What I Learned at Red Robin about When to Ask

© The Navigators

© The Navigators

Two weeks ago a friend of one of our international staff wrote to ask me how "Joe's" support was coming along. I explained his situation and assured her that he needed to raise $5000. Within a week she wrote to say she was going to give $3100. When I called her to thank her, she hinted she had more to give because she had received a small inheritance. 

My antenna went up!

"More to give?"

"Yes," she said, "do you have other projects?"

I offered to meet with her to explain more about the Navigators and find out what projects she liked. "Gifters" want to support their dreams more than yours, but I was determined to look for a match between her interests and ours.

We met at Red Robin Restaurant and found a quiet corner away from the yowling kids with their birthday balloons stuck on the ceiling. I enjoyed hearing her spiritual journey and she seemed to enjoy mine. Then she said something that stopped me cold over my Haddock sandwich:

"I must have a personal connection before I give."

Her words stunned me because that is what I have always believed, but I had never heard a giving partner say it so clearly. But notice she did not say “deeply intense connection.” Just a personal connection.

Her statement challenges gospel-workers who are waiting, waiting, waiting to “build a deeper relationship” before they invite acquaintances to join their teams. My eating partner at Red Robin simply said “personal connection.”

How good does friendship need to be before you ask. There is no answer to that question because everyone on your list has a unique relationship with you. We must not set out a formula that says, “Invite them to give on your third encounter if it is a full moon!”

Her statement also instructs those who think they will generate tons of money simply by announcing their dynamic vision without a relationship of any kind.

You have the privilege of asking God when you should invite a gift. But my Red Robin friend has given you a clue—a personal connection!

What can you do to build personal connections with lots of people—not intensely deep connections, just personal connections? You might start with building your mailing list and telling good gospel stories in your letters.  

Philippians 4:10 says, “You were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.” What can you do today to help people develop concern for you and your mission?