Thursday, August 8, 2013

How NOT to ask for money

I received this series of Facebook messages from a guy I went to college with a few months ago.  I’m changing identifying details as I think this person has a good heart, but – the execution is horribly, laughably bad.  Keep in mind aside from accepting my friend request a few years ago, we have had no communication in 15 years.  Also, it wasn’t that we were such good friends, but we were involved in the same ministry.  I added a bunch of people because I was trying to find out what one guy who had been cute was doing and, yes I’m paranoid, so I wanted him to see it wasn’t just him I was adding but a bunch of people because I was a nice person, not curious about him in a weird way.  Yes, I know some would call that nuts.

4:23pm  Jackson:
Hey there L-! I emailed you at your address, but I'm honestly not even sure how those work, which means I don't know if you received the email. So I'm actually just going to copy and paste what I wrote then for this msg.
Hopefully, my comments will be in red when I paste this into blogger.  Um, okay did we just start in the middle of a conversation?
4:25pm  Jackson
Ooops. Didn't want to send that. Anyway, here you go. So long time, no talk, huh? Looks like you're in the next state area---how's that going? My wife Enid and I actually now live in state college town, working with grad students at the University with the ministry. We have a girl named Jenny who turned 3 last month, and a girl named Ann who was just born last month 4 days after Jenny's birthday! We would love to hear about your life and get caught up, but it would also be great to talk to you about this new work God has called us to (we just moved here in six months ago), and give you the opportunity to partner with us in it financially and prayerfully. God is moving here, and we would love to have you in it with us. If you could get back to us whenever you get a chance to either talk, or set up a time to talk, so that we could catch up and give you the details, that would be great. Thanks so much, and we look forward to hearing from you! 555-123-4567 [Home] 555-234-5678 [Jackson's cell] 555-345-6789 [Enid's cell]

So um hi, would you like to give us money on an ongoing basis?  Here’s every way possible to contact us because you’ll want to send that check immediately.
A couple days later, 3:29pm  Jackson
Hey L-, just wanted to touch base again. Btw, your cover and profile pictures are great. Anyway, get back to us whenever you get a chance if you could. Like I said, it would be great to catch up, and let you know about our ministry! Thanks! (Oh, and if you want first, we could send you more info through email if you prefer before we talk on the phone---up to you.) 555-123-4567 [Home] 555-234-5678 [Jackson's cell] 555-345-6789 [Enid's cell]

Wait, did you realize you should pretend to be interested in me?  For future reference, comment on photos and statuses for a few weeks then send catch up message, then send the request for money

3:55pm  Me
Evidently my phone isn't sending messages well. I've been good. What have I been doing? So many things. The church I grew up in started an extension campus, and we chartered as our own church earlier this year. I just became the treasurer! I volunteered with the youth at both churches from the time I graduated college until just recently. (looong story). I worked at an insurance company for over 10 years, but was downsized a few years ago. Since then I've had a contract position auditing for a group of hospitals. However, I just found out that the position will end this year. I'll take any prayers I can get about it! I will definitely pray for your family. However at this point, I don't feel comfortable making any new financial commitments that I don't know if I'll be able to honor in January.

Polite, right?  I’ll pretend he is interested in my life.  I did grow from the ministry so if come January I have a job and we have more interaction, I might be interested, but that is an IF since this is pretty weird.
4:41pm  Jackson
Hey L-, thanks so much for getting back to me! (Don't worry---we actually still have dumbphones.) Great to hear about stuff going on with your church. Being the treasurer is obviously SUCH an important job for a local body of believers. Regarding your employment situation, we'll definitely be praying! So many things in such a state of flux in the country right now. We really appreciate your prayers too. I do think it's a wise move to not take on any new financial commitments at this point. 3 other questions for you: 1st, would you like to receive our prayer letter over email? We'd love for you to be kept updated in that way and so you can know some specific ways in which to pray for us. If so, be sure to shoot me your email address. 2nd, would it be ok to follow up with you in Jan. or Feb. to find out if you've been able to secure a job and possibly consider partnering with us at that point? 3rd, would your church possibly be interested in hearing from us about this particular work? Thanks so much!

Okay, new church with no connection and a new position, yeah, that’s going to come off well, and seriously I turned you down so you are trying this way.  Really?!?
12:17pm  Jackson
Hey L-, just following up, even though I'm not sure with your phone issues how often you're able to get to facebook otherwise. Just wondered if we could put you on our email prayer letter list, and if your church may be interested in hearing from us. Let me know if you could whenever you get a chance. Thanks so much, and thanks again for messaging me last week!
Um, the lack of a response was a response, but the following is me trying to be polite.
2:31pm  Me
Jackson. I manage to get on. The church is really focusing on our immediate area for missions. You should create a Facebook page so people can "like" it to get more info.
I know someone who also is involved in the ministry and they have a page like this.  Also, they know someone who I see still talks with “Jackson”, but I’m not going to give a name and sic him on them.  I know this is less polite, but obviously I’m saying no.
3:15pm  Jackson
Hey -, thanks for getting back to me. Good idea with the facebook pg.---neither one of us is very good with tech (Enid is better than I am). But if we can make the time and figure it out somewhat quickly, that would be good! You mean a personal page, right? Or just one about location here? There actually is 1 of those (you could just type that in the search bar if you want to check it out). We have a personal website, but even that needs a lot of work. What are you thinking about getting our prayer letter over email? If you would like that, shoot me your address. We'd love to send it to you! Thanks!

Yeah, I didn’t respond because if you are so bad at tech, I’m not going to be able to explain it, and I just don’t want to continue to say no without pointing out that this is the most out of the blue request.


  1. Wow. That's one persistent person. You did a great job being tactful.

    1. Thanks. It was just so out of the blue that I couldn't believe it!