For the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been working on raising my ministry budget so that I can begin work with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Graduate and Faculty Ministry at CMU and Pitt. Raising support is about as difficult as it sounds, but I will say that InterVarsity is great about providing resources to help along the way. One of those resources I encountered early on was something called “Myths and Facts about Fund Development.” This document was written for people who are raising support and helps to clear up some misconceptions and fears new IV staff might have about fundraising. This was a really helpful resource for me, but I’m realizing that for as many fears, misunderstandings and doubts I have had about asking people to support me, the people who I’m asking tend to have just as many, and they need to have some things clarified just as much. So, if someone entering the mission field ever comes asking you for support, keep these myths and facts in mind:
Myth: The fundraiser is only interested in your money.
Fact: If the fundraiser was only interested in money, they would have chosen a different, more profitable profession. In fact, the fundraiser is excited about the work s/he’s preparing for and wants to share it with you! You do no favors to the support raiser by just writing a check without ever talking with them about their upcoming work.
Myth: When the fundraiser asks for prayers and other forms of support, that’s really just a guise to dillute the fact that they’re asking for money.
Fact: The fundraiser is preparing to invest his/her life in the service of God, which is incredibly intimidating. They need to know that their brothers and sisters in Christ are behind them. Prayer support and even emotional support and friendship are much more needed and desired. The money is obviously needed and appreciated, but just getting a check from a person who doesn’t express any interest in the actual work of the missionary makes the missionary feel like s/he is just asking for handout instead of partners in ministry.
Myth: The fundraiser is disappointed if you’re not able to give.
Fact: The fundraiser’s primary hope is that you’ll be interested and enthusiastic about the ministry they’re beginning. In my support raising experience, finding people who have both a high capacity/capability for financial giving and an interest in hearing about my ministry is a very rare thing. Usually, I find that I’m either talking with people who have a high capacity for financial giving but no understanding of why mission work is important, or with people with little (or even a complete lack of) capacity for financial giving but with great interest in the work of the ministry. I’d much rather talk with the latter.