Missions trip support raising

"When I go to Spain . . . I hope to . . . to have you assist me on my journey there." -- Romans 15:24

Financial support for a mission trip

How do you find the financial aid, gifts, and help you need to have a short-term mission experience? How do you get people to become your supporters and make donations?

A strategy for mission trip funding

  1. Let your daily prayer times be permeated with the sense that you are looking primarily to the Lord to provide your finances.
  2. Make a list of individuals and churches with whom you can share your vision and call. Try to get at least 75 names and addresses on that list. Here are some ideas for where to recruit financial sponsors:
  3. Prioritize your list of people into your "Top 10," Second 10, Third 10, and so on.Those "Top 10" donors or sponsors will probably provide two-thirds of your financial support money.
  4. Prayerfully individualize your fund-raising appeals.
    1. Ask appropriately.
    2. Don't be afraid to ask for large gifts of money.
    3. Decide the best way to contact each person on your top 10 list and what gift range you would like to ask them to consider giving.
      Ways to contact people include:
      • Face-to-face funding presentations
      • Phone calls followed with an information letter and response card and envelope
      • Fund-raising letter with an information sheet and response card and envelope, followed up by a phone call if they do not get back to you within a certain period of time
      • Church service presentation
      • Other creative options such as car wash to which you invite prospects
    4. Pray, then contact each person on your "Top 10" list. Set yourself a deadline to get this done
    5. Follow up with them as planned
    6. Repeat steps 1-5 for your second 10
    7. Continue steps 1-6 until you reach 100% of your fund-raising goal

Your underlying motivation

Which statement reflects how you feel about fund-raising for a service project or a mission trip?

  1. "I'm asking for money."
  2. "I'm telling people about what God is doing (or wants to do), and I'm giving them a chance to be part of it."

Coming up with money for youth ministry: PowerPoint from seminar for local church volunteer youth leaders
Fund raisers: Does your church youth group wants to do a fund-raising activity for you?
Fund Raisers That Work by Margaret Hinchey is chock-full of ideas.

The ASKAMISSIONARY newsletter shares questions and answers about career missionary service. The following material on fundraising was compiled by John McVay, coordinator of the Heartland MissionsFest held bi-annually in Tulsa, OK.

How do I come up with the money for my missions trip?

Positive attitude   Communicating  Overcoming fear   George Mueller's example  Divine appointments

1) By keeping a positive attitude

Answer from John in Japan, where he has been a missionary for five years.

Raising financial support is a difficult hurdle. Talking to your pastor and church missions committee and hearing their encouragement may help you develop a more positive attitude for support raising.

Raising support is just another step to getting to where you believe the Lord wants you. Talking about needs and asking for support can be a tricky thing. But then, speaking about Christ to the lost can be just as difficult. Support-raising may be one way of helping you develop an ability to talk about something difficult with someone who may or may not be positive in their response.

2) By learning how to communicate

Answer from Dale Pugh, International Coordinator of World International Mission. Dale, who served long-term in Mexico, authored How to Survive on the Mission Field. Chapter six is entitled "Support from Home Base."

How to raise support? My answer grows out of Romans 10:14-15b: "How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?"

Paul's Jewishness shows up in his way of teaching by asking questions. In this Romans passage, there are three groups of people: the unsaved, the senders, and the goers. The missionary is the goer and has to communicate with the other two groups. Just like we must prepare ourselves with the message to take to the field, we must prepare our communication with the senders.

We must be sent. There must be people who will sponsor us. Raising support is part of your job. I believe "where God guides, He provides." Yet, just as I learned how to preach, so I had to learn how to raise support. The way I have raised financial support is by prayer and communication. First, pray and find out what God wants you to do. Then, through prayer, apply His promises to those needs. Second, in an honest, up-front way, share with your home church and prayer partners what you intend to do and what you need to get the job done.

