Personal Support Raising for YWAMers
- 1 Introduction
- 2 About Relational Support Raising
- 3 Money and Me
- 4 The process
- 4.1 Preparation
- 4.2 Approaching people to ask about money
- 4.3 Considering who to approach
- 4.4 The strategy
- 4.5 Meeting your potential Partner and Presenting your vision
- 4.6 Receiving the money
- 4.7 Tax Efficient Giving
- 5 Ongoing Relationship with Partners and Supporters
- 6 Other points
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 Resources
- 9 Example Budget
Starting out on the process of missions with Youth With A Mission is exciting. I can recall my first steps into missions as a young man. I had few ties, no spouse, no debts, few responsibilities. Anything seemed possible! My needs were not so great and it was straight forward to live in simplicity. However the months in YWAM have turned into years and into decades. My situation has changed time and again. Now I have much greater needs and have had to learn a lot about fundraising in order to meet those needs as my family and I have trusted God together to lead us on in the Mission.
This booklet will explain the way to seek funding through building relationships with donors. “Donor” is a rather sterile term though: I mean friends and contacts who you have a real connection with who want to partner in your work financially in order to see it and you succeed. This is called Relational Fundraising. This book will not tell you how to apply to trusts, foundations, church or government funding. You will find the general principles helpful though. You may find that a blend of funding approaches works in your context.
I am also writing to a British cultural context. So keep a stiff upper lip throughout and you will be fine. Cultural values differ greatly on what is acceptable to say, when to say it and how to say it. Money can be easy to talk about or a very private matter. Talking positively about yourself can be hard for many British people. And much easier for Americans (to make a grossly insulting oversimplification). British people may view someone talking about themselves as shallow and vain. Americans may view the British reluctance as inverted pride, and lack of belief in their cause.
I am writing this from over twenty years of personal experience, for my wife and I, of living by funding from financial partners in our work in Youth With A Mission. It has been an amazing journey, at times stressful but also at times deeply joyful. The joy comes from the friendships we have with wonderful partners; really our friends. Some people have supported us for a couple of years, some for a decade, some even for two decades. Having our destiny bound so tightly to these others has been enriching. As you are reading this booklet with the thought that it might work for you too I do want to encourage you that it offers great relational gain.
Let's get going!
About Relational Support Raising
The general theme of scripture related to gaining an income is exemplified by “He who does not work shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). We work with our hands, talents and energy and produce some commodity or receive payment for our effort. Jesus' trade was a carpenter. Paul was a tent maker. Peter and John were fishermen. Levi was into finance. Being unproductive and lazy is not a Christian virtue.(Proverbs 10:4) Christians should have enough and spare to offer to the poor. (Luke 12:33) And for those dedicated to full time ministry there is guidance too.
In the early church the principle was “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading the grain” (1 Corinthians 9:9) a rather cryptic byline for leaders of the church who are devoting their full time to the teaching and leadership and are worthy of support. In fact “The worker is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18) is also used. The Jewish priests by tradition were supported from the community. The tithes and offerings of the people went to them. The burnt offerings were eaten by the priests.(Leviticus 6:18) There was a clear pattern established for the worship of established communities.
However Jesus was somewhat different as he had an itinerant ministry. Jesus and the disciples seemed to have a common purse (John 12:6). There were individual sponsors of whom we know about some “influential women” (Luke 8:3) amongst his greater circle of disciples who sponsored and supported them. Although at time there was some supernatural support needed (feeding the 5000, Peter's tax) and he was the recipient of lots of hospitality too. (Luke 19:5).
Paul also needed a different form of support as his missionary churches would only gradually grow into communities that could financially organise themselves (Philippians 4:15-18). He certainly felt there was an appropriateness in being funded by a church (2 Corinthians 11:7-8) but also saw the benefit of having a sponsoring church community. Although sometimes he also worked as a tent-maker for a while. How he was supported whilst under house arrest is uncertain – but presumably through friends meeting his needs.
In a simple survey of the New Testament practices of methods for funding ministry it is clear that there is no one simple way and that being sponsored by others was an accepted and acceptable practice.
The modern missionary movement has also greatly taken on this modern form of support and it has become a mainstay of the missions movement over the last couple of centuries. Many missionary societies have fully funded their missionaries. Hudson Taylor experienced this and then also realised that being funded from afar was also extremely limiting and did not allow him to do or to go where the Holy Spirit was leading. The self-funding missionary was the development of this.
That is was accepted in practice in the past does not make it a good fit with our culture now necessarily. Common objections are often raised: “You are living on charity” is a phrase that I have heard from time to time and one that carries a stigma. Of course living on charity implies idleness and selfishness. I don't think I have ever found anyone who chooses the personal sponsorship method of funding who is idle and self-seeking: everyone is focused on building God's kingdom. “You are running away from the world” is another objection. Of course it could be true but this is not an easy way to live and brings a whole realm of challenges of its own.
I think there are a couple of analogies that can really help. The first is the idea of an Artist who has a patron. Some evidence suggests that Paul also had benefactors or patrons during his ministry.
The patron keeps the artist and provides for the Artist in order that they can give full expression to their gifts. The patron takes delight in the art and can have a share in the creative process. There would be no Sistine chapel ceiling if Michaelangelo had not had Pope Julius as his patron!)
Another analogy is that of the Nurse working in the hospital. No nurse walks around tending to their patients with a bandage in one hand and a collecting box in the other hand! In the UK the direct link to finance is shared with the whole population of the nation. In other countries the patient’s insurance or their own funds pays the hospital or doctors.
A third analogy that is less helpful in some ways is that of a self-employed entrepreneur (for tax reasons becoming self-employed may work well for you anyway). Of course you pay your builder well to build that wall you always wanted. But the analogy is more helpful when you describe your funding like an entrepreneur who has lots if different clients all of whom add up to make their yearly income. Or in another analogy your partners are perhaps like “sleeping partners” in a business, who add the capital but don't act in an executive manner.
