Raising support can sometimes seem daunting and scary. But it doesn’t have to be.
How do you raise support for missions? Missionaries raise support by first building relationships with people who want to invest in their lives for the furthering of God’s Kingdom. You can raise support by following some simple steps which can lead to becoming fully funded for either your short-term trip or career in missions. Some key steps of raising support are building relationships, building a contact list, sending letters, having meetings with people, mobilizing prayer, following up, and keeping partners updated on what is happening in your life.
In this blog, we will look at what steps you can take for raising support in missions.
1. Build Strong Relationships
The most important part of raising support is building good relationships with people.
If you have a hard time connecting with people, you are going to have a harder time raising support because support raising is not about money, it is about relationships.
To get good at building relationships, be intentional about reaching out and building connections with those around you and the people you don’t know very well. If you are not able to practice building good relationships now, you may find it is more difficult to get to know people in a new context overseas.
Begin getting comfortable getting outside of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to meet new people and build friendships.
Go out for coffee, have people over for a meal, go bowling, or hang out at the park. Develop deeper relationships with your family, people at your church, work, Bible study, dentist, or the cashier in the grocery store check-out line. Find ways to get connected with people.
Having a good base of friendships is the key to raising support. These are going to be the people who want to be a part of your life and are excited about what you are going to be doing in the future.
2. Build a Contact List
It may be overwhelming thinking about how much support you have to raise when you look through your contacts and see only a handful of people.
However, everyone has at least 250 or more people they are connected to in some way.
To begin the process of writing down your contact list, think about who you know and how you know them.
Start with the people who are closest to you. Think about your immediate family, your close relatives, and distant relations.
Then, think about really close friends, good friends, classmates, co-workers, acquaintances, and neighbors. Write down contacts that you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Think about your church friends, small groups, Bible studies, worship teams, kids ministry, service teams, discipleship groups, and mentorship relationships you’ve been a part of. Connect with your church. Whether or not your church is missional, it is important to involve them in the process of you going overseas.
Read about the amazing relationship between the local church and missions in this article here.
Lastly, look at the places where you frequently visit such as restaurants, doctors, parks, coffee shops, or bookstores. Who have you made a connection with?
You might be surprised at how many names you can list when you start building your contact list by simply looking at all the people who are around you and have a connection with you. If you start running out of ideas of who to talk to, ask your parents if you can go through their contact list.
It is important to invite people into what you are doing. God has your team out there waiting to be invited into your life as partners in ministry. Your job is to discover who they are.
When gathering contacts, you want to get their name, phone number, physical mailing address, and email address. It is important to have this information because you will be reaching them through different means through raising support.
A quick tip is to make an excel sheet or use a resource like Mailchimp to keep track of all of your contacts. This will help you stay organized and keep your contacts in one place.
3. Send Letters
Part of raising support is letting people first know what you are doing.
To invite people into what God is doing in your life, write a brief letter explaining:
- Where you have been
- What God has put into your heart
- What you are going to be doing
- How they can be a part of it
If you are preparing to go overseas long-term, don’t tell people in your first letter how much support you are raising. This can often be overwhelming to the potential supporter because they think that they cannot help you with the little support they can give.
Instead, you want to emphasize that you value every supporter and their partnership, no matter how much they decide to give. It is not the amount that counts but it is their excitement and willingness to partner with God’s purposes for the nations through sending you. That is worth celebrating.
Also, sending a physical paper letter in the mail speaks volumes than a mass email to all of your contacts. It shows people that you value the relationship you have with them because you took the time to write it and send it to them. Even if you type it up on the computer and send it out on paper in the mail, this will make the letter more meaningful to people.
4. Have Meetings
After sending letters to your contacts, it is important to set up a time where you can meet either in person or through video so that you can share what God has put on your heart.
Because of the world we live in today, meetings in person may not always be available. If you can, try to have in-person meetings, but if it is available, set up online meetings with people to ask for support.
When meeting people:
- Update them on your life, and let them update you on their life (be brief)
- Share how God has led you to this mission opportunity
- Talk briefly about your mission organization
- Share your personal vision
- Share your financial need
- Ask for their support
You want to meet with people on a personal level. Go to their house for a meal or meet in a coffee shop. Try to avoid doing large meetings with groups of people unless people request to have you share before a large group. The reason to avoid this is that large groups can leave people feeling pressured into giving and you won’t get a chance to connect with everyone on a personal level.
Tell a story. When meeting with people, tell them the story of how God has transformed your life through Jesus Christ and how God put missions on your heart. This is why people want to partner financially. They are not giving because you are going to a certain place or doing a certain kind of ministry. They want to partner with you because of who you are and empower you to go do the things God has put on your heart to do.
Make giving easy for your partners. If it is complicated for them to give, they most likely won’t. Usually, the easiest way is to have a link through your organization where they can give directly. This is also much easier for setting up monthly donations.
However, some people may not be comfortable with online donations and may just want to give a one-time donation by cash or check. Either way, you must make the process simple and easy to understand for all of your partners so that there are no barriers to giving on your end.
Understand that if people say they can’t give, they are not rejecting you. They just may not have the finances to help. Respect them and don’t pressure people into supporting you. Instead, let them know that you value their relationship with you and that you still want them to be a part of your team through prayer.
