Resources for Missionary Recruits Online by Marty Andry, Doug Lucas, and Chris Bushnell

Chapter 6
Raising Support

The Ministry of Support-Raising

Missionaries do not go it alone. They have people at home who pray for them, send them money, and nurture them. We often call them supporters. Support-raising is not merely the means to an end but should be considered a part of the overall task of world evangelism.

When we say support-raising, we are not speaking of mere fund-raising, although the terms are often used synonymously. But it is much more than that. Support-raising, in the broad sense of the term, is the ministry of sharing with others the burden you have for a people in spiritual poverty. The people to whom you go for support are being asked to share in a ministry of serving the people who are called to serve. Supporters shouldn't be merely people who give money, but who give time, advice, encouragement and who support with their prayers. Support can be defined as those things we need to carry out our mission. And it takes more than money; it takes the cooperation of many people.

First of all let's get away from the attitude the we're only out there to get the money to make it to the field. We will discuss fund-raising later in this chapter. Right now we want to focus on your ministry to the people in the churches where you will go.

Before you ask where the money will come from, ask yourself, "To whom can I minister?" Ask yourself who needs the information, motivation, and vision that you can share. Who needs you as their arms and legs in taking the Gospel to the world? Here is the point. Do you really care about the local church and the mission awareness of its members? You need to be there to work with the churches, to answer their questions and to raise their awareness even after the funds have been raised.

As you think about raising the awareness of the local church and ministering to them with your knowledge and enthusiasm for world evangelism, think about how you will do it. Take time to assess yourself, your talents, your gifts and your personality. What are your strengths and weaknesses in dealing with and communicating with people?

Now you can determine what method of ministering to the people is best for you. Usually missionaries are asked to preach or show slides. But perhaps that is not where your abilities are. Some mission recruits should not preach on Sunday morning for it is not their most effective way of ministering to the people. Some should not even attempt to show slides. A slide program is not easy to present as not everyone can do it effectively. Consider the most effective means of communication with them.

The better you know your audience, the better you will be able to appropriately communicate with them. This will require that you do some research to get acquainted with your audience. For instance, are they already sold on world evangelism? Do they just need to be informed? Does a particular audience have something for you or against you? In other words, you need to discover a way to make use of the particular traits of a group to help them focus on the task of world missions. You want to"scratch where they itch."

Be sure to listen to the audience to find out their likes, dislikes and concerns. Keep your presentations short and simple. Be direct and to the point. Also consider carefully the words you will use. Don't assume that everyone will know what certain technical words mean and that they will mean the same to everyone. Be personal, direct and always record the interests and concerns of supporters so that you can address them in your communication with them.

Support raising is a wonderful blessing. It is a special opportunity that God has given you to meet some of His precious saints, to share your excitement about world missions, to open their eyes, and to share a vision. As you do it you change lives. Many missionaries would not be on the field today if it had not been for the missionaries who shared the vision with them. As you tell them of your dreams, your vision, and your calling, you give them the opportunity to carry the Lord's great commission out through you.

Discovering God's Resources for Your Work

A Biblical Perspective

Now let's talk about raising funds, a sub-area of"support raising."To many recruits these words are frightening. It is important to note again that support raising is ministry, even in the financial sense."If God wants me to go, then the money will come!" I've heard countless recruits speak these very words as they consider going overseas on a mission experience. While their trust in God is certainly admirable, anyone who has successfully raised funds will agree that it never"just comes" without effort. It is true that God does provide. But He requires some effort out of His servants. Fund-raising is one of the biggest hurdles that a missionary recruit must overcome.

This is often due to a lack of understanding of the support-raising task. In order to have a clear understanding of fund-raising, one must understand that fund-raising is biblical. In the Old Testament the priests were supported with gifts from the people. That was their only source of income.[Numbers 8] Moses was commanded by God to collect an offering from the people in order to finance the building of the tabernacle.[Exodous 25: 1-9] The Apostle Paul often worked as a tentmaker to support his ministry.[Philippians 4: 14-18] He did not always receive funds for his own ministry but he did teach the believers to give to needy causes and that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.[I Corinthians 9: 14] John urged the believers to financially support those who were going out on behalf of the gospel because that made them"fellow workers in the truth."[III John 8]

The recruit who puts forth no effort and says,"If God wants me to go, then the money will come," will probably end up believing that God did not want him to go. While it is important to trust God to provide and to acknowledge Him as the source, that does not mean that there is no effort involved. Fund raising is work. The recruit might be wise to consider the old saying,"Pray like everything depends on God and work like everything depends on you."As was mentioned above, being a missionary takes the cooperation of dozens of people in the congregations at home.