I have never begged for money. I have found that after praying about my needs, church leaders and supporters usually ask what I need. The Lord has also given me creative ideas to share those needs in a newsletter or other communication with my support team. The key is not to be afraid.

3) By overcoming fear

Answer from David Smith, Director of Mobilization with WEC Int'l. David has been a missionary 25 years, first as a field worker in West Africa and now at WEC headquarters in Fort Washington, PA.

When someone personally tells me they are afraid of support raising I generally ask for some clarification.

Are you really afraid? Will someone hurt you? Are you afraid of what people will think? If someone is afraid of being hurt or spoken against, they probably are not ready to face some of the very real pressures of being a missionary.

Some people just honestly don't want to invest in the work. I'm not much help to them, because missions is hard work.

Some have a terrible attitude about support raising, disdainfully calling it "begging." I'm no help to them either. For one thing, a negative attitude about this one issue often indicates other issues which mean problems for a mission team. If God calls a person to a specific mission, He calls them to the support-raising procedure of that mission.

Others feel God is leading them in a different way, but they just can't put it into words. I gladly tell those people about the funding approach we use in WEC International. It's something which our founder, C.T. Studd, learned from Hudson Taylor. Taylor had picked up the idea from George Muller.

Our approach is simply this. When God calls us to serve Him, we believe that call includes an assurance of providing the necessary money for that ministry. Therefore, in that confidence, we choose not to make appeals or solicitations (or hints). Instead, we trust in God to sovereignly move upon people and churches to support us. We let people know what we are doing or planning to do, but the information about our ministry does not include information about our finances.

When my family and I were going to Guinea-Bissau, we sent a general letter to friends letting them know where we were going and what we were going to do. We did not mention any kind of support level or start-up funds, or anything else related to money. We received some inquiries and indications of support, and we went. We always had enough for living and for ministry.

4) By following the example of George Mueller

Answer from Jim Raymo, U.S. Director of WEC International. Jim was a missionary in Europe and Asia and then served as the USA director of WEC Inrternational. He now is adjunct professor at Bethany Clobal University. He authored Marching to a Different Drummer and Millennials and Mission: A Generation Faces a Global Challenge,

WEC's tradition of "trusting God alone" for provision comes from Scripture and the influence of the life of George Mueller. In the 1800s, Mueller (also spelled "Muller") was guided by God to begin an orphanage in Bristol, England, on the basis of faith in the promises of God. He made no appeal for funds. Instead, he asked God to move in people's hearts so they would give toward the care of the orphans. Mueller's testimony to God's faithful provision influenced Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, and later C. T. Studd, founder of WEC, who began his missions career with Taylor in China.

Reflect on the words of Mueller:
"Over the years, the Lord has faithfully taken care of us financially in our work of caring for the orphans by constantly raising up new supporters. God's promise is that they that trust in the Lord shall never be confounded. . .

"For one reason or another were we to lean upon man, we would inevitably be disappointed; but, in leaning upon the living God alone, moment by moment, we are beyond disappointment and beyond being forsaken because of death, or of not having enough to live on or enough love or because of the needs of other works also requiring support.

"How precious to have learned to stand with God alone in the world, and yet to be happy and confident, and to know that 'no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.' (Psalm 84:11)"

Some who read or hear of Mueller's adventures of faith say, "Oh, he had a very special gift of faith, but I couldn't live like that!"

Mueller argues, "It is the selfsame faith which is found in every believer. . . Oh, I plead with you, do not think me an extraordinary believer, having privileges above others of God's dear children, which they cannot have, nor look on my way of acting as something that would not do for other believers. . . .

"Do but stand still in the hour of trial, and you will see the help of God if you trust in Him."

5) By looking for divine appointments

Answer from Kelly in Southeast Asia

God did not give us a spirit of fear! (2 Timothy 1:7) Think about it. God has called you. So, who is it that would like you to be so afraid of "doing what it takes" that you don't respond? Answer: The Enemy, of course! Resist the temptation to allow the fear of support raising to paralyze you. Don't allow support raising to be the obstacle that keeps you from the field where God has called you to minister.

