Here’s a beginning question everyone asks when raising support: How do I effectively ask individuals to support me monthly? The answer to that question has a lot of moving parts, to start here’s a simple answer, it is this:
AS RELATIONALLY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.
I want to reinforce this sentence by telling you about the journeys of two different missionaries whom I coach. Both recently raised their finances in record time. Let me tell you a little about them:
The Jones Family. The Jones Family is a family of four who raised their extensive overseas budget within 6 months. SIX MONTHS! Let me tell you, that is a feat for a family of four!
Sally. Sally is a single woman, and a 21 year old college grad. Sally raised her budget within 5 months. She had never raised finances for a missions trip before, and particularly felt nervous that most of her friends were just out of college – and broke.
How did the Jones family and Sally do it? Well, the main successful commonality between them is this: they were always relational in their approach. So here are some things we can learn from The Jones family and Sally in their journeys to raising their budgets relationally and successfully:
1. They set weekly goals and stuck to them. When raising your finances, knowing your vision is valuable and so is determination. Both the Jones family and Sally set weekly goals (that were obtainable) for themselves based on their vision and held onto those goals with determination. They hit their goals 90% of the time.
Take away: As you raise your finances, set weekly goals for yourself and find a way to make yourself accountable to them. Before you do, think about what you can handle each week and when you want to get to 100% before you set them. Typically I tell missionaries I coach that they need to make initial contact with at least 5-10 people each week – initial contact entails that they have either sent an invitation letter (setting up the face-to-face appointment) or they called someone asking for a face-to-face appointment.
2. They didn’t take short cuts. They met face-to-face with people. The Jones family and Sally both strived for each “ask” to be face-to-face, even if that meant traveling a little to see people and ask them in person. They didn’t merely call people, send out bulk newsletters, or Facebook blasts – they took time to ask people in the most relational way possible.
Take away: I’m not saying Facebook posts or newsletters are bad things. Both are effective tools when used accurately. However, those tools become detriments when missionaries try to make them the main way they do their personal asks. Whenever possible, try to meet with your potential partners face-to-face. If it’s not possible face-to-face, try meeting with them over Skype or Google Hangouts. When you ask, have a well thought out presentation and concretely ask for financial support.
3. They asked for a range or specific amount. When the Jones family and Sally did their financial asks they boldly asked for a range of monthly support or a specific amount.
Take away: Don’t leave your financial needs nebulous and in the hands of your potential partners to guess. That’s awkward for them. Tell them what you need and provide them with parameters. A couple of reasons for this: (1) It will greatly help your friends and family to know what you need, particularly if they aren’t used to giving to a christian worker. (2) People will default to the least amount possible, so you want to ask them for an amount that stirs their faith.
If you are asking for a range make your range comfortable for you to ask for, but also not too low. Also when providing a range make a graph to explain if necessary. When asking for a specific amount, make sure to stay silent while they respond to what you just asked them. You don’t need to apologize or provide nervous “filler.”
4. They believed they were asking their potential partners to invest in the Great Commission, not just their ministry assignment. Perspective in raising support is a powerful thing, if not one of the most important ingredients to success (or lack there of). Sally and the Jones Family believed that when they asked their friends and family for financial support, they were involving them in more than just their need for money. They were involving them in the Great Commission and thus were not apologetic about it.
Take away: If you aren’t at that point in your thinking / perspective you, you are not alone. But I do challenge you to ask God to change your perspective. Spend time in the word and seek understanding on support raising in the Bible. There are over 700 direct statements in the Bible about finances, find some of them and study. As you read ask yourself why God set up the Christian worker to live off of support, and why He wants you to do it as well. (Some places in the Bible to start reading: Philippians, Nehemiah, 2 Kings 4, and 1 Corinthians 16 or check out my workbook and buy a complete Bible study on fund-raising.)
5. They didn’t stop when it got challenging. Both the Jones Family and Sally were both hesitant to begin the process of raising their support. They also both had real fears and genuine obstacles, just like you probably do. Even though they were hesitant and ran into hard weeks while raising their budgets: they kept going and continued to ask.
Take away: Don’t let fear, a bad week, obstacles, or a “no” keep you from asking. Remember, when you invite people onto your team in a relational way, really you are asking them to get more involved in the Great Commission. When you run into a hard week (and you will, I promise you are not alone) just keep going and continually ask God for help along the way. He will provide what you need if you keep moving forward — but the key is you have to keep moving forward.
So as you look over these 5 take aways think about how you can invest and create your team relationally. As you do, you’ll find yourself growing in ministry and more happily (and quickly) raising your support.
What do you think as you hear The Jones Family and Sally’s stories? How can you raise your finances as relationally as possible?