Archives For Data Analysis

This is the Second in a series of posts on Raising Support in ministry. Read the First for an intro. 

I spent 10 weeks this spring raising support. I learned a lot along the way and wanted to share the wealth. 


From observing thousands of missionaries raise support, Steve Shadrach has observed the following trends:

  • For a Small Group ask or just sending a letter/email – 10% will respond (support you)
  • Letters/Emails followed up with phone calls – 25% will support you
  • Face to Face appointments – 50% will support you


I thought it would be interesting/helpful to share statistics from my personal experience.

I’ll highlight a few insights and then share the raw data below:

  • 75% of Face to Face Appointments resulted in support (61% monthly supporters; 13% with One Time Gifts)
  • It took 8 calls/messages (email/text/Facebook) to get one appointment
  • It took 12 calls/messages to get 1 monthly supporter
  • The average monthly gift was $102/month (a HUGE change from raising support 15 years ago when I mostly asked for/received $25 and $50/mo)
  • For those that were long distance (too far to drive to have an appointment with) I emailed or Facebook messaged to try to set up a phone appt (click to download a Word doc of what I say in the email).
    • 27% of those emails resulted in phone appointment (so the vast majority never made it to phone appointments)
      • But with those that I was able to get a hold of on the phone (i.e. they answered my persistent phone calls), 77% supported us
        • My theory on the reason for that high percentage is that if they took the time to talk on the phone they had likely already made up their mind to support us.
      • Exactly matching up with Steve Shadrach’s stats, 25% of people I emailed/called supported us
      • Of those “conversations” that were just conducted via email/Facebook, 89% resulted in a “no”.
        • 3 people joined our monthly support team with just conversation over email/Facebook.
  • So meeting Face to Face is the quickest (though slow!) way to raise support.


Statistics from My 10 Weeks of Support Raising:

mpd stats


Would love to hear from you: any insights jump out at you? What surprised you? Does this match up pretty closely with your experience?


Tomorrow I will share some Biblical foundations that were helpful for me as I raised support.

On my Stuff You Can Use for the First Week on Campus post (which has spiritual interest surveys, fliers, brochures, and other free & helpful stuff on it), a recent commenter, Ron Cram, wanted more details on how we do spiritual interest surveys. And since I love data analysis I couldn’t resist sharing what the data tells us.

I think it’s pretty interesting to see what correlation there is between

  • number of surveys done the first week of school AND
  • number of freshmen that actually get involved (in Bible studies)


So here’s Ron’s comments/questions and my answers:

Tim, I am interested in an analysis of the data on the card. It sounds like you got 3000 students to complete the card…

We do about 3000 surveys over the first few weeks at various events. The stats below reflect the 2500 surveys we do at tables we set up outside of dorm cafeterias on the second and third day of class. Why not the first day? Because our Cru meeting is on Tuesday, and Dorm Studies on Wednesday. When we do a survey with them we give them a “Free Chick-fil-A Sandwich” card and a flyer for Cru and Dorm Bible Studies (and we say, “you should join us tonight at Cru/Bible Study”)

How many of them indicated an interest in Cru?

1 Minute Questionnaire

Click to see full size

To download a Photoshop file you can edit to use on your campus, click here.

We don’t keep stats specifically on each question because it doesn’t affect how we do follow up. We follow up anyone who checks “yes” on either question.

70% of students checked “yes” on one of the two questions.

30% of the respondents answered “no-no”. Not interested in Cru nor Bible studies (we don’t follow them up at all).

Here’s the breakdown of how they answered:

“How interested are you in exploring spiritual matters in college (1- not interested 5= very interested)?”

1 = 7%
2 = 13%
3 = 29%
4 = 21%
5 = 24%
No answer = 6%

So on our campus, about 25% of students are not interested in spiritual things. 75% are at least mildly interested. How does that compare to your campus?

How many actually got involved?

We noticed this a few years ago: it’s not important how many spiritual surveys we do, as long as we’re doing enough to have a plenty big pool of contacts to follow up (I’d say around 1000-1500). Doing more surveys does not result in more freshmen getting involved (at least for us).

That being said, we do feel that it is good to do surveys with as many freshmen as possible for several reasons:

      • Every person we do a survey with, we get face to face with and invite them verbally and with a flier to a Cru event. And they get something free (Chick-fil-A card or sunglasses) – hopefully a very positive first experience with Cru.
      • If we can do surveys with a high percentage of the freshmen class, we have a baseline understanding of where A LOT of students are at spiritually. As we bump into students later in the year (or the next 4), we can quickly look them up on Mission Hub and know “Michael was not very interested in spiritual things at all in August 2012 – he put 1-yes-no. Joey Smith met with him and invited him to a Bible study but he never came” 

Here’s what our stats showed us:

surveys vs freshmen involved

You notice from 2008 to 2009 we doubled the number of surveys we did. But it has zero impact on getting more freshmen involved.

Here’s what matters and causes more freshmen to get involved:

    1. Having more student Community Group leaders. You can see how the growth in Freshmen in studies correlates with (and I would say is caused by):

      study leaders

    2. The quality and thoroughness of follow up


How many people (staff or students) were involved in collecting this data? How long did it take? Was it all done in one day?

We do tables for two days at five locations (4 dorm cafeterias and the Union) from 11am-1pm and 5-6:30pm.

Our 10 staff are at the tables both days at lunch. Students are present at the tables for both lunch and dinner. I would guess that we have 30 students at lunch and 30 at dinner each day. Maybe a total of 50-75 helping during the two days?

Right after we collect all the cards we divvy up the cards among students and they enter in the information into Mission Hub. I have no idea how long that takes. I would guess 5 hours for about 20 students?

We also do spiritual interest surveys at two big freshmen cookouts during move-in week, a midnight “Frisbees and Flapjacks” event, and our Cru meetings.


Hopefully that data/information is helpful for you as think through a gameplan for getting in contact with (and reaching!) freshmen in the Fall.

Would love to hear from you what you have seen on your campus – what has resulted in you getting more freshmen involved?