3 questions to ask after a potential donor says “no.”

My dad’s life growing up was one I didn’t want. At least not the part where we lived in the US. As missionaries with the AG, our system requires us to come home every 4 years to replenish our support.


Here’s how the system works. You get a list of churches in your district. You start calling. You talk mainly to answering machines and church secretaries. You knock and knock and knock. Eventually you get invited to come speak. About a third of those will add you to their support list. Dad spent most of his time doing this when living in the US. For some years, so did I.

The problem is that the system is very inefficient and the Return on Investment is low, because so many calls are wasted. They don’t have to be though. Here are 3 things that you can do after you are told “no” by a potential donor.

  1. Ask for their permission to add them to your email list.

Building a support base is about building relationships. Over time, your emails will make you more known.  Ask the person taking the call for the church’s main email, the contact for the missions committee, or the staff member in charge of missions. If you’ve spoken to the pastor, ask to add them to your list. (You have an email list right?)

2. Ask where the pastor can most likely be found online.

Is pastor a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram guy? Does he blog? Most pastors will respond to a friend request. Then start building a friendship online with him, staff and the church. If you’ve talked to the pastor and gotten a “no”, still ask about their online presence.

3. Ask for a prayer request.

Pray for the secretary, or the receptionist, or whomever you talk to. When you call back, make sure you ask about that prayer request and how it went.  Praying for, rather than asking of, will change your heart as well as connect you with this church. Remember, you are first and foremost in ministry. Minister to those you can minister to, whether they can help you or not.

So what are other ways you’ve used to continue the conversation after you’ve gotten the “no” from pastors?

58 thoughts on “3 questions to ask after a potential donor says “no.””

  1. I agree with all three of these things! We were able to implement them and many times, after building relationship through social media, we were able to make a better connection and even get support. Very helpful!

  2. Good stuff. Prayer has really opened doors that had been shut for me in the past.

    Another couple of ideas, especially if the “no” is to the initial service, is to try for another venue, say lunch, coffee, or maybe even the golf course. (Too rich for me!) Something else that has worked is to ask for other people who may be interested in partnering with our ministry. While sometimes one church may be closed, another just across town or down the road might be wide open to your ministry. Try to tap the nay sayers for ideas as to which ones those might be.

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