You have now reached what should be the easiest parts of the entire cycle. Making the Fourth and final ask. This is what you would typically think of as "the ask". You will put together a proposal and find a time to invite them to partner with your ministry in a significant financial way. In reality however, you have already made three other asks that will make this a natural follow through of your time together.
Writing a Proposal
A proposal has 5 main categories:
Let's break these down a little more and look at a few examples.
The Problem and The Strategy
This is where you explain the current reality of what is true in your ministry. Explain what is holding your ministry back from reaching its fullest potential, in terms of what the partner is passionate about. Maybe you are seeing low involvement with Winter Conference. This has caused less buy-in for student leadership, less students going on Summer Mission, and maybe less community as a whole. Tell them that! Explain the need for your ministry. Don't be afraid to use numbers and graphs.
After you finish explaining the need, you need to explain the strategy that you have come up with to fix that need. Continuing with the Winter Conference example, you realize that the cost has become an inhibitor for students attending. You've spoken to some of your key leaders and they have said that it is really hard to get their non-Christian friend to attend because that's too much money for something they are so unsure about. They would be willing to pay $50-100 however. Pool all of this information together and make a plan. Students who have never gone before will get a $100 scholarship while everyone else will get a $50 scholarship. Write all of this out in an easy to understand way, while still being specific.
Successful Outcomes and Stories
You have already been strategic, and now you have to explain what would be considered a success. People want measurable outcomes to see if their investment was worth it. This is where you would spell that out for them. If they gave a $5,000 gift for Winter Conference scholarships, you would consider the strategy successful if you saw 70 people attend from your campus. You would want 30 of them to be people who have never attended before. Once again, use data. Make graphs of the past few years of attendance as well as projected attendance if you were able to give scholarships.
If possible, include stories of how students lives were changed because of a gift like this in the past, or because of the importance of what they individual would be giving towards. Have them be short, succinct, but cast vision for the need. While these aren't crucial, they bring people back into the strategy. They remind the partner that these are real people's lives that would be eternally altered.
Here, you spell out exactly how much and for what you are asking for. Explain where each dollar would go. Remember to add the 12% assessment to the costs. This should not be a separate line item. If a freshman outreach is going to cost $3,000, it should be listed at $3,360. Think through what the actual cost would be to accomplish what you are trying to do. If it is more than what you want to ask this one partner for, mention that in the proposal. Ask them to fund part of it, indicating that you have other partners you are also asking to give towards this effort - but only add this if it is true!
Contacting Your Local Development Staff
When writing a proposal, it can look pretty different depending on how much you plan to ask for. That's why we have some examples included below. The biggest resource for you however is not any of these but Development staff. If you haven't connected with them yet, this is the time to reach out. They have written dozens of proposals in their career and can help you craft one that not only will be clear and concise, but have all the important components. Don't have this appointment without sharing your proposal with them.
Once the proposal is written and the appointment is set, you may be wondering what it should actually look like. Remember, this should be the easiest of the 4 Asks. The partner knows what is coming and has already agreed to meet with you. You won't be surprising them! For the appointment, simply sit down with them and walk them through the proposal. Be personable, telling stories and asking if they have questions along the way. Be sure you know the proposal front and back before you sit down with them. When you get to the end of the proposal and are asking them to financially invest in your ministry, remember that this is different than MPD. You should not expect to get an immediate response. Instead, say "I realize this is a big decision, so I would love to give you some time to think and pray about it? Could I follow up with you in a week?". Thank them for their time and leave with the next contact in the books.
Whether they give you an answer on the spot or you follow up with them, there are three basic answers you could receive - yes, no, not right now. If they are a yes, thank them profusely! You can then get into more of the specifics of giving, asking how they would like to make their gift. If it is a check which is common, have them send it to you and then you can send it down to Orlando. You should also plan on sending a thank-you note as soon as possible. More on this in the next step.
If they say not right now, they might immediately offer their reasoning. If not, ask them when would be a better time to follow up. Continue to make contact with them as appropriate until that that time comes around. Then, you can meet with them again, and see if they are able to make a financial commitment.
Finally, they might say no. While this is disappointing, it might not be a firm no. Ask them what their hesitations are. Listen well to their response. If appropriate, respond to them. If the amount is too high, ask if they would be willing to look at other giving options. If they stand firm, thank them for their time and continue to engage them as appropriate.