Where do I begin?

When you begin the fund-raising phase of your ministry, you must be able to define clearly what you plan to do. A clear job description is necessary so that those who might support you can understand what their time, money and effort will accomplish. To say that you want to be a missionary to Mali may sound noble. But the fact is that the word missionary is too broad. You need to be more specific. To say that you will translate the New Testament into the language of the Fulanka people is more specific and will give potential supporters a better idea of what it is you hope to do. The more they understand, the more willing they will be to join in the ministry with you.

When asked to spell out financial requirements, you must be able to explain it clearly, concisely and knowledgeably. This will require knowing what you need and why you need it. The size of your budget will depend on several things. Will you be working as an independent missionary or through an agency? Do you have a family? What kinds of insurance do you need? What will you need on your furlough? What will your travel expenses be? What kinds of administrative costs will you have? And how much salary will you need to cover the living expenses for you and your family?

Some of these questions will be hard to answer especially if you have never been to the country where you will minister. If that is the case, you will have to do some research. Perhaps you will have to contact a missionary already serving in that field.

Usually the budget should be broken down into a monthly amount. This helps supporters to commit monthly gifts and also takes away the shock of seeing the amount of a large yearly budget. To help you get a better understanding of how a budget works, try to obtain a budget sheet from several other missionaries. A budget not only helps in support-raising but also serves as a tool toward good steward as well.

One of the best sources about designing a budget and specifically raising funds for Christian service is The Support-Raising Handbook.[Brian Rust and Barry McLeish, The Support-Raising Handbook (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1984)] It is full of examples, charts and records that will become invaluable to you if you are going to effectively raise the necessary support and keep up good communication with your supporters.

What next?

After you have determined an adequate budget, you must begin to think about all of those people who are potential supporters. Do not assume that someone will certainly support you and therefore you do not need to list him. Neither assume that for some reason a person will not support you. List everyone you know under categories such as churches, family, (immediate and distant), personal friends, church friends, past school friends, ministers you know, teachers, and service organizations.[See sample on page 34 of The Support-Raising Handbook.]

Be sure to list as many as you can. After you have made a list ask close friends and relatives to make additions. Be sure to get the approval of friends and family before adding any of their friends to the list. _List no less than 200 people or organizations on your list.

Now that you have a list of potential supporters, begin to break the list down into segments. There are a variety of ways to do this and it will depend largely upon the individual. The most important thing is to break the list down so that you can see your relationship with the potential supporters to make each contact as personal as possible. You need to think of what information the person will need, whether in great detail or general overview.

  • How well do you know the person?
  • Why might the person support your ministry?
  • Because they care about you personally or because they care about your mission field.
  • What would the person's motivation be for supporting you?
  • Is the potential supporter Christian or non-Christian?

The most obvious divisions in your list will be churches, family, friends, and ministers. Another important consideration is geographic. Where is the potential supporter located in relation to you and other potential supporters? The important concept is to communicate with each contact at his or her level of understanding of your ministry.

Communicating Effectively

Communication with supporters cannot be over-stressed. Misunderstandings are all too common, especially when money is involved. Therefore, every person raising support must keep detailed records of each contact with every potential supporter. It is wise to keep a page of information about each contact.[See example in The Support-Raising Handbook, p. 37.] It is also helpful to have a page listing all of your contacts.[There is an example page in The Support-Raising Handbook, p. 39.]

You need to keep track of how much each person has pledged and when you last communicated with that person. Any information that you need to make your contacts with potential supporters as personal as possible should be written down in a way to make it easily accessible, for example, birthdays, children's names, church and special interests. If you are using a sheet for every person, put the sheets in alphabetical order in a three ring binder for quick reference.

As you communicate well with your supporters, they will know that you care about them. Here the use of a computer or computer service would be very helpful.

Now that you have done research to make a budget, drawn up a job description, and have made a list of all your potential supporters, you need to decide how you will approach each contact. Because you have already segmented your list into categories you can begin to think about how you will appeal to the people of each segment.

