Tag: Words

Go Ask For Money

Right now, many pastors are asking how to increase giving this year. They have set their annual budgets, have planned for staff and expenses, and are anxiously watching the stock market and political news.

I have seen many strategies to increase giving in churches, and the most common has ‘hope and prayer’ as a central tenet. While I am a fan of hope and I think prayer is essential, there are also things we can do as leaders to increase revenue. I believe the two most powerful methods are to tell stories about the impact a giver’s money will or has had, and to simply ask.

Why Not?

When I talk with church leaders, there is a lot of resistance to discussing money with the congregation. There appear to be two primary reasons. First, they feel awkward or guilty about asking people for money that goes directly into their pocket. That seems selfish and greedy. Second, they don’t have good tools or language to talk about giving in a productive way.

I have worked in some version of sales for many years now and I know every sale impacts my pocket. Maybe I get a commission, or maybe I just promote my company, but even that makes my employment more stable. As a result of that, I have learned to be comfortable asking people to buy stuff I sell, as long as I believe it is in their best interest.

So let’s talk about how to ask for money. What are the steps?

Create an Invitation

Any time you are asking people to give, I recommend you follow this six-step process to create a well-formed invitation. Invitation is different than cajoling or begging because an invitation honors the human dignity in both you (the asker) and them (the giver). Without preserving human dignity and their right to choose, guilt and frustration sets in on both sides of the conversation.

  • State what you want. Creating an informed choice is critical to an invitation, and that starts with them being well informed. I recommend very direct language here. “I would like to see each and every one of you tithe 10% of your income to this church for a year.”
  • Describe the benefit to you. Do you feel that personal guilt rise up in your gut? In this area, you should focus on the benefit to the church, but don’t neglect that you are a beneficiary. Transparency is key to eliminating the gossip and inferences created by an unclear message. “If you decide to do this, our church ministry could grow tenfold. We can increase the salary and health benefits of our staff, which I know I would enjoy, and we can finally fix that air conditioner. Imagine the homeless outreach opportunities!” (This is also where you can share those stories we mentioned earlier.)
  • Show the benefit to them. Do they really get a benefit from giving their hard-earned money to you? I believe they do. I have found that regular giving is a form of discipleship and faith that has yielded great benefits in my life and my marriage. Think deeply about your own theology and attitude here. “I think the benefit to you is a sense of satisfaction that you are moving the kingdom of God forward. In addition, I believe following God’s commands reaps great rewards in your life.”
  • Explicitly give them the right to decline. It is very tempting to leave this part out. They already know they can decline to give, right? They must know that, they aren’t giving now! Something very powerful happens when you explicitly say it out loud (and mean it). You have handed all the power in the conversation over to them, increasing your credibility and honoring their personal dignity and decision-making skills. If you are nervous or hesitant about this step, do it twice. “Of course, this is your decision and I understand if you choose not to give. And that is OK. Please know God still loves you and you are still welcome here.”
  • Describe the consequences if they decline. The second part of making an informed choice is knowing what will happen if I decline. Since you just told me declining was fine to do, it is only fair that you share what will be the natural consequence of that decision. “We operate this church on your tithes and offerings. Without them, we would have to reduce our facilities maintenance and our staff.”
  • Inquire and wait. Make the ask. Close the deal. Make the sale. Once you have presented the other elements, and made your case, then clearly put the monkey on their back. Once you have done this, stop talking. No really, let the silence invade. It is not a pressure tactic; it is giving them space to process their own thoughts. In the moment that might be 10 to 15 seconds of dead air. In church calendars, it might take people weeks to decide. “Would you be willing to commit to this? Please let us know.”

Other than the last one — the waiting part — the order of these steps or elements is not important. I recommend starting with this order as it is easy to remember and create in your script. However, once you master the structure, feel free to change it up a bit.

A note on execution here: prepare. Take the time to think through each element and be confident in each statement. If you are feeling a bit wishy-washy on any part of this, it will come through in your communication and reduce your effectiveness. This can expose some personal views and attitudes that might be holding you back and need attention.

Your Next Move

Consider what is holding you back from being more deliberate when you ask for giving. If it is a personal hang-up, get some help from friends who are good at it. Start with your favorite salesman, then find a successful pastor and ask them to help you craft this invitation and work through the resistance.

If your challenge is the language and structure, go try out a well-formed invitation. Maybe with a congregant on the fence, or in a video announcement. Work your way up to sharing on stage and see how it goes.

Get Flexible

Last month I wrote about how the meaning of your communication is the response you get, measured by the other person’s behavior. In that post, I mentioned that communication gaps can be prevented if the communicator is more flexible to meet the needs of the listener. This is so important to successful communication that I wanted to dig deep on one specific way to improve your communication.

Four Communication Channels

Imagine you are strolling down the streets of Paris and want directions. You can hear the locals chatting away, so you stop at a coffee shop and ask for help. Do you ask in English or French? If English is the only language you know, then that will be your preference, and will likely meet with only limited success.

What if you were flexible and skilled enough to switch languages on the fly to meet their needs? While many of us do not have the time, inclination, or need to learn a new language, how we structure our communication in our own language can create a similar effect.