5. Value the Importance of Prayer
Never underestimate the importance of prayer. Prayer is a way for us to make our requests known to God and invite Him into our situation. Praying while raising support is a way for you to invite the Holy Spirit into what you’re doing and rely on Him alone.
When pursuing missions it’s easy to sometimes make it about us, but this is a mindset that we must resist. Missions are about the Kingdom of God. We must surrender the entire process to Him and put it in His hands.
Praying for support allows you put trust about becoming fully funded into the hands of your savior.
However, you should not just pray for support, but for those who are supporting you. Ask them what their prayer requests are so that you can also partner with them in their life. This allows you to build a stronger relationship with your partners.
Make prayer practice in your fundraising, so that you can keep your eyes on Him. Raising support can be a stressful time. God grants us peace in every situation and we need to depend on Him during this. Prayer will allow you to do just that.
6. Set Goals
When raising support, it can be easy to lose track of how much you have raised and how much more you have left to raise. Keeping track of this is important.
For example, if you have to raise $4,000 for a short-term mission trip, then break it down into goals of how much you want to be funded by a certain period of time. Sometimes the missions agency that you are going with will do this for you, but if you are raising funds on your own and need some motivation, setting goals really helps.
There are different ways to set goals. Sometimes people split up the cost by how many people they need to give to reach their goal. Other times they set goals for how much needs to be raised by a certain time. For example, “I need to be 75% funded by the middle of this month.”
Setting goals really depends on how long of a timeframe you have to fundraise and how many contacts you have and how much you have to raise. This will vary in each circumstance.
Don’t tell people the full amount you have to raise unless they ask you. Instead, in your meeting with them, ask them if they would be a financial partner with you. If they say yes, then ask, “how much are you able to give?” Sometimes people will know exactly how much they can give and others need time to think about it.
Be careful not to limit people on how much they can give. If a person wants to give a larger amount, let them decide that. If they don’t know how much to give and ask you, “how much do people usually give?” You can say something along the lines of, “It really depends on who the person is and how much they can give. People give anywhere from $10 to $1,000.”
Each person has a gift they can give, whether it is prayers or finances. But it is only the Lord who provides.
7. Raise An Advocacy Team
When raising support it’s easy to feel alone. Sometimes you can begin to lose hope and motivation. The best part is that you don’t have to take this journey alone.
You need an advocacy team. An advocacy is a group of believers you have a relationship that want to support you in your pursuit of missions.
An advocacy team will be there to encourage you and spread the word of what you’re doing to others. They will pray for you and reach out to see how you’re doing.
They are the people will help you succeed in fundraising. We are called to support our brothers and sisters in Christ in their callings. This is a way for your loved ones do so, and that won’t be too time consuming for them.
Having an advocacy team will help you feel encouraged and not alone in your new journey. The beauty of the Church is that we are one body. So this is not just your journey about a way of the Kingdom taking action in their calling.
8. Follow Up
You may feel like an anooyance when following up with those you’ve asked to support you, but it’s absolutely necessary. If people don’t answer your calls it’s not personal. Life is busy and we don’t always have time for a phone call.
Following up allows you to have an opportunity to have another partner. You don’t know for sure what they’ll say, so you might as well ask. Trust the Holy Spirit to work through you as you talk to them and know that this the perfect opportunity to share the goodness of the gospel with them.
Following up and following up well is the key to success. This what many customer service reps will tell you. It applies to your situation as well. You are trying to recruit people to support you.
That’s your sell. You have to market it well and following up is a part of that step.
9. Send a Thank You Card
One of the most important parts of raising support is to always thank your supporters.
Whether or not they are intentionally part of sending you overseas through prayer or financial support, you want to be clear that you value their relationship.
Sending a thank you card shows that you value people for who they are and not just for how they are supporting you. Always send a thank you card within 24 hours of meeting with people. This lets them know that them taking the time to meet with you was very important to you and that you appreciate them taking the time to sit down and spend time with you.
10. Send Updates
After you have raised support, you must regularly update your partners—both financial and prayer partners—about the progress you are making in raising support. They want to cheer you on and know how to better pray for you more. Invite them into this process so that when you do become fully funded, they can celebrate that event with you!
Also, to maintain a financial partnership with people, it is important to regularly keep them updated while you are on the mission field. People are going to get busy with life, and even though they want to partner with you, they can easily forget where you are, what you are doing, and why they are partnering with you. Keeping in contact regularly helps keep monthly partners connected to you and serves as a reminder to keep supporting you through prayer and finances.
When you invite people to join you on your journey as a missionary, people are going overseas vicariously through you. Send them pictures, stories, and videos of the country you are in, the people you are meeting, and the food you are getting to eat. They want to see it and feel it and experience it through you. It is important to involve them in where you are in the journey.
Overall, rely on God and trust in His faithfulness to provide as you are raising support. God has done it countless times and is not limited to the resources that are in front of you. He has a team of people who are waiting to join you and who are excited about how God is moving around the world.
Don’t be afraid to go out there and find them by raising support.
It doesn’t have to be scary, it can actually be really fun. I guarantee that if you rely on the Lord and trust in Him, He will guide your steps and show you so many things about His heart and His character through extending the invitation to others to join you.
It may be a stressful season, but it is well worth it for Jesus’ name to be known among all the nations of the earth
God bless you on your journey!