As a rookie support raiser, I was somehow able to get appointments before I had received much training. I’m not sure if that was a blessing or not.
Because getting an appointment is not the same thing as knowing what to do once in the appointment.
I didn’t have a clear cut well planned out presentation, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that bother me.
I was like a bulldozer, driven to overwhelm a potential supporter with my vision and clarity for what God was leading me to do for His glory.
I had done a lot of heavy thinking through my ministry passion and dreams, and I wanted to impress potential supporters while helping them understand it as well as I did!
Vroom! Vroom! People just needed to hop on, so they could roll with me! I imagined them being awed and excitedly opening their wallets. Who could say no?
Well, actually, a lot of people wearily said no.
Like me, many support raisers initially think they would know what to say and do if given the opportunity to speak passionately about their ministry. After all, there’s so much ministry information practically oozing out of them!
Unfortunately, what’s going on in your heart doesn’t always translate very well as it passes through your brain and then through your mouth. When the opportunity comes, most support raisers simply have no idea how to proceed so they just plow forward. Or the opposite happens, and they freeze up.
I realized way too slowly that I had a problematic lack of clarity and strategy in my support raising presentation.
Luke 14:28-30 may not speak directly to support raising, but it certainly speaks to being prepared when going to work. It says:
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”
I may have counted the cost of the finances I needed, but I had not counted the personal cost of time, focus, and maturity I was going to need to develop a solid presentation for inviting people to partner with me.
First of all, I typically said way too much. The reality is people aren’t able to process large amounts of material all at once. I was overwhelming potential supporters with information overload in a 30 minute jam packed meeting. But I had more to say, so I began to extend the support raising meetings from thirty to sixty minutes.
Sadly, I didn’t stop there. At one point, several kind yet poor souls had to sit across the table from me for nearly 90 minutes before I stopped for air. I honestly believe I probably exhausted some people in my failed attempts to convince them to join my team. It’s not that I didn’t know what I was talking about regarding the ministry I was raising support for, but I certainly didn’t understand how to present it well.
I might have had a lot to say, but I didn’t really know what to say. Just as importantly though, I didn’t know what not to say. Sound familiar?
I was also easily pulled off track when trying to communicate the ministry vision to someone I was inviting to join my prayer and financial support team.
I have a vivid memory of a particular support raising lunch that took an unplanned turn and never recovered. When my friend started asking me serious questions about the theology behind giving a tithe…or not, it turned into a two hour seminary like scripture-filled conversation. Both of us were somewhat educated, knew our way around the Bible, and had experienced different Christian communities and traditions when it came to what we had experienced in partnership in the gospel with support raisers. It wasn’t an argument, but it was a very deep and nuanced conversation of high engagement. I rather enjoyed it.
However, that wasn’t what we had agreed to discuss at lunch. I was supposed to be inviting him to join my support team! We got so completely off track with that discussion, I’m afraid my support raising bulldozer turned into a support raising train, and I had allowed it to become completely derailed. We couldn’t even see the train tracks from where we ended up.
As I left that lunch, I remember thinking to myself, “what just happened, and how can I make sure that never happens again?”
Unfortunately it took me three years of mistakes to finally realize that I needed holistic, experiential, support raising training. I’m a fan of reading, Bible study, and even support raising coaching, but nothing replaces solid support raising training.
Because solid training will not only help you with questions you already have. It also will also help you ask and answer the questions you need to have, while helping you with the nuts and bolts preparation of creating your own solid, biblical, support raising presentation.
I hope to see you soon at an SRS Bootcamp!