Few preachers look forward to the opportunity to ask the church for money.
We don’t look forward to having our motives questioned, people getting irritable or doing the “talk of shame” to encourage the church to give to meet budget. If that’s what we think happens in the process of asking the church for money, all of those things will happen—and they should. There is no vision or spirituality behind “the ask,” and the asker lacks personal conviction that encourages people to give.
I had the blessing of sitting with a world-class fundraiser on a plane flight from Houston to Burbank many years ago.
He was responsible for raising hundreds of millions of dollars a year for a university. I was just starting out in ministry and realized I was going to be held largely responsible for cultivating the giving life of the church. So, I asked him if he had any tips for me.
He said he always thought “raising money” (there’s obviously more to it than that in the church context) was easy.
He said, all you must have is a worthy cause and a worthy asker.
He said you must have one or the other for anyone to give. If you have both, “raising money” is a rather simple process—because you’re asking people to do something they already want to do. You are asking them to participate in something truly worthwhile with someone or some institution they love and/or respect.
I can’t tell you how helpful that’s been to me over the years.
It simplified the process for me and forced me to ask, rigorously, whether I had the two things: a worthy cause and if I was a worthy asker.
I’ve tweaked his formula just a hair over the years—and I think he’ll like it—I’ll have to ask him the next time I see him. I’ve changed worthy “cause” to worthy “causes,” making room for spiritual growth through the process of giving. Meaning, the givers’ own spiritual growth through their giving is a cause unto itself.