November 9, 2023
Need to fundraise for a mