Raising Support: 2 Commandments of Sharing Budget Needs

Go. Serve. Love is doing a happy little jig today: We’re welcoming Jenn Fortner, blogger at Financial Partner Development. She’s helped over 300 people get fully-funded for the ministries that make their hearts beat. We’re keen on her expertise and practical advice that gets real. 

Two questions I get on a regular basis:

Should I share the specifics of my budget with individuals?

And–

If I have a monthly budget and a cash budget to raise, should I give opportunity to either give monthly or with one-time gifts?

The answer to both: NOPE.

(In case you’re working in another country: That’s niet. Nedda. Nein. Vocha. Nahi. No way.)

Let’s talk about the reasons behind both, starting with sharing specifics of your budget.

THOU SHALT NOT SHARE SPECIFICS OF YOUR BUDGET

Sure, there will be times it’s appropriate to share your specific budget figures with friends and family, but mostly it’s best to speak in percentages and not specifics. Less is always more, unless someone asks for specific numbers. Why you ask? Let’s explore one major reason.

If you share your specific budget details with an individual, it’s likely that person will make uninformed judgments on your lifestyle in ministry.

Let’s use an example to illustrate. Say you are fresh out of college and share with a potential partner who is also new to adult-ing that your budget to go overseas is $3,500 in monthly support for two years, and a cash budget of $30,000. That’s reasonable right?

Well, let’s say that peer is struggling to find a job and could only dream of making that much money each month. When you share this information quickly with them in a face to face appointment, they don’t have the ability to see what goes into that $3,500 per month and $30,000 in cash (overseas insurance, cost of living is higher due to the country you are going to, language learning school, etc.).

To them your budget seems extravagant in the wake of their own circumstances. In contrast, an overprotective family member may do some mental math on your behalf and evaluate that you aren’t making enough for those two years.

All of that to say, if you share your budget details off the cuff in your presentations, newsletters, or even social media (please don’t), people are simply prone to make judgments they’re not qualified to make.

So what is the solution? Talk in percentages! Change the sentence from “I need $3,500 in monthly support and $30,000 in cash” to this: In order to go over seas I need to raise 100% of my budget. Would you be willing to partner with me at $100 a month?

THOU SHALT NOT SHARE THE NEED FOR BOTH MONTHLY AND ONE-TIME GIFTS

Now, let’s move into the second question: Should I share both my monthly and cash gift need with individuals? Again, the answer is NOPE.

Did you notice in the example sentence in the last commandment I did NOT mention my need for cash gifts? The reason being, people tend to default to the least amount of commitment possible.

If you are giving people an option during your face-to-face appointments to give one-time gifts, they’ll take you up on it.

This will leave you with less in monthly commitments. Your partners will be patting themselves on the back because they gave, and you leaving disappointed that you didn’t get a new monthly partner who’d give consistently for years to come.

Thus, as a rule when making the ask: stick to percentages and ask for monthly support alone. 

Now, I realize you may be asking: Are there are exceptions to this rule? Of course. Responses to “asks” are as varied as there are people.

Here are some examples of when to deviate.
  1. If you are talking to a pastor about church support, go ahead and share the specifics of your budget straight away. Pastors are different than individuals. They tend to know more about the landscape of needs involved in ministry. Typically it’s helpful for them to have specific information on your budget, so share it!
  2. If an individual asks what your budget is, go ahead and share. I would advise you to have something written up for this scenario that shows some of the line items in your budget to make it understandable for those who ask.
  3. If someone cannot commit to giving monthly support, then ask if they would like to give a special/one-time gift. True, it’s far better to ask someone for monthly support, but if they can’t commit, explain they can give to your cash budget/give a special gift.
  4. If you are sharing a specific goal on a Facebook campaign or special post on social media, it is okay to share a line item in your budget. For instance, a couple I coach for #GivingTuesday recently challenged their friends on Facebook to help them raise $1,000 toward their budget. They shared in their videos and posts that the $1,000 would go toward their language learning costs specifically. They didn’t share the entirety of their budget, but they did project a specific need out of their budget with their audience.

I hope this helps in your communications of your specific budget. You don’t have to share all of the details to ask people to contribute and keep them informed!

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