Many Christians around the world find themselves in need of raising personal support. God has captured their heart and mind to make a difference. Whether it be serving the poor in Shri-Lanka or a women’s shelter closer to home in Cincinnati. The central thread that draws them all together is the need for personal support. Yet, there remains a stigma to those who choose a path of support raising. There shouldn’t be. Here are my reasons why.
- Personal support raising is not lazy.
When I first entered the realm of raising my own support for a position with a church-planting organization, my phone calls and letters were met with an unstated judgement. I would get questions like, “Well, since you are in the U.S. why are you not able to simply get a job to sustain your ministry work?” I would reply, “My ministry work is my new job!” Crickets. The reality is that raising support is not easy and it is not a “lazy” way of trying to garner the necessary funds to move your ministry forward. When you are a supported worker, for most you are also considered an Independent Contractor for your income taxes. In short, you are a small business owner. And there is nothing lazy about owning a small business. If the God of the universe is willing to call YOU into his service as a full-time worker and you are faithful to answer that call, nothing about that interaction is lazy. Lift your head. You are child of the King, and he has called you to raise your support for His service. For those who choose not to see that reality, well, that is on them, not you.
- Personal support raising is like starting a small business.
As stated earlier, as an Independent Contractor, you are a small business owner. Why should you feel guilty for raising capital to launch your new business? Many are gasping when they read this. “We are not a business!” they will exclaim. “We are a ministry!” Tell that to the IRS when you file your taxes. Yes, it’s true you are raising capital for which your ‘investors’ will receive a tax deduction, but this is no different from a neighbor raising capital to start a plumbing business. My point is that everyone in our society is asking for ‘support’ across the spectrum. You as a ministry worker are asking for donations to further the mission for whom you serve. Those donations are simply targeted to help pay your salary. Don’t give into the lie of culture that says, your personal income is somehow less worthy of attention than that of the donor’s.
- Personal support raising is based on a normal monthly budget – and that is O.K.
It is often the case that workers, regardless of their location, have an unwritten rule that they must live on a month-to-month shoestring budget or else they are not really serving God. THIS IS A LIE. There is no Biblical evidence that ministry workers who work hard to both fundraise and do the actual work to which they are called, are simultaneously called to poverty. Some are, indeed, called to this life, but that is between them and God. I know of one family who served overseas and had to quasi-hide the fact that they had a television with programming if they were on a video call or phone call with some of their supporters. This is ridiculous. You as a worker must meet a normal monthly budget. And that budget has to be for your personal well-being and your ministry activity. Do not be ashamed of that reality. All workers with whom we are involved through the Alliance and Donor Fund live on as tight of a personal budget as possible. Many times, forgoing any options of long-term planning like retirement. This all should be accounted for in your budget. I guarantee those from whom you are asking for donations have it in theirs. Be honest, transparent, and confident about your budget. Better yet, have it available for those who ask. Remember, God has called you to your new role. Move in it with confidence. It will take resources, but the one who called you owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Yes, it is a big lift for you, but not for him.
- Personal support raising ‘Guilt’ is exactly what needs to be purged.
It is not easy to raise support. All psychological and well-being support from friends and family is necessary. You will always need someone in your corner that is a champion for you and your cause. This is human nature and we all, who do any fundraising at all, are in this war together. We all feel the sting of rejection and the timidity of a new ask. We need to get over it. The reality is nobody will give if you don’t ask for their involvement. Now, I understand there are those who approach fundraising through just praying in the funds needed. However, for the vast majority we do need to proactively seek out donors and take a risk to ask for their support. Too many workers, specifically in the U.S., supplement their monthly groceries from food pantries and by taking advantage of Medicaid for their healthcare. And the reality is many workers are more fearful of asking and begin told ‘no’ than they are of signing up for public assistance. This is not a slam against public services. They are a great safety net for those in need. I do not believe, however, that ministry workers should be reliant on those services. We are underfunded in large part because we suffer from fear of man. The guilt or shame that a person feels because they are raising support is not from God. He will not call you into a work for your shame. I suggest if this is how you feel about fundraising, use this insecurity to press into God’s provision, both for your spiritual and emotional well-being as well as your need to fundraise. God’s providence cannot be overlooked in times like this. Always keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, he will not force his way in, but always is inviting us into a fullness of life found in fully trusting and obeying his leading. I implore you to allow this discomfort to be used to overcome your timidity and fear, growing into the lion or lioness that only God is able to see in you.
This may sound direct, but if God has called you to ministry that requires fundraising, he has also called you to fundraise. Ask him for the strength, understanding, and strategy that will be needed for your specific needs. Read, learn, and ask questions of veteran fundraisers, yes, but don’t assume their approach is your approach.
When I first started fundraising, I thought it was a numbers game. Coming from a background in sales, I simply did the math. ‘X’ number of phone calls correlated to ‘X’ number of appointments. Those appointments had an average of ‘X’ number of closings. Your approach that you learn from someone else may look different but have the same spirit, self-inspired. If all you need is a good book to learn how to fundraise, then you don’t need God. I failed in my approach, so will you. The Holy Spirit already knows with whom you will interact. Dare I say he is excited about your growth and provision more than you. Allow him to lead you in the process, you will not be disappointed.
I have said it before, and I will continue to say it, fundraising is not for faint of heart. It is hard work. But hard work can be joyful work when it is bathed in and set before the Holy Spirit. When we allow Him to fill us with his intentions and his passion and his approach, it makes all the difference. And our once angst-filled and guilt-ridden heart will be refreshed with a new confidence and joy that others will see and recognize.
Go out confidently to raise your support, for the King of the nations has sent you. And if any person with whom you interact says something to cause you to feel guilty, graciously thank them for their time, remind them of God’s faithfulness to them and that he will be faithful to you as well. Shake the dust from your sandals and move forward in obedience. And, if you feel the enemy creeping in your mind with thoughts of guilt, unworthiness, or despair, remind that jerk of whom you serve. Take your thoughts captive, remind yourself of what is true, and joyfully walk out your obedience.
Obedience is never a mistake.