By on June 6, 2016   /   11 Comments


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. 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 lets 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? 

#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 get to full support, 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? 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, and ask the Lord 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

Do you 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, you find yourself watching a YouTube video about a horse and a dog becoming best friends? Don’t feel alone. Here are some stats on procrastination:

Have you ever taken on a project you knew would take a long time to complete (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? Set specific, challenging, but reachable goals for yourself each week and 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.

#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? 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 is an easy next step to message them for a cup of coffee.

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. I know it’s hard to balance everything, but take heart, God delights in giving you grace and wisdom.

How can we overcome? 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. And 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? 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.

  • This is a great article. Thanks so much for providing solutions to help overcome each of them.

    I have experienced every one of these to some degree. I think the biggest obstacle I experienced (which left me feeling like a person holding a cardboard sign at the freeway offramp begging for support) was the belief that workers in America could not be fully funded. I had bought into a lie. I saw so many of my friends and colleagues who were based in the states struggle to be fully funded. I then concluded that it must be impossible. Little did I realize how this belief was rooted in a false view of God. By focusing on overcoming this “#1 Obstacle: Perspective/Lack of Biblical Understanding” and actually studying the Scriptures and changing my perspective to embrace the truth that God would meet all my needs, I was able to raise our remaining need to be fully supported in just a little less than 4 months.

    • Wow Dave! Four months! I can relate to your experience immensely. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jenn, Thanks for your good thoughts here.

    How about adding a 5th obstacle — not having a good plan to go from A-Z and make your efforts focused and more successful. This is one obstacle I’ve seen as I work to help Life Impact Staff raise their support, and since we’ve been support team funded for 45 years, I’ve faced this as well.

    To solve this issue I’ve created a comprehensive training program called, Dynamic Partnership Development, to offset “No Plan” negative and address the others you mentioned as well.

    Creating some ‘benchmarks’ in the fundraising effort I believe is a helpful pursuit as a person gets started, or needs an assessment mid-stream. On the FTM website is a free paper to help missionaries create their bottom line and then move out from that point with focused fundraising.

    Blessings on your efforts to help missionaries get to full funding! Personally I think it’s a more major task today for the harvest workers than when Sheri and I started in 1971.

    • Great stuff here! A question for Dave Grissen: What is the FTM website? I’d love to see that free paper to help missionaries create their bottom line… Thanks.

    • Shirley Beattie

      Dave – I’d like to access your form for our team, but when I searched “FTM” some rather unsavory sites came up! Would you please provide a link or address for the paper you referenced. Thanks, Shirley

    • This is great! I’ll check it out.

  • Ah ha, I just found the FTM website and the paper by clicking on his name. Thanks.

  • What if I am guilty of most of the excuses/obstacles you list in your article, Jenn? You won’t tell anyone, will you? As the founder of SRS I’m not supposed to have any of these issues, and it would be very embarrassing if this gets out! 🙂

  • Jessica

    As I had an angry, frustrated moment about support raising this morning, I was looking for some kind of online post that could give me some peace. I read quite a few of the blog posts on here and they helped immensely. I know I fall under some of these obstacles, if not all. Yet, I still can’t help but ask.
    How can you possibly survive without a part time or full time job if you have less than 50% of funds raises? I do believe in the Lord’s power and provision, but I also believe in being wise and careful. Wouldn’t it be foolish to simply leave a job and possibly not be able to pay the bills?
    I say this as a 23 year old, part time in ministry, in a transition to move to another state. I’ve been raising support for over a year now and have less than 55% monthly raised. I praise God for that amount, but I am still part time and I don’t even have the full funding for that.
    This means, I have to get another job. And while I do that, how do I continously pay for these coffee meetings I am having with people?
    And it seems like everyone I ask either doesn’t have a mind set ready for giving to a ministry or they already give to 10 other ministries and therefore they can’t give to me.
    Most of all, what caused my anger this morning is that I have become sick of the constant need to raise support. I’m not sick of relying on the Lord, that is a blessing (and perhaps I just need to think of it all this way ), but I am sick of how others pressure me, they’re always talking about getting 100% raised, some tell me maybe I’m not meant for the ministry because I can’t get fully funded, it’s seems to be so much about money and getting that 100%, more so than about praising the Lord and going on a beautiful journey with Him.

    • For my organization, we don’t actually allow the missionaries I work with to touch their funding until they are at 100% and on the field. (I work with overseas missions) That being said, the cohort I coach mostly all have full time jobs, some have kids, school, kids + full time jobs , kids + school + full time jobs, etc. That to say – I get where you are coming from.
      I think your spot on in saying it would be foolish to leave a job and not be able to pay your bills while raising support. A good thing to ask yourself is what can you cut out to make room for appointments if you have to work full time? Maybe it has to be a church commitment or friend commitment. Maybe it’s something you love but you have to give up for a season, maybe you could find something to cut out that perhaps isn’t that crucial but would save you time for more capacity.
      I would love to hear more about the amount your raising, the ministry your working for, the obstacles you do face, and your overall strategy before I can dig down on your frustrations with being 55% in a year. Though I cannot coach you myself, can you think of any people in your organization who are really good at raising their support and perhaps practice your appointment, phone calls, etc with them for greater help? Perhaps tweaking a nuance in your language could help mitigate the responses you are experiencing? This is just a thought. Not to say it’s your fault – but there is always room for growth and improvement right? I think a key is to constantly get feedback from the people around you in anything your trying to do well – same goes here.

      Another tip for your circumstance – if you do have to get another job, try and sit down each week and set goals for yourself on progress you are able to make. Keep doing something each week, even if it is smaller than what you want. It makes a lot of difference if you continuously move forward step by step instead of starting and stopping again.

      I’m sorry you feel pressure or someone is telling you maybe you aren’t supposed to go because you aren’t at 100% yet. You are right, it is about the journey you get to go on with Him and I pray that you are able to listen to His voice and leading as you work to build up your financial partnership team. It’s definitely work, but it’s beautiful work. Guess what? I have yet to see one missionary I work with not go to the field because of a lack of finances, and I believe with effort, diligence, and leaning on the Lord you will get to that 100%.

      I’ll say a prayer for you in the meantime that God strengthens you and gives you fresh hope this week as you move forward. Hope even a sliver of this helps! -JF

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