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!

 

 

Connect Cards are Awesome.

Have you ever spoken at your home church, small group, or fundraising event and gotten stuck at your back table talking to a particularly chatty individual? All the other people scurry to lunch before your conversation ends and you feel the wave missed opportunities that just passed?  Whomp.

Insert a wonderful tool to help combat: connect cards!

What’s a connect card you ask? It’s a stack of cards you put on your display table, chairs of an event, and/or attach to Sunday morning’s bulletin. Connect cards give you the ability to follow up with interested people after a service or event is over, and is an effective tool all about facilitating more face-to-face appointments and building relationships with the body of Christ. Below there are some examples of connect cards from various workers I coach. (thanks guys!)

Now, don’t go off quite yet and make your own. I want to explain something important first – here we go – pay attention: keep in mind that connect cards are only appropriate in certain circumstances.

“Connect cards are only meant for events, services, and small groups where you have gotten permission to connect personally with individuals about giving.”

Connect cards should only be used when they fall in accordance with a pastor / leader’s protocol in giving. So don’t assume that these cards can be placed on chairs of a congregation without communication or sneakily stuck into bulletins on a Sunday morning. Connect cards are only meant for events, services, and small groups where you have gotten permission to connect personally with individuals about giving.

Why is this so important? Well, a lot of churches do their missions / ministry giving by collecting offerings and disbursing where the church leadership collectively decides. That means if you were to come into that congregation and ask all the people inside to give to you personally, it may mess up what the pastor, board, and leadership of the congregation has decided to give to. You DO NOT want to be that person. #boo

Thus, connect cards are preferably only when you ask the pastor / leader “how does your congregation do missions / ministry giving?” If they say you may connect with individuals inside of the congregation on your own, ONLY THEN do connect cards come into play.

Connect cards are ideal when speaking to your home church (after you’ve figured out the protocol with your pastor on giving), small groups, fundraising events, and the like. If you do use connect cards, make sure to explain them from the platform in which you are speaking from – letting everyone know how to fill them out and what they are for.

I hope these help you as you seek to build out new relationships as you interact with the body of Christ! See the examples below and have fun building yours!

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Don’t Just Fundraise, Multiply Yourselves

If you are reading this blog on a regular basis, chances are you are in some aspect of ministry. You are also likely to be raising your finances to do so, right? 

Assuming that you are a ministry worker raising support, I have a question for you: What factor was the most influential in getting to your field of ministry? Use the poll below to answer, please. 

If these poll results are indicative of what I have seen statistically, one of the most influential factors will be speaking in-person with a Christian worker or hearing a christian worker speak about their ministry to a group. 

Essentially, I am in my career in ministry because someone was intentional with me. 

What about you?

The person that inspired me took the time to notice me, to point me out, and to speak into my life. They took time out of their busy speaking and traveling schedule to answer my questions and find out more about me. Stopping to notice someone takes time and effort–and most importantly, it takes an intentional habit/profound belief that we aren’t just running around raising our budgets be cause we have to: we are ministering to the body of Christ. God designed it this way for a reason.

Guess what, dear reader? It’s time to be intentional with your audiences as you raise your funds! If you aren’t already doing so, be intentional when speaking in groups, at services, or face-to-face. You are now that person you were once inspired by. Yes, YOU. Not the person next to you. Not the person more charismatic or more extroverted than you. For real: YOU!

If you think about it, you (and other workers like you) are now the best advocates of the Great Commission on the earth

As we go about our support raising, let’s take that role seriously and not just raise our budgets but multiply ourselves. The most effective fundraising Christian workers I know are not as concerned about raising their budget as they are about inspiring the Body of Christ. They see fundraising not as a means to an end but as an invitation.

An invitation to the Great Commission and an invitation to inspire others to follow Christ no matter the cost. An invitation to minister to friends and family around them. An invitation to raise up involved teams of supporters who are going with them in the trenches of prayer and support, and perhaps physically serving in short term ways. 

Raising your funds is a lifestyle opportunity to provoke the body of Christ to do something and to be a part of something larger than themselves. The best support raisers I know don’t see their budget on the micro level: rather, they focus on the macro and eternal worldview Paul had: “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.” Philippians 4:17. 

