How to Make an Effective Ask at an Event or Small Group: Combat the Bystander Effect

I was a psychology major in college. Loved it. I learned about the brain, personality, and counseling. It was all super intriguing stuff. In one of my classes I remember learning about the sociology principle of diffusion of responsibility. Maybe some of you know of it? It’s the principle that states that people are less likely to take action or responsibility in the presence of a large group of people. When referring specifically to responding to an individual in distress, it’s also known as the bystander effect.

Though it may not be helping an individual in distress, I think the principle of diffusion of responsibility comes into play in a huge way when asking for financial support. Think about it. Here’s a scenario:

You are sitting in a church service and a missionary comes to the platform to speak. You like what they have to say and are drawn by their level of passion and the tone of their voice. You pick up bits and pieces, but you are distracted by the need for more coffee or maybe your wiggly kid. At the end the missionary clearly shares that they are in need of monthly financial support and you look around the room at everyone else. You think simultaneously that you are looking forward to lunch and that you hope some of these good church folk give generously to the missionary speaking. You even consider giving yourself. Then, your wiggly kid spills your coffee on the floor and you don’t think about it again until your walking out the church door. You see the missionary is smiling at you as you walk past and you hurriedly tell the missionary “thanks for sharing, we enjoyed it!” and walk out the door. And scene.

Familiar? This is the principle of diffusion of responsibility. Totally. AKA this is why we ask for financial partnership one-on-one, face-to-face.

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Take that scene and think about it – if you’re sitting in a large group of people you will be less likely to give if the person asking is not directly asking YOU. You’ll be sitting in the congregation, just like everyone else, thinking that there are plenty of others in the room that will likely give. And the problem is everyone in the room is thinking THE SAME THING. Thus a real problem occurs when speaking to a group of people – large or small.

As I pointed out, the absolute best way to ask someone to join your monthly financial partnership team is in person, and best done one-on-one. Right? Right. However, there may be times you are asked to speak to a small group or at some type of an event. And keeping that personal interaction and the principle of diffusion of responsibility in mind – what do you do? What if a friend offers to throw you a dinner party to raise funds? What if your church wants to host a fundraiser specifically for your assignment? What if a small group at your church wants you to come and speak?

What do you do if you want the personal connection that a face-to-face appointment offers, but you want to jump on the chance to interact with a small group or say yes to that event?

First off, even with the bystander effect in mind, sharing at a small group or event is a great way to garner contact information and connect with people you otherwise may not have the opportunity to interact with. And it’s always a bonus to make new connections and widen your contact base! So say yes when new connections can be made from sharing at a small group or doing an event! Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about how to make that group ask in the best way possible.

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THE TWO MAIN OBJECTIVES WITH ANY SMALL GROUP / EVENT

With all small group / event opportunities you should have two main objectives:

  1. To make an clear, bold, ask – live at the event.
  2. To grab contact information from everyone at the event in order to follow up with face-to-face appointments where appropriate.

Let’s break both objectives down and talk about the how-to’s involved.

OBJECTIVE 1: THE LIVE ASK AT A SMALL GROUP OR EVENT

When sharing at a small group or event make a clear, bold ask. To make that ask the most effective possible, come super prepared. Chat with the leader of the group or pastor beforehand and make sure you know the details needed. This would be some of the following:

  1. How long will you be expected to speak?
  2. Dress code?
  3. What time does the event / small group start and end? Address / directions.
  4. What is the program for the event / small group?
  5. What do you need to bring?
  6. Is there any protocol the leader would like you to follow when asking?
  7. Any special instructions or things you need to know?
  8. Are you allowed to make a clear ask during the event?

When you arrive mingle with the group and introduce yourself to anyone you do not already know. This will help the bystander effect for many people. Have with you the needed pledge forms / giving information and any printed materials you typically take with you to an appointment.

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When you share, fill in the WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE WHY of what you are doing. Make sure to talk about how you were called and take the opportunity to inspire those you are sharing with to follow their own callings. One of the most important questions you can answer to any group when sharing about your assignment is “why you”. Why you are going, why you are called, and why is this important to you.

