So you’re going on a mission trip! It’s a time for God to use you to accomplish his purposes and advance his kingdom. Are you worried about raising support? You’re not alone.
You need to develop a support-raising plan, but first, know that God has already chosen people who will invest in your ministry. As you follow his direction, he will lead you to people who are willing and able to support you.
The information below gives specific steps to take as you raise support in as short a time and in as efficient a manner as possible. Pray, and begin that journey of support raising.
Step I. Begin with Your Home Church
The first step is contacting the leadership of your home church. By contacting the church first, you recognize the church, your pastor, and your elders as your spiritual leaders and seek their approval on proceeding to enlist support in the church. You will benefit from your church’s counsel now and in the days ahead. You need to have your church on your team!
There are four things you want to accomplish when you meet with your church:
- Articulate how God led you to be a part of this mission trip.
- Share your financial need.
- Gain a clear understanding of the steps you should follow to request church support.
- Identify ways to present your ministry in the church.
Step II. Determine Who to Ask for Support
The second step is to make a list of people to ask for support. Use the following list as a guide and check off each category after you have added names from each category to your list of prospective donors.
___ Home church
___ Current church (if different)
___ Other churches attended
___ Aunts and uncles
___ Other relatives
___ Past neighbors
___ Current neighbors
___ Grade school
___ Junior high school
___ High school
___ Junior college
___ Other relatives
___ Past jobs
___ Current job
Service contacts (doctors, teachers, babysitters)
___ Review your Christmas list
___ Review your parents’ Christmas list
___ Review your address book
___ Review your families’ contact lists
___ People involved with you in hobbies, sports, interests
Step III. Record and Catalog Prospects
The third step in raising support for your short-term mission trip is to compile your list of contacts and their contact information in an easy-to-use system. Ideally, you will computerize this list. However, you could simply set up a 4″x 6″ card system.
Step IV. Mail Your First Prayer Letter
In step four, you send your first prayer letter. Your initial letter should contain at least six components:
- The opening sentence needs to grab peoples’ attention.
- Introduce or reintroduce yourself to people and bring them up to date with your life.
- Convey your burden.
- Give the mission organization’s name and tell about its vision and outreach.
- Inform the reader that you are responsible for raising your own support.
- Give the reader a way to respond to your financial need.
Step V. Work with Your High-Priority Prospects
After sending out your prayer letter, the next step is to meet with your high-priority contacts. Even while we take strategic steps, we pray that the Lord will work above and beyond our strategy.
Here is what you need to do when you meet face-to-face with your high-priority prospects (If a face-to-face meeting is not possible, a phone call will do.):
- Update them on your life, and let them update you on their life (be brief).
- Share how God has led you to this mission opportunity.
- Talk briefly about your mission organization.
- Share your personal vision.
- Share your financial need.
- Ask for their support.
It is conceivable that you might have all of your support need met by your high-priority prospects but if that is not the case you need to move on to Step VI.
Step VI. Work with Your Medium-Priority Prospects
The next step is the talk with all your medium-priority contacts. All your medium-priority prospects need to receive a personal phone call. They should have already received your letter and now you can follow up with a personal call. In handling your phone conversation I would use the same procedures you used in your personal visit of your high-priority prospects.
If for some reason all of your support is not secured, move on to Step VII.
Step VII. Send a Second Letter
If it is necessary, you might send out a second prayer letter. In this letter you would update your friends on such things as:
- Financial update on how much more you need yet to meet your goal,
- Communicate your excitement and vision for your trip, and
- Specific prayer requests.
We have outlined seven key steps you can take, but again, pray and expect God to work above and beyond your strategy. God bless you as you serve him through missions.
This article is condensed from People Raising Short-Term Support Manual by William P. Dillon. This and other support-raising tools are available at PeopleRaising.com. Dillon is the Founder of Inner City Impact and has served as its Executive Director for more than four decades. His family has been an integral part of urban ministry in Chicago three generations), and he has more than 40 years of fund-raising experience.