However, if you are reading this blog and have decided that you wanted to skip past the “unnecessary biblical & theological fluff” blogs because you just want to learn proven strategies to get you where you want to be financially, let me stop you right there. The bottom line of support raising is that whether God uses these proven, thought-out strategies discussed in these blogs, or whether He drops the money out of the sky (it happens more often than you would think folks), the point is that HE does it. HE is your Provider and the one who wants to reveal Himself to you in profound ways through this journey. So please, please, please don’t skip the part where you are connecting with His word and His heart for you amidst this sometimes challenging process. So, if you haven’t checked out our past blogs, please take a look here. It will be well worth it. Whether you have been doing this for 20 years, or whether this is your first time, we all constantly need reminders to turn our hearts to the goodness, nature and truth of God as a source of strength and guidance.
Moving forward, this blog will be covering the practical “How To’s” of support raising and will be a part one blog of a two part series on how to practically raise support for ministry. In this blog, we will be looking at how to gather the tools and resources that will set you up for success, as well as what your initial steps should look like. Let’s get started!
Praying Your Budget
That’s an odd thing to say, right? Praying your budget? Often times people can disassociate things that are practical, like a budget, and things that are “sacred” like prayer. One of our main values at YWAM is living with no separation between the “sacred” and the “secular”, for God is in all things in this world He created. Let’s do ourselves a favor and use this exercise to take a step towards dispelling the myth that some things are spiritual and some things are secular.
Now this section is intended towards people who are joining ministry or missions for longer than just a trip or school (DTS, SBS, etc) who are building a support team for the long haul. However, for those are doing something like a missions trip and already have a budget given to them by the organization they are doing ministry through, don’t skip past this! We are hitting on some key issues that will give you important perspectives about this process.
But really, what is praying your budget? Well, this is something I am personally very excited about because I believe it goes against the grain with some expectations put on the missionary community as a whole. So let’s begin by addressing a common expectation I have found that many people hold as they approach missions and ministry: to follow the call of God in ministry, you must be poor.I know that might sound funny to say out loud, but when you think about it, there is definitely this common expectation the church puts on the world of ministry and missions.
Now, contrast that with what we just learned from our last blog, specifically Numbers 18:12-13, “I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and grain they give the Lord as the firstfruits of their harvest. All the land’s firstfruits that they bring to the Lord will be yours.” Hmm… I see here in scripture God specifically setting aside the best of all the land for the Levites (those He called to specific ministry).
It honestly is really sad to me that somehow a lie has crept into the missions community that God will only provide the bare bones (if at all) for those that He has called into specific realms of ministry. I have a personal vendetta to defy this lie as much as possible as I think about support raising, both for myself, and for other people.
So what does all of this have to do with a budget? Great question. Building a budget for yourself (which is what we are talking about here), is where I believe this mentality comes out the strongest in the support raising process. So I like to go for the jugular with this lie early on, and partner with God to believe His truth instead of a sad cultural lie when it comes to my support raising journey. How is that accomplished? Build a budget that will set you up to thrive, not get by.
Ok, so that sounds nice, but what does that look like exactly? This is where I love to include the prayer part. When I establish a budget early on in support raising, I usually do two things: research and pray. I look at my job, look at what a fair market value is for my job, for people at my age, doing what I am doing, etc. I then will go to God and ask His opinion on it. I know that He has already spoken through His word about what His heart is for me in this realm of His Kingdom, but I love to listen to His voice and hear directly from Him about what He thinks about my budget. Doing these two things helps me, in wisdom and revelation (Eph 1:17), feel confident about my budget before God. If I feel confident about my budget before God, I know that I can go boldly out to pursue my budget before man as well, because I know I have God’s wind in my sails with this particular budget.
New to a setting up a budget? No problem! The basic components of a budget are:
- Decide What Your Salary Should Be – This is generally best done by talking to God, doing research, and checking in with your organization (as mentioned above).
- Break It Down Monthly – With most of your supporters signing up on a monthly basis, it’s good to know what your total support raising goal will be on a monthly basis as opposed to just an annual amount.
- Consider Ministry Expenses – You will most likely be needing to build in ministry expenses for doing your job. Working with college students you’ll be taking out to lunch or coffee? Going on mission trips regularly that you could be saving for? Need equipment for your job? Use your personal cell phone for the work that you do? Build all these in! You could even talk to your organization about including things most companies offer like health benefits or retirement planning.
- Build In The 3% – Every financial transaction you will receive, whether through your organization or through a 3rd party website, will be reduced by 3% which is referred to as a “processing fee”. This is just par for the course, but since that is part of the job, build it into your budget so it doesn’t affect your take home budget! Remember people, God gave the first and the best. He doesn’t short change us.
- Expect Fluctuation And Plan For It – Most financial guru’s will tell you that it is a good idea to build a buffer for your budget, but it’s especially important to include with support raising. Support Teams can often times fluctuate with some people on your support team either forgetting to donate one month, or maybe even contacting you because they can’t keep giving towards you anymore!
