As great of an opportunity this is, it can be very difficult and discouraging to raise funds year after year. In chatting with my twitter friend Jeff Goins, we were discussing many of the emotions and obstacles that people encounter while they try to "make a living" through support raising. I asked him if he would be willing to post his thoughts on this topic. Jeff is an amazingly talented writer and is well loved in the online universe of writers. I think that you will enjoy what he has to say.
I've worked as a missionary for six years for two different organizations. During this time, I've either had to raise all of or part of my salary.
This is not fun, nor easy.
At first, I really resented having to raise support.
Then, for a season of temporary insanity, I really loved it.
Now, you could say that I have a healthy respect for the process.
Raising support is like having a second job -- in addition to your mission work, ministry, or whatever it is that you do. Like I said, not always fun. But definitely worth the cost.
In my time of raising support and working with others who do the same, I've noticed that people really like to complain about this part of their jobs, which really annoys me. Not only that, I've seen people go about raising support in all the wrong ways.
So, I thought a brief list of rules for "best support-raising practices" might help. Here they are:
Rule #1: Never apologize for your passion.
If you are called to something, don't feel like you need to apologize (in a newsletter, over the phone, or in person) for doing what God has called you to do. It sounds ridiculous, but people do it.
Rule #2: Never diminish your calling.
This is similar to #1, but don't think for a moment (and definitely don't communicate to someone else) that the fact that you have to raise support somehow makes what you do less important than receiving a traditional salary. It doesn't. In fact, it means that you are working harder. Be proud of it.
Rule #3: Never make a weak ask.
The bottom line: Don't begin an "ask" of a potential support by saying "no" for him or her. Don't say things like, "No pressure" or "you don't have to…" Of course, they know this already. And if you communicate a lack of confidence in your work, do you think that inspires them to want to invest in your ministry?
Rule #4: Never judge the other person's motives.
If you walk away from a conversation or meeting in which the person has told you "no," don't assume that you know why. Don't judge -- as tempting as it might be -- because you never know why someone can't or won't financially support a ministry endeavor.
As someone who has been down this road before, I've broken all these rules:
-I've said sorry for asking for support
-I've made it seem like what I was called to do wasn't a big deal
-I've often made apologetic (and pathetic) "asks" for support of my ministry, assuming people wouldn't want to be involved.
-I've often judged people who don't support my ministry or assumed that someone who wasn't wealthy wouldn't be able to give (finding out that the opposite is often true.)
It all comes down to believing in your work and trusting that God will be faithful to provide.
It's not easy, but it's not supposed to be, is it?
And yes, it's worth it.
Bio: Jeff Goins is a writer, missionary, and mobilizer. You can follow his blog (http://goinswriter.com/) or connect with him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/jeffgoins) and Facebook (http://facebook.com/goinswriter).