Shortly your mailbox will be filled with letters from willing and eager missionaries radically going somewhere for the cause of Christ. Summer projects, week-long adventures, state side and international endeavors all seem to coalesce in the summer time, and that can only mean one thing – Support Raising!
This blog post is meant to give those raising support hints on how to effectively invite people into what God is doing in their lives and in the place where they are headed. Support raising is difficult, uncomfortable, awkward, and faith-stretching work. How can one possibly take all that God is doing in his or her life at a moment in time and put it on paper? I’ve written some helpful hints from some experience with past mission trips to help anyone who will be shortly be starting the adventure called support raising!
Support Group for Support Raising Hints:
1.Share your heart, not just details about the trip. Consider answering some of the following questions in your letter: Why do you feel called to go to this place? What has God been doing in your heart lately? How did you decide to go on this trip? What are you excited to learn about yourself, about God, and about the people you will be ministering to? People do support organizations, but even more than that they support people who they know, trust, and can relate to — so make yourself relatable! Include pictures, itineraries, prayer requests or other personalized touches.
2.Plan ahead! Know your deadlines, and don’t start raising support at the last-minute. Gather a file with potential supporter’s names, addresses, etc. Save this file for sending thank you letters and an update after you return sharing what you learned on this trip and thanking them for their help to get you there!
3.Use this as an opportunity to share your heart and the Gospel even with non-believers. Don’t be surprised when crazy Uncle Harry (who is hostile to Christianity) actually sends you a generous check to help you have “a cultural experience.” He may not call it a mission trip, but he is helping you get there anyway! (By the way, this is a true story!) Even if you don’t get any money from these people, you’ve had the chance to share part of your story and planted a seed of the Gospel. These can be powerful tools as people see the sacrifices you are making and the lengths you are going through to bring the good news to a lost people. Share your heart freely and don’t limit the work of the Spirit!
4.Be clear about logistics! Amount of and date that money is needed, dates of travel, where to send support, who to make checks out to, etc. Put all this information together so it’s there for easy reference later. Make things easy on your supporters. Consider including a self-addressed stamped envelope. You may want to check the current IRS standards for tax-deductible gifts to make sure you are staying within the parameters of the law.
5.Have someone proofread your letter. Nothing is so distracting from the point of your letter as misspelled wrods (my point exactly!)
6.Lastly, and most importantly: Remember you are asking for supporters, partners, encouragers, prayer warriors, and radical senders…YOU ARE NOT JUST ASKING FOR CASH! God is sovereign. If He wants you to go on this trip, He will raise the money for you. Your job is not to convince people of the financial worthiness of your endeavor, but to ask for supporters because you can’t do this alone! I have had many people who have never had the means to send me a single dollar, but these saints have encouraged me, prayed for me, and been behind me 100% over multiple mission trips. I am so thankful for them. You are not just asking for financial support, you are inviting others into your life and creating community through this letter. [Note: One option is to create two versions of your support letter: one with the details about financial support and the other sharing the details of the trip, but not specifically asking for financial support. I’ve sent the latter version of my letter to some people who I know do not have the financial means to support me, but still want to know an update on my life!]
For years I’ve said that I think the mission trip does not start the day you get on a plane to fly to some distant land, but with the moment you decide to go on the trip in the first place. Support raising is an integral part of preparing for the mission trip. It is both a bonding experience for the team members and a faith-building activity for you. God does amazing works, but almost never in exactly the same ways. Some trips I’ve raised my entire required amount in a week’s time – and I’ve praised God for His quick, overflowing provision! Other times I’ve had a generous, anonymous donation come just three days before I’m scheduled to leave – and I praise God for his faithfulness and His timing. Both stories are faith-building. So, open your laptops and begin pouring our your heart through the keys! Support raise for the logistics of plane tickets and food, and for the glory of God!
“I do now know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.”