Asking Too Soon?

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28).

The Apostle Paul made the most of every opportunity to share the Gospel. He was accused by the Jewish leaders, arrested, and sent to the Roman governor Felix in Caesarea. When Festus became governor, he was perplexed by Paul’s case and asked King Agrippa to review it with him. Paul stood before them and boldly proclaimed his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. At the end of his testimony, he asked the king, “Do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” King Agrippa responded, “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly? (Acts 26:27-28 NLT).

How long should you know a potential donor before you ask for a gift? 10 years? 5 years? 1 year? 1 week? 1 hour? In fundraising, we talk much about cultivating relationships with our donors, but how long should we cultivate? Some fundraisers seem to perpetually cultivate and never ask. They believe their donor needs one more visit, one more brochure, or to hear one more story before they can ask. Paul’s boldness teaches us three lessons.

King Agrippa gave Paul the green light to tell his story, “You have permission to speak for yourself” (Acts 26:1). Agrippa had heard much about Paul and wanted to hear his message. Have you ever asked for permission to ask? Perhaps you could say something like this, “Could I share with you how we are reaching the next generation and see if it’s something that resonates with you?” or “Could I share a proposal of how you could make a difference in the lives of young people?”

Prior Knowledge
Judaism wasn’t new to King Agrippa; he was the great-grandson of Herod the Great, the ruler when Jesus was born. Agrippa was “well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies” (Acts 26:3). Sometimes, we hesitate to ask because we haven’t personally known our prospective donor for a long time, but we fail to realize that the donor may have known about our ministry for years. You’re not asking based on your relationship with the donor, but your donor’s relationship with your ministry.

Personal Story
Paul clearly shared why he was on trial. He was one way before he met Christ, and now he was completely different. As you tell your ministry stories with potential donors, emphasize how your ministry is making an eternal difference in the lives of those you serve. Paul’s life was radically changed because of his encounter with Jesus. You must tell your “Why.” Why should a donor give to your organization? Your answer is because of your eternal impact.

Think About This: Paul didn’t think King Agrippa needed more time to believe in Christ. “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am” (Acts 26:29). We think of many reasons why a donor needs more time. Just ask, and let your donor decide if they want to partner with you.

Response: Father, give me boldness to make the most of every conversation I have with donors.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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