subject of money came up repeatedly. So I will share some insights I gave her. If you want to discover The Top Five Things Every Ministry Leader Must Know When Starting A Ministry, download my FREE eBook at gracethespeaker.com/starting-ministry.
The Funding Challenge
Funding your new ministry is one of the major hurdles. In the early stages, finding monthly partners, sponsorships, etc. can prove challenging.
I would admit to dipping into savings and using my credit card to fund projects or events. However, this is not a sustainable solution. And so, in the case of Esther, I coached her into finding innovative yet sustainable income sources to fund her ‘passion project’, ie. ministry, that did not rely on her salary, savings, etc.
SOLUTION: Funding a ministry has similarities with generating income for your business. I believe God has given us gifts and abilities that I call our ‘Jar of Oil’ (2 Kings 4:1-7). So your goal is to find ways of generating additional income sources, pretty much like the servant who doubled his five talents (Matthew 25:14-30). For you, this might mean having profitable ‘side hustles’ alongside your 9-5 job. And if you are already in business, you want to ensure you are effectively monetising your gifts or expertise. After coaching Esther, she will be creating two new income sources, using her vast professional experience and unique mix of gifts.
The Honorarium Challenge
Like Esther, many ministries don’t have the budget to ‘bless’ their speakers. I can relate to this, although I strongly believe if someone is sharing their intellectual property, effort and time, they should be paid along with reasonable expenses. So what happens if you genuinely cannot afford this?
SOLUTION: I suggested Esther should explore various win-win approaches. One includes using digital marketing strategies to promote the speaker whilst promoting the event. This can be done before, during and after the event, to promote attendee engagement, ticket sales (if applicable) and the speaker’s resources. With a well-thought-out marketing plan and little or zero marketing budget (in some cases), such strategies can benefit the speaker in many ways (eg. sales of relevant books, resources, training/coaching programmes, etc.). From personal experience, this approach can be more beneficial to the speaker than the honorarium you may/may not be able to give.
The FREE Versus Paid Event Challenge
Very early in our chat, Esther asked the question: “Should I charge my attendees?” Having done both paid and free events, both have their pros and cons. If you are planning to generate income from ticket sales to pay for the event (suppliers, venue, yourself, etc.), the ‘free’ model will not work. However, if you are starting out, and want to build your brand/following, this may be the way to start while keeping a tight rein on your budget.
SOLUTION: If adopting the free model, you need to build in a mechanism to generate funds, like offerings, product sales, food stands, an exhibition area, media sponsorship, etc. Keep in mind that where there is no cost to attend, there may be a high number of no-shows, owing to no financial commitment or little value placed on what is offered. However, when there is a fee, you tend to get higher attendance and more engaged attendees, so you may want to charge a small fee or have stricter terms and conditions – especially if you have limited capacity and/or waiting lists.
Starting a ministry can be exciting and rewarding, but I would encourage you to get support (eg. mentoring/coaching) at every stage of the journey (Proverbs 11:14 and 15:22). If you want to discover the other winning strategies I shared with Esther, download my FREE eBook, The Top Five Things Every Ministry Leader Must Know When Starting A Ministry,at gracethespeaker.com/starting-ministry.
Written by Grace Gladys Famoriyo – Author, Speaker and Founder, Multiple Income Women