A definition of Relational Support Raising
We could define Relational Support Raising then as:
- Having a part or all of your income coming from
- individuals or church communities
- who know you and believe in your vision and ministry
- and identify with you as partners in your work
- by providing you with the means to live without needing otherwise to earn money
- so you can be fully focused into using your God given gifts and talents
- to build God's Kingdom
Do note that so far I have avoided using the term “living by faith” and I am using “personal support raising” instead. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I am not sure that it is correct to say that people who receive a wage or have other means of support are necessarily lacking in faith. Secondarily the phrase can lead to a view that this is reserved for a spiritual elite! I don't think this is at all about levels of faith or spiritual capacity. It is however about the ability to communicate clearly and without manipulation to others. Thus it requires humility, transparency and inter-personal skills. Faith does play a part as very often there seem not to be enough partners around! Only God is able to warm people’s hearts to give generously and with joy. Only his spirit will prompt them to be faithfully obedient and enter into partnership with you.
Also some people use the term living by faith to mean keeping silent about their needs and trusting God alone to the finance in. They will not mention to anyone pro-actively what their needs are or to seek financial partners (although will explain when asked). The two main role models for this way of operating are Hudson Taylor and George Muller. I am personally not advocating that model as I have little experience with it. Their lives are worth studying but I don't think that their way should be prescriptive for everyone or even considered superior due to its overt dependence on God – it may actually lead to a lesser accountability to people. (footnote: Both men had extensive networks and, in effect, illustrate the approach described here. Culturally their time was different: Muller, while not asking for donations was also in the habit of publishing the names of his donors in the local newspapers!)
Personal Support Raising
- People who give to you in this way literally have a vested interest in what you are doing and are much more likely to pray for you regularly.
- Church communities that collectively donate to you are more likely to pray for you.
- You have a freedom to go and do what you feel you need to do in order to achieve your goals – you are not tied down by an institution and red tape
- You are accountable to your partners in a special way (you are not a complete free agent!)
- You are often working as your own boss – an attractive option for some people
- You may feel less secure than if you were in paid employment.
- You will have to sort out your expenses, taxes and social security yourself. You will need to keep good accounts.
- It can be harder to buy a house and get credit as this lifestyle is not so readily understood.
- Your family and friends may show initial resistance to the idea concluding you have finally proven you are bonkers.
- It can be stressful.
- You may not get all your expenses paid and have to raise funds to cover those items as well (e.g. travel, training, communications materials)
- You will need to invest a significant portion of time communicating to your sponsors and keeping the relationships going.
- It takes considerably more work to raise enough to pay into a private pension. It is not impossible – your donors do understand. For Europeans we can expect a state pension but for other cultures there are different ways of making provision for the future.
- It takes time and effort to raise funds – you don't always see a quick change in income when it might be needed.
This final point – the time investment – is actually both an advantage and a disadvantage. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the time I have spent with my supporters chatting, catching up, sharing our news but also sharing our lives with those who support us. But you will need to plan and set aside time for what is called “donor care”, ongoing relational communication.
Spending quality time calling, meeting, writing to your partners individually and on mass will eat on average half a day a week of your time. You will also want to spend some longer times (especially if your donors are distant) visiting them or hosting them over a weekend. From time to time you may spend an evening explaining your work to a small group or have to speak to a church meeting.
Initially you will need to invest a considerable amount of time fundraising as you grow your base of partners. After that beginning push then from time to time (yearly or bi-annually) you may need to do another round of fundraising. Donors will need to stop for various reasons and you will find your budget will grow with inflation and the general needs of your family.
Money and Me
Before I get on to the exciting business of how to do it. We need to consider some of the discipleship areas and the personal spiritual challenges you will face.
The Challenge of Money
What is your relationship with money? We all feel differently about money, mostly about the security that it offers and the privacy that we wish to keep around this aspect of our lives. But embarking on this course really demands that we know what are Christian approaches to money and how and when to cut across the cultural problems money will bring.
One problem we all face is that this is an aspect of Christian discipleship that churches have an erratic approach to teaching on. Some hardly mention it at all. Some talk about it all the time, and have an unhealthy focus on the blessing of wealth. The one point when most churches do speak about tithing is when they the annual stewardship drive and have to make the budgets meet! Some teach well and deeply and seek to follow Christ's teaching as closely as possible: he did after all mention money more than heaven!
Some of the aspects that we need to consider are spiritual power, generosity, stewardship, simplicity and security. I want to consider each of these from our perspective. We need to take the log out of our own eyes and see clearly.
Spiritual power: I am fairly convinced that money has spiritual power. Money is not just small metal tokens or green or blue pieces of paper. It has a power behind it. Jesus spoke of the challenge of loving God or loving money – it was one or the other. (Matthew 6:24) The word often translated money is the Aramaic word Mammon, and implies a spiritual force not just a method of exchange of value. It could be hard to look at the huge injustices in the world and not see some spiritual power provoking the greed and selfishness. Jesus talks about money as something to worship. It is interesting to note that credit comes from the Italian credo, meaning faith: we trust that you will repay. So money is something we need to very seriously and deeply consider in our discipleship: are we really Christ-like in our attitudes towards it and our actions with it (or without it!). Our materialistic western culture presses us to conform to its values: do we resist or do we fit into our world without thinking – indistinguishable from our neighbours? (Romans 12:2) If you disagree violently with this paragraph ask yourself why? Why such strong feelings? Does something have a hold over you? Really?
Generosity: I want to define generosity as starting when the tithe finishes. Every step beyond ten percent is a step into generosity. It is in God's very nature to be generous – he gave his one and only son for us and will not withhold anything from us. (Romans 8:32) We are to emulate God as dearly loved children (Ephesians 5:1) this is in every aspect of his character. Generosity loosens the ties of materialism and brings great joy. It seems to have a spiritual effect too, of breaking negative spiritual power – giving is often infectious. It is about sowing into God's kingdom, investing there. How is your giving? Do you support anyone in the way that you are going to be seeking support? If not, why not? Do you give at all? If you have not taken any steps in the direction of financial generosity you may want to stop right here and ponder a while – you will not make a great asker if you have no real understand of what it is like to be a donor or financial partner in anything. Asking someone to be a financial partner will be ultimately good for their soul as Christians must not gather up our treasures on earth but invest in heaven.