When you make the ask – make it bold and clear and spell out what your needs are.  Do not assume they know. Don’t leave them to fill in the gaps.

OBJECTIVE 2: GRABBING CONTACT INFORMATION AND FACE-TO-FACE FOLLOW UPS

As I stated the downside to any small group or event is the diffusion of responsibility / bystander effect. What’s the best way to combat this problem when speaking to a group? Insert connect cards, the super hero of event asking! images

You can find out more about how to make your own connect cards in the link above. Essentially they are cards where individuals fill out their name, address, phone number, and check little boxes that apply to their level of interest – such as “interested in more information” “give me your newsletter!” “make me a prayer partner” and “I want to give!”

How do you use them? During your time speaking at a small group or event, hold up the connect cards while you are presenting and explain them. Something along the lines of “I would love if you took a moment right now – yes while I’m talking – and fill out this handy dandy card I’m holding up. It gives us a way to stay connected with you and share information on what is happening overseas. It also helps us if you’d like to join our prayer or financial partnership team. Please go ahead and fill it out and if you’d be so kind – find someone from your table to collect them and give them to me afterwards.”

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Boom. Now you have shared clearly from the platform what you will be doing, why you are going, that you need financial support, AANNNND you also have contact information to call people after the event (preferably as soon as possible after the event – like 24 to 48 hours). When calling, thank them for attending the event/small group and find out if you could meet with them face-to-face to answer any questions and find out more about them. Engage each person based off of what they checked in the check boxes. This removes the bystander effect as you invite them relationally on your team. When meeting with your new friends take time to find out who they are and build relationship, and ask if they’d like to join your team.

So now that we have the basics of our main two objectives in asking groups and small groups, here are some special notes to keep in mind:

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT SMALL GROUPS

  1. Connect with the leader before hand and discuss some of the questions above – like how long you’ll be expected to share.
  2. Ask questions about the group to the group, people love talking about themselves – and groups like to share what makes them special.
  3. Bring donuts! Everyone loves donuts! imgres
  4. Find out how you can stay connected with the group at large. Ask them to adopt you as a group in prayer.
  5. Revisit that same group (if it still exists) when you come back from the field or into the area to strength relationships.
  6. Have each member of the group fill out a connect card, and explain the connect card while you are there.

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT EVENTS

  1. Prepare the program you will be following prior to the event and add elements that make it extra interesting and informative. Come up with attention grabbers and interesting stories of lives changed.
  2. Find ways to add value to those attending.
  3. Decorate! Make the event enjoyable and attractive.
  4. Have food, dessert, or coffee available.imgres-1
  5. Time your event to insure that the most amount of people can make it as possible.
  6. Share a video. If a few of your ministry team members are already serving, ask if they would create a video for you explaining what they are doing and how much they want you funded and on the field with them. If your ministry has a video that already exists, share it (keep videos pretty short though).
  7. Have a ministry co-worker, friend, or pastor speak on your behalf during the event. Consider having a pastor or well known figure make the ask for you to the crowd.
  8. Have pledge forms and connect cards on each table before guests arrive. Explain about the connect cards and pledge forms from the platform when speaking.
  9. Make your presentation appropriately professional, clear, vulnerable, and real.

Do you have any tips for sharing in small groups or events? Share them in the comments! I would love to hear them!

 

 

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Follow Up: How to Change Verbal Commitments Into Actual Commitments

As a coach, the question I probably answer the most is how do I follow up with people who have said they will give, but haven’t started giving yet?

Having to follow up with verbal commitments is normal, and the need for it is frequent. It can also be one of the more awkward things we do in raising up our financial partnership teams – but it doesn’t have to be. Below are some tips for changing verbal commitments into written ones, and how to do it correctly. 

