How to Ask for Money

How to Ask for Money
By David Helms

There is fear in asking, but pastors can learn to do it right.

When asking for large gifts, pastors must lead the way, according to fundraising expert Bill Dillon of People Raising, because they are closest to the vision and most likely to have cultivated relationships with most of the congregation. “There is fear in asking,” he says, “but people can learn to ask.” Dillon teaches fundraising to missionaries and parachurch leaders, in addition to raising funds for his own ministry. Here are his recommendations:

– Meet with potential donors individually: Ask for pledges in one-on-one meetings. Avoid “making an announcement from the pulpit.” Nothing is more effective than a personal invitation to participate.

– Be specific about the size of the gift: Base the number on what you know about the donor’s lifestyle, rather than rumors about their church contribution record.

– Suggest a gift range: For example, “We need five people to give between $25,000 and $50,000 before Thanksgiving.”

– Slow the discussion before the mention of money: Dillon likens the flow of the conversation to a basketball game, where the players moving the ball move the action quickly from one end of the court to the other, but intentionally slow down before aiming for the hoop.

– Make the appeal spiritual, but not manipulative: Say, “This is what the Lord has asked us to do. We’re looking to find who God has in place to make this ministry happen.” This allows potential donors to assess honestly whether they are called to participate in this project or something that better aligns with their God-given passions.

– Be clear in the asking. “Too many times, the donor doesn’t know he’s been asked to make a commitment,” Dillon says. Rather than asking the donor to make a pledge later, ask, “Do you believe God is leading you to join us in supporting this project?”

From: (Sept/Oct 2009)