By on October 31, 2014   /   14 Comments

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In the nervousness of a fundraising appointment, do un-helpful words pop out of your mouth?

At the risk of being legalistic, may I be painfully specific? The guideline: “Be sensitive yet bold in your financial presentation!” sounds great. But what does that mean? Here are six phrases to avoid. Fasten your seatbelt!

1. “Will you give to me?”

“Give to me” is a first cousin of begging. Help donors understand they give to the Kingdom—vertically—not to bail you out horizontally. Ask your friends to support the Kingdom of God—specifically the Kingdom work God has assigned you.

Find your own words, but here is what I typically say: Will you pray about a gift of the Lord’s leading for this work He has called me to? Say $100-200 per month…..?” Silence.

2. “I know just how you feel!” 

No you don’t! How can you know exactly how another person feels—especially in pain or suffering? Keep listening and asking questions.

3. “Gifts of any amount are welcomed!” 

Of course we welcome any gift after a giving partner has brought his or her decision before the Lord. Instead, ask them to pray about a specific range or amount. If the donor hesitates, you could say, “We have giving partners from $15 per month to $10,000 per year. The amount is between you and the Lord. I am honored for this opportunity to tell you about it.”

4. “That happened to me once. Let me tell you all about it!” 

In schoolyard basketball there are those who “hog the ball”—those who don’t pass to teammates but dribble, dribble, dribble.

Similarly in conversation, some people hog the ball. As soon as they hear something in which they had a similar experience, they grab the conversation and dribble, dribble, dribble. Others can only watch in amazement.

5. “Uhhh…I don’t know (when asked questions).”

Anticipate questions donors might ask and know the answers! For example:

  • How many staff in your agency?
  • How many countries [cities, campuses] are you in?
  • What is your budget? Your agency’s budget?
  • What makes your ministry unique? Aren’t you doing what the church does anyway?
  • What happens if you don’t get your support raised?
  • How did your agency begin? What year?
  • How many giving partners do you have? Your average gift?
  • Why can’t you mission organizations work more closely together?


6. “I-uhm sort-of kind-a need to be fully funded…and-ah, I was hoping that-uhm maybe at this point in time that-uhm I could-ah…..” 

Non-words like ‘ah, uhm, sort-of, kind-a, at this point in time’ need to be dropped from your vocabulary. Listen to your pastor this Sunday and count non-words that come from his mouth. Most pastors are disciplined to avoid ‘ah’s and sort-of’s and uhhhms. When non-words are gone, the speaker is taken more seriously.

The Apostle Paul is specific on the importance of words.

“So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be know what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.”

–I Corinthians 14:9

Let us not merely speak into the air!


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