Face-to-face invitations to give financial support

Face-to-face contacts are almost three times more effective than mailings! They may also be three times more anxiety-producing for some of us.

Planning and practicing what you will say can help to relieve some of the anxiety that the missionary or MST member may experience when inviting financial support in face-to-face situations. The following suggestions come from Funding Your Ministry by Scott Morton (Dawson Media, 1999).

Phoning for a face-to-face appointment
  • Make an outline and pray before you start.

  • Make sure you have the listener’s full attention.

  • Mention money when you ask for the appointment. If you don’t mention money in the phone call, it’s not appropriate to mention it during the appointment. The person will feel tricked.

  • Confirm date, time, place, and directions.

  • Be your enthusiastic self. Avoid your low-energy voice.

  • Expect to get an appointment.

  • If someone says no, keep the door open by asking if you can keep the person on your mailing list.

  • Plan a time to start and stop making phone calls (to beat your tendency to procrastinate) and ask someone to pray for you during that time.

Making a face-to-face appeal
  • When possible, send a missionary/MST member to the appointment. The missionary can present the mission vision and the MST member can ask for support.

  • Relax and be yourself. If you are relaxed, they will be relaxed. Get acquainted or reacquainted. Ask about the person’s family, work, current joys and challenges.

  • Transition to your presentation: As I mentioned on the phone, I’d like to talk with you about my ministry with ________.

  • Make your presentation. You may want to use this 5-section outline:
    1. Briefly review your spiritual journey and calling into mission
    2. Show your booklet, brochure or video
    3. Explain the need for your mission involvement, using a combination of statistics and stories
    4. Read your mission strategy statement and highlight 2-4 of the key words.
    5. Invite dialogue (Do you have any questions? Does it make sense?)
  • Clearly ask for a specific amount of financial support. (Will you partner with me at $50 to $100 per month? Or: Will you pray about partnering with us . . . )

  • After you’ve asked, STOP! Look the person in the eye and keep quiet. It is their turn to speak. Don’t water down your appeal with words to fill the silence.

  • Be prepared for disclaimers. (Our church is in the midst of a funding drive. We don’t know how much longer Bob will be employed. We get appeals all the time.)

  • Acknowledge the disclaimer but don’t abandon your appeal. (Your church’s funding drive sounds like it meets an important need. Now in our situation, we are asking people to pray about . . . .) A disclaimer doesn’t necessarily mean the person won’t support you; he may be thinking things through.

Handling the response
  • If they say yes, provide them with your response form and welcome them into your network of mission partners. Commit to keep them informed of how God works in, through and around you in the months ahead.

  • If they say no, thank them for their time and ask if you may keep sending your newsletter to them for prayer.

  • If they are not ready to decide, thank them for their willingness to pray about it and assure them that it is appropriate and wise to take time to prayerfully consider your request, and ask if they could return your response form within one week. You might also ask for permission to call them in a week to see how God has led them.
In general, avoid any kind of “sales techniques.” Face-to-face financial appeals are not sales calls, and you don’t want someone giving under compulsion.

Finishing well
  • Change the subject back to their interests, choosing a topic you didn’t cover at the beginning of your time together.

  • Thank and verbally bless them as you leave.

  • If the visit was in someone’s home, send a short thank-you note expressing your gratitude for their opening their home to you.

Mr. Morton’s book also contains helpful tips about how to appeal to major donors and churches. Contact the MST Coach at EMM to borrow a copy.