December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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Mission trips, whether short or long-term, are a huge commitment. Both your time and your finances are put into a pinch, and fundraising often feels uncertain. The financial goal can seem a little daunting at first! But here’s the thing, the Lord provides—every time.
If you’ve chosen to raise short-term missions trip funds, we have some tips for you straight from a professional fundraising coach, Emily, who has lived half of her life on the mission field! While the principles and concepts of fundraising stay the same, how they’re communicated changes. Read on to find out how to reach your fundraising goal, and say goodbye to all your uncertainty!
1. Always Focus on Impact
People don’t give toward a financial breakdown. Your bills and flight costs aren’t why people partner with you. They partner because they want to be part (hence the word, “partner”) of the ministry. The job of the goer is to compel the partner with clear communication that stays focused on impact. The missionary is the conduit, so we have an important responsibility to show the giver what they are joining. The ministry doesn’t belong to us as the goers, but to God, so the partner is joining the ministry, not simply giving.
2. Make It About God, Not You
It’s common to hear things like this when someone is raising funds for a missions trip: “I’m so excited about getting to learn more about God’s beautiful people and experiencing the world in a way I’ve never seen it before!” No one wants partner with that or give to it. People want to give toward the glory of God going forth. Instead, it’s best to say something like this: “My desire is to bring the hope and light of Christ to some who have never seen it before through (insert the mission purpose, i.e education, music, sports ministry, this project) so that His glory might shine in dark places.”
3. Don’t Rely on Social Media
What a scandal, I know. But if God has called you to go, whether it be for a week or 10 years, He is calling you to build a team of partners that “go with you.” Social media completely bypasses the impact and the desire to have a team of people who continuously support the mission you are joining. Not to mention, the algorithms of social media are completely unpredictable and ever changing, and there is no telling who will actually see your post.
Crowd funding is another popular way to raise funds. While I have seen some success in this method, the problem again is the impact. Most crowd funding pages, including Kickstarter and GoFundMe, don’t allow you to raise for mission projects. People are then forced to title their fundraiser something like, “Send Emily to Laos!” which is all about them, not the mission (refer to point two). If, however, there is a specific project occurring on the mission trip—a well being built, school supplies needing to be purchased (something physical and tangible)—crowd funding can be effective. But when it comes to an individual’s financial needs, I don’t recommend it.
4. Be Intentional
The more work you put into fundraising, the more you yield. It’s a very basic principle. If you want partners, meet with them face to face. Make phone calls to set up times to talk. Be bold. Send out letters—not as your primary means of fundraising, but as a way to set the table for a phone call intended to set up a meeting with people. Short-term projects are usually easy to get funded because of their small budgets, but we can often miss the opportunity to include other people in the impact by being cavalier in how we ask them to give. Remember: People want to join a ministry and they want to give, so be the person they give to by being intentional in how you connect with them.
As you embark on the journey of fundraising, remember, the Lord is faithful! Whether you have one year or one week to raise funds, you can do this! The Lord equips those He calls, and we partner with you! Your resources do not stop here! View a list of current mission opportunities here!