How to Talk to Potential Supporters

by Fiona Mearns
Posted on 1st July 2016

Picture the scene - you've been invited to speak to a group about your work. It's gone well and there has been lively discussion and prayer. Then over coffee one person approaches you and tentatively suggests they might like to support you in your work. Your first instinct may be to clasp them in a bear hug weeping tears of relief or there may be an embarrassing pause as you try to suppress a look of complete shock. So what might in fact be a helpful response?

  • Thank them. This may be glaringly obvious, but take time to explain how important your supporters are to you - not just in a financial sense but in terms of prayer support and encouragement.
  • Ask if they would like to know more or have they any questions? They may already be clear about their intentions but maybe the offer of a one-to-one conversation another time would be appreciated.
  • Explain how your support is handled (whether by you, your organisation or someone like Stewardship). Be ready to give them an explanation as to why your support is organised in this way.
  • Give them a supporter response form (with all the details on) to take away and read through. Suggest they give you a call if they have any questions about it. Don't have one to hand? Ask for their contact details and say you'll send them one (make sure you send it as soon as you can, not a week later when you're off their radar).
  • Even if you do have a form to give them, ask for their contact details anyway. That means you can keep the initiative and follow-up with them (life has a habit of getting in the way despite good intentions). If you don't hear anything it may not necessarily mean they've changed their mind. It might be as simple as having mislaid the form so worth finding out if they need another.
  • Leave them feeling valued. It's not all about the money, so take the opportunity to find out how they like to be communicated with so you can update them on your work. Are they a fan of social media, emailed updates or do they like a newsletter in the post? Emphasise once more how much their interest in your ministry means to you.

Being prepared is about giving potential supporters confidence that you not only value their interest in your ministry but also take the financial aspects of your ministry seriously. If the Holy Spirit has moved them to want to give to your ministry then the least you can do is to make it as easy for them as possible!

Fiona Mearns is the Training and Events Coordinator at Stewardship focussing on Christian Worker Training and Trustee Training.  She loves to write whenever there's an opportunity and is a fan of a well-used apostrophe.