For example, your family and friends are probably sold on you. Therefore they will back you because of you. But a church group may not know you well. You will need to convince them of the need to support your ministry.

Asking for money can be a humbling experience. But it need not be a shameful one. Realize that we all have a need to give. People give for different reasons. God made us with the need to feel needed and therefore, to give. By asking people to give, you are joining your need with other people's need to give. Don't ask for money only. Ask for prayers also. When people pray for you they will want to do things to aid your ministry.

Be sure to always thank your supporters. In many of Paul's epistles we find him thanking people for support. Finally, pray for your supporters. Remember their specific needs. Imagine their faces. Pray that the Lord will help you give something to them.

The Case Statement

There are questions that always need to be answered when raising support. All of the above mentioned topics need to be combined to form a clear concise explanation of your ministry, your need and your request from potential supporters. We will call this description a case statement.

There are many types of case statements but we will deal with the personal case statement and the team case statement. The personal case statement should be presented in clear language adapted for the specific audience. Always answer these seven basic questions in the personal case statement:[The Support-Raising Handbook, pp. 46-47.]

  • What need exists for your ministry? (Briefly explain where and among what people. )
  • Why should I support you or your organization? (What will you do that someone else is not already doing there? Be careful in comparing. )
  • What do you hope to achieve in your mission? (Enthusiastically tell your greatest ambitions. Don't be shy! )
  • What is your total ministry cost? (Not just money! Let them know prayer needs specifically and other opportunities you may be passing up. )
  • How soon do you need to raise all of your support? (Be specific. )
  • What are you asking of me? (Be specific. Let each individual know what exactly for what it is you are asking. )
  • What will (or will not) happen if you aren't able to go? (This lends greater urgency to your mission. )

If you are writing a team case statement, that is if support is being raised for a group venture, start generally with the broad purposes of the mission and move to specific goals. The whole team should

be involved in the writing of it. The team case statement should cover all of these nine topics:[The Support-Raising Handbook, pp. 48-49.]

  • The Theme. A brief statement that captures the idea of the team effort.
  • The Mission: What is the purpose of the organization?
  • The Goals: How is the mission going to be accomplished? What does the organization want to see happen?
  • The Program: What are the objectives for a specific period of time?
  • The Impact or Accomplishments: How has the organization succeeded in accomplishing its goals so far? Be brief.
  • The Vision for the Future: What does the team specifically plan to accomplish and how in the next few years?
  • The Development Plan: Present the total need of the team and the time frame it covers.
  • Support Opportunities: Divide the total budget into categories such as: salaries, travel, overhead, publications, etc. Also suggest different ways to give.
  • Agency Profile: List the most pertinent characteristics of your team or agency; the number and location of staff, where people are serving and so on.

Be sure to be well prepared to present your case statement and any surprise questions. Present your case statement in role play situations among other members of the team. The team case statement should be in print and easy to read.

Getting the Message Through

Only now are you ready to actually make a request to an individual or a group. You must choose a channel to present your need. What method will you use to actually make your request?

There are three common methods used for requesting financial support: face-to-face, by phone, and in writing. By far the most effective method is face to face. People can see your excitement about the proposed ministry. They can hear you express your desire to do this ministry. It also shows that this ministry is important enough for you to take time to talk about it.

When a face to face talk is out of the question, the phone is the next best means of communication. These days the phone is a great tool and at times may be more practical and less expensive than a visit.

The most common but least effective channel is the letter. Although letters may be personal, many times you will have to write so many that they will not be. Most mission groups and churches groups receive so much mail that they don't read it all carefully. The letter is a great way to begin and to announce appointments but you should never ask for money in a letter unless a visit or phone conversation is completely impossible.[The Support-Raising Handbook, , p. 52.]

Perhaps the best method is a mixture of these three methods. First, send a letter of introduction, explaining what you hope to do and express a desire to meet with the person or group. In the letter promise to contact them to make an appointment. Of course make the call and set up an appointment. Next comes the appointment and the request. Finally send a thank-you note and a restatement of what was discussed or decided.

Brochures and leaflets are very impersonal and ineffective as a means to be used alone. They may be effective as a supplement to personal contacts and case statements.

Getting the Appointment

The goal here is to get appointments. Get a calendar to mark off days that you can do presentations and plot it out so that you will be finished with all presentations a month before all support must be raised. Set goals as to how many churches or groups you will have to contact. Remember you will probably contact more than will actually allow you to make a presentation. For example you may have to contact 100 churches to get appointments with ten.