Stewardship: do we handle the possessions, gifts and talents as if they belong to God and not to us? Do we act with them according to his directions or our own? How do we handle comfort, entertainment and waste? Do we use God's resources respectfully, caring for creation rather than pillaging it? Do we drive five minutes to church rather than walk or cycle? How much do we throw away? Seeing what we have as given to us by God to do what he wills with it changes our perspective entirely. We can part with the things we have more easily when we need to give or sell them. We can make wise investments for God's kingdom, not just our own comfort. We can act in prophetic ways – sending a counter cultural signal to the materialistic culture we are soaked in. What are you spending money on? Do you know? Can you track it diligently? If there was a fire and all your family was safe, what would be the possession you would most grieve over? Could life go on for you?
Simplicity: Simplicity is the classic discipline that Christians have used to break the hold of materialism, reject the cultural pressure and walk in Christ-likeness. How much do we really need to live in this world? What do we not need? What can and should we do without? The benefits of living simply mean we have much more to offer, materially and in time and through the blessings of a less stressful existence. How much do you need to spend on Christmas? Which house do you really need to live in? What do you really need to furnish your house with? What are your habits? How could you reduce and economise that you would have more to invest in God's kingdom? Do you even budget?
Security: Jesus said where your treasure is there your heart will be so also. (Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34). We so easily place our security in the money that we have (or have lost). Some people really have to walk around with a pocket full of change or they feel poor. The reality is that we are all vulnerable to loss, the global markets control our lives more that we would like. How vulnerable are you to stress when your bank account is empty (or completely overdrawn)? Would you be prepared to take risks for God even if it meant that you might not see where the next week's income was coming from? Do we place our trust in God, fully and totally, believing in his invisible support and aid in difficult times? Or do insurance policies and keeping healthy savings banks drive our choices?
Discipleship and the Use of Money
John Wesley's sermon “The Use of Money” (Sermon 50, http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/50/) offers us much to learn from today. He summarised his discipleship teaching into just twelve words: “Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can”.
Earn all you can: All the God given talents you have need to be employed. But no more or no less than this. Laziness is not acceptable and neither is working so hard and grasping hard after wealth and prosperity. Finding a balance in life is urged – working to live, not living to work – as the modern idiom goes.
Save all you can: Not seeking interest at the bank, in fact that might run counter the following point. Simplicity is urged and also the need to avoid wastage; Recycle, Re-use, Repair is the name of the day. Cut back and avoid extravagance and mindless entertainment. Why throw all this God given money into the sea of our empty desires, when it could be put to rich use for God?
Give all you can: Leaving this point off the other two would be as great an error as throwing all money in the sea! The wealth gained should be stewarded and given away for God's purposes.
Gain all you can, without hurting either yourself or your neighbour, in soul or body, by applying hereto with unintermitted diligence, and with all the understanding which God has given you; -- save all you can, by cutting off every expense which serves only to indulge foolish desire; to gratify either the desire of flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; waste nothing, living or dying, on sin or folly, whether for yourself or your children; -- and then, give all you can, or, in other words, give all you have to God. Do not stint (III.6)
Living a lifestyle of generosity is the expected ideal for all Christians. For you and for me. We must be practising it, understanding what it means to give all we can. With that integrity in place then asking potential partners to give to support us in our cause is the best thing for them in their discipleship. They need not give, of course, but asking is the right thing to do.
So how do we go about doing the asking?
Before we ask we need to communicate what the vision is and what it will require to accomplish that vision. We need to consider our preparation, who we will approach, and what we communicate and how to ask.
Record Keeping and Tax returns
Do remember to regularly record your income and expenses. Keep all your bank statements neatly and a good file of past tax declarations. It is a little work but essential for a happy life when the important questions arise such as tax returns and applying for things like loans, or credits! Self-Employed people often need to give good accounts for three years or more to prove credit worthiness.
There is no escaping taxes and you will need to record carefully your list of donations. If you get honorariums too you will also need to log them. It does not matter how you do this, on paper, a spreadsheet or special software but there are a number of points to consider.
You will need to keep records for around 10 years (or however long the tax office requires). You will need to efficiently sum all the donations and possibly by type depending the source (a person, family, an organisation, an honorarium). You may wish to analyse the pattern of giving yourself to see trends and most certainly to see how you are doing in comparison with your budget!
You will need to seek advice regarding your specific situation as to how to handle tax. Find out how others are doing it, talk to Stewardship (see resources), talk to your tax office directly. If you are based in the UK you may well be able to become registered as Self-Employed. In this case certain classes of income are considered fully or partially taxable income. You have the chance to offset certain expenses against this income. You then can complete simple tax return. You will have a clear status that is well understood in the UK.
It is hard to give specific advice as everyone has a different situation. Do investigate this well before embarking on fundraising. You might like to engage an accountant or bookkeeper for the first couple of years until you get the hang of processing your papers.
How much do I need?
At this point we really need to know exactly what funding we require. And here no one size fits all. We may be in the position of having some assets like flats or houses in another location that provides a degree of income already. We may find we receive gifts in kind or have access to free or subsidised housing. We might have all expenses paid. We might have nothing provided at all. I am always amazed at the creative ways people are supported and funded.
Jesus encouraged planning for the future (Luke 14:28-32) and making sure we can finish what we started. He also encouraged good stewardship. (Matthew 25:14-30). A budget is a financial tool that enables us to estimate and keep track of money so that we know whether we can achieve our goals or how near or far from them we will come.
