Multi-Level Relationship Marketing

Multi-Level Relationship Marketing

I have been consulting with Christian ministries since 1981. Some of the hardest working servants in the kingdom today are non-profit directors. They write, speak, recruit, manage, lead, raise money, counsel, and they even clean the restrooms and sweep the parking lot. They are mission-driven people with a real passion to help others. They work long hours for compensation that is sometimes a bit short or low or both.

So why, if they are working this hard, doing all these commendable deeds, are they struggling to meet payroll and grow their organizations? Here are a few key thoughts based upon years of experience.



Networking is not a new concept with multi-level companies like Amway and Herbalife and a multitude of other such organizations. Jesus started a multi-level organization that most of us are a part of today (the Church). Jesus recruited and trained the most unlikely bunch ever and impacted the world. He gave them assignments, held them accountable, loved them, and even chastised them, but accomplished His mission (the establishment of the New Testament Church). Think of His down line or immediate team – it was Jesus then Peter, James and John – a pretty effective group who worked together and got it done.


Since the invention of social media, we stay connected with legions more people than in past years. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram. You get the idea. But think of your board, your volunteers and in some instances your donors as your family. Great families communicate and work together to sustain a home. You pass along assignments. I used to assign the lawn maintenance to my son, “Hey Matt, can you mow the grass this week?” Then I held him accountable to get the mower out and get after it. Matt had three days to mow the grass from the point of request. If he did it, I paid him $10; if I ended up doing it on the 4th day, Matt paid me $10. Now, I don’t want or need his money. I need him to realize his place in the family structure and to be accountable to help out. Volunteers can do the same if we ask them and hold them accountable. Keep in mind “volunteers do what we inspect … not what we expect.”

So, who are these family members in your ministry and how do we get them to invest themselves to accomplish your mission?



Let’s get real, you need two resources to be effective in your organization. Human resources and dollar resources. You need bodies and bucks. Staff, board, and volunteers need to help you work and network at your ministry by utilizing their existing relationships. Every board and staff member become a center of influence. They help you open doors of opportunity, they become a networker. You build a plan to ask everyone connected with your organization to become an effective “Friend Raiser.” When we ask our family and close friends to help, they step up and do it. Somehow, we have missed this concept in building our networking teams. Instead of asking others and holding them accountable for the outcome, many of you just step up and do it…which leads to more frustration, more burnout, less effective management.


Won by one, is the timeless strategy for reaching out to others. Ask each board, staff, and key volunteer to reproduce themselves over the next 30-60-90 days by recruiting another person just like themselves to plug into your center’s ministry. As your volunteers increase (bodies) so will your gift income (bucks). Volunteers can and do share their time, talent, and treasure with their favorite ministries. Many hands and additional check books lighten the load.

Your best recruiter for your ministry is someone who already believes in you, who gives to you and prays for you. This month don’t ask for more money (just yet). Ask each board member to help you recruit a volunteer. Do the same with your staff and key volunteers. See if some effective “Relationship Marketing” could help surface another Peter, James, or John.

Provide a job description and share expectations with each and every volunteer. Tell them what it costs (time, talent, treasure) to join your team.

Networking is not a naughty word – it is all about relationships.


Pat McLaughlin
President/Founding Partner
The Timothy Group

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