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Module 3- Fundraising Convictions

I think we can agree that most missionaries do not like fundraising.  If they had it their way, they would prefer the Lord to just deposit a million dollars in their bank account and they can continue with their calling and passion in serving the Lord around the world.  While that would be amazing, I think the Lord likes fundraising for one main purpose.

When we fundraise, we are forced to share the Lord’s vision for the Nations and reaching the Lost.  And this is why the Lord likes it.  Most people are not called to move overseas for the Great Commission.  When you share the vision that the Lord has given you and invite people to partner with your calling, you are inviting people who normally would not be involved in overseas missions work to suddenly get involved.  The Lord deeply cares about reaching the unreached around the world.  He wants all believers to be involved in giving, prayer, and mobilizing missionaries to reach the Lost in communities beyond us.  Simply sharing God’s vision, regardless of who gives to you, awakens your church community to what God is doing around the world.  This is why God likes fundraising.

I also think the Lord likes fundraising because he wants to teach us that we cannot do it alone.  I certainly know some “Lone Ranger” missionaries who just go off on their own, but God calls most of us to function out of a community as he clearly talks about in 1 Corinthians 12.  Even as missionaries, God fashions our calling in such a way where we need other people to help us fulfill it.  I always tell prospective missionaries that fundraising is part of their job.  Many missionaries try to weasel out of fundraising by being tent makers or declaring that they don’t need to fundraise because the “Lord will provide himself”.  I am all for being a “tent marker” missionary, where you are working a job somewhere, if you are doing it in faith and not in fear of fundraising.  Similarly, if you want to trust in the Lord for your finances completely and never fundraise, believing the money will supernaturally come it, that is totally fine, too!  I will be honest though.  That takes a lot of faith which will be tested severely.

If you feel that you don’t need to fundraise, then that’s your choice!  I hold no judgment against that assuming you are doing it in faith.  However, for most of us missionaries, we are called to fundraise.  And fundraising is a part of our job that we must embrace.  

I don’t mean that you will be working on fundraising for a significant part of your work every week, but you will definitely have seasons where fundraising is a part of what you are doing.  Some seasons you will do very little fundraising.  Other seasons you will emphasize it more.  But it is a part of your work as a missionary because you are sharing the Lord’s vision and inviting people to partner with you.

CONVICTIONS

I have a few convictions that I hope all missionaries will live by when it comes to fundraising.  I believe that your fundraising should be led by the Spirit.  You may think, well, of course I will do it by the Holy Spirit?  I’m not so sure!  You see when you begin to learn some things about fundraising, you can begin to do it without the Lord.  I have seen missionaries that treat themselves like a business with their fancy marketing and social media campaigns.  As you gain experience, it’s easy to develop a process that you are comfortable with, but you forget to involve the Lord.  What began in the Spirit can end in the flesh.

It’s important that with whatever fundraising approach you have, it should be led by God.  Even now, you should be praying about the practicalities of what type of fundraising strategy the Lord is asking you to do.  As we get into more of the practical how-to of fundraising in the next lessons, you should pray through this further. Generally, how my wife and I fundraise is that we only fundraise when we feel inspired by God.  We are very sensitive to fundraise only when we feel a sense of release to do so.  By fundraising, I mean actively meeting with people to share our vision and invite new donors to give to us.  So, we aren’t always actively meeting with new donors.  We typically go through seasons where we fundraise and then prolonged “rest” seasons where we are not fundraising.  Regardless of what you do, I hope it is led and orchestrated by the Lord.

Some missionaries may have the expectation that their home church supports them.  This makes sense, of course.  At the end of the day, I believe your church isn’t responsible for your financial support.  If they don’t give you any money, then that may feel hurtful, but it’s okay.  I believe in an approach, as others do, called “friend-raising”.  This means that your main support-raising efforts come from your friends, family, and church community members.  You raise support from your existing relationships.  These are people who already know you and care about you.  They are far more likely to give to you long-term because you already have an emotional connection and trust with them. Whether or not your church supports you, the bulk of your support will come from your social network.  

UNAWARE

From my experience, there are a few aspects of fundraising that missionaries may be unaware of if they haven’t done it much yet. The long-term relationship with donors can feel burdensome.  When you start to have people support you, especially with monthly donors, there is a level of relationship that you are committing to them.  You need to stay in touch with them somehow.  This can mean newsletters, phone calls, in-person meetings, etc.  When you begin to get many donors (praise the Lord), this starts to add up in terms of time commitment.  Some donors also expect more social interaction with you than what you normally might have given them if there was no support involved.  

 

Then you can get some supporters who are giving to you, but they are also critical about what you are doing at the same time.  Those supporters aren’t worth having to be honest!  However, there’s a relationship process there that can be awkward to manage.  When people give to you, regardless of who they are, there is a commitment and almost a “binding” to a relationship.  Over time, you will start to develop a deeper relationship with your donors because they are going to be journeying with your life, hearing about all what God’s doing, and you will keep them more informed than probably what you would back home.  Likewise, you will probably be more informed with your donors’ lives, you will be praying for them more often, and you will be in more connection than if they were not supporting you.  

Similarly, if your donors only have a transactional relationship with giving to you, you will probably not have many long-term donors to be honest.  However, it takes wisdom, tact, and healthy boundaries to determine how much access your donors have to you while you are overseas, living in your home country, or when you are on furlough.  As I have mentioned in the previous lesson, your fundraising also may not come all at once.  This is where you will need to exercise faith.  Some missionaries, especially those who like to plan a long time ahead, can go on long giving campaigns to reach their budgets.  The reality is that you probably won’t reach your need until it is closer for you to go or when you are in the field.  The Lord isn’t late, but he’s never early.

Questions

  1. How do you feel about “fundraising is a missionary’s job”?  What do you agree or disagree with that statement?

  2. What type of fundraising strategy do you feel the Lord is inviting you in?  Are there any aspects of fundraising that the Lord doesn’t want you to do?  Are there any parts of fundraising that excite you?

  3. Thinking about your community, what about friend-raising do you think will be easy or difficult?

  4. How has your church received your missionary calling?  (Hopefully they know about it by this point.)

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