There are four main communication channels to consider when crafting your message:

  • Visual: People operating in this channel prefer images and pictures to help them fully receive the message. This could entail standing at the white board and animating the idea in your head, or even helping them to see the images in their own mind’s eye. Imagine a bright, sunny day with rich blue skies and fluffy white clouds occasionally shading the sun during your afternoon walk.
  • Auditory: Folks here want to listen to the words, tone, and stories you have to offer. Consider mimicking the sounds of the thing you are describing, whether it be a crash or a boom or a soothing wave. Listen to the birds chirp and sing as the water bubbles in the stream. You hear your heartbeat slowing down and your footprints whispering in the grass.
  • Kinesthetic: How does it feel? Your message here can draw on emotions or a tactile experience to provide awareness. Consider that passionate analogy that connects our hearts together. Lift your face to feel the warmth of the sun as the blades of grass slip between your toes. Sip that ice-cold drink and relax for the first time in days.
  • Digital: This communication channel is devoid of the senses and is very logical. Often list-based, this mode involves thinking things through to arrive at the best conclusion or processing the facts and figures until a decision can be made. In addition, Digital thinking will move step by step in a predictable and repeatable sequence. I have decided to walk 10,000 steps per day to increase my health and I am currently 2/3 of the way through that today.

Does one of these four resonate with you more than others? Can you see these patterns in others around you? Does one of these snippets feel more right, or does one make more sense than the others?

Your Next Move

The first step in gaining flexibility is knowing your natural preferences and learning to expand to use other channels. As you increase your flexibility to communicate in just the way your listener prefers, watch how quickly rapport deepens and communication improves.

I Have a Name

I have recently started working on a really exciting ballooning project. A couple of my ballooning friends are planning to fly a balloon over the Pacific Ocean, from Japan to the US. To learn more about this project, go to pacificballoon.com.

As a result of this project, I have been working with a few corporations to help us out on the US side with recovering the equipment.

I solicited one well known national logistics company thinking they could give me advice. Specifically, my note read like this:

Thanks for the time to consider helping us figure this out!

As it turns out, they did not take the time to help us figure it out. Instead, I got this note back:

Thanks for not caring

Thanks for not caring

People or Tasks?

A friend at church once told me, “When people become tasks, I know I need to take a break.” I thought when I wrote my note to this company, I was a real person with a personal interest in a pretty cool project. What I got back clearly told me I was a task to this company. On the plus side, I did get a response. Part of me didn’t even expect that!

When caring for people and their needs becomes just another task to add to the list and get it done as fast as possible, we are missing the point.

Use My Name

I get it – they probably get hundreds of requests for help, or money, or something each day. They can’t possibly be expected to help everyone, or even be interested in everyone. However, by failing to actually insert my name in the communication they left me wanting.

Contrast that note above with this one:

A better way to respond

A better way to respond

I have a similar reaction when I receive emails directed to me without using my name. Maybe I am old school, but I learned to open a communication with some sort of a salutation. Rehearse this in your own mind, how does it sound when a missive starts with the content? How about when it starts with some small acknowledgement that you are a real person, with a name?

Your Next Move

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed with everything, and everyone, in your inbox remember those are real people with real lives and real feelings. Treat them with the care they deserve, even when you don’t feel like it.

That’s Not Awesome

It seems everywhere I go these days, I am hearing, “That’s Awesome!” I am a huge fan of encouragement and excitement. I am even a fan of hyperbole from time to time. When I looked it up, I found the definition to the word:

Awesome: extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.

Maybe I am just hard to please (probably), and I feel like the things we are praising with Awesome just aren’t. Do they really inspire awe? Do those everyday events truly cause a stunned silence, a wonderment, a reverence for the moment? Not likely.

Choose the right word

One of the things I feel strongly about is using words correctly. Very possibly, this relates to the fact that my parents are well educated and my mother is an educator. She taught in the school system for many years, then brought her practice home to teach kids who were struggling. It was pretty inspiring to see the droves of kids over the years come in struggling and leave triumphant.

I think there are two aspects to using words properly.

  • Only use words you understand. In the Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I believe using a word incorrectly is worse than not knowing the best word to use. If you don’t know that “just right” word, string a few others together to convey your meaning.
  • Learn more words. I love to learn new things and there are many times I start with the attitude, “there must be a word for this.” Most of the time that is true and I can find it on Google or through friends that are smarter than I. If you want to learn more words as a habit, start with A Word A Day. Today’s word is Mata Hari, in case you were wondering.

Experience Awe

Although this sounds like a diatribe on word usage, what inspired me to write this was the actual experience of awe. I felt it and realized I couldn’t call it “awesome” even though it truly was. It just didn’t seem to pack the punch I wanted it to. There will come a day I will write about that awe-inspiring event, but in the meantime here are a few places you might look for awe.

  • Nature. Our God has created a pretty amazing world. Go look at it with the intent of being amazed and inspired. Whether that be the vastness of the plains, the size of the mountains, or the delicacy of a flower.
  • Transparency. When people really open up and share their heart it is, well, awesome. To see someone push past the fear and awkwardness and expose themselves to you is to see their beauty and power in a way rarely seen. When that happens, be fully present even if it is uncomfortable.
  • Greatness. When someone does something great, enjoy it. There is no need to judge them, or yourself, for their activity. Just revel in it. I enjoy watching sports for this reason. Last week, we attended a high school football game and saw a truly great pass and catch. It was amazing to watch these young men push their bodies to new levels of performance. Granted that play was by the other team and they scored against us, but there is no reason that should diminish my appreciation for the act itself.

Your Next Move

Since this blog has two thrusts, you have two action items this week!

First, pay very close attention to the words you use. Do they convey your meaning precisely? If not, use a different word, even if that means you have to go find it first.

Second, spend some time looking for things that are truly AWESOME…and get absorbed in that moment. Those times leave an indelible mark on your soul.

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