I’ve been on three missions trips to Zambia, Africa. In March 2010, July 2012, and December 2013. Next on the docket for me is a trip to Haiti with Back2Back in December of 2014. I had zero fundraising experience before my first trip.
We set an individual goal for each person based on what we expect the whole trip cost. If every person is able to meet their own personal goal we know the trip is fully funded. We always fundraise as a team. For example, when I send out support letters, my supports aren’t just supporting me, they’re supporting the whole team. So if I got sick and wasn’t able to go they wouldn’t get their contributions back. We have an individual goal so everyone has a frame of reference for how we’re doing support wise.
In my experiences, “It takes a village,” applies to missions trips. When you look at the breakdown of support that you raise the biggest contributions to your personal goal or team goal are largely going to come from individual donors. It’s amazing, the people that you expect who might be able to support you with a bigger contribution, they might not, and people you didn’t expect to respond or even send a letter to -- come through in ways that blow your mind -- and that points back to the Lord, who is providing.
My biggest fear is always not being able to raise enough, and what would happen if I didn’t. Of course, that has happened, and the trip was cancelled. It was pretty devastating because when you raise support as part of a team, the whole team is affected. So in a case where there is a deficit in the teams funds but you met your personal goal you’re still negatively impacted. So if one person succeeds the whole team benefits and if the team falters, everyone falters regardless of how you did as an individual.
That’s why team fundraisers are encouraging. They provide hope to individuals who haven’t been as successful fundraising on their own, so it’s a way for them to still be contributing to the team goal. The group efforts are also great opportunities to get your house church involved! Also, the missions cafe has been incredibly helpful because it’s an “all access” asset for missions teams. The missions cafe is an excellent resource if nothing more than to get the cause out to The Body. There are opportunities to have info out there even if it’s not fundraising info to help the body be aware of what’s going on locally and globally.
As for getting ideas for fundraisers? That’s the beauty of having teams that are made up of a different people with different skills and passions. Every trip I’ve gone on there has been a new type of fundraiser that came through somebody else’s imagination. And Google.
The most important thing to remember about fundraising is that the Lord will always provide, we can only do so much. We can put 100% human effort into something and it can still fail. Nothing is more clear in that capacity than money issues sometimes. When fundraising for a trip there is something very significant on the line. You can get yourself so stressed out because you feel like you have control over it, “I can just have another fundraiser,” and it’s easy to lose sight of who the ultimate team leader is -- He will work it out! The Lord has never failed and He’s not going to start now.
To someone who is just getting started with fundraising I would just say, “Try not to put limits on it.” Don’t be afraid of sending letters to people! The worse they can do is not respond or say, “No.” You would be surprised by what a tool a letter can be! That might be a seed for the Gospel -- avoid limits!
And just remember, you’re not gonna get it done yourself.
Author: Emma Grace Carsey