Asking for Money is Awkward

Asking for Money is Awkward

In my experience, and from what I have learned and picked up from others along the way, it doesn't matter what culture or country you find yourself in--talking about money is never the "right" thing to do. Nobody really talks about their money. Money is discussed in many ways in different cultures, but we rarely go around talking about how much we make or how much we give.

This is why the setting for your financial ask is so important. You are preparing to have a very unique, potentially challenging conversation. If you follow the guidelines above and choose to specify your environment, you will save yourself from a great deal of awkward experiences and stories like some of mine....

A few years ago, my wife and I were asking a dear family friend to partner with us in our ministry. They lived several hours from us, but we loved spending time together--so we took a weekend trip to stay a few days with them. I made sure to hard qualify them by letting them know exactly why we were coming: specifically to ask about financial partnership. However, because the setting was never defined, the ask did happen, but it did not go over well. We were only there a few days, and didn't really set a specific time to meet about our discussion. Consequently, we were never truly focused on the topic at hand. The husband and wife never actually sat down with us at the same time, so there was no real "meeting" the entire weekend. In hindsight, I would have been more clear in the time and setting of the meeting by saying, "Hey, we're just passing through the area this weekend. Can we catch dinner with you guys?".

Another horrible experience I had with settings was when we had scheduled lunch with a couple from our church at their home after the service on Sunday afternoon. The setting would have been fine, but the couple had invited someone else to the meal without letting us know. That person happened to be their grown daughter and her family, and I didn't think they would appreciate me asking their parents for a substantial financial contribution for our ministry over lunch. I actually did end up making the ask, but it was extraordinarily awkward.

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A Privilege of the Poor

A Privilege of the Poor

Randy Alcorn once said, “Giving isn’t a luxury of the rich, it’s a privilege of the poor.” Keep this in mind when you are considering the size of a gift or donation. A generous gift can be defined as "big" or "small”; it simply depends on the heart of the source. Take the widow with the two small coins in Mark 12:41-44 for instance:

"Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on."

This woman gave two coins in the collection box of the temple, and Jesus said that because the gift cost her so much, it was worth much more than someone who gave out of surplus. She was generous, though most would see her gift as "small".

Being generous goes way beyond where and how we allot our financial resources. Generosity is all about sharing the ownership and responsibility of the cause where we are called to make a difference. Whereas someone might be generous financially, someone else might be generous with their time or connections. Another might commit to pray with you regularly or be willing to sit on your board. There are so many ways to be generous in the context of partnership.

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 Qualifying a Potential Partner

Qualifying a Potential Partner

Qualifying can be defined as simply finding the people who are interested enough in talking with you to consider a partnership. When you consider people to partner with, the first place you look is into the pool of people who have already given to you. These people are qualified because they already are or once were committed to your vision, ministry, or organization. If they gave once, they will likely give again.

Another quality to look for when qualifying potential partners would be the people who have the same passions, convictions and beliefs as you do. You are much more likely to get a generous response from someone who is genuinely passionate about the cause you are raising funds for. This also deepens your relational connection, because you are both committed to a similar vision.

An important element to remember when qualifying a potential partner is: Do not ever answer for the person you are trying to qualify. Qualifying is simply finding out if someone is interested in having a conversation around your ministry or cause. It would be easy to assume that someone might not be interested before you ask. However, it could be detrimental to your funding and relationship with future partners if you disqualify someone prematurely.

The key question we ask when finding the right people to qualify is, "Who needs to hear about this ministry, organization, or cause?" Instead of focusing on who might have the most financial resources to give, let this be the first question you ask yourself, and funnel all others through this filter. By only focusing on high-capacity donations, you can easily overlook someone who might be a lifelong donor and partner. Changing the ask from being financially- focused to being cause-driven brings your attention back to what it should be in the first place: the reason you need financial support is to make a difference in this world.

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