Support raising means simply sharing with others the exciting vision that God has given you! People will get involved when they hear your heart (and God's call). Often, financial support will come from sources that you did not expect. Embrace support raising as an exciting faith walk with God!

As you meet people and share your vision, listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This may take practice, and yes, you may make mistakes at first. Follow the peace of Christ in making decisions. When you meet a pastor, missions committee, or individual, trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in what to say and do. If you don't have "peace," then move on and don't dwell on it. But if you sense the peace of the Lord, then you can be confident that God is at work making a "divine connection" to your support team!

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Sample financial assistance policy

Parameters for local church aid to short-term mission trip volunteers

Want your church to give help to people going on short-term mission trips? Why not establish a clear policy that lays down clear expectations of who and how you're going to help with funding?

Here's one church's fundraising policy statement:

First Christian Church, Phoenix, AZ

It is the desire of the Global Outreach Department of First Christian Church to offer financial assistance to people desiring to be part of an Outreach Adventure team and who have a financial need.

Since the Outreach budget is limited, and the needs around the world are so great, we encourage team participants to fund their trips by raising support from friends, family, and personal funds.

Occasionally a team member cannot raise enough funds through fundraising and does not have enough personal funds to pay for the balance of the trip. In such cases, the Global Outreach Department will consider giving financial assistance based on the following guidelines:

  1. The team member must be an active member of First Christian Church.
  2. The team member must have sent out a minimum of 70 letters to friends and family requesting financial assistance. A list of these people needs to be provided to the Global Outreach Department. The team member must also have done telephone follow-up with these people.
  3. If at least half of the published trip cost has been raised through support, the Global Outreach Department will match the amount of personal funds contributed by the team member if he/she requests assistance. No more than one-quarter of the published trip cost will be paid by the Global Outreach Department.
  4. If a team member raises more than enough money for the published cost of the trip through support donations and/or personal funds, any excess can be used to reimburse the team member for certain trip-related expenses. These expenses could include passport, visa, and required immunization costs. Original receipts must be supplied for each item for which reimbursement is requested. No reimbursement can be made if Outreach funds were used to finance the published trip cost.
  5. Any excess funds raised through support donations and not reimbursed to the donors will be put in the general Global Outreach account. These funds will not be designated for a specific purpose or individual.

"Missionary to China and OMS founder Hudson Taylor told missionary applicants that they needed to expect not to get much in the way of financial support, and they joined anyway! Taylor's story is an example of the way that God provides when we are obedient." -- Brian Burdick, Northwest Nazarene University student

Value of setting fundraising deadlines

Going on a mission trip? Then, set deadlines for when you will complete various phases of your support-raising. When you set deadlines, two good things will happen:

  1. Setting deadlines fosters a sense of urgency. That urgency will motivate friends and family to pray (and give) on your behalf. It will also motivate you to be proactive in your search for funds and dependent upon the Lord, who has called you to accomplish His purposes.
  2. Deadlines create decision-making times. As you seek critically needed funds to meet set deadlines, your prospective donors will move out of the "maybe-we-will-think-about-helping-you-sometime" mode to the "we-need-to-make-a-decision-now-so-we-can-help-our-brother-or-sister-in-Christ-to-accomplish -this-particular-vision" mindset.

A deadline can be a powerful tool. Some fantastic things take place as people and ministries set deadlines. So, review the vision the Lord has given you. Acknowledge that it is not your vision or agenda. It is the Lord's agenda and you need to get on track toward accomplishing it.

What specific deadlines do you need to establish this month? Prayerfully set them in place. Then, ask those people who know you, trust you, and care for you to support and pray for you as you serve the Lord.

Based on copyrighted material from People Raising a monthly e-mail newsletter. (Subscribe to People Raising)

"The mission trips I went on as a college student were some of my life's most challenging and growing times." -- Bobby Martin

    -- Howard Culbertson,

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