1. If someone from another country, a man that you had never seen before knocked on your door and without any explanation asked you for money, and probably quite a lot of it, what would you say to him? Correct! So rule number one is to find out who you are writing to, greet them courteously and introduce yourself properly. Then ask for permission to make an application and if the answer is yes, ask what information they would like to know.
2. If you ask for a hand-out don't be surprised if people walk by you. Luke 16.22 says that the time came when the beggar died, which is something that needs to happen again in the Internet shops around the world. Don't ask for a hand-out because next month you will be just as poor again and still begging. Think about applying for a hand-up or step-up, that is finding capital to make money long-term through work. This will take you out of poverty and into prosperity, that is having enough for yourself and plenty to give to others.
3. Find ways and find words to demonstrate your honesty, integrity and competence. Your heart may be right but do your hands know what to do? Have you arranged for respected professionals to speak on your behalf and recommend you? It is very easy and relatively painless to lose someone else's money and the people you are applying to know this. So be different and show that you have counted the cost before you start, show that you have taken advice and are prepared to work in a team where other people's skills make up for what you cannot do.
4. Offer a valid partnership where you and the giver take the major decisions together, don't just ask for gifts or grants. The giver may not want to share the responsibility but the offer will show your openness and welcome. Solomon's wisdom said that two heads are always better than one, and a three fold cord with God intertwined in the middle cannot be broken, as indeed the Trinity is always a good model to follow.
5. Always show that you have considered and solved the all-important issue of long-term sustainability to overcome dependence on overseas or outside funding. No-one wants to fund an empty building, or see their project abandoned after a few months because of lack of income to meet the ongoing operational costs.
6. Be prepared to be thankful even if showing gratitude is not common in your culture. Avoid the ten lepers syndrome where only one of ten men who were healed by Christ came back to say thank you. State that from the beginning you will be responsible with providing receipts, reports and photos.
7. Prepare the ground before God by your own generosity to the poor because giving is always the trigger that releases God's explosion of prosperity. Then on a practical level requesting a 50%/50% joint investment in a project will always inspire more confidence that asking for 100% of the costs. If 50/50 is too much for you then at least be prepared to invest a 10% or more to show your own commitment and ownership.
8. Finally spot the deliberate mistake and avoid making it at all costs. Psalm 121, 1-2 says, "I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the west, the owner of heaven and earth." Did you see the mistake? Remember that above and behind all, the source of all love and giving is the invisible hand of God himself and it is to Him alone that you must look first, and then if He points you in a direction, you may look there. Never forget that there is only one God and the person you are applying to is not He, so keep your eyes on Jesus.