Building a budget can be very helpful and even empowering as you launch into your support raising journey. It is very clarifying for you, for one, so you know what you are shooting for. It helps so that when you talk to potential supporters, you can present a tangible number that you are looking to raise. It also setups up a “work till you get there” mentality, which is more valuable than you might foresee now. In support raising it can easy to just settle with the idea, “well, I have enough to get by at this point, so maybe I’ll just stop here”. When you set up a budget and begin announcing it (to yourself and others), it forces you to stick to it and see it through till the end, and can help you not settle till you, by the grace of God, reach HIS plan for you and your budget.
Now that we’ve got our budget, on to the next step: namestorming. The name comes from two words mashed together: name + brainstorming. This is both a challenging and very, very important step towards reaching your goal.
As you can imagine this process is fairly straightforward, and is really the transition point of taking theoretical concepts and beginning to make them more tangible. Since that is the case, prepare to stretch yourself in faith in this process.
Namestorming is basically the process of sitting down to brainstorm a list of names of people, churches, and organizations that you will pursue in prayer as you raise support for your missions trip, school fees, or as you build a support team for more long-term ministry work. I generally set a number of names for myself as a goal, and work until I hit that number. If you are raising support for a trip or school, I would generally try and stick to the rule of 40 names per $1000. Raising $2,000? Make a list of 80 people. For people building a support team of monthly givers, I would try and make a list of 200 – 300 people who you can talk with. When you create the list, make sure to get their name, phone number and email, if you can.
While that might sound like a lot of people, I generally find that most people on their facebook profiles alone have close to, if not over, 1,000 people who are their friends on facebook. So, if you are only needing anywhere from 40-300 names out of 1,000, you really are looking for a small number compared to how many people you actually have a connection to. Also, generally churches are your “facebook friends” and often can be a big source of support for you as well. So don’t sweat it, you can do this.
Now the most common misconception people have with this step is they limit their list to people they feel comfortable talking with about support raising, generally very close friends or family. The best thing to understand here is that you get to practice stepping out of your comfort zone as you make this list, and instead of thinking, “Man, it would be so awkward reaching out to that old acquaintance of mine”, think, “Man, I wonder what God could do as I connect with this person I don’t know very well, or have lost connection to”. We need to remember here, that we aren’t building a plan off of what WE can do with our resources and connections, but what GOD can do by His sovereign grace and power.
Now that you have your budget and list of names, you are almost ready to pick up the phone and begin reaching out to people (more on this in the next blog). However, there a couple final resources you need before you can begin talking with people. While they aren’t very complex, practically speaking, they are still necessary to get into place before you begin pursuing your list.
Here are the resources needed:
- Online Giving Page – Often times your organization will have a place for people to give towards you, with either a one-time donation, or with a monthly, recurring gift. Those of you building an ongoing support team, though, I would very strongly emphasize your need for an online giving page that receives automatically withdrawn monthly payments. With people forgetting to send in payments, or even losing the directions of how to give regularly, it is VERY important that you have a system set up that makes it easier for them to set up a monthly payment that they don’t have to mess with after the initial setup. If your organization does not offer this, you can find other resources online to create custom online donation pages for yourself. Check the resource table below for a link to GivingFuel, a 3rd party site that I use.
2. Donor Management System – When you have a list of 100 – 300 names, how are you going to remember where you are in the process of reaching out to each of them? In order to make sure that you set yourself up for success, and don’t let things fall through the cracks with the people you are pursuing, you need a system to keep tabs on each person you are communicating with. While some people use a spreadsheet system, some staff members at Campus Crusade (CRU), made a program a couple years ago that I believe does an excellent job of keeping everything organized and systematized. It’s called TntMPD and I would highly recommend it to those building a support team for the long haul, and the best part is that it is free! You can download it as well as see tutorials on it through the resource table below.
3. Support Team Tracking – This resource is specifically geared towards those building for the long term, and is pretty vital for your continued success. I personally have a google spreadsheet that you I track my team on. I list their names, monthly giving amounts, day of the month they give on, and whether they are current in their giving or if they missed last month. All of this information is very vital for me as I keep tabs on my team for prayer, keeping track of who I need to contact because they missed a donation, etc. It also can be a good way for me to see how close to my monthly total I am with all of my monthly givers as I raise support. I created a template that you can download through the resource table below, if you want to copy the spreadsheet I use.
4. Support Budget Spreadsheet – I already covered this earlier on in the blog, but I also created a copy of my Google spreadsheet that you can use for yourself if you would like. Once more, check out the resource table below to download.
|Online Giving Page (3rd Party)||Givingfuel – Click here!|
|Donor Management System||TntMPD – Click here!
Tutorials – Click here!
|Support Team Tracking||Click here!|
|Support Budget||Click here!|
Alright! Those are all the things you need in place in order to begin the support raising journey. Next blog, we will cover the process of reaching out to people and tangibly raising support for your ministry!
May the God of all creation grant you peace, faith, and His empowering presence as you take another step towards following His call on your life.