Color Outside the Lines: Successful Support Raising for People of (any) Color

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By on March 5, 2019   /   Leave a comment

No matter the state of your partnership development efforts, you have my sincere admiration. The level of conviction and active faith it takes to live as a ministering fundraiser is worthy of cheers and thunderous applause.

Thank you for honoring God by saying “yes” to His calling and launching into the “great adventure” to make an eternal difference in the lives of many.

In this same spirit of reverence and as a person of color (POC) who has successfully developed and maintained a culturally diverse financial and prayer team, I’m writing to offer some tips and reminders about partnership development in communities of color and beyond.

Because this subject is vast and intricate, this article will barely scratch the surface. Indulge me as I assume a myriad of foundational elements necessary for long-term success that include but are not limited to:

  • A secure identity in Christ
  • A biblical basis for your activity
  • A sharpened testimony
  • A clear, concise, and compelling presentation, ask, and close—a result of thorough training
  • Well-rehearsed responses to “yes,” “no,” and “maybe”
  • Persistent follow up
  • Regularly expressed appreciation
  • An accountability process

Yeah. Just a few things.

The typical relational-funding model (heavy on the initial ask and light on the ongoing relationship) is not popular or easily compatible in many churches and communities of color. “Missionary activity,” financial compensation, and the role of the full-time minister are often represented and expressed differently.

For example, “missions” is sometimes limited to a distant land or local-church activity like visiting hospitals and homes in the community. Similarly, it’s a common expectation for full-time ministers to work part-time elsewhere, making support raising in some communities of color irrelevant and awkward.

Partnership development in communities of color and beyond is a unique and challenging reality, but not insurmountable.

In the ministry I represent, we’re seeing a greater than 95% success rate among our new missionaries of color. We’ve in no way “arrived,” but I’ll gladly share some practical reminders, tips, and vital factors gathered along the way.

People give to people justified by the cause, but some give to people justified by the relationship. At its core, partnership development is a relational process. My experience and studies point to relational readiness as one of the vital factors for POC success.

What Relational Readiness Includes:

Making yourself ready.

Place a heavy emphasis on case-by-case assessments of readiness. Missionaries of color who have prepared financially, spiritually, and relationally prior to engaging in partnership development activities better position themselves for long-term success.

Healing self-inflicted wounds.

Haste, doubt, pride, fear, and “poor living” (poor work ethic, strategy, communication skills, and stewardship) must be lovingly addressed and corrected. Partnership development, despite ill-informed laments, is not the “white man’s way,” the American way, or the only way into ministry. However, properly contextualized, partnership development is a proven, biblical, relational way to invite and involve many people in the Great Commission through prayer and financial support.

Taking the first step.

As early as possible, ministry candidates should tell everyone they know what God is doing in their life while “seeding” the concepts, process, and principles of “support” into friends, family, and casual connections.

Doing what it takes to find your team.

When we predetermine where our team must come from, we limit where our team can come from. The conventional thinking is that POCs should approach communities of color for funding. The reality is this: to be successful in partnership development, you’ll need to engage more than just your community. Because we serve a multi-faceted God, it is indicative of His character to provide opportunities to build a multicultural team.

Stepping out of bounds.

The stretch marks of faith are found under our feet. God is not a respecter of persons, we are. God’s provision is not gerrymandered, but we are. The world we live in exaggerates our differences, but embedded in the process of partnership development is the precious opportunity to demonstrate by patient practice, the reconciliation and unity the world is looking for.

Don’t play God by saying “no” for someone else. Whether you’re a POC or not, heaven looks like you and me and our precious mission mandates crossing borders, barriers, and beliefs by providing saints in other communities the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” for themselves.

Because my life and many others have been wonderfully and beautifully altered through cross-cultural support, I will never tire of the miracle of partnership. It truly is an act of God.

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