Editor’s note: We’re stoked to feature this article from another one of Go. Serve. Love’s round table partners, Support Raising Solutions. (Yes! That organization is a thing.) In our quest to present you overseas fully-funded, we’re happy to welcome back the indomitable Jenn Fortner, support-raising expert extraordinaire.
In my time as a support coach, I have yet to see a ministry worker not make it to the field because they were unable to raise their budget as fully funded missionaries. I’ve seen people not go to the field because they got engaged, accepted a different job, or had medical issues—but it has yet to be money that has kept someone from going to the ministry they felt called to.
That being said, I’ve seen numerous ministers scared that they were never going to get to the magical 100% mark. Some just freeze up, unable to move forward because of obstacles and fears.
So let‘s talk about the obstacles and fears we face when raising our budgets. What are some of the most common? And what can we do to overcome them?
Let’s get fully funded.
#1 Obstacle: Perspective/Lack of Biblical Understanding
Viewing fundraising as a necessary evil instead of a vibrant ministry can be the largest hurdle someone raising support can face.
I once heard it said 90% of support raising is perspective. After listening to numerous workers talk about their struggles, I find this overwhelmingly true. Workers who can’t seem to see the awesome ministry opportunities raising support provides them are the same ones who can’t seem to be fully funded, and ultimately will probably walk away from their ministry calling.
Viewing support raising as ministry is vital to staying engaged long-term and excited about the process.
If you go into an appointment seeing it only as a means to an end, you’ll pass up the opportunity to minister to the person across from you—and miss being blessed yourself! Other effects may be:
- Coming across as disingenuous
- Being sloppy and cutting corners
- Awkward and fearful to make strong/bold ask
So how can we overcome a lack of perspective, to be fully funded?
- Seek out a biblical understanding of support raising. Discover what God has to say on the subject in the Bible studies in the appendix of The God Ask.
- Ask others who have been successful in raising their support about their overall perspective.
- Pray continuously, asking and seeking God why He came up with this idea of Christian workers raising their personal and ministry expenses from others. He has already given the answers in Scripture. We just have to find them.
#2 Obstacle: Procrastination
Ever find yourself starting to work on something important, only to be distracted by a text, social media post, or an internet deep dive?
Instead of making progress on your task, do you find yourself watching a YouTube video about a horse and a dog becoming best friends?
Don’t feel alone. Stats on procrastination:
- 1 in 4 people describe themselves as a chronic procrastinator. Over 1/2 of the population would describe themselves as frequent.
- In the last 40 years there’s been about a 300-400% growth in chronic procrastination.
- Checking emails and social media on one’s phone cost 36% of respondents more than an hour each day in productivity.
Have you ever taken on a project you knew would take a long time to complete (hey, like raising an entire budget?) and instead of attacking it, you procrastinate a few hours instead?
Those few hours become a day, a day turns into two or three days, and two or three days ends up being a week—a wasted week!
Sometimes support raisers will go into total denial and will dream up all kinds of new “to-do’s” to work on, except the one they’re assigned—raising their support!
As a coach, I see this in those raising funds who also have jobs or current ministry responsibilities. They may subconsciously increase their hours at their jobs, or say yes to more ministry opportunities.
Why? Anything to get them out of making the calls and setting up appointments!
(Is that you?)
How can we overcome procrastination to become fully funded?
- Set specific, challenging, but reachable goals for yourself each week.
- Share those goals with someone who can exercise a little “tough love” and keep you accountable.
- Write down those weekly goals and break them down into daily tasks.
- Don’t let a week (or even a day!) slip through the cracks. If you feel the “procrastination monkey” starting to crawl onto your back, quickly ask for help, accountability, and advice from those you trust.
Editor’s note: Don’t be afraid to dig into the “why’s” that keep you procrastinating. Are you struggling with fear, rejection, unbelief, perfectionism, feeling overwhelmed…? Prayerfully attack and problem-solve more than the symptom of procrastination.
#3 Obstacle: Lack of Contacts
This is a common one, but may or may not be a real issue. Sometimes it is a perceived obstacle, and if that’s you, you need to face up to reality.
Let’s go straight to the solutions:
How can we overcome a lack of contacts?
- Start by checking Facebook. I know not all your 850 “friends” are your best buds, but they are connections you have made over time, including exchanging likes and postings for months or years. It’s an easy next step to message them for a cup of coffee, openly talking about your next adventure.
- When namestorming a list of people you’ll be asking for support, make sure you are not limiting yourself to those you think will give. Include everyone you know. Why?
You’ll be shocked when you discover some of those you thought would surely support you, don’t. And those you thought never-in-a-million-years would give, want to jump on your team!
Never let your perceptions (or paranoia!) determine who will or won’t contact. Remember God is in this process. Allow Him to do His job!
- If your concern about having a small number of contacts is real (around 85% of the time I find it’s only a perceived obstacle), go ahead and begin your support raising. Work hard to set up appointments with everyone—not just the ones you’re comfortable asking! Along the way, connect with pastors or others raising support and ask for their help and prayers as you overcome. Ask those who are cheerfully supporting you for referrals. Experiment with a fundraising dinner (or other creative events) as ways to possibly expanding your contact base.
#4 Obstacle: Lack of Time
Ministry commitments, large families, full-time jobs, school, frequent social engagements, etc. all vie for daily attention and concentration.
If you find yourself over-scheduled (even before you start raising up your team), you may be tempted to procrastinate, cut corners, or even give up! Be assured, though, that the Lord has given you just the right amount of time each week to accomplish exactly what He wants you to (see Ephesians 2:10).
I know it’s hard to balance everything, but take heart, God delights in giving you grace and wisdom so that in his perfect time, you can be fully funded.
How can we overcome a lack of time, to get fully funded?
- Pull your pastor or a trusted friend aside, and the both of you look hard at which of your priorities and time commitments are essential to you and God—and which ones are elective.
- Be willing to temporarily cut items from your schedule during the next 3, 6, 9 months of support raising. I know it’s painful, especially if have to set aside social obligations or ministry commitments for a time.
- If you are working full-time, consider figuring out a way to move to part-time, or even transition to full-time support raising. That would be the ideal!
Do you have any tips for overcoming these four obstacles so others, too, can get fully funded? Or maybe you have experienced or observed other obstacles that can inhibit successful support raising? Share them in the comments.
We want to hear from you, pray for you, and seek to be of help.
Jenn Fortner is the creator of Financial Partnership Development for the Eurasia Region of Assembly of God World Missions. She is the author of Financial Partnership Development Workbook: Biblical and Practical Tools to Raise Your Support. She also operates as a support raising coach to numerous missionaries, and a speaker on the subject of support raising.