Making a budget
Set some undisturbed time aside to consider your budget. You will need lots of paper, a pile of old bills or recent bank statements to get accurate figures on our regular spending. A calculator or a spreadsheet is really helpful. There is an example budget at the end of the book.
Try to estimate as accurately as possible how much money you will spend in each area. It helps sometimes to estimate in terms of weeks or months and then calculate for the whole year. Search out old bills and see what things cost. Ask others what their bills are for certain services. (e.g. Medical fees)
- Estimate your likely income over the next year. List this under the heading of “Income”. It is always good to avoid the extremes of pessimism and optimism for the income! If you are expecting gifts in kind you may wish to assess the financial value of them : if they do not manifest or go away in the future you will then know the replacement value of them.
- Leave a space for the income that will come from your fundraising. You will know what this is after the next section.
Under a heading of “Expenditure”
Work out in as much detail as possible all the areas on which you will spend money. Try to be pessimistic about your expenses costs, you will thank yourself later!
- Giving (see section above on the importance of generosity)
- Loan repayments
- Pensions and investments
- Medical Expenses (dentist, glasses, regular prescriptions etc.)
- Income Tax, Local taxes (Council tax etc.)
- Regular Travel (rail, bus, tram)
- Vehicle costs (Fuel, Tax, Insurance, Servicing, Repairs, and consider setting aside funds for a replacement vehicle)
- Holidays (Christmas, Summer)
- Household (cleaning fluids, repairs, furniture)
- Spending money (leisure, free time)
- Phone, Internet, Mobile phones
- Gifts and presents
Families may also need to consider:
- School expenses (stationary, trips, uniforms)
- Childcare and babysitting
- Equipment (pushchairs, cots, etc.)
Fundraising and expenses relating to your work (some may be covered by your YWAM team or location.) If these are costs you have to cover bear in mind that they will fall into the class of expenses that can be offset against your income for tax purposes.
- Correspondence and communications costs for fundraising (blog subscription, newsletters, stationary etc.)
- Conferences and training
- Work related travel (conferences essential travel)
- Stationary costs
- Telephone costs
- Some office costs (rental and heating etc.)
Balancing the Budget
The gap between your estimated costs and the income you are sure of is the fundraising goal you need to reach. Place this in the space set aside earlier in the Income category. Start the process of refining and checking to make sure you have made no arithmetic or spreadsheet errors!
The next step is probably the most scary. Show the budget to two or three some trusted, wiser people, who are, or could be, your partners and ask for their input and criticism. Make the changes they recommend! In my experience they often make a couple of comments: “Can you really live on that? It is realistic?” and “Do you think you should give away so much?”. The first question is helpful and gives me confidence to increase areas of expenditure. The second question is important and you will need to clearly understand what God is requiring of you in terms of generosity. Other partners may well ask this too.
Try to keep track of your budget over the next twelve months. Mark some regular time into your diary to revise it each year (try adding 3% at least to each expenditure area as a first step in the revision). Especially re-evaluate your budget before doing future fundraising drives or whenever your circumstances change.
With the income you need to raise, express that as a yearly sum and also a monthly figure. You may personally want to look at when you will need the money. Sometimes our expenses flow out irregularly. You might want to do some cash flow planning.
Approaching people to ask about money
Now you have your target of how much money you need to raise you need to find the donors to meet that need. It might seem logical to take the goal and divide it into months: thus a 24,000 budget becomes 2,000 per month. Regular monthly support is by far the most helpful way to be supported: there is a clear and predictable stream of income that you can then direct as you need. It is much easier to manage money like this. That said, some income can come once a year or twice a year (often churches give like this) but certain times of the year have special expenses (holidays and Christmas). But gas bills and taxes unavoidably arrive each month!
At this point you might be tempted to think that you need 100 people to sponsor 20 a month. Or 20 people to sponsor at 100 a month! It is important not to divide your sponsorship linearly. Different donors will have different incomes and different levels of connection to you and your vision. Even though all will be generous then they still will be giving different amounts in level with their income (as Paul says: 1 Cor. 16:2).
In Fund Raising Realities Every Board Member Must Face, David Lansdowne makes a couple of important points from his experience of fundraising for Boards and institutions. The 90/10 rule: 90% of the income comes from 10% of the donors (and one donor is likely to fund 10% of the whole amount!) He also talks about the Rule of Thirds: which states that the top ten gifts by size represent 33 percent of the goal, the next 100 gifts represent the next 33 percent, and all remaining gifts account for the last 33 percent. Of course you may not have that many donors but it is important to consider that the amounts given will vary – and this will bear out in reality. This also shows where the most attention should be given as if 80 or 90 percent of your gifts come from a few donors then you really need to pay proper attention to communicating well to them!
Example from recent income of mine shows a similar pattern to Lansdowne's. I had 56 donors in a previous year. 90% of my income came from two thirds of the donors (individuals and two churches). The first third of the income came from just one tenth of the donors. One donor gave 7% of my total income. The second third came from 20% of the donors. The remaining third came from the 71% of the donors.
Now all of my donors are precious friends. It matters not one whit who can give more than anyone else. I know all are generous in proportion to their income. However as their incomes differ so can the amount given. This is the principle of the widow’s mite of course (Mark 12:44). It helps me to understand the dynamic of real giving so that I don't ask everyone for the same amount but ask in proportion to their income trusting that God will prompt them in their heart to be generous whether £5 (10% of their income) or £100 (2% of their income). I also know that I need not split the monthly amount I need into 30 equal proportions as I will both over estimate the number of donors and underestimate how much people may wish to give.
Considering who to approach
Now is the time to prayerfully make a list of those you would like to approach. It is important at this point to know that you have the support of your local church or your current leadership, that they recognise and support your project. A church leader would look for more that just fundraising ability and want to know you have a good character, serve well, and are clearly called to the task. In fact they may have well suggested that you consider self-funding. Ensure too that the church leadership are consulted before you approach members of a church if that is appropriate in your situation.
