When I was in college I signed up to work with a mission agency that would place me with a host family in Mexico City for the summer. I was excited to do ministry, learn the culture, and meet lots of new people. There was but one part of the trip I really dreaded as I was preparing: raising the funds to go. The total cost of that trip was about 2,000$ if I remember correctly. There was no way I was going to pay it off by myself. I was destined to fundraise.
People hate fundraising. Some will dip deep into their savings to avoid it. Those who do it usually do it poorly, reinforcing their hatred of it.
I love fundraising.
Tips to Fundraising (for ministry purposes)
1. Perspective – Fundraising is the act of inviting people to God’s ministry. Not every person can go, but absolutely everyone can give. The Bible teaches that it is a blessing to give to the ministry of God. I believe with all my heart that when I ask someone to support a mission trip I am doing them a favor. I am inviting them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. If you can accept this worldview then fundraising becomes much much easier.
2. Don’t Apologize – This goes along with the first point. You don’t apologize for holding the door open for someone or picking up your neighbors mail when they are out of town. Apologies are for when you are inconveniencing someone. The ministry of God is not an inconvenience. Apologizing for inviting someone in on it is frankly offensive when you think about it.
3. Communicate the Gospel – Again, this is building upon the first. Every act of fundraising is an act of partnering with the gospel. Everyone needs to be reminded of the gospel regularly. When the good news of Jesus is at the forefront of our minds we are better equipped to respond Biblically.
4. Communicate the Kingdom Work – Not only should the giver hear the gospel, but they should hear the specific ministry that they are partnering to accomplish. They should have ownership over the work.
5. Invite them to Pray – No matter if the person gives, they can certainly pray. What you will often find is that many people who unite their hearts in prayer will later be compelled to give to the ministry. Especially if a one-time specific donation is needed. Even if they don’t, never underestimate the value of your prayer team.
6. Make Giving Fun – My personal favorite method is a marathon of some sort. Have all the participants get sponsors for some timed task: 1$ for every hour playing basketball or something. This expands the fundraising team to potentially hundreds of people. (I’ll write more about this at another time and give more ideas)
7. Expand Fundraising Team – As I mentioned in #6, making the fundraising team as large as possible is advantageous for more reasons than the financial benefit. Everyone who is raising money has ownership and will want to see it through to the goal.
8. Communicate While Working – Keep in touch with your supporters while performing the ministry. I have a good friend, Ryan Kee, who was great at this. My wife and I have supported many missionaries, but Ryan’s consistent communication with us throughout his ministry kept us committed to him for many years. He transitioned ministry a couple of times, but we always knew what he was doing. When he was in town he made it a priority to spend time with us in our home. He was a great example of just about all of these tips.
9. Never Stop Building Your Team – Perhaps your ministry is over and nothing is on the horizon, but keep in touch with those who supported you. Send them Christmas cards. Email them occasional updates. You never know when God will call you out again and it’s much easier to keep a supporter than to find a new one.
REMEMBER: Fundraising is a blessing. More than anything else, the belief that God wants people to give you their money for ministry is what makes fundraising easy. Every time I have raised support it has come very natural primarily because I really do feel like I am doing them a favor by asking. If they don’t want to support the ministry, it’s their loss. God will provide, whether or not they are a part of it is up to them.