It is an honor to be invited to contribute to the SRS newsletter on the topic of fundraising while on furloughs. My wife Jody and I have served with Wycliffe Bible Translators for 26 years, so we have deep experience with the topic. My current job with Wycliffe is as a Partnership Development Coach. I coach new Wycliffe members whose first job is to reach 100% budget funding by building a partnership team. I also coach established career Wycliffe members (EMs) on furlough required to increase their budgets to 100% to return to the field. The Wycliffe members I have worked with have included singles, couples, young and old, with a myriad of personalities and persuasions about partnership development. Almost all, new or career members on furlough, begin with fear and trepidation about partnership development, or “support raising.”
Based on my experience, here are 7 keys to successful partnership development/support raising for new and career missionaries challenged with fundraising on furloughs:
1. PRAYER IS THE POWER SOURCE.
When Jody and I joined Wycliffe 26 years ago, we were required to recruit 100 dedicated prayer warriors as well as raise 100% of our budget. Wycliffe doesn’t require the 100 prayer warriors these days, but we do establish prayer as the key to successful partnership development. We encourage forming an Advisory Prayer Team (APT) and sending out Praise and Prayer updates on a regular basis to the APT, as well as communicating Praise and Prayer requests to a broader audience (through prayer letters). Prayer produces Power. Prayer kindles Passion. Prayer produces Partnership.
2. PASSION PRODUCES PARTNERSHIP.
We have a saying in Wycliffe: “Lead with your passion, not with your need. Otherwise your partners will think your need is your passion.” Believing in your calling and having excitement about how the Lord is using you to have spiritual impact in your ministry is the key to the passion factor. This is critical for any missionary, new or established, to build a partnership team. This “passion factor” can filter through an individual’s personality, including quieter, reserved missionaries. There needs to be a passion factor!
3. SUPPORT RAISING HAS A BIBLICAL BASIS.
This is a priority we establish in Wycliffe for new members, but is equally important for EMs not to forget! There is a host of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments that establishes a strong foundation for support raising. In our first Wycliffe training for new members (and as a refresher for EMs) we include a Bible study to underscore this truth. Paul’s great exhortation in II Corinthians 8 & 9 are his “signature” verses on the subject, summed up by saying “God LOVES a cheerful giver!” Any missionary needs to believe in this biblical basis for raising support.
4. ONE ON ONE INVITATIONS TO PARTNERSHIP ARE THE BEST STRATEGY.
Scheduling one on one meetings with individuals is the number one strategy in Wycliffe’s partnership development. This takes prayer, time and effort but is the best way to share passion, answer questions, and build relationships. For EMs we shift the terminology for partnership development from “Development” to “Partnership Deepening.” God can work in a number of miraculous ways to provide financial support through churches, group presentations, even response to inspiring newsletters. Building relationships through one on one meetings is the single best strategy to accomplish partnership development, especially to sustain long term ministry commitments.
5. MAKE PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT THE PRIORITY.
This is a need for new missionaries building their partnership team while still working full time, going to school, raising a family, etc. It is equally true for missionaries on furlough, who often have training, educational requirements, or work assignments with the home office. Wycliffe has learned there is a direct correlation between the time (and effort) applied to partnership development and the results achieved. The more time applied, the faster support comes in.
6. BE ACCOUNTABLE TO SOMEONE FOR YOUR SUPPORT RAISING PROGRESS.
Accountability is a huge part of Wycliffe’s partnership development program. New members are assigned a Partnership Development Coach and partnership development is their only job assignment until 100% of their budget is reached. Having a Partnership Development Coach is optional for Established Members. If EMs choose a Partnership Development Coach, there is reporting and accountability that goes along with that. Wycliffe’s experience is when a member accepts the accountability that is part of the partnership development process, God blesses that commitment by bringing the support in! For a furloughed missionary (without a Partnership Development Coach), this accountability can be with a ministry partner, or someone from a supporting church.
7. STAY ORGANIZED.
For both new and EMs on furlough, Wycliffe recommends developing a partnership development “Action Plan” to plan and project all aspects of partnership development: the number of individual contacts hoped for, churches to contact, a newsletter schedule, etc. New Wycliffe members are required to submit weekly partnership development reports summarizing what they’ve accomplished, with plans ahead. Because of the many varied aspects of partnership development, especially the need to follow up with potential partners, it is essential to stay organized to be successful.
There is lots more I could say about the joy, excitement and satisfaction of support raising! It is all about joining God in His work to confirm and provide for a missionary’s calling. A missionary always has to “Count the Cost and Believe in the Blessing!” That blessing includes God’s PROMISES to provide for His work in His way.
This article is submitted by Jessica Wood of Support Raising Solutions. Support Raising Solutions is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.