I can’t tell you the number of executive directors and development professionals who struggle with asking a donor for a financial gift of support for the ministry. Is that you? Are you uncomfortable with saying: “Mr. Johnson, I’m asking you to prayerfully consider giving a gift of $15,000 toward the ministry’s expansion project.”?
Reasons You Fear Asking for Money
Let’s break down a few of the main reasons development professionals feel so uncomfortable—and discuss a solution for each one.
- I’m afraid I’m asking them for too much money.
Feeling uncertain about the amount you’re asking for is usually a result of a lack of enough research, or of accurate data on the donor. Wealth screening is one tool to help you effectively determine the giving capacity of your donor.
(Note: Past giving is not an accurate indicator of current or future gift capacity—and it usually leads to an inaccurate conclusion. Do your research—even internet resources like Google, LinkedIn and Zillow can help you to better assess the donor’s true giving capacity.)
- What if they say no?
I once heard of a development director who actually died when the donor said no. Of course, that’s not true. So, what if they say no? It’s not going to hurt you and doesn’t even mean you’ve lost a donor.
It simply means that you need to do a course correction. What you’re asking them get behind isn’t what they love about your ministry. Ask questions that will help you better align your ask with their passion.
- I feel like I’m offending them.
You will rarely offend donors by asking for a gift during an in-person meeting—even if it’s for an amount larger than they can afford. They may laugh that you perceive they have that kind of wealth. But if they’ve agreed to your request for a meeting, they’re expecting an eventual ask, and are unlikely to be offended.
However, if you take up an hour of a busy, wealthy executive’s time and only ask for a gift of $1,500 then they may feel you’re wasting their time. Or they may feel your ministry isn’t doing as important a work in your community as they thought. Fundraising asks are far more commonly for too little than too much. Be bold, but be wise.
- It makes me feel like a salesman—I much prefer doing ministry work.
Authentic fundraising is doing the work of stewardship. Stewardship is the wise and effective use of the gifts God has given us. Inviting someone to partner in the work you are doing for the kingdom is as much a blessing (if not more) than the money is to your organization.
- I always feel like I’m interrupting or annoying them.
Are donors just waiting around hoping that someone will ask them for a financial gift? Of course not. We all have our plates loaded with more to accomplish than a single day will allow.
Give them a chance to unplug from the company demands on their time and to refocus on you and your case for support. Everyone enjoys investing in things that will generate a great return. And the kingdom investment you’re presenting them with certainly fits that category. Trust in God to repay them in fantastic eternal ways.
Feeling anxious about asking a donor for a large gift is not unusual. It’s no different than the stage fright many successful actors experience every time they perform. Remind yourself that it pales in comparison to the joy of those who are the ultimate recipients of what those dollars will accomplish through your ministry—and the blessing the donor will receive from God.
I have one last question you need to ask yourself. Do you truly believe in the mission and in God’s intimate involvement in your organization? If so, remind yourself that you being nervous or feeling weak merely sets the stage for God to be strong.