by Scott Morton
Last week, I accompanied a missionary friend I am coaching on a fundraising appointment. As I listened to him present his dazzling vision, it occurred to me that I did not hear the three toxic phrases. It was refreshing.
How about you? Do these toxic words come out of your mouth or your computer?
1. “Share my need”
Though popular among missionaries, this phrase communicates you are looking for charity rather than an investment in your calling. The word “need” lowers fundraising to getting your bills paid. Good fundraisers ask partners to join them in their dazzling vision-not to meet “needs.” “Need” connotes desperate circumstances. You might get a one-off sympathy gift, but you will not get a serious commitment.
2. “Give to me (or us)”
Asking donors to “give to me” implies the gift is horizontal; however, biblical giving is vertical-for the advance of the Kingdom. In 1 Chron. 29:9, we find a tiny, overlooked phrase. Can you spot it?
“Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced.”
The phrase “to the Lord” is key. Biblical giving comes from that which God has put into our hands and is given back to Him-vertically. Your giving goes to heaven. I say, “Will you pray about a gift of $_____ to $_______ for this discipling ministry God has called us to?” This puts my appeal (and their decision) as an invitation to Kingdom ministry and not a gift of charity to me.
Besides, in the U.S., the government has decreed that charitable gifts are controlled by the mission agency to be distributed according to their purposes. That’s an additional reason not to ask “for me.”
3. “Any amount is fine”
Don’t undermine the asking range you have already suggested. It communicates desperateness.
In your fundraising, do you give people a specific amount to pray over? You should. If you don’t suggest a specific amount or don’t have a clue as to why you suggested that amount, then you are leaving money on the table. After the donor has said, “Yes, I will pray about it,” I say, “Thank you! However God leads you is just right.” My favorite verse on giving is 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Every man (person) as he purposes in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Whatever you do, I hope you give as unto the Lord with a cheerful heart. When I use this language, my donor friends invariably nod their head and sit back in their chairs seeming to say, “Makes sense.” Even their body language relaxes.
Summary: I’m not implying that successful fundraising relies upon avoiding certain toxic words. We’ve all said goofy things and still the donors gladly gave. Let’s keep in mind 1 Corinthians 14:8: “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for the battle?” Was that taps? Or reveille? Or are we supposed to charge? Hmmmm…