Think wide and large when compiling your list. Leave a couple of “unknowns” on the list; very often some people you might never to have expected to support you will be interested. I have been surprised over and over again with those who, perhaps, hardly knew me but have become supporters (and also growing over time to be very good friends).
Ask around your set of advisers, church leaders, close friends for ideas of who might be interested in sponsoring you. And when you are in the process of asking do remember to ask a new donor if they know someone who would like to become your partner too.
If you are starting out from nothing then make an announcement or short presentation to a group or church about your plans and explain you are seeking sponsors. This will generate some names for your list. It will also alert people that you may soon be calling them up to ask to speak to them about partnering with you.
Once you have a list try ordering it following the rule of thirds. You will need to spend more time with those who don't know you well and also those who can help you reach your goal quickest. You will need to spend time on those who may well really invest deeply in your work – invest deeply in them too
- Prayerfully compile your list of potential partners.
- Prayerfully look at your list and start calling each person or couple to make an appointment with them.
- Meet with each person one by one to explain your vision.
- Ask them to partner with you and answer their questions. Let them prayerfully consider it.
- Re-visit them to ask them what their decision is
- Thank them really well. Note their response on your list. Ask them if they know someone else who can help.
- If they are positive in supporting you give them the information they need on how to do it and get the money flowing to you. Make sure you have all their contact details.
- Repeat with much prayer from point 3 until you have finished your list.
- After this you may still have a few gaps and may be short of your target by anything up to one third of your goal. Now you can do a bulk ask via letter or email explaining how far you have got (66% of goal already reached!) and ask for more help.
- Make a personal visit or call to those who respond and continue the process of asking.
- You should have reached your goal! Keep working at it until you are 100% of your target as when you start working on your vision it will demand all of your remaining special fundraising time. Consider allocating more time and going back to step 1 if you are struggling.
- Now you are ready to commence on your project or vision. From this point on you will need to fulfil your side of the partnership by making your vision a reality and clearly communicating with your new partners frequently and as personally as possible to meet their need to be strongly connected to you and your work.
- Every year or two consider doing a smaller fundraising push perhaps asking partners to re-evaluate their giving and to increase if possible and to seek new supporters.
- Repeat as needed with clear communication and overflowing appreciation and gratitude to your partners!
- You may have a specific special project or need to increase your expenses and so from time to time you may need to do an extra appeal. You may also have special needs such as training or travel funds that you want to ask specific supporters to help you with. Keep these infrequent as you can. If you keep running into shortfall continue pausing to do a more significant fundraising push.
Meeting your potential Partner and Presenting your vision
The first stage is making an appointment to visit your potential partner. You want to be explicit about what you want to come and talk to them: “Hello Sandra, Hope you are well (etc.) I'm calling because you know that I will be joining YWAM and I need to raise financial support for this. Could I come around and explain the vision and talk about financial partnership?” It is really important that you explain the REAL purpose you are coming for. It makes it so much easier. Sandra will know you have something to ask her about and if she accepts your invitation you will have the perfect opportunity to ask her to consider supporting you when the right point in the conversation comes round.
You may feel uncomfortable with this idea. It is quite understandable as culturally asking for money is as acceptable as talking about intestinal parasites! I highly suggest you find someone to practice with! Try writing a little script before hand and then practice it with your helper. It will feel uncomfortable. However, when talking to people about sensitive issues, if we are uncomfortable then the potential partner will easily pick that up. This will send confusing messages to them. You want to approach them as a mature adult and disciple of Jesus who can hear a need, prayerfully consider it and then give generously to meet it. You don't want them to feel that you consider it a difficult subject loaded with potential for rejection and manipulation. Your potential donor also needs to have the freedom to easily say no. Very few well chosen and well approached potential partners have said no in my experience.
Once a meeting has been arranged you will need to have something to talk about. You might like to prepare the following:
- A simple presentation of the vision of what you are doing: WHAT is it you want to do. HOW your project will make an impact. WHO is going to be affected. WHY you are so excited about doing it. WHAT your need is. Some general information about YWAM is also important to give a sense of how you fit into the global picture.
- Some photographs or presentation slides. No more than eight. But often a visual illustration or a short video will be very helpful.
- A written presentation of the vision that you can leave with the potential partner
- A written copy of your budget and the financial goal you are trying to reach (and how you are doing so far). Some information on how the giving can put into action (if the money will go into a collection account, or via a Stewardship organisation, Tax efficiency and so on.)
- A short explanation of how you will keep them updated as a partner and how you will continue the flow of relationship and communication. (For example, “We will send a monthly five paragraph email with photos. We will tweet once a week with prayer needs. We will hold a Partner's evenings once a year and will phone twice a year”)
- Any reminder of you such as a photo for the fridge perhaps with a statement of what your project is about. Perhaps a book relevant to the project. A pen with your name on it might not be as well received as the photo! Be relevant and not too extravagant.
At the Meeting
When you get to the arranged meeting remember that your goal is to build relationship with them. You will get the chance to talk about your vision of course, but a Partner relationship is two way. Find out what makes them tick. What is important to them. How do they feel about projects like yours. What feedback might they have for you. Do ask them for input. Also ask them about how they like to be involved in projects (some distantly, others very closely). Some like to pray regularly. Others like the excitement of short term projects.
As you build your relationship talk about yourself and how you have got to this point. What is it that motivates you? What is the vital reason for attempting what you are about to do?
When appropriate run through your presentation of the vision or project you have. Making a presentation is not easy – you will need to practice it beforehand. Find a trusted friend to help you with this. You want to run through a number of practices with your friend, taking all the feedback positive and negative from them as you go. Are you focussing too much on detail and not on the big picture? Are you underlining what is so important to you about this? Are you emphasising how this will impact people's lives? Are you clear about the relevance of your project to the building of God's kingdom? Keep rehearsing until you are confident in your material and can feel relaxed talking about it. This is not a trick, all excellent orators practice and practice. The more relaxed and prepared you are the more receptive your audience will be to the urgency and importance of your cause and will not focus on nerves or the physical symptoms of your stress.