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I hope this infographic helps you in your follow up! Don’t forget to smile through the phone if your calling – it makes a difference. – JF

GUEST POST – Let’s Be Real: Why Ministry and Fund Raising Follow Up is So Important

Before we get into this amazing post, I (Jenn Fortner), just want to say how thankful I am for another Pastor Chris guest post. In this post Pastor Chris continues to challenge us with his wisdom in a huge area of ministry partnership development: follow-up. If you didn’t get to read his first guest post you can find it here.You can also read Chris’s full bio below. Enjoy! – JF

Are You Doing Proper Follow-Up?  This is a critical question regarding your success as a christian worker.  As a christian worker or missionary you are going to find many people interested in speaking to you about Jesus, but they may not always be ready to make a commitment.  They may not be prepared to forsake Islam or their family’s religion of many generations because you told them a nice story.  Successful ministry work requires faithful and patient follow-up with that person who has shown some interest.  The man who pumps my gas gave his life to Jesus, but only after I spoke with him many times.  He had to know more than my “story” about Jesus… he had to know ME. Was I a worthy person to carry such a story to him?  Could I be trusted?  Did I really believe the message I was sharing with him?

The first place you learn and practice how to do follow-up is while raising your financial support.  You may think raising money and sharing the gospel are vastly different but they are not.  If you are unable to look a pastor square in the eyes and say, “I need your support to fulfill God’s call on my life” – then you will find it difficult to look another man, with another religion, square in the eyes and say to him, “I need you to abandon everything you have been taught and follow Jesus!

Before you get to meet that man and share the gospel with him – you must meet many pastors and individuals who will help send you to the field of your calling.  You will face a lot of rejection along the way.  Your success will depend on how YOU HEAR rejection.  Yes, you read that correctly… it is up to YOU how YOU hear rejection.  When a pastor says to you, “I’ve just taken on several other families and our budget cannot support another one right now” – What do you hear?  Do you hear “NO”?  Or do you hear “NOT NOW”?

I have been serving on the field for many years.  I have raised a lot of funds.  I have done a lot of asking. I do not remember in all of those times of asking that I have ever heard a “NO”. If you hear “NO” when you ask (or if you are hearing “I DO NOT WANT TO SUPPORT YOU”), then I believe you are hearing incorrectly.  Most people you share your vision with likely believe in you, and admire what you are doing.  However, everyone is not going to be willing, AT THE MOMENT YOU ASK, to support you.  This is where follow up becomes a key to your success.

Successful sales people will tell you the one difference between them (the successful ones) and the others (the unsuccessful ones) is performing proper follow up.  Salesmen are pushed by their organizations to close the deal on the first meeting.  When they are not able to do that (close the deal) they allow the potential client to drift off to a competitor, while they go looking for a new potential client.  This is a HUGE mistake.  Recent studies have shown that most sales come much later than originally thought and after multiple contacts.

In an article entitled – Shocking Sales Statistics as it Relates to Follow Up – the author shares these statistics:

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people make more than three contacts

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2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

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Look at that last line.  80% of all sales come between 5 and 12 contacts. Amazing!!! I do not know how those statistics compare to fund raising, but I believe they would be very similar.

How can you apply this information to your fundraising campaign? Here are some ideas:

1.Change the way you HEAR rejection

Unless a “NO” is a very emphatic “NO” – you must learn to hear it as “not now.

2.Develop a Contact & Follow-up Strategy

Every contact with a potential supporter does not need to be an “ask”.  In fact if it is, you may become obnoxious and pastors will run when they see you.  This is true when presenting the gospel on the field also… every time you meet that guy or gal you are sharing with – you cannot ask them to accept Jesus; however, there will be the right time when you can.  Every time you meet a pastor you cannot ask for money, but there will be the right setting when you can.

3.Set a Goal to Work your Strategy

If you are raising your support for the first time set a goal to contact every pastor in your district multiple times (of course always follow the protocol within your organization / your role on this one).  Contacts can be any kind of contact: a newsletter, a Facebook post, a postcard, a formal letter, an invite to coffee or lunch, greeting him/her at a district function, etc. Create a spreadsheet and track how many times you have contacted each pastor.  Look for the ones you have had little contact with and try to increase your connection with them.

Doing these things will help keep you moving towards your goal of reaching the field and sharing the gospel with the people God is calling you to.

Ye have not… because ye follow up not!

Begin today putting together a Follow-Up & Contact Plan that works for you!

-Pastor Chris

Want more on these subjects? Here are some suggestions:

Dealing with the Monster of Rejection

6 Tips for Connecting with Pastors

Effectively Communicate with Your Financial Partners