When I submitted my application to come and do a Discipleship Training School with YWAM I didn't have money I needed to come for the school. I didn't have a savings fund with half the money, I had nothing. I was going to need to fundraise it all. Not only that, I needed to raise money for moving expenses, airplane tickets and visas. To say that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. But I knew that God was calling me and my family to do this DTS and I knew that He would provide, but I wanted to play my part too.
I started off by connecting with the missions pastor at my church who had suggested resources. The one he suggested for fundraising was called The God Ask. I read it eagerly and then began preparing my part in the raising of funds. Along the way I learned a few things that I thought might help you.
1. Trust God
God is our provider and He has unlimited resources. I found that this process was nothing short of a miracle to see the provision of funds needed to come in. Don't get me wrong, I worked very hard. This isn't the sort of miracle you sit back and watch. But in the end it was His work and I was working in partnership with Him.
2. Have a Biblical Foundation
In addition to asking God you are going to need to ask people. In order to do this you are going to have to come to a place where you are able to ask people to invest in the kingdom of God through you. The biggest key to this is you need to believe that this is Biblical to live on support. You need to believe that asking for financial investment into your missions work for the Kingdom of God is Biblical.
3. Have a Plan
When you first realize that you have to raise support, the urgency can cause you to want to start right away. "I'll ask my parents or my best friend first. They'll understand and because they love me they'll join me easily, right?" My initial efforts weren't well informed and didn't reflect a wise, thought-out approach. I learned that a plan of how many supporters would be needed and how to get there would be key to the long-term work of getting funded. I also learned that I needed to be ready to clearly communicate my story, what God was leading me to and what I was asking from my potential supporters. I also needed to have a bigger vision of who I was going to ask and how I would be able to get enough partners. This takes time to develop and it takes a plan.
4. Be ready to make a clear ask
We live in a noisy world with lots of things screaming for our attention. In order to get your potential partners attention you need to have a clear ask. With something this important you can't rely on email or text message to do the trick. You need to have a strategy that will engage and help you to get a clear response.
What I found to be the best approach was to connect with these individuals through a phone call asking for a face-to-face meeting. This was bold and clear. It was also a lot of work. Then when meeting people face-to-face I was able to be direct and specific in asking them.
5. Release the pressure
The majority of people do not like fundraising. I really enjoyed it. I think the biggest factor in this was that I had a plan that allowed me to fundraise without pressure. The reality of the amount of money you need to fundraise can feel impossible and when you meet with a potential partner you might feel a lot of pressure to make sure you do everything right to get them to give. The problem is they also are feeling this pressure. They can feel it when they walk into the room with you. This kind of pressure can make this sort of asking incrediblely uncomfortable.
The reality is you don't need to feel this pressure and they don't need to either. The key to this is to realize that a lot of people are going to say "no" to you and that you should see that as expected and normal, not as rejection and failure. Knowing that half of the people I asked would end up not giving me money was actually really freeing. I gave people freedom to join and freedom to pass and it made the experience much better for me and for them.
6. Aim Big
As you look at the journey ahead of fundraising, its easy to get overwhelmed. One response to this is to try to make your total goal as small as possible. The reality is that you don't just need the bare minimum because your health and effectiveness will suffer. One of the biggest mistakes people make is undervaluing themselves. There are huge needs in the mission field and the biggest is for people. You need to realize that getting you there with a healthy budget, means you can stay longer and have greater impact on the mission field. Fundraising with the goal to thrive not just survive is worth it! In the book, The God Ask, they talk about having "a vision-driven budget" not "a budget-driven vision". What would your budget look like if you were focused on fully thriving and being successful in mission? Start there.
I hope this helped you begin to think through what is next in this journey of fundraising and I pray that God leads you through this process. After a couple of months of hard work I was successful. Trust Him, He is a good Father, able to lead us and provide for us.