Lysa, a young capable woman who loves Jesus and wants to serve Him overseas, joined our staff several years ago after college. She had never raised support, but was trained well. She plodded along among her college friends and home church with 3-5 appointments per week for several months, but was still only at about 10% of her goal. We had a deadline coming up in less than two weeks that required her to be at 80% of her actual (not pledged) support goal. If she did not make this, none of the rest of the team would launch and we would likely scrap that location for future staff. What would you do? What could you do as team leader? Most might start seeing if their airline tickets were refundable because the likelihood to meet this goal seems many months down the road not weeks.
What happened? This 22-year-old raised 70% of her total support goal in 11 days. How? Jesus ultimately was calling her and working in the hearts of His people to give, but we did change up some things that made a big difference on our team and in our efforts that I now incorporate with all my new staff.
It’s a Job
Most new staff, do not see support raising as a 40-60 hour a week job. They don’t even know how to fill a week with that much support raising. Some have never had a job. Phones are heavy, initiating is hard, people are busy so they catch up on sock drawers, rearrange furniture, sleep late, surf social media “looking for contacts”, and binge watch the Mandalorian. But support raising is a job and you must be tenacious to get fully funded in 100 days (another goal we have for our single staff). If you only connect with 10-15 people per week you will only have 3-5 appointments, but if you connect with 40-50 people you will have 10-15 appointments. New staff don’t realize they need to fill their “contact pipeline” with 30, 40 or even 50 people. Some will give you an appointment that week, others may take 3 months. Help people get to a place where they are being faithful to the job of support raising before they (or you) say it is not working.
It’s Not Just a Job
When support raising is the necessary evil to get to the “real work of the ministry” it becomes a bad version of telemarketing mixed with selling cutlery. Sign me up! Support raising is actually a mobilization ministry among your existing or future friends. You are finding and inviting people whom God has prepared to partner with you and with what He is doing. You are mobilizing new people to get involved in the greatest endeavor of their lives that furthers the Great Commission and changes lives for eternity! You are mobilizing people to God’s mission, encouraging others, praying for others, and challenging others by your life and your ministry vision to go deeper into their faith and commitment to Christ. Help people to see support raising from God’s perspective and for the ministry to others it really can, and ought to be.
Raising Support in Community
Young people need to raise support in community. Three to six months of being out there raising support alone is one of the main reasons people do not make it. Please don’t send people out there alone saying “let me know when you are done.” One of the big changes we made was creating a Facebook group in which we encouraged the team to share every time they were walking into an appointment or every time they got a new “yes” as well as a “no”. It created a buzz on our team every day and bonded us in some great ways that carried over to the field. We are called to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn,” but we are also called to “bear one another’s burdens.”
We also committed to raising the remaining funds together as a team. This meant I, as team leader, was getting in front of my existing supporters to ask them to support our team (for whoever still needed it so that we could launch). For the record, not one person dropped us to support the team. The rest of the team did the same. If they raised beyond their goal, it went to whoever needed it. And Lysa made her goal in 11 days. Find ways to raise support as a team and you will be a team before you reach the field.
The Beauty of Urgency
Many of us are very passionate about what we are doing (if you are not go to Step One, “believe passionately in what you are doing for the Kingdom”). Most of us communicate this great ministry vision, get to the ask and say, “I am trying to raise $4000 in monthly support, would you join with me at $50/month?” Maybe this is just me, but that sounds like a drop in the bucket that doesn’t seem to make a huge impact in you getting to the field. Second, by when? When are you trying to launch? Give yourself a time frame (even if your ministry does not). No time frame communicates no urgency and then we wonder why people delay in giving an answer or their first gift.
Here’s a thought for you: If you have $4000 to raise in 4 months break it into $1000/mo for four months. Then as you ask people say, “I am trusting God to be on the field by March. In order for me to do this I must raise 1000/mo for each of the next four months. I am in month two and have raised 400/mo so far. I have one week left in November to stay on track to launch in March and need to raise $600 more in new monthly support. Would you, Mr/Mrs __________ ,consider partnering with me as one of 3-4 people I need in the next week to stay on pace? Would you prayerfully consider joining my team at $200/mo for the next _____ years as I have committed to the same?” What is different about that ask? Why is that more compelling? Without our staff and our donors having a sense of urgency you will take double or triple the time. Having 11 days to raise 70% of Lysa’s support definitely changed how we asked and for how much we asked. We had no choice…or do we?
“No” Almost Never Means “No”
When you ask to meet someone, you do not say, “Let’s meet sometime.” You say, “I am free next Monday for breakfast and next Tuesday for lunch. Do either of those work for you?” But if they say “No”, you don’t walk away and never speak to them again do you? It might just be they were busy those days. They would say “yes” to Wednesday at the office if only you would have asked. It is the same for asking for support. No almost never means “No, not you, not your ministry, not monthly support, not any amount, not annual support, not your teams projects, not special needs, and not your prayer letter!” Shoot for monthly support, but have a plan B and C if they say no to that. The laptop I am typing on right now was a “no” that one minute later was a “Yes, I’d love to buy you a laptop!”
Blessedness of Being Fully Funded
New staff have not experienced the blessedness of having what you need to do the work of the ministry and take care of your family, but you do. If not, maybe you should. They will go through enough hard times of transition, cross-cultural ministry, isolation, loss of community, security threats, eye watering bureaucracies, team struggles, and for many, just growing up. Don’t add additional stress to you, your team and your new staff by allowing them to come to the field at 70%, 85% or even 95% of their goal. For 6 years since we personally committed to being fully funded, we have not dropped below 100% of our support need and our team has not been allowed to either. There are good reasons why support is one of the top reasons people return from the field. For those of us who have made this commitment and ask the same of our staff, we now know the blessedness to our marriages, our kids, our teammates, and to those we are freed up to serve fully focused on the ministry God has given us. Now go help others to experience the same.
Work your ministry in community with urgency seeking God and His people to fully fund your staff and let’s raise up more long-term, healthy, vision-driven laborers for God’s harvest.
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.