If we are bold and clear in our asks and see support raising truly as ministry, we will naturally multiply ourselves and become effective in our ministries even before we even reach the field.

As you go forth in your itineration, look for people who were like you before you got started on your current path. Or people who are like you now! People who need to be called out from the crowd.  People who are called to ministry but may have questions, hesitations, or simply don’t know that there is a place for them. It may be that they need that extra push to follow God into their own area of ministry, just like you once did.

 

The Insider’s Guide to Having An Effective Display Table

Having a display table set up for speaking engagements can be an effective tool for communicating with people about your ministry.

For the sake of absolute clarity, here’s the type of scenario I’m describing:

(1) Missionary speaks for 5 minutes at a church service. (2) Missionary has a table or area set up in the foyer of the church. (3) After the service (sometimes before too) missionary uses the table / area to connect with members of the congregation.

As many of you know from observation display tables can be very effective to opening up conversations. They can also fall very, very flat if done incorrectly.

So what are some practical things you can do to make your table the best ever? Or at the very least – a more interesting place to start a conversation? Is it worth it to invest time and finances into a great display table? Below are some of my thoughts:

Thought #1: Is it worth it to invest resources into a display table?

Yes, it is worth it, but it should have the following components to make it worth it:

(1) You must have created a reason to stop by your table. At the very least, you should mention during your time that you have a table in the back. Convey that you would love to meet the congregation and connect more.

(2) Your table is not sloppy. Make your table inviting, not boring. Create a space that people want to stop by. Have some astectic appeal. No excuses — you can find someone to help you if you aren’t good at this.

(3) Make your table visible. People have to be able to find you to connect with you. Don’t put yourself in a corner. Don’t put yourself right at the entrance to the bathroom either. Your table must be in a place that isn’t awkward for people to stop and chat at.


Thought #2: Get Creative! Have something interactive on your table to spark conversation. Here are a couple of great ideas from successful missionaries:

“We put the alphabet of the country we were going to on the tabl, then asked guests to try and spell their names out in the foreign alphabet. It broke the ice. Once we did this we saw a huge difference in table interaction!”

“We made up a coloring page for kids with crayons to pass out. It was fun for our girls to give to the kids, and the kids liked it. I saw another missionary do it and thought it was a cute idea. Tables are a great way to engage in conversation with someone who otherwise may be too shy to just strike up a conversation. We try to keep our costs low by using Walmart posters and homemade stuff!” 

“When I first went out I actually had a double paned “10/40″ window with a net and fishing lures between the two pieces of glass. I used it to talk about fishing the 10/40 window. I equated the 10/40 window to a store front window, in which one can see in but can’t get to the things inside easily. I also equated it to ice fishing and how in the 10/40 window countries the fish are there, yet you have to drill holes in the ice (over time/prayer). Also one can’t use nets like other places in the world.”

“I sold coffee at my table from Eurasia Cafe and it sparked a lot of great conversation!” 

“We created a “progress map” that represented how far along we were with raising our support. Every time our support grew, we moved a toy plane closer to Georgia from the US. A little cheesy, but it was a big conversation piece and helped people visualize us at 100%.” 10953955_10204211576868236_1918223454239609490_n


Thought #3: Have a video playing. Does your ministry have a high quality video? If so, use it! If you don’t know if your ministry has a video, simply ask your mentor to find out. If they don’t, why not make your own? Adobe Voice is an app for iPads and is great place to start. There are also a lot of great companies or freelancers that make affordable videos. Find out if your ministry has a vendor list to see if they know of anyone able to help you create a video. Throw the video on a tablet and play it continuously at your table.


Thought #4: Put together all of your printed resources. You probably know this one, but just in case you don’t, make sure you have printed resources on your table. Add to them by creating a resume/packet type binder or book that combines statistics from your ministry, facts about you, your area, etc.


Thought #5: If you are going overseas, put out a map of the world so that your visitors can find the country you are going to.


Thought #6: Always smile. 


