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Overcoming Fundraising Anxiety: Asking for Money

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We’ve been unpacking how to overcome fundraising anxieties in this series. If you missed the initial installments, they’re critical prerequisites to this final post on making your case and an ask. 

These are the final two phases of a four-step cycle of donor engagement. You will always be someplace in the cycle’s circle with any donor. Even those who have made a gift should be back in the acknowledgment or trust/relationship-building phases.

Prior to an ask, think carefully about this donor as an individual. What are his or her passions? Involvement? Capacity? Your ask of this donor is presenting what we call “a case for support” – it might be a conversation or a formal presentation, but it has the same four essential components:  a problem, a solution, a strategy, and an invitation to partnership to solve the problem. Actually, this is true whether the ask is a personal one or a broad appeal during a stewardship drive.

In a broad appeal, the invitation to be a partner in the solution needs to be very clear. It should show the giver how he or she can play a role in solving the problem you’ve presented and how they can be a partner in your church’s mission and ministry. Be as specific as you can. Churches can learn from charitable causes who give donors “dollar handles” – or specific gift amounts that speak to what giving at that level helps accomplish in the ministry.

After you have acknowledged and affirmed your donor, built trust, and presented your case for support, it is time for the ask! Here is an example of language to use when it seems like the right time: ‘Susan, based on the information I’ve shared with you here, do you have any questions or concerns about this project? No? Would this be a good time to share with you what we’re going to need financially? This is a $200,000 project. To launch this, we’re looking for six donors of $20,000 or more. Would you be willing to take one of those positions, to be one of those partners?’ 

If you’re unsure about the specific dollar amount that a donor might give — let the donor see the total need and let the donor set the bar. Share how many donors you will need at various levels. Then, ask where they would see themselves as a top donor in this project. Or somewhere else on the chart? The donor will set his or her own bar. 

Finally, remember that your relationship with the donor will extend far beyond the outcome of this conversation. If the donor isn’t interested or can’t make a gift right now, don’t take that as a permanent “no.” It simply opens a door for you to explore this donor’s connections, needs, and passions further.  Let God and the donor lead you to where the donor’s interests intersect with ministry needs. 

Have more questions about asking? Our partnership with ACST means our expertise is available to you. If you’d like counsel about any aspect of donor relations or your church’s development plans, contact us, and we’ll be happy to talk with you. 

About Tim Smith

Tim has over 30 years of experience in Church, Non-Profit Administration, Management, and Fund Development.  Serving as an Executive Pastor and Chief Development Officer in growing Churches and Non-Profit Organizations. He has provided a wide range of expertise and resources. Tim serves as the Founder and CEO of  Non-Profit DNA. A boutique firm committed to helping nonprofits and churches. By building their capacity through fundraising, leadership, team building, staff recruiting, and coaching.

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