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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Using Technology to Take Your Whole Church on a Missions Trip. It’s a broad overview of how the Internet, a blog and social media can be used to engage your whole church (and beyond) when sending a team on a missions trip.
In this post, we’re going to look more specifically at one of the biggest challenges for those serving on short-term missions trips…
Raising Financial Support
Used to be that writing snail-mail support letters to family and friends was the primary method of raising support for short term missions trips. The Internet has changed all that. But the Internet isn’t a magic money tree. It’s a collection of tools that need to be used properly to be successful. So here to help you do that are…
7 Tips for Raising Support for Missions Trips Online
1) Overcome donor fatigue by clearly explaining the compelling mission.
People are constantly being asked to donate. Trust me, I know… I have 3 kids in school and it seems like every week we are being asked to donate or participate in a different fundraiser. The Internet has made this even more challenging but putting the needs and charities of the entire world before our eyes every day. If you want people to give, you have to make it crystal clear exactly how you are going to be serving people and changing people’s lives.
2) Communicate an opportunity mindset
One of the biggest mistakes I see some people make when asking for financial support, is doing it with reluctance. Some people almost apologize for asking for financial support, as if they just got handed the check at a restaurant and realized they forgot their wallet.
If you’re going to serve people in a life-changing way, then the people who make it possible for you to go have a hand in changing people’s lives. You are giving them a great opportunity to be a part of something really special. Granted not everyone think of it that way, but if you don’t think if it that way, no one will.
3) Show pictures and video
People are moved by pictures and video far more than text. Pictures and video help people make a connection with you and with the people you’re serving. They help people see what’s really going on. Share as many pictures and videos as you can.
4) Utilize social media
Most missions trips involve months of planning and preparing physically, mentally, and spiritually. But before the Internet, many people raised support for missions trips by sending a single letter to friends and family. Social media can add a whole new dimension to your support raising and trip preparation by making it interactive. It enables you to take you friends and family on the pre-journey “journey.” Social media also enables your supporters to share what you’re doing with their friends and family which has the potential to broaden your support.
5) Let people donate online
If you’re communicating with people about your mission online, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to force people to support you by going offline to write a check and mail it to you. Most people today are comfortable making making purchases and sending money online. At the very least, allow poeple to give through PayPal.
But even better are sites like GoFundMe, which not only facilitate the online transaction but also facilitate a lot of the social components mentioned above.
6) Provide other ways for people to connect and support you online
There are lots of other ways people can support you beyond financial support. Prayer and encouragement are huge! We talked about social media earlier, but not everyone uses social media (gasp!). I’m a big advocate of blogging before, during and after the missions trip. I also highly recommend adding a “subscribe” feature to your blog so that people who subscribe automatically get an email every time you post to the blog.
7) Email a personal, non-pressure ask
With all this talk of GoFundMe, social media and blogs, you might think these tools will take care of everything for you, but they are not without their shortcomings. Your friends and followers don’t see all your social media updates. And even when they do, there’s the issue of donor fatigue. Furthermore, there’s a good chance if people read about your missions trip in social media, they’ll assume someone else will support you.
So, I think it’s extremely important to send personal emails to friends and family asking them to support you. Don’t beg or pressure or guilt trip, just share your excitement for the opportunity you have and give them the opportunity to be a part of it. Include links so they can donate and get future updates.
If you’d like to see examples of these tips, follow along with me as I prepare to go to Haiti next month. Check out our blog. Subscribe if you’d like to receive updates by email. And you can take a look at my GoFundMe campaign here.
- Which of these tips impacted you most? Why?
- What other suggestions do you have for someone seeking to raise financial support for a missions trip online?