When it comes to raising support, relationships can have tricky nuances that come in wide variety. One potential partner you may see every day and have a strong relationship with, and another you may not have talked for years. In most every circumstance, the best practice of asking for financial support of an individual remains tried and true – face to face appointments. However, at times you may find yourself in a circumstance that is not so cut and dry on how to get the appointment.
Throughout your process there will most likely asks that take some additional thought to navigate correctly, and thus here are several helpful rules of thumb that could help navigate those more nuanced circumstances:
1. Always default to the most relational means possible when making the ask.
At times you’ll question how to best approach a potential partner and ask for a face to face appointment. Say you see someone on your contact list at church on a regular basis and you are wondering if you should send them an invitation letter in the mail first, go up and talk to them to ask for an appointment, or phone call them? How do you know what is best? My general rule of thumb: go for what is most relational! The most relational may mean walking up to them after church and asking for a appointment.
When deciding how to approach it – it may help to see the roles as reversed – think about how you would want to be approached for an appointment if your potential partner was the one asking you. Keep in mind though, this does NOT mean I’m a fan of using texting as the best way to ask for an appointment, even if you text someone on a regular basis.
2. Check your motivation if you aren’t reaching for a face to face appointment following the basic process.
Are you veering away from calling an individual asking for a appointment because there is a more logical way (such as talking to them in person), or is your motivation to get out of making a phone call because it feels scary and awkward to you? If there’s a more logical and relational way in a special circumstance, that may be okay, however stick to the process for the bulk of your asks. If your motivation for doing something like Facebook Messaging instead of calling someone is off (ie. your trying to cut corners due to lack of time or because you just don’t want to make phone calls), please be honest with yourself about that and go back to the basic process (invitation letter or phone call + appointment).
3. If it feels awkward to send an invitation letter, call first. If it feels awkward to call first, send the invitation letter first. I believe at times sending a invitation letter before making a phone call can be an helpful way to start a conversation of potential support.
What is an invitation letter?
- A simple one page letter with a brief (very brief!) summary of what you’ll be doing in ministry and that you need to raise 100% of your finances.
- A good invitation letter mentions that YOU will be contacting them soon (within a week) to connect with them further about your assignment, it does NOT say that they should get in touch with you. Always seek to keep the ball in your court!
- Should be followed up with a phone call (or the most relational means to approach – see number 1!) asking for an appointment, as invitation letters are a invitation (hence the name!) to further conversation.
- Invitation letters DO NOT give a lengthy dissertation of your future assignment or calling, but briefly outline the basic details.
- Invitation letters DO NOT ask for finances. Ever.
- Includes a catchy (but brief) intro.
- Always includes a handwritten ps. (that will be the first thing they see and read!).
- Includes your basic contact information.
- Invitation letters can be helpful when you want to break the ice before making a phone call and to give your potential partner time to pray and consider support before you call.
A great rule of thumb is if it feels awkward to make a phone call first, then send an invitation letter first. If it feels awkward to send an invitation letter first, you skip that step and go straight for the phone call.
4. If someone lives too far away for a face to face appointment, either set up a FaceTime / Skype Appointment or wait until you will see them.
Sometimes setting up an appointment isn’t cut and dry due to the proximity of your potential partner. Say I live in Missouri and a friend I want to ask for financial support lives in Alaska, and I have no reason to travel to Alaska nor them come to Missouri. In that type of circumstance it is likely that I will be connecting with them in another way other than face to face.
A great rule of thumb here is to try first to seek out a virtual meeting using your their preferred method (FaceTime and Skype are some good examples). Simply call them up like you would if you were asking for a face to face appointment, but instead schedule a virtual meeting time. (It’s always going to be better to actually see someone when you make an ask, as the connection overall will be richer!) It may be that they have time right then and there for the appointment, switch over to FaceTime and voila!
Of course, there will be circumstances in which someone is not able to meet virtually. Say for instance my friend in Alaska has never used FaceTime or Skype and wouldn’t know the first thing about accepting that type of call. I would then divert to making the ask via phone with that individual. When doing this, check to make sure they have time for a lengthier phone call, if not, schedule the phone call for another time (but don’t just say I’ll give you a phone call another time – truly schedule it with a date and time). I would then proceed to do the shortened version of my appointment over the phone live or at the scheduled time.
In another variance, it may be that your potential partner in Alaska will be visiting Missouri at some point in the future while you are raising support. Simply wait until closer to the time they are coming in town to phone call for an appointment or send an invitation letter.
In yet another variance, it may be that you will be visiting Alaska but not for several months. In that circumstance it may be better to hold off on contacting that individual until about a month (you want to give plenty of time for a heads up that you are coming so that you can schedule an appointment) prior to your scheduled trip.
5. Remain confident in your calling.
Whatever curve balls a potential partner is throwing at you during an appointment or prior to the appointment, try to focus on remaining confident in your calling! By following the call of God on your life, I promise you are super inspiring to those around you! Remind yourself on the daily why you are raising up a team and how God has called you. And of course praying and asking for God’s guidance will always help when those curve balls come.
Do you have a special circumstance you have questions on? Shoot me your questions in the comments!