By on January 1, 2014   /   8 Comments

Howard owns a successful real estate company buying and managing office buildings. Consequently, he has a steady stream of individuals laying out for him “can’t miss” investment opportunities, attempting to convince him to lay down the big bucks to help finance their ten story condo project. The answer is almost always “no”.

But Julia, a 30 year old single girl heading into missions, presented a different kind of project to Howard—and he was fascinated. Julia had met him at church and called for an appointment. When she shared her presentation with Howard, asking for his investment dollars, it had a unique, refreshing, even eternal feel to him. You see, he was weary of the temporal brick and mortar projects, and was anxious to instead begin directing more of his resources to building up the Kingdom of God. He could clearly see Julia had great vision and passion, but also a well thought out “business plan”, if you will, to reach students in Kenya for Christ.

There are lots of “Howards” out there who yearn to give themselves (and their money) to something that really matters. Yes, you can ask them to join your monthly support team, but this type of person might be a candidate for a different kind of ask. So whether it’s a well-off business person or just a friend who is willing to sacrifice on your behalf, consider one of these five “special asks” rather than (or in addition to!) a monthly commitment:

    1. Springboard Fund—After discerning your call into ministry, gather a few close friends to ask them to sacrificially invest to cover all your current living expenses, freeing you up to quit your job, and thus “buying” you a 3-8 month window of time to focus exclusively on support raising. Experience shows this will get you to 100% budget (and your ministry assignment) 2-3 times faster than people who choose to divide their time between job and fundraising.
    2. Support Raising War Chest—Craft a vision-driven plan and budget that completely covers all your support raising activities and materials, including travel, lodging, meals, etc…to get you to 100% budget. Then personally invite a few key individuals to provide these upfront “venture capital” funds, giving you the total freedom to raise your full support in the quickest, most strategic and effectual way possible.
    3. Ministry Launching Fund—Separate from your monthly team, you’re personally asking for single gifts to take care of all the expenses related to moving to your ministry assignment and getting completely set up to begin. Things like: moving expenses, equipment and technology purchases and set up, materials, supplies, first month’s rent, the list goes on. If you’re a single campus worker moving across state the fund might be only $5,000, but if you’re permanently moving your home and family to Japan, it could be up to $100,000! Some will want to give only to this fund, others will do so in addition to their monthly or annual commitment.
    4. Annual Anchor Donor—To compliment the heart and soul of your team (i.e. monthly supporters!) you’re personally asking a key individual to commit a specific, substantial yearly gift. You can pray through and invite several larger givers to join an “Annual Anchor Donor Team” you’ve formed. This makes them feel special, like they are an essential ministry partner with you, helping you lay the foundation to accomplish a great work for God!
    5. Special Projects—Different from monthly or annual asks, you’re identifying unique ministry or personal needs, and making customized asks to individuals, seeking to match their interests with your particular projects. It could be ministry related opportunities like a new computer, a conference cost, a ministry car, or seminary classes. It might be personal needs like a medical emergency, dental care for your family, or even all the expenses related to adopting a child. Whatever it may be, if your organization allows gifts to be used for items like this, it can be a real and tangible way those who care about you can invest in you and your work.

By the way, these special asks are always to be made on a personal basis. Never issue a “cattle call” for anyone to respond. Including a heading in your newsletter like: “Click here if anyone wants to donate to the ‘Fix Our Van’s Air Conditioner Fund’” will only confirm in people’s minds you really are just a beggar! If an investment opportunity is for everyone—it is really for…no one. The kind of people that respond to the five special asks I’ve described desire to be approached individually, with a customized, thought-through proposal. Matthew 7:7 is true: “Ask and it shall be given to you.” Whether it is God or others you’re approaching, there is always power in the ask!


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