Call prospective churches and individuals before a meeting to answer questions and always make a follow up call after the appointment. If a church says"no" to regular support, ask if they might make a one-time gift.

Using the Phone

To make the most of your time and your potential supporters' time learn to use the phone productively. It is inexpensive and effective and more people can be contacted in a shorter period of time.

However, many people do not enjoy using the phone. For some there is a fear of speaking on the phone. If you are in this category of people, you can learn to be more comfortable on the phone. If possible, practice your conversation with a friend in a role play situation. Write out what you want to say.

Be clear and concise and don't be afraid of not being able to answer all questions. If someone asks a question that you cannot answer, tell him honestly that you do not know and promise to get back to him with an answer. Then do it.

Always begin by identifying yourself and tell why you have called. Ask if they have received your letter and if they have any questions. Let them determine a meeting time. Be to the point and at some time during the conversation ask if they are interested in supporting you.

Give them time to answer; you may have to make another call. No matter what the answer is be sure to be courteous and appreciative. Always follow a call with a note of thanks.

Presenting the Need

As you get appointments you will be concerned with how to present your need. Remember that your fund-raising is not a business adventure but a spiritual adventure. When presenting your need to potential supporters, you'll want to emphasize prayer and your trust in God for your daily life. But begin by making sure you've genuinely applied prayer and trust personally.

Be conscious of how you dress when making a presentation. Dress on the high end of your audience. Never wear jeans. All of us make certain judgements based totally on appearance. How you dress says something about how you feel about your potential supporters. Remember the cliche: You never have a second chance to make a first impression. Do everything possible to make presentations flow smoothly with no confusion. Here are some things to remember:[Support-Raising Handbook, pp. 57-58.]

  • Set up appointments and presentations well in advance to insure ample preparation.
  • Make a check list of things to be done before every presentation.
  • Know exactly what is expected of you and how much time you have.
  • If possible, practice what you will say with a friend to make sure your message fits the allotted time frame.
  • Arrive on time. (If meeting at a home, don't arrive early. )
  • Let the host take initiatives. Don't assume anything.
  • Stay within the time limit. No matter how comfortable the audience may seem, respect their time.
  • Summarize and request support at the end.
  • Always follow up, especially if a decision was left hanging.
  • Remember always to thank your audience in writing.
  • Record pertinent information for future communication.

While we have already mentioned that letters are not practical by themselves as a means of support-raising, they do have an important place in communicating effectively. People will feel that you care if you send follow up letters from phone conversations

and appointments. Letters can clarify and confirm decisions made. Always be brief in letters and try to be creative, interesting and personal. Letters should be typewritten if possible. After you have written a letter, put it aside for a day or two and then read it again to make any revisions. Also have a friend critique it.[Support-Raising Handbook, pp. 59-66.

Church Support

God has given the task of world evangelization to the church. The church is the place to begin. When dealing specifically with church support as opposed to civic organizations and individuals, there are several important aspects to take into consideration. You must find out what types of missions the church supports currently. For example, do they support mostly modern, high tech mission agencies or more traditional independent missionaries.

Remember that most churches set up their budgets by December 1, so you should concentrate on churches from September to November. Try to find out when a particular church prepares its budget. Always find a"key contact" in the church, whether it be the minister or the chairman of the missions committee. Be sure to refer to the list above as you prepare presentations for churches and always follow up with a letter and thank-you note.

Have a Plan!

Since you probably have a definite time frame in which to raise the necessary support, a well planned strategy is a must. Having a well defined plan keeps you from putting things off until it may be too late. Remember it takes time for decisions to be made, especially when dealing with churches.

Keep a calendar that you can carry with you at all times. Make a "Time Frame" calendar to insure that your strategies develop at the proper times. Here is an example of a"time frame" calendar:

  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have contacted a missionary on the field to inquire about all unanswered questions.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have obtained enough information about the mission to allow me to state its objectives and the goals for my particular involvement.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have projected possible scenarios for each of my particular objectives/goals.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have obtained information that will allow me to understand the philosophy, the history, and the structure of the mission or group with which I will work.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have composed a tentative job description.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have written a proposed budget.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have listed at least 200 potential supporters.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have transferred the names on my list to separate sheets/note cards, one name for each card/sheet.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have separated the list into categories or target groups.
  • By __/__/__ (date) I will have identified key traits about each target group.
  • By __/__/__ I will have developed a method to keep accurate records of each contact with potential supporters.
  • By __/__/__ I will have contacted ten churches to set up an appointment time.
  • By __/__/__ I will have completed a support plan.[Support- Raising Handbook, pp. 82-89.