After making your presentation there will be usually a number of questions and ongoing dialogue. It is during this point that you need to consider whether you and your potential partner are ready to talk about coming to a decision to act. It may be apparent that your donor might not really know enough about your project. Don't worry about this, you may need to meet a few times with them and possibly bring them to visit your project so they really get a deep connection to you and your vision. You might want to say something like “I think it would be really good to spend some more time talking about my project, would you like to come and visit with me? Then you will have a more complete picture. I'd love to talk about financial partnership after that unless you would like to talk about it now of course!”
The appropriate moment to ask is when you feel that you have a good two way bond with your donor. You have covered all the information and all the questions have been answered. You feel like this is a person that you would like to have working with you and you feel you can talk to on a peer level, seek their input and ask for their accountability to keep you on track (a financial partner has these roles too – it is a real partnership!)
You now need to ask if they will prayerfully consider partnering with you financially. Explain what you need and your current progress towards the target. State what you are looking for in terms of financial partnership. Ask the donor to become a financial partner with you. Explain how they can help (i.e. regular monthly support) and offer a suggestion of how much they might want to consider funding you with. Remember to ask for an amount that would be generous for them. Recall generosity is a mark of a disciple. Try not to be presumptuous or pressurising in the way you talk to them.
You might say “Sandra, I am really pleased that you are so excited about my project and concerned for its success. I need to raise £22,000 a year to do this. So far I have £2,000 pledged in regular monthly support and will get £6,000 more from Angels R US Trust Fund. So I am about one third of the way there already and I have a long list of people I am going to talk to about being regular financial supporters. Would you consider being one of them and partnering with me on this? I wonder if you could help me with a £150 or £100 or £50 a month standing order? I can't do this without partners and it would give me great pleasure to know you would join with me in this way. I don't expect an answer right away, I'm sure you would like to pray about it.”
Hopefully the conversation will move into more dialogue about your precise needs and the more exact details of how you are supported and how money might flow. You can outline how you plan the ongoing communication with them as a partner. As the conversation draws to a close you need to arrange to call them in a few days or so. Ask them also if they know anyone who they could contact get to meet you (if they say they are going to support you it is a powerful endorsement of your validity). “I really appreciate your time this evening. I have a couple of things to leave with you so you can consider my vision at your leisure. Here is a lovely picture of me to put on your fridge! Can I call you on Friday to talk about what decision you have reached? That would be great. Also if you know of people who you would like me to talk to who might also join you in becoming supporters can you connect me to them?”
Remember to call them!
Responding to their decision
When you visit or call back your potential partner you will hopefully have a good response. Most people are pleased to partner and thrilled to have been asked in such a respectful manner. You will encounter four possible responses.
- Love to but can't: Not everyone can actually financially partner. Do be aware of this. Of course having the morale support of people and their prayer support is a huge blessing and one I have been privileged to enjoy many times. Keep building a relationship and partnership with them as much as you can.
- No: Some people may feel that your project is good but not for them. They don't feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to support you. This is important to affirm too. You really want them to be obedient disciples. That is of benefit to the kingdom. They may want some future contact but often in this case they do focus on other things and you may not be able to sustain a deep relationship. This is fine.
- Yes: Of course those who say yes delight us! You need to arrange now how the money will flow. Do not leave a gap here between choice and action. It will send confusing messages. Many of our partners are busy people and it is good to keep the momentum going. If you have prepared the details of bank accounts, or support agencies (as above) get this to them straight away.
- Yes but... There is one group that say Yes and genuinely mean to support you but it never comes through. This can mean entering into difficult territory as you really do need to remind them. I tend to call on them 2 or 3 times with increasing gaps between calling. How long and how many times you remind them really depends on the relationship with the partner. Be prepared to say to them “I have so appreciated your expression of support but I can see that you seem to be having some problems with actually starting it. Can I help in anyway?” Eventually you may have to lovingly appreciate them and suggest that they leave it for another time. I tend to continue to treat these people as close supporters anyway as their heart is for me. I am not always sure why it does not turn into action, but it does not really matter in the grand scheme of things – my relationship with them is more important long term.
Receiving the money
I recommend setting up a bank account specifically to collect all the funds that you receive and keeping this separate from your daily banking. This will make things much easier for record keeping purposes, which will be needed when the inevitable tax returns come around.
At this point a certain amount of creativity comes into play. Not the tax avoiding sort but rather the varied and interesting pattern of giving that your donors will invent!
You need to be prepared to handle anonymous cash gifts, (occasionally in other currencies), cheques, standing orders and direct bank payments. You can also in certain cases offer and receive credit card based donations, though theses come via other organisations usually. PayPal is also a good way to receive one off gifts and can be used with a credit card.
For gifts in Euros do note that there may be small fees to pay and currency conversion costs. Cheques in Euros are probably not worth handling as banks charge a lot for that. Fortunately the European Union has made sending direct bank transfers simple and very cheap. Do consult your bank for your IBAN and BIC numbers that are essential to make transfers for your Euro zone donors. As there are fees you might consider asking such donors to set aside their funds into six-monthly groups. You may have a number of donors and unless you have a Euro account, perhaps one of them would act to aggregate the other's funds and forward the sum regularly.
Tax Efficient Giving
One question on many partners’ minds is that of Tax Efficient giving. In the UK and in a number of countries such as the US it is possible to reclaim some or all of the income tax that a financial partner pays. Do note that this varies from nation to nation. In the UK generally the rule is that money given to a charitable organisation can have tax reclaimed on it and added to the gift. In the US (and many other places) the gift is not increased, but the organisation gives a tax receipt that can be discounted against the donor’s income tax at the end of the year. It is important to keep in mind both systems as it is quite likely in a global age that you might be supported from several different nations.
