I had a month to raise $3,500 for my first mission trip in college, and I found myself torn between polar emotions: thrilled to make a difference through medical care and simultaneously scared to ask others for support. I was excited about a cause that others were unaware of and less concerned about.
Instead, I quickly learned that fundraising could be the most encouraging way to kick off the long, difficult mission experience that included living on a boat on the Amazon River. But when the project became a connected team effort, my community pulled together to it possible.
I discovered that people support and rally around causes that they feel involved. They become emotionally invested in work when they believe they play an indispensable part. From this experience, I learned to directly involve my supporters through an intentional perspective, a clear plan, and the right tools. You can do it, also! Here’s a few missionary fundraising ideas to help you get started:
1) Share Your Perspective
Stories are your best friend for missionary fundraising. Stories communicate the why behind your mission project. Why it is worthwhile, why you have committed to it, and why your donors will choose to be involved alongside you.
“Stories are your best friend for missionary fundraising. Stories communicate the why behind your mission project…” tweet this
In my support letter, I told a story about the people I was going to work alongside, how they started taking an old river boat full of medical professionals to villages that were only accessible by water. I also explained how my own background led to an opportunity to be a part of this work, and the potential impact the entire team will make.
Being a storyteller is not as daunting as it’s often seems. At its core, storytelling is simply the explanation of a change that is happening or happened. Stories have three parts: an unmet need in the beginning, the struggle to meet this need, and the end results.
- Your involvement in the mission work is a story.
- The entire mission project is a story.
- Your project will create new stories.
Our minds (and hearts) become engaged and invested in good stories. We crave good stories, and we want to be a part of good stories. Your unique position is that you can offer potential donors to join in on your story, and makes a lasting impact along the way.
Here are three ways I learned to incorporate stories into missionary fundraising:
- Stories can be about the people, places, and the needs that will be met. These are the kind stories people want to hear – the stories that will inspire them to donate to your work.
- Stories about the mission work as it’s happening. My supporters feel connected and involved when I take the time to keep them in the loop on the field.
- Stories about the end impact from the trip or project. Donors are like investors in a cause, they need to see that they made a difference.
Raising support as a missionary is similar to being your own nonprofit marketing and fundraising department, and the most successful nonprofits are intentional to develop and share stories. The processes that these organizations use easily cross over to missionary fundraising.
“Raising support as a missionary is similar to being your own nonprofit marketing and fundraising department…” tweet this
During my entire mission project, from the beginning of fundraising to the last report letter and speech in front of a group of supporters, there was a clear overarching story—I was joining a team of native medical professionals to help provide healthcare for hundreds of villagers. Then there were countless smaller stories inside of the big story.
My donors became my support partners as we worked toward the overarching goal. In missionary fundraising, it was the small stories that helped my donors connect with the larger story. By telling both the big story and the smaller, detailed stories, my fundraising needs were met and my supporters become part of an exciting story.
2) Create Your Fundraising Plan
You now have a story for your missionary fundraising campaign. The purpose of a good story is to inspire people to some kind of action. Your fundraising plan is how you spread awareness of your story, find donors, and meet your fundraising goals.
Potential donors go through similar decision making processes as they decide whether or not to contribute to your work. Think about a game of connect the dots. Your task is to make the “dots” clear and easily connectable.
The “dots” that donors are trying to connect:
- What is the main problem to be fixed? There are two problems for you to clearly pinpoint—the root problem that your mission work is geared toward solving, and your lack of funds. Be clear about your main mission project goals.
- What are the solutions to these problems? Introduce your solution to each problem, and the action or resources needed to meet these goals.
- Is this worth my time and resources? Help your potential donors become active donors by providing the information and background needed so they eagerly move forward with a decision. Your stories create this emotional engagement.
- Did I make the correct choice and will I donate again? Follow through with updates about the impact your donors are making through your mission work.
In “Why I Fundraise for Project AWARE,” Lauren engaged her readers in her personal, relatable story about littering, and about her new perspective of marine debris as a scuba diver. She provided a picture of trash in the ocean, outlines the negative impact on marine life, and shares her vision for a cleaner, safer future.
To be effective, your plan should answer these questions in a way that connects with your audiences. But in order to spread your story and reach your donors, your plan also needs a platform and concrete action steps.
3) Use Tools And Take Action Steps
First, consider the features you need in order to complete your project.
- You have a story to tell.
- Security for your donors financial information.
- A simple way for your donors to give to your mission work.
- A easy process for you to quickly update all of your donors on your progress.
Also, think about how much time you have to invest in the setup and maintenance. Will the platform take extra time to figure out? If you run into any issues, will you have access to prompt help?
On the CauseVox platform, we make it easy for you to set up your campaign site to start raising funds.—Your story, fundraising metrics, and updates are gathered in one place so your campaign is simple for you to setup and manage. If you need an ongoing source of funds, you can choose the recurring donation option, also. Your donors sign up for monthly giving and CauseVox takes care of the rest automatically.
Our goal is to support you by doing the nitty-gritty work of so that you can focus on your mission projects!
Look at platforms that allows you to easily share your story, securely collect donations, post written or video updates, recognize your donors and track your progress. Well designed platforms like our CauseVox fundraising feature are made especially for easy use.
Spread The Word
Send letters or emails about your project to friends and family, with your story and a clear invitation to action. You have stronger credibility with the people who already know you. Even if they cannot financially support you, they can recommend you to other contacts who are interested in the kind of mission work that you are doing.
In each mission project I have been a part of, the majority of my fundraising came from personal connections and networking. It is likely that yours will also.
Doing something interesting gives people something to talk about and share. MaryKelli found a connection with an audience of dedicated pet owners by offering them a service as she raised support. Her post was shared by caring animal lovers in her Facebook community more than 30 times and she exceeded her goal in a few days.
Her donors were excited to share pictures of their pets and spread the word about her work.
Updates And Report Letters
Gratitude for donors, I learned through my first missionary fundraising journey, is one of the strongest ways to build connection. Donors contribute to projects when they want to make a tangible difference, and updates show that impact. In my reports now, I combine stories of the changes happening and my own gratitude for each donor making these things possible.
- Highlight the current impact and share your vision for meeting the end goal. Dylan was excited about the 22 bikes that were funded, and then he told a story about a boy who would be able to safely attend school, if the last 8 bikes are funded.
- Celebrate your supporters, and what they made possible. One of our CauseVox users did this in their final report update, You ALL Did it!, by attributing the success of their campaign to their donors.
- Using video in your updates is easier than ever, and it is one of the most effective ways to communicate emotions and engaging stories.
This missionary’s fundraising video includes footage of the location and people he serves and stories behind his mission project. He clearly presents needs and several ways that supporters can join in his work, and ends with a clear call to action.
This Starter’s Guide to video storytelling outlines the how-to’s for using videos to share your stories.
As you incorporate these ideas into your missionary fundraising plan and overarching mission story, I hope you are also encouraged by support of your donor community as they rally around you.
We built our CauseVox fundraising platform around helping you share your story and reach your fundraising goals. Take a 60 second tour of how it works or request a demo. We are excited to help you launch a successful mission project.
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