This list is definitely not exhaustive. It is only an example. The point is that you need to have a definite schedule of when you will have to complete even the smallest tasks. Nothing is too insignificant to include.

Included in your strategy should be how you will acknowledge gifts and support from supporters. It is wise to make a calendar of communications with supporters so that you are continually in contact with your supporters and so that they know how you are doing.

As you plan a strategy, you must also decide what to do with incoming support. Will you need a forwarding agent? What kinds of bank accounts will you need? It would be helpful to talk to other missionaries and perhaps a forwarding agent to clarify what you might need. For more information on forwarding agents see The Forwarding Agent, by Neal and Dorothy Clapp. It is a practical guide and can be ordered from Mission Services Association in Knoxville, Tennessee.[Missions Services Association, PO Box 2427, Knoxville, TN 37901-2427.]

Caring for Supporters

You have worked hard and you are now beginning to receive money. It seems to be coming in faster than you can handle. You are busy with even more appointments and it seems that you are falling behind in correspondence. It would be easy to forget about it all together. But supporters need to be thanked and more than that, need to feel that they are a part of your ministry. You must think of creative ways to maximize your time and still let each supporter know your appreciation of him.

Some of your supporters may be able to get involved in your ministry in a more direct way. If you have a friend who is an accountant, maybe that person would be willing to help you with your finances. Remember that money is not all there is to support-raising.

A prayer letter can be an effective means of communicating with supporters, but a word of caution is in order. Far too many prayer letters end up being a day to day diary of what the missionary or recruit has been doing. Few people can take the time to read such a letter. Be creative and make a prayer letter show your supporters your work in an interesting way. Ask friends to read the letter and make suggestions. Ask yourself if you would want to read what you have written. The purpose of the prayer letter is to generate prayers for your work.

Never make your supporters wonder if their support is worthwhile. Be as personal as you can. Each supporter is a vital part of your ministry and they need to know that their gifts are having a lasting effect.

You must establish a means of financial accountability to the supporters, not only for the benefit of supporters but to keep your own stewardship of the money in check also. Supporters need to know where their support is going. Therefore, you should develop an effective financial report. Although some missionaries send a financial report quarterly, a monthly report is more acceptable. A financial statement for supporters should be detailed and broken down into specific categories.

You can get a better idea of where your priorities are if you can see clearly where your money is going. You are not only accountable for money but also for your time. It is wise to give your supporters an idea of how you spend your time in a time report. You will benefit from this time study as well. One missionary did not realize how much time he spent on menial tasks and how little time he was spending in evangelism (his purpose for being there), until he made a study of his time. The point is that you need to be accountable for God's time and let supporters know that you care about how you spend it.

As you receive funds, you are also accountable to the U. S. Government. How you handle this will depend on whether you are working independently or with an organization. The requirements will differ for both. Find out what will be required of you. Fortunately there are still certain benefits for you so that if you plan correctly, not all you receive will be taxable. For instance you may be able to channel your funds so that only what you receive for personal purposes will be taxed, whereas funds for work expenses will be tax-free. For information on how to make the most of these procedures, see If You Want to Be a Missionary by David Filbeck.[(Joplin, MO: College Press, 1977), p. 39-49, now out of print. Check a Bible college library.]

Remember that tax laws are constantly changing. Find out if you must be a part of a non-profit incorporation. If so, a good place to start is at a local church level. Most churches have already gone through that process. Also contact missionaries and perhaps a lawyer to give you needed advice.

As you serve the Lord's people in this ministry that you have been given, remember that it is a ministry with far reaching effects. People who otherwise would not be involved in a ministry will participate because you helped them to see and to reach to the uttermost parts of the earth with you.

You can do it!

You have been called to minister to a people somewhere. Many of your supporters are not called to go and may not be able to go. Some may be and eventually go because of you. As you minister in your particular field, your supporters become fellow-workers in your mission. God has called you to a mission and has called supporters to help you fulfill His mission together.

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