However, such giving only works with organisations under specific circumstances. In the UK for example there are two excellent organisations that help Christian workers in such circumstances, Stewardship in Essex and Scriptural Knowledge Institute in Bristol. Both organisations will tell you exactly how this works, and how to go about it. You want to initiate this before you start the process of approaching donors so there is no delay in getting the partners on stream.
You will often have to provide proof of the organisational framework you are working in with your project. Stewardship and SKI have clear agreements with the government that enable them to do the work they do and they need to safe guard against possible abuses of the system.
From other countries you may have no possibility of reclaiming tax (in Belgium for example tax can only be reclaimed for humanitarian aid purposes). Fortunately it is now fairly straight forward to set up regular payments from the Euro zone to the UK.
Ongoing Relationship with Partners and Supporters
Personal fundraising is not about just asking; it is about a long term partnership with people over years, where you work together to achieve your goals. That is why often people speak of it as a process of “Friendraising”. In order for this to work it demands clear, regular and meaningful communication. This is sometimes a tiring process, but it is also one of joy as you are lovingly bonded to people who cheer you on and you can cheer on in a mutuality of purpose.
I tend to have two or three general groups of people I communicate to: my partners, a wider group of friends and interested people, prayer partners (a blend of both groups). I use different tools to connect to them at different levels of intimacy and frequency. I use more intimate methods with my financial partners and aim to connect with them as often as I feasibly can.
When considering how to communicate to someone, recall that the more personal you are the more impact the communication will have. Consider writing handwritten notes from time to time – as the world moves more to electronic communication this has an increasing value (despite my handwriting!). Some suggestions you may well wish to consider:
- Thank You notes – You must, must, must thank and appreciate your donors. Have a bunch of note-lets and stamps set aside ready for immediate replies.
- Personal visits. Make every excuse to pass by your supporters on your journeys. Set time aside regularly (at least once a year) to visit your partners.
- Presentation evenings. Invite a larger grouping of partners together for an evening with some food, drink and a chance to share more deeply and longer with them.
- Church presentations. These can be important but are often short moments of high profile. Keep it on time and stick to the brief you were given by the minister. Invite people to respond personally to you afterwards and invite them to smaller gatherings where you speak more intimately.
- Phone calls and Skype. Plan for an extra expense on your telephone bill so you can speak to your supporters with ease. Skype can sometimes provide a richer face to face experience too.
- Short notes and letters. Personalised and specific notes are a wonderful tool. Try to cover all donors but allow yourself some spontaneity and listen to the prompting of the Spirit to write extra encouragements and thanks.
- It can be good to write a more formal report yearly or over a couple of years. These are good times to reflect on the progress made, lessons learnt and possible future strategy.
- Do ask for specific prayer requests. Be cautious of confidences and aware of sensitive areas. Send answers to prayer too!
- Write to your supporters in a way they like to receive. Make sure no one is left out. If you do all your communication via Twitter be aware that not all partners enjoy or engage at all with social media. A paper letter is the lowest common denominator but these days almost everyone has email. Do use email, but remember to print a paper copy and post it to those who are not online.
- Simplicity. Three paragraphs of prose in a simple typeface can be much more pleasing to read and quick to write than a DTP masterpiece awash with vivid colour. If in doubt be simple.
- Write often. You don't have to write a lot. Writing a paragraph weekly is better than 2,000 words every six months. Increasingly people have less time to read. Try to keep it short and interesting, perhaps writing monthly just five or six paragraphs. Make sure you are informing your supporters so that they understand what an impact their partnership with you is making. Include real life stories. Always read your last letter before writing the next one. You don't need to write about every aspect of life in each letter – vary the focus from letter to letter.
- Photo's and video's speak volumes so do use them. It is easier than ever to send images online so do it. But choose your pictures well. Each picture should tell a story. Think about what your partners would like to know. I often do teaching and training and I need to be purposeful in getting pictures of me doing that activity so I can illustrate what I say to my partners.
- When writing newsletters, blogs, tweets etc. remember you communicate to the general public as well as your supporters when using the Internet. Be aware of potential for misunderstanding and misuse of your comments. Also never publicly write critical comments or statements or talk about organisational issues that probably should be kept private. Be positive and respectful. Choose a more private avenue of communication if you need to discuss hard topics. Do be prudent in what you write but never avoid the need to be honest and transparent.
- Send your news out. Don't make supporters come to you for information. This is vital with websites. If you write a blog email out that you have a new post, don't expect your partners to check your blog daily for news from you. Push news to them just as if you were sending a letter or initiating a phone call.
- Consult with your partners over big decisions. When you are sensing a change of direction or difference in the scope or ethos of ministry make sure there is a chance for your partners to be involved in the process. Often a letter to them all with a request for prayer and feedback is a good way for them to be drawn into the consultation process. There may be a number of them who you talk to in more detail and seek deeper advice from. Remember a true partnership is two way! You need to consult and seek their continuing approval.
- Always proof read and check your materials. Find a friend (or a partner) to assist. Poorly thought out or badly spelt and formatted messages reflect badly on you and tend to communicate the message that all you do is poor and shoddy.
Improve your skills: you will be asked to make display boards, write a paragraph here or there. You will want to produce pictures, websites, flyers and cards. Do seek out ways to learn new skills. It helps to become computer proficient as it is an excellent creativity tool. Do not fret if you find computers impossible – seek out your own unique talents. If you can talk for hours on the phone then do so and leave the computer alone! If you can't write a blog but can hand make cards write and send them!
Seek feedback on how you are communicating, how much, how good the detail is etc. Over the years my wife and I have often heard that the reason we are still supported is that we keep communicating. Others are dropped due to lack of communication. Our communication has been praised as clear, warm, regular and informative. Good communication really makes the difference.
Should local churches rather than individuals be supporting me?
