Raising Support from 1000 Miles Away

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By on January 2, 2018   /   3 Comments

For many of us, support raising is enough of a challenge in and of itself. Often, adding the obstacles of raising additional funds from the field just compounds the challenge. Now imagine you serve overseas, far from your primary support base, and the task can seem almost insurmountable. Believe me, I know. I serve 8000 miles away from my main support base! How can we most effectively maintain full support funding while serving on a faraway international assignment?

First, develop good support raising habits so that you don’t find yourself in a big bind while on international assignment. Are your newsletters infused with vision and stories that keep your supporters actively engaged in your ministry? Supporters need to be reminded of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it…again and again and again. You can never over-communicate your vision. Stories of how God has changed lives as a result of your ministry will go a long way in cultivating long-term commitment to you and your ministry.

But don’t just stop with well-written and timely newsletters. What other creative methods can you implement to deepen relationships with your partners and keep their vision alive for what God has called you to? My wife and I send professional-quality magnets every couple of years to everyone on our newsletter list. Time and time again, as I visit supporters in their homes, I’m amazed to find our family picture front and center on their refrigerators. Magnets like these aren’t cheap, but I believe they pay dividends above and beyond their cost.

Consider also sending a short text message to a few supporters each week, sharing with them a quick couple of sentences about how God has used their support and asking how you can pray for them. Don’t allow the seeming limitations of life overseas to keep you from easy wins like this. For example, you can sign up for a free Google Voice phone number and use it to send and receive texts from anywhere in the world. Another idea is to send small gifts representative of where you live. My wife always does a great job of buying mass quantities of inexpensive gifts from the country we call home. Sometimes we’ll distribute them in person or in small groups, and other times we’ll include gifts like bookmarks with our snail mail newsletters.

Second, many times we get trapped wondering how to raise support from thousands of miles away when in reality we should just purchase a plane ticket and spend a week or two back on the ground among our support base. I have a co-worker who saw God provide over $800 per month in new support last spring during a 10-day stateside trip. He booked multiple appointments per day and worked like crazy during that time. Do you think $800 in new monthly support is worth the $1500 airfare cost? I do!

Third, while raising support from new partners usually does require a face-to-face meeting, you can often raise new support in the form of increases from your current partners with just a phone call. It may be counterintuitive, but often the best ministry partners to ask to increase aren’t those at $20 or $30 per month. Usually it’s best to ask those at higher amounts as they are oftentimes the ones most invested in your ministry. And don’t settle for a passive ask, such as in a newsletter or on Facebook. It’s ok to send an email or text providing a little more context for why you’re asking them for an increase, but when it comes to asking a partner to increase their commitment, let’s at least give them the respect and courtesy of a “voice-to-voice” ask.

Finally, consider the new relationships you have formed by living on the field. Who in your new spheres is God putting on your heart to ask to join your ministry partnership team? Although it may seem that by serving internationally you are unable to network and build new relationships, often we overlook people right under our noses. While I typically shy away from asking local believers so that they can support indigenous workers, perhaps there are foreign business people, educators, or embassy personnel in your area. I’ve even had support appointments on the field with participants of short-term mission trips from our home church. And of course, don’t preclude the possibility of asking other missionaries for support…or supporting them yourself!

  • Jenn Fortner Fpd

    great practical advice. thank you for sharing!

  • Suzanne Loucky

    People enjoy reading stories, even if it’s only one. I thank God that former missionaries, as well as nationals. are among my supporters.

  • Terry Sherman

    Excellent advice! We’ve lived 35 years in Europe with our support base/sending church in Seattle. One thing I’ve started to do is send a postcard from the country I’m teaching in (we travel a lot to “exotic” nations to teach in our organization). I’ve divided our partners into groups of 10 and send 10 postcards each time I take a trip.

    I also try to send a personal email on a partner’s birthday or anniversary. Or a SendOutCard with personal photos in it.

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