I know, I know, the title sounds a bit pretentious. (It may even feel like the equivalence of putting the…) But really, if you have ever attempted to raise funds for missions, it can seem like anything but fun. After all, you are usually asking people to give from a place of non-budgeted finances that they may or may not have, and that can feel super uncomfortable.
Fresh out of college, I started working full-time for an NGO where I was required to raise funds for my income. Initially, because I didn’t know how on earth to ask people to give me money, regardless of how good the work was for our community, I was terrified. I almost felt as if I was asking people to sign up for a shady pyramid-scheme (For the record, I was not working for a pyramid-scheming company). Even after 4 years of working for this NGO, I was working other part-time jobs and living full-time with my mother (No shame!) just to make ends meet. In the end, I think I was bringing in 10% of my goal. It was really sad.
Moral of the story: Don’t be like I was. Instead, take a look at what I learned and hopefully it will help you in your quest to raise the necessary funds to do the work you were called to do on the mission field, whether short or long term.
1. Adjust Your Mindset and Approach
People need to trust you and the cause or mission you are representing. It feels a lot like marketing and selling because it is. But don’t let that hold you back from realizing that is how many people can view it because they may only get a glimpse of what you are actually going to do in your mission work. However, if you can be as specific, transparent, and concise as possible in how you present the offer to the potential donor to partner with you, it will make a difference. Ask boldly and confidently with the mindset that people like to give to good causes and to people they trust. Generally speaking, it is often a positive and even fun feeling that people have when they give!
2. Be Creative
Use your God-given skills and talents to have fundraising events. Offer a service or goods that people often gravitate towards that could help serve others while they give. People love to be entertained and they love food, so the more of these things that are involved, the more fun people will have in the process. Taking it a step further, find ways to include other organizations or businesses in the community to help with the event, as it may grow your platform and network of those that could be potential donors and partners. Usually, these types of events are more for those raising for a one-time, short-term mission trip, but there is no rule saying that we cannot use these same creative approaches in the long-term game too!
3. Update the Donors
Once you have begun to grow your donor base, or even a list of those who want to be informed but are not giving (yet!), it is essential to update them with what good has been going on with your mission work. If you are doing short-term, this usually happens when you return home, but for those living in the field for the majority of the year, this should come at least every 2 to 3 months. This will give people a deeper glimpse into the work you said you would be doing as well as reaffirm what has been done because of their support. You have to work at your relationship with them to make them as much of the mission work process like you initially asked them to be. And in doing so, this is often a fun way for people to connect with a bigger work in the world, even if they are not there themselves.
Friend, if it still seems daunting to fundraise for yourself, in the end, if you are called to it, God is already in it! You can trust that He will provide in a variety of ways as you anticipated and also as you least expected. Put your best foot forward and pray before and after every conversation and effort that God would work in the hearts of people to give so that you can freely travel, live, and give to those in the field itself.
And Lord-willing, in the end, you will not just be putting the fun in fundraising, but also the funds.