Over the past 30 years, while growing a missionary sending agency, I wish I had a peso for every time I heard the phrase, “I’d become a missionary if I just didn’t have raise support.” I figure I’d have enough pesos for quite an empanada. The truth is, I think we all assume that support-raising is about as much as a root canal.

To make matters worse, there are those folks who try to “encourage” us by explaining that if we do things right, we never really have to ask for funds. That might work for certain support levels with certain connected individuals, but my experience is that it doesn’t work for everyone, nor for every project. Sometimes, apparently, we don’t have because we fail to ask. (James 4, The Bible)

All this has given me pause over the past 4 months as I’ve faced the reality that, as the CEO of what just might be a typical organization, I had never taken time to learn to fundraise for the organization that I love. Years ago, God had supplied the needs equal to our own family’s salary and ministry (May His name be praised!)… and then, after that, I just coasted… like many global workers.

All of that coasting came to a screeching halt once our ‘home office’ team outgrew the old church building we had acquired years ago. By God’s grace, we had acquired land, built an initial facility, and moved in — and now, next month (July), I faced the reality that the mortgage payments were about to begin.

I don’t know if others have traveled a similar road or not. But here are 5 lessons I’m learning as I travel this road:

*** I don’t think I had done our organization any favors by ignoring fundraising for all those years. In some ways, it might have seemed spiritual, never focusing on fundraising for the future. Now that I look back, I have to wonder.
*** I’m really inexperienced at fundraising. Because God provided so faithfully for our own family’s needs, I never really had to stretch to understand the whole process. As a result, I hadn’t ever really identified with those who aren’t as blessed when starting out.
*** I’m finding that fundraising is a faith-stretching experience. I find myself praying really diligently before a presentation. Then, regardless of the outcome, I end up talk to God about it afterward — a lot. If a certain group ends up committing $5000 over the next 3 years, I go crazy thanking God for that tremendous help. If another presentation appears to net nothing, I’m still thanking God, asking for help, pleading with him to help me learn how to do this.
*** I’m wondering if others have been brought to this same position as a result of having to conduct a capital campaign. I’m curious as to whether capital campaigns sometimes serve as tutors for the long-term process of support-raising in general.
*** I’m realizing that I’ve basically eeked by for about 30 years without ever focusing on any serious fundraising duties as a CEO. In many ways, I feel I need to apologize to those in my own organization. When I think about what might have been… When I consider the programs and projects we could have launched, I’m sobered. At the same time, I’m not despairing. Sometimes I think, “OK Doug; you’ve had your 30 years of fun. Now let’s get to work.”

Would you take a moment today to pray for me, that I can learn how to do this? Would you pray for all the other CEO’s who are in similar situations? In fact, would you please take a second and lift up *anyone* in support-raising mode, regardless of the particular project or program. Ask God to give him wisdom, sensitivity, strength, insight, connections, and most of all, endurance.

So what’s your experience with support-raising? Is your story similar? … or different. What helps have you discovered? Have there been any particular books, online resources, coaches, DVDs, etc., that have seemingly hit home for you? (We’ve mentioned some previously in Brigada over the years. The truth is — I’ve never read them or sought them out. I was clueless.) If you have a favorite resource, just click “Comment” immediately below this item and speak up. Who knows how much others (like me) will derive benefit from the resource you mention or the testimony you share.

In closing, I just want to thank all those readers who have made it their special ministry to help those who are “on a journey for his name’s sake” (III John). Your role in the local church might be different than those who are growing a mission organization traveling to some far-flung location. But the reality is, your involvement is every bit as crucial as the person who actually goes. You truly are a fellow-helper. And all of us, together, salute you for the ministry you perform not only for the benefit of the ones hearing the message for the first time, but also as an encouragement for the one carrying it. May God bless each of you in ways beyond measure and may He multiply your capacity to give, and thereby serve.

Doug

PS. Don’t forget to click “Comment”, below, and share a short testimony of your experience.

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