I have been writing in these pages predominantly about having individuals as partners rather than churches. Everyone will have a different situation. Some churches are very generous and also have the belief that the church as an organisation should be really behind you. This is really encouraging and is a great strength. Do be aware that communication should still be very personal and intimate. You really need to know who your donors are even if they are all grouped into one church gift. A church can also for strategic reasons suddenly change the direction of giving away from you. This can cause great problems even if it is done slowly. Spreading the financial support over tens of donors is a much better way to spread the risk of losing such a major donor.
Should I tithe?
Be a giver. All disciples of Christ are givers and give generously. It is hard to really ask with integrity if you have never been a generous giver. However, some partners find it hard to accept that you will give their money away. This is understandable. I have talked with many over the years and once I have explained how important giving is to me they have been happy and accepted my position. If it was a real stumbling block I would be prepared to say I would not give a part of their gift and respect their view. However I would still want to give with the rest of my money. Live by grace not law here. Learning how to be a partner helps you understand your partners better.
How many people do I need to support me?
It depends on your budget. Your need for income will differ from another's depending on the circumstances of your project (you may have housing provided for example) or you may have a spouse who covers the lion's share of the household income. Whatever your budget you will have a certain target to raise. If you use the Rule of Thirds above you will get a clearer picture of how many people you need.
What about local support – if I don't go too far away from those who support me?
The general expectation of a missionary is that they will go to a far away place. And many do! And many also come back as God leads them to do local work. But this can raise questions of funding – why am I supporting a missionary in my 'backyard'?
Home Mission as this sort of work is called is a very common form of outreach and is not as strange as it sounds. Be prepared that not all people or churches may want to support you to do this. It really depends on their goals and vision for the use of the money that God has given them. We have found that individuals are the most helpful to approach rather than church bodies as they are more likely to show a personal interest in you and consider your vision and sense of calling. The vision you have is really important to explain to donors and also churches. Make sure it is clear and compelling. If it is not perhaps you might need to spend more time in prayer and consideration to fully understand what God is asking you to start out upon.
Working with your sending church can be a rewarding experience but also has the potential for relational conflicts to arise. Make sure you are good at handling these and get in to dialogue early and well. If conflicts or problems are not dealt with well there can come some unpleasant partings of the ways which cause all sorts of confusion, pain and likely loss of income.
What about Internet based Crowd Funding?
Essentially relational support is crowd funding just done on a more intimate and personal basis. Crowd funding needs hundreds of people to make it work because there is less relationship and people are asked for less. By all means try crowd funding as donors are increasingly familiar with this fundraising tool just as the “giving envelope” tool also has been accepted in many churches.
Crowd funding websites are good for projects but you may need specialist help for regular giving. Most Crowd funding websites offer their services for a small percentage of the income. You will need to assess whether it is the right approach for you. You could make a similar more personal webpage by fairly easily mimicking the style of with regular updates, goals and rewards.
The route to self-funding with financial partners is not a simple one. Relationships never are. However relationships are always worth the effort and are deeply rewarding over time. It is important not to overlook the time factor required in investment in relationships. You need to pace yourself well when embarking on fundraising. Missionary work will demand a lot of your time and focus and keeping time set aside for communicating with supporters will demand self-discipline and attention to detail.
You will not become financially rich, and you will have to take a number of risks. But you will never regret the joy of giving and receiving and the depths of relational partnership you encounter.
|Friend Raising Building A Missionary Support Team That Lasts||Betty Barnett||ISBN 1576582833|
|Daring to Live on the Edge The Adventure Of Faith And Finances||Loren Cunningham||ISBN 0927545063|
|People Raising: A Practical Guide To Raising Support||William P. Dillon||ISBN 0802464475|
|Growing Givers' Hearts: Treating Fundraising As Ministry||Thomas H. Jeavons and Rebekah Burch Basinger||ISBN 0787948292|
|More than Money, More than Faith: Successfully Raising Missionary Support In The Twenty-First Century||Paul Johnson||ISBN 141410930X|
|Fund Raising Realities Every Board Member Must Face: A 1-Hour Crash Course On Raising Major Gifts For Non-Profit Organizations||David Lansdowne||ISBN 1889102326|
|Funding Your Ministry: Whether You're Gifted Or Not||Scott Morton||ISBN 0967248000|
|The Spirituality Of Fundraising||Henri Nouwen||ISBN 0835810445|
|Donors are People Too: Managing Relationships With Your Ministry's Major Contributors||Timothy Smith||ISBN 1931940789|
|Funding the Family Business: The Handbook For Raising Personal Support||Myles Wilson||ISBN 0955332001 |
Stewardship provide a range of services to help Christian workers and organisations with giving and receiving money. They can receive gifts on behalf of a Christian worker and forward them on. See http://www.stewardship.org.uk/receive-funds/eligibility (individuals tab) for the most relevant information.
- Stewardship Services (UKET) Limited
- Oakwood House, Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate, Loughton, Essex IG10 3TZ
Müllers have been supporting missionaries for over one hundred years through the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. They, like Stewardship, can receive gifts on behalf of a Christian worker and forward them on. See http://www.mullers.org/ski
- 0117 924 5001
|Budget for a family of 6 (2014)|
|UK citizens, living near Reading, UK|
|UK gifts – SKI||
|UK gifts – Stewardship||
|One off gifts||
|UK Child benefit||
|UK Working tax credit + Child Tax credit||
|UK income in Sterling||
|Pension: Voluntary contribution UK State scheme||
|Giving and tithing||
|Income Tax (approx – less missionary expenses and home office)||
|Training (any books etc)||
|Travel (mission trips)||
|UK support raising||
|EU support raising||
|Computer costs/Telephone costs||
|Car maintenance (Assume 15,000Km per year)|
|Servicing, repairs and tires||
|Gas and Electricity||
|Insurance – house||
|Eye care – Opticians (2 adults and one child)||
|Food and household items||
|Phone rent, Internet and TV (less call costs above)||
|Bank fees (including 100 GBP in foreign transfers)||
|Total Expenses|| |
|Balance (shortfall – to raise!)|| |