- “There’s an exception to every rule.”
- “In a multiple choice test, ‘always’ or ‘never’ are absolutes and are rarely the correct answer.”
- “We should always challenge everyone on our partnership team when doing a Special Ask Appeal.”
In my early years in ministry I used to spend a lot more time fretting about who to ask (for special gifts), what to ask for, how to word the ask, and when to ask. After reading excellent support raising books like Funding Your Ministry (Scott Morton) and The God Ask (Steve Shadrach), and The 7 Deadly Diseases of Ministry Marketing (Brendel), my view on asking for support broadened.
And an ancillary benefit of that expansion is that creating fund appeals is a lot faster than it used to be… because I am not wasting as much time culling my list for just the correct set of people to ask in any given letter, or spending literally days crafting the letter as if that was the magic bullet.
As a general rule, I do this with special gift appeals: “Ask everyone except those I do not ask.”
I have a special Saved Group titled, “Ask Exclude”. In this Group I have a small number of contacts (under 10 currently) whom I never send an ask to. This list includes three types of contacts:
- Organizational/church contacts for whom a special ask may seem inappropriate. That is, these recipients want ministry updates, but I want to reserve special gift appeals to individuals within the organization or church, not the entity itself.
- Relatives who may not be believers, or might have a narrow view of fund-raising. Or, to put it another way, these are people who may have reservations about fund-raising, or may have a negative view of churches or mission agencies who do fund appeals. If I send appeals to them, it may reinforce their negative views.
- Contacts who have specifically indicated to me that they do not want to receive appeals.
- Contacts who I am concerned that due to their age they may not interpret the ask correctly.
As I said, in my current list of Ask Exclude I have fewer than 10.
[ I also will typically exclude people who recently gave a special gift for some other reason or had a very recent change in their giving up or down. But that’s not the focus of this post. ]
When I am creating a new Campaign and want to generate the letter, I do the lookup for paper newsletter, then Lookup | By Group, and use “Take away from the current group” to remove the Ask Exclude group.
I am a firm believer in presenting our special needs to our partners (as you are aware from our recent vehicle ask). I send at least one special ask appeal every year, sometimes two.
I am not saying that every appeal I send is always “to my entire less minus the Ask Exclude”. Sometimes I do send a special appeal to a select group of partners. But I generally start with everyone, remove the Ask Exclude, then tweak the list from there.