Growing up in a Christian home, I was always involved in church-related activities ranging from church camp to summer mission trips. Then came along a Youth For Christ (YFC) trip, along with two schools and outreaches through Youth With A Mission (YWAM). A common thread through each of these experiences was God moving in incredible ways, growing and challenging my relationship with Him, proving time and again His faithfulness to meet all my needs. There was yet another common thread, though. Figuring out where the money was going to come from!
Over the years I’ve come to find that raising financial support can often be the most tedious part of serving in ministry. When there are so many other details to be thinking about for a trip itself, fundraising is a struggle to prioritize. No one really wants to ask for money from other people. Sending out support letters were always recommended, and I’ve sent my fair share, but I absolutely hated that part. As far as I could tell, my fellow YWAM’ers, or other members of my youth group, weren’t fans of the letter writing either. So we would come up with other ways to raise the funds necessary. I’m sure everyone reading this article has stories of all the creative ways we have tried to raise support for individual and group trips. Of course, when we follow God’s voice to give of our lives so selflessly, the last thing in the world we want to think about is raising ongoing financial support. We would rather just be serving!
Currently, my day job is Marketing Director – a role that entails the management of ‘projects,’ such as product launches and promotions. Each ‘project’ has hundreds of moving pieces and parts – coming from different people and departments – which need to come together seamlessly for the promotion or product launch to be successful. In order to pull them off, I have to be incredibly organized. Planning all the details of an actual mission trip, camp or retreat is just such a ‘project.’ You are juggling many pieces and working with different people inside and outside of the church for the event to be successful. From a project management perspective, ensuring that every individual in a group is covered financially can be considered a ‘project’ separate from the actual trip, leaving you with two projects to manage simultaneously. While God is faithful to meet us in the midst of even the least organized fundraising efforts, there are ways to make the process of fundraising easier in spite of everything else you have going on. The rest of this article contains some project management tools that can help.
Steps for Being Organized when Fundraising
Planning Enough in Advance
For people who live in the moment, planning in advance can be a big challenge. However, planning enough in advance does a couple of things. First, the details come together more completely. Second, stress leading up to the trip/event is reduced. Third, it ends up being a time saver. I am the first to admit that something you haven’t planned for will always come up at the last minute, but if all the other details have been taken care of before hand then it is easier to roll with the unexpected.
Start by creating a rough plan for the entire year. Write down the major events that you would like to happen in the year. Even if you aren’t sure when exactly it will be happening, that’s ok. You can ‘guess-timate’ that a summer trip will happen during summer months and that a winter retreat will happen during the winter.
Create a Timeline per Trip/Event
Take your ‘guess-timate’ for when a trip will happen and count back about 6 months. This is when the timeline for that event should start. The planning for how to fundraise for this event will need to happen at about the same time. It can feel daunting, but taking this time up front will be beneficial in the long run.
- Estimate approximately how much the event will cost per person. Write that down as the goal.
- Make a list of the things you think needs to happen to raise the goal amount. Are you going to organize a combination of group and individual fundraising efforts? Or perhaps you will just focus on a single group fundraising event. Walk through in your mind what you will need – location, outreach & marketing, products or services to be provided, etc.
- Assign each item on the list its own due date, counting back from when the event will occur.
- Share the timeline with your group and ask for volunteers for each step. Set specific due dates for each volunteer’s task(s). This allows you to narrow the focus of your attention to the tasks that are specifically yours, and only need to follow up once individual due dates are close.
Many companies have project management software that tracks the timelines, delegation of responsibilities, etc. However, a simple spreadsheet in excel or table in Word will work perfectly well. If you need an example, there is a Fundraising Planning Guide available by the faith-based fundraising company, Lifted Hands, on their website: www.liftedhandsskincare.com.
Now that you have a timeline, you can start methodically walking through the timeline as a to-do checklist. Then, provide yourself reminders. There is no point creating a timeline if it is never looked at again. For example, print out a copy of the timeline and put it up in your office, or create reminders for each step in your calendar either on your smart phone or through Outlook. As each task is completed, enjoy the fact that you are that much closer to the end goal!
Over time, as you follow your personalized version of this process for each fundraising event, the fundraising itself will become easier and your heart will be lighter allowing you to enjoy the end result more!
My husband and I believe that in a world that is hurting, Christians are called to be God’s Hands and Feet – to passionately pursue His heart for the oppressed and downtrodden. We felt God’s direction for us was to create a company whose purpose was others-focused every step of the way. Lifted Hands was created to support those already working as God’s hands and feet around the world – which includes every short term mission trip, church camp or retreat – by providing fundraising and prayer support. Even if you don’t choose to use Lifted Hands products for your fundraising efforts, we are here to support you in any way we can! Feel free to contact us if you need more planning tips or have additional questions.