Taking the Pressure Off: How “Levels of Giving” Charts Can Help

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By on February 1, 2009   /   1 Comment

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Besides making the phone call to set up the appointment, the toughest part of support raising for me is the actual face-to-face asking of the person to join our team. Sometimes popping the “golden question” can be a nerve-racking 30 seconds of sheer terror! Why? Because that is when we are most vulnerable to rejection. And, as much as we tell ourselves that the prospective donor is not rejecting us, but simply our proposal, isn’t our tendency to still take it personally?

Some Christian workers, though, are so committed to safeguarding their fragile self-esteem they dare not venture one centimeter outside of their sacred “comfort zone.” And even though they probably have never really extensively studied what the Scriptures teach about support raising, they’ve carefully crafted a home-made, bullet-proof theology to accommodate and excuse their fear of asking. In fact, I have seen grown men melt into a babbling pile of Jello while trying to keep their words and eyes focused during the infamous “moment of truth”—the ask. And that was just during a role play!

I promise you I’m not trying to convince you to use high pressure, used-car salesman tactics to bully your friends into coughing up some “guilt induced” moola so you can pay your light bill this month! Be assured, the appointment and the ask itself is not a “do or die” proposition where you abruptly stop, point your long bony finger in their face and demand: “WILL YOU OR WILL YOU NOT COME ON OUR SUPPORT TEAM RIGHT NOW–FOR EXACTLY $100 A MONTH?”

On the contrary, even though I may be sitting across from some powerful executive with a penetrating stare, I am still determined to make that 30 minute appointment as warm, relational, and sensitive as I possibly can. And bringing along a Ministry Portfolio (excellently prepared materials that briefly and visually highlight your mission, strategy, and examples of changed lives) can take some of the pressure off. It’s a bit like having a third person in the session where the two of you can occasionally pull away from your intimidating “eye-lock” to glance down together at your folder with the colorful pictures and key points.

And after I’ve had a chance to (hopefully!) listen, laugh, share, etc…with my new friend about each of our lives and my ministry, I attempt to then transition and bring closure to our time together by turning to a page I call my “Levels of Giving” Chart. Pointing to my diagram I say:

“Mr. Smith, I’ve got a chart here showing how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go to get us on campus and begin reaching those students by September 1st. As you can tell, people have joined our team at various amounts. I have been thinking and praying about what level to ask you to consider. I don’t know if this might be high or low for you, but I wanted to ask you if you would be willing to take on one of these $100 a month or even one of the $150 a month slots. It would be an incredible honor to have you and your family join our team and invest in us….What do you think?”

Yes, there will probably be a few seconds of awkward silence as Mr. Smith ponders your request, but that’s ok! Don’t panic and violate his decision-making process by jumping in and trying to answer for him. He heard what you asked. He can see the chart and how he might fit into your team. He’s a big boy and doesn’t need to be “rescued” like a child facing an impossible question. Wait. Smile. Pray—comfortably and confidently believing that James 4:2 is true: “We have not because we ask not.”

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