Thought #7: The most important thing you could have on your display table is a sign-in sheet. People want to get continuos information about your ministry. If you provide those that stopped by only with printed resources, you may never hear from them again.  Ask everyone you connect with to fill out your sign-in sheet. Doing this allows you to get their contact information, so that you can take the responsibility of following up with them. Here’s an example of some good sign-up sheet fields (make yours fancier):

sign up sheet

Keep in mind, you will absolutely want the permission of the host/pastor to put this sign-in sheet out.

If you do get permission, everyone you connect with signs this sheet! Tell them you would like to remember them and keep them updated on your ministry.

After the event, make a phone call to those that signed in (also make sure this is okay with the pastor/host). When you call, share the following:

(1) Ask if they are interested in joining some aspect of your partnership team – whether by prayer or finances.

(2) Thank them for connecting with you and tell them you appreciate their church/group and interest.

(3) Ask them if they have any questions.

(4) If appropriate ask if they would like to meet face-to-face. Tell them you would like to find out more about them, build relationship, and find out if joining some aspect of your team is a good fit for them.

(5) Tell them you are adding them to your newsletter list.


I hope these thoughts help you develop great display tables and communication with the people you meet as you travel. Do you have any thoughts to add?

(plane photo cred goes to the missionaries that created the “progress map” thank you! // check out http://www.faithhousedesigngroup.org/ for really great graphic design resources)

Become a Better Public Speaker

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I used to be terrified to speak in public. Knotty stomach, raised pulse, sweating, and no sleeping the night before. Growing up I avoided any classes that had me speaking in front of the class. I cannot count how many times I ran in the opposite direction if there was even a hint of me having to be in front of a group.

Now, surprisingly, I’m mostly over it. Why the dramatic change? Practice. A lot of practice. I have been blessed with leadership over the years that encouraged me as well as provided no-way-out situations speaking to groups. (I hated them for it then, love them for it now) As for my personal skill level, I cannot say I have arrived exactly where I want to be; but I have come a long way and am proud of where I am today.

A lot of missionaries and those in ministry are plagued by fear of public speaking. Many missionaries are not afraid of public speaking, but have a long way to go to refine the art of giving a impactful message or 5 Minute Window at a church service. Whether you are starting off with cold sweats just thinking about public speaking, a boarder-line professional, or somewhere in between – I hope this simple info-graphic helps. Here are a couple of additional notes for some of the steps above:

STEP 4 VISUALS: If you are having a hard time describing where you are you are going overseas, a job you are doing, etc. use something visual to illustrate it! Also, if you are a missionary or traveling minister speaking at a church, set up a table in the back but don’t let it be boring. Create ways for people to comfortably interact with you after the service.

Some examples: (1) Create a alphabet in the language of the country you are going to so those stopping by your table can spell their names (and children’s names) in your country’s alphabet. (2) Have a video about your ministry continuously playing on a laptop or tablet. (3) Have something small available that represents your ministry.

STEP 9 THE ATTENTION GRABBER: After providing a brief introduction of yourself (and your family if you have one), you need an attention grabber. Use one of the following to grab people’s attention from the very beginning:

  • Share a short personal story. “I’d like to begin by telling you a story about Anna, a 5 year old girl I befriended in Spain.” 
  • Ask a group question or do a quick group survey. “Raise your hand if you have any idea where Qatar is on a map?” (then show the map later on the slide). “What do you think of when you hear the word “poor”? You shouldn’t be receiving actual answers, only developing a story / idea and involving the congregation.
  • A thought-provoking statement. Impressive to everyone (not just you). “Did you know that in Africa 1 out of every 10 people are _______” This of course needs to relate to what you are doing and why you are speaking with the group.

STEP 10 ESTABLISH A NEED: After you have their undivided attention, you must establish need. You can do this in multiple ways. Here are two suggestions that you can effectively establish need:

1. Share statistics and data. Appeal to the congregations logic and reasoning. Don’t overdo the stats — it’s easy to do.

2. Share stories, pictures, or videos. Appeal to the listener’s emotions with these. (If you shared a story for your attention grabber; a good idea is to come back to some aspect of the story, develop it more, and thread it throughout your presentation.)

One last word on public speaking: you will get better at it! Practice makes perfect, and the more you speak in front of groups the better you will become.

Are there any tips you have? Add them in the comments!

Want more information on public speaking, including an effective outline?  Read the Financial Partnership Development Workbook.