We hear from missionaries frequently on the need to raise support. A common scenario is that the need is unexpected and the missionary is still on assignment overseas. This prompts the question: Can you raise money from overseas? Here’s what fundraising expert Scott Morton has to say. (Scott is International Funding Coach for The Navigators and author of Funding Your Ministry.)
Here’s a situation many missionaries can relate to: “We are in financial trouble! We recently lost a big church and just got hit with unexpected expenses. But our home assignment does not come for two more years. We’re stuck!”
The good news is that you can raise money from overseas! But it will take time. Here are some ideas:
Phone or Skype a few friends from the US to ask for specific help
Talking on the phone or via video enables you to passionately explain your ministry better than a letter. Before phoning, consider some questions you might answer:
- What happened that you need immediate help? Budget increase? Why? Major donors suddenly drop? Underfunded to begin with? Health? How will gifts now help the ministry? Donors need a reason to give!
- How much money do you need exactly? By when exactly?
- What are you asking each person to do? Increase monthly support? Cash gift immediately? How much? By when? Give a range.
- Who to phone? That is a subjective decision. Pray through your list of donors and non-donors, asking God to lay five people on your heart. How about lapsed donors of a year or more?
Send a letter or email to the friends you intend to phone
This letter must answer the questions above. A phone/letter combination is more effective than letter only.
Send a mass letter to your donors and entire mailing list
Besides email, send a hard copy with a reply card and return envelope. Hard copy letters cost more but will generate more than email only. For tips on cash project letters, see my book Funding Your Ministry, (Navpress) chapter 15.
Take a short trip home
This costs money, but face-to-face funding appeals will generate much new support. Remember:
- Finalize your funding plans before you get on the airplane, including having 75 percent of your appointments set! Waiting until you arrive to set appointments with friends or mission committees is fruitless. Set tentative dates with potential donors before you book your ticket.
- Have your fundraising materials ready before you get on the plane, or pick them up from your headquarters after you arrive.
- Anticipate questions. (See examples above.)
- Focus! This trip is about raising funds. Go for three to four appointments daily. Don’t add other agendas.
- How to pay for the trip home? Invite a special friend who cares for you to cover it.
Do you have a champion in the US who can appeal to your friends (or his/hers) on your behalf?
Facebook or Twitter
Social media doesn’t raise much money except for natural disasters like earthquakes. Use social media like this to assist you in setting appointments or phone calls.
Donors are sympathetic to genuine missionary emergencies, but usually only once! Raise 110 to 120 percent of budget before you leave for your initial assignment.
Your situation is not hopeless. You can raise much money from overseas, but be prepared to spend a ton of time doing it. And it may be best to make a two-week trip home. Don’t give up!
You can find more fundraising tips on Scott’s website.
What questions do you have while banking from the field?