Missionaries need funds. They cannot do their work without it. However, how can they raise the needed funds while also having everyday living expenses? There are many different avenues that provide funding for missionaries, both from their own efforts, and from the help of others.
How do missionaries get funding for their work? Missionaries fund their work by raising support from their family, friends, community, co-workers, and peers. They also receive funds from local churches, either in a one-time donation, or consistent support. Missionaries can also fund their trips through work and business overseas. There are various grants available to help missionaries as well.
In this blog, I will list and explain some of the most common and successful ways that missionaries fund their trips. These tactics can work for various trip locations and durations.
How to Fund Missions
There are various ways to fund missions. If you are new to missions, you may have to be more creative initially until people are comfortable and confident in your work. Ideally, if you do long term missions, you will have a local church or numerous local churches raising and managing financial support while you are on the field. Often times churches will specifically send long term missionaries through the annual budget of the church. There are also mission sending agencies that work with long term missionaries to create reliable financial support.
The way that you fund your missions depends greatly on the extent of time you will be overseas, and where you are going. Shorter-term trips are easier to fund because they are much less expensive and don’t require consistent support. Certain sites also have a much lower cost of living. In contrast, long-term or permanent missions require a stricter action plan.
In this blog, I will be explaining a few of the ways that missionaries typically raise funds for longer-term missions. Some of these tactics can work for shorter-term trips as well. If you are interested in learning more about fundraising and what to do for short-term trips, refer to my other blog post, “51 Quick Fundraising Ideas for Missions.”
Perhaps the most common tactic used to fund missionaries is raising support. When raising support, make a contact list of all the people you know who would be willing to give. This can be friends, family, community members, church members, coworkers, and peers. Even if you are unsure if an individual would want to give, express your need and leave it open-ended for them to choose. I encourage you to ask even from those who are not believers. This may pique interest in them or provide an opportunity for you to share your faith and story.
Clearly state where you are going, what you will be doing, how long you will be there and why you are going. Communicate exactly what the money goes to, if possible. Explain the type of work that is currently being done on that field, if any. Then, express what you will be doing there and the results that you hope to see. When raising support, keep your donors or potential donors well informed. Let them know how much money you need and when you need it. Communicate how much you have raised during the process. Set different goal increments and inform your contact list when you meet a specific goal or when you need more financial aid.
Tools for Raising Support
Raising support can be done through newsletters, which can either be a physical copy in the mail or an email. Newsletters give a clear written description of the above information. It provides an opportunity for the receivers to support financially, prayerfully, and with encouragement. Make newsletters appealing and easy to read. Add photos to give a visual of what you will be doing and who you will be reaching.
Additionally, use as many platforms as possible to spread the word of your mission. Social media, blogs, and websites are great ways to do this. Post on your Facebook, Instagram, etc. and consider creating a specific page or account concerning your mission. It should be easy for your donors to find your information with an easy way to give.
Receive checks, cash, electronic transfers, and cards if possible. Some individuals will use PayPal, Cash App or Go Fund Me. If you are local, you could place an offering box in your church to make it convenient for your donors to give the money. I recommend using a locked box, or taking up an offering and immediately putting the money into a safe account. Be creative in how you receive funds. There are various other ways to make giving fun and efficient for your donors.
Sponsorship by a Local Church
Many long-term missionaries have a local church that sponsors them and cares for them while they are overseas. At times, a local church will send its own missionaries from its congregation. They may pay for all the needed expenses through the annual church budget. I know numerous churches who function this way. They take up a specific tithe or set aside part of their offering for missions.
Your local church may not be able to fully fund your long-term missions. If this is the case, you can also reach out to other churches and ask them to partner with you. Smaller churches in an area may be overjoyed to partner because without partnership they could not send missionaries.
Local churches can also be contacted when you are raising support before you leave. Raise as much money upfront as possible, that way, when you are on the field there is less pressure on you or your local church to gather the funds if the budget is tight. Remember, the church is the entire Body of Christ, not necessarily a distinct gathering in one building.
“Tent-Making” (Working a Trade)
Working a trade is a common way for missionaries to support themselves and their families. This has been called “tent-making” because the apostle Paul used this trade to support his missionary endeavors. However, he did also receive funds from churches to help support his missions. “Tent-making” can be highly beneficial, especially if you will be living in a culture that has higher restrictions on Christianity. By having a job within the culture, you will be able to interact and work directly with the people while also meeting your financial needs. You will be able to form natural relationships and therefore begin discipling the people.
However, the downfall of “tent-making” and having a business, is that much of your time will be dedicated to that. This is dependent on what business you are running. Before choosing to fully fund yourself through a business, considers these things in relation to the community and culture you will find yourself in, as well as the work you choose to do.
Grants are another way that missionaries are funded. Many grants are helpful in the funding process, yet they won’t always cover the entire cost. Grants can come from other mission organizations or from outside sources such as businesses. When it comes to finding a grant to support your trip, look first within your community. There may be more opportunities than you expect.
Additionally, by contacting businesses you provide a way for them to give financially which often helps them with tax benefits. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask these sources. The worst they can do is say no. You won’t be any worse or better off, but you will know what to expect and consider for the future.
The organization Continue to Give, offers a one-time grant of $500. The InterExchange provides a $2,500 – $10,000 grant for individuals who will be overseas for at least 6 months through an internship or volunteer component. Other grants can also be found online.
What Works Best
In order to judge which funding tactic works best, one must consider the duration, location and time of the mission trip. There is no singular way to raise funds. The outcome of all these funding styles varies greatly depending on the local churches within one’s area and the country that they will be residing in.
To choose which one works best, many factors must be considered. Despite this, many missionaries tend to raise support from either their contacts or their local church. Mission work shouldn’t be done alone. There should be a team of people working together, both on the field as well as back home. Long-term missions are more sustainable when there is a solid support system for missionaries. They need the financial support, prayers, encouragement, and love of the from the Body of Christ.