Is Asking for Specific Amounts Offensive?

© The Navigators

© The Navigators

On the way to my office this morning I got a phone call from a medical missionary headed to South Asia. He asked a great question: 

"Is it offensive to ask for a specific amount? 
Am I being too pushy?"

Here are highlights of our conversation.

  • Do you always ask for a specific amount or range? Yes, 98% of the time. The donor can’t read your mind. He or she might have an old paradigm that $5 gifts are all you need.
  • What amount? I suggest $75-150 per month. (Different economies will need to adjust this range.)
  • How to ask? First, ask if they have questions. Don’t appeal before they have an opportunity to clarify misunderstandings. Silence. Then I say: “You’ve heard our story, but we can’t do this alone….(pause). May I ask you to pray about joining our team for $75-150 per month?” Silence.
  • My budget includes medical equipment—it’s huge. For a larger budget or for veteran staff, you’ll need “anchor partners” at $5000-15,000 per year. They prefer to give annually.
  • How do you ask Anchor Partners? Always in person.
  • What to say? I say, “If we are to accomplish all that God is calling us to do, we must be 100% fully funded. We are grateful for partners giving smaller gifts, but we also need anchor partners at $5000-15,000 per year.” “I don’t your financial situation, but I do know mine. May I ask you to pray about joining our ministry with a gift of $5000-15,000 per year?” Silence.
  • Won’t I offend people by asking specifically? No. Asking specifically communicates you know what you’re doing. Offenses in fundraising come from arrogant attitudes more than specific appeals.

I concluded our chat with the Tabernacle appeal in Exodus 25:1-9 where the Lord instructs Moses to “Raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him….” (verse 2). Note—the gift is for the Lord—not for Moses!

He then lists 13 items needed for God’s sanctuary in the desert—gold, silver, goat hair, fine linen and even porpoise skins dyed red. Pretty specific! If Moses had said, “Give whatever you want” the Children of Israel would not have known what to do. Be specific! You will get what you ask for.

Okay, that’s what I said. What would you have answered our fellow mission worker to Nepal?

Scott MortonComment