November 29, 2016

Take a Deep Breath and Make the Ask

If you’ve never done it before, asking someone to contribute their money for a cause, however good, can seem scary or uncomfortable. As a philanthropy and fundraising professional, I’ve made numerous “asks” and written countless grant proposals. And yet, the first time I faced the challenge of making a face-to-face, personal request for financial support of a project to which I was deeply and passionately committed – my own parish’s capital campaign – I was incredibly nervous.

But I wholeheartedly believe that the asking for and giving of money is symbolic of something far deeper. The exchange is really about connection, trust and shared values and goals. When we ask for financial support for a cause, we are extending an invitation to join with others in expressing our values and goals. We aren’t asking for money because we need money for its own sake, but because of what that money will enable us to do, together.

This sense of community, of common purpose, is particularly true for churches, where we come together to act as the hands and heart of Christ in the world. The money that churches raise through annual stewardship, special project and capital campaigns is an expression of our shared faith, our shared hope for the kingdom of God brought forth in this world. And we are drawn together throughout.

More than my professional background, more even than the materials and training provided by ECF, it was the strength and inspiration that I drew from this theological understanding of giving that gave me the courage to overcome my anxiety and agree to invite my peers to join me in supporting our church. Because I express my faith principally through action and service, I realized that I could not allow my discomfort to stand in the way of the vitally important work we were about to undertake. So I took a deep breath and scheduled that first meeting.

The conversation that followed was rich, full of life and genuine fellowship. We enjoyed getting to know each other better, as we shared our personal stories and our hope for the future – a church in which we could more deeply and intentionally grow in faith, worship God together, enjoy fellowship and serve our larger community. That future is now coming true, not merely because of money raised, but because in inviting everyone into our vision, new relationships were fostered and existing ones strengthened and deepened.