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Doing the Baby Bottle Boomerang

January 2013
By: Elaine Ham
The information in this article is a free gift to you. The gift is not from me but from one who loves you and your ministry far more than I. Let me explain.

In March of 2000, I was serving as development director for a large pregnancy resource center in Greenville, South Carolina. On this particular morning I was sitting at my desk reflecting on the announcement our Chairman of the Board had made the night before at our annual banquet—"As God provides the funds, we will purchase ultrasound machines for all three of our locations in order to give free service to our clients."

CHURCH MEMBERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO RESPOND POSITIVELY
TO SOMEONE THEY KNOW THAN TO A STRANGER.

The following morning, sitting at my desk battling shock and fear at the thought of trying to raise that much money, I looked up at the ceiling and verbally asked, "God, how am I going to raise $100,000?" Notice the emphasis on "I" and my total lack of faith in God's ability to do miracles. At that moment, God directed my eyes to a baby bottle sitting on a credenza next to my desk and began filling my mind with thoughts on how to do a baby bottle promotion. I grabbed my pen and began writing everything that came into my mind. As the thoughts came and the words flowed, I knew God was giving me something special. I also knew it was meant not just for one center, but for pro-life ministries across the country (and eventually around the world). That day the Baby Bottle Boomerang was born.

Over the next few months, God brought us two donors who gave $25,000 each towards the purchase of ultrasound machines, $28,000 from an appeal letter, and $32,000 from several area churches that trusted us enough to do a baby bottle promotion having never seen or done one before. In exactly 100 days, God gave us $110,000 to purchase three machines that over the years saved thousands of lives.

Since that time, the original "God's Gift" baby bottles have raised over $85,000,000 for pro-life ministries in all 50 states and many countries around the world. In that past 13 years, the program has changed very little. At God's direction, the complete program, including unlimited one-on-one telephone counseling, is still free. The only cost is for the products.

But our work is far from being finished. Having just recognized the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, we know that tens of thousands of unborn babies are still dying and mothers are still grieving over choices they have made in the past. It is our honor to work alongside you in this ministry of LIFE. Please use the suggestions below on how to make your baby bottle program more successful than ever. Then feel free to call us at 864-350-2081 or email us at tom@plansforyou.org if you have any questions or would like to tell us what works best for you. We would like to pass your successes on to other centers.

Tip #1 Contact the churches

The best way to find churches who will participate is by asking your board members, donors, staff and volunteers to meet with the appropriate staff persons in their churches. Give them information to share with their church contacts and invite them to participate.

Tip #2 Always use church liaisons

Select a member within each participating church to coordinate and promote the program. It may well be the person mentioned in Tip #1. Church members are more likely to respond positively to someone they know than to a stranger. Center volunteers, donors, and even former clients make great church liaisons. It also greatly decreases the amount of time you spend on the phone and talking with the participating churches.


SOME CHURCHES PLACED PLAYPENS IN THE BACK OF THE CHURCH
AS A COLLECTION POINT.

Tip #3 Train your church liaisons

At least two weeks before your program, meet with church liaisons individually or select a Saturday afternoon or a week night to meet with them as a group. Serve refreshments or a light dinner. Have a "get to know each other" time; then distribute a packet of information with all the forms and instructions needed to do a successful program. Include a question and answer time. You may distribute the bottles to them that evening, or give them a time to pick them up at the center. Always have a group prayer time to pray for the liaisons individually and for the churches. Call them occasionally to check on the progress of the program, and ask them to deliver the bottles back to the center at a designated time.

Tip #4 Remember that excitement is contagious

Whether meeting with a donor, a pastor, or a church liaison, make sure your excitement about the center and the event is evident. If you're not excited, you can be sure the person with whom you're meeting will not be.

Tip #5 Adequately prepare for distribution Sunday

On the Sunday the bottles are distributed, the liaison will make sure inserts are in the church bulletin with specific instructions as to when and where to return them. Preferably the pastor will oversee the distribution and express his strong support for the program. One church placed a cradle on the church platform so that it was highly visible throughout the campaign, and the bottles were placed around the cradle on the final Sunday.

Tip #6 Prominently display bottles and promote the program

The church liaison should make sure the church bulletin promotes the bottles each Sunday of the campaign and ask the pastor to make reference to it each Sunday if possible. Testimonies from children who are collecting money to put into the bottles are very successful, or find other ways to be creative in promoting the bottles. The pastor of one large church began the service on Easter Sunday by raising a bottle into the air and relating new life in Christ to new lives saved at PCCs.

Tip #7 Gather bottles on the third Sunday after distribution

Look for creative ways to collect the bottles. One church reported asking children to collect the bottles using the offering plates during Sunday service. Another church created an art display in the church lobby and asked the congregation to insert their bottles through the hole in the middle of the display. Other churches placed playpens in the back of the church as a collection point. However they are received, they should be placed in a secure location because of the cash and coins in the bottle and returned to the center on Monday.

Tip #8 Count and recycle

The bottles are returned to the center for counting by a team of volunteers. You can expect that about two-thirds of the bottles will be returned. These bottles, once emptied, can be used for the next promotion. Because of the hard plastic nipples on the Original God's Gift baby bottles, they will not need to be replaced as regular nipples would.

Tip #9 Thank your liaisons

As soon as the proceeds from a particular church are counted, call the church liaison, express your appreciation, and thank her for doing a great job. A handwritten note is also recommended. Also call or send a note to the pastors thanking them for their participation and giving them the final count.

Tip #10 Make calls for your next baby bottle boomerang

Many centers do bottle promotions year round and have found that it is their most successful fundraiser of the year.

Elaine Ham is Founder and PRC Business Coach for Plans For You, Inc., a consulting company she and her husband Tom founded in 2000 to train and assist pro-life organizations. The highly successful company has helped raise over $85,000,000 in operational funds for over 1,300 organizations through their Baby Bottle Boomerang program. Elaine trains pregnancy centers in evangelism, fundraising, board management, and other areas tailored to fit your center's needs. Elaine is a Master Instructor with EvanTell/SMSC and a Life Affirming Specialist with Heartbeat International.She can be reached at Elaine@plansforyou.org or by calling 770-401-5216. For further information on evangelism or to schedule an Evantell/Save the Mother/Save Her Child seminar at your center, contact Elaine Ham at 770-401-5216. Elaine and her husband Tom live in the Atlanta area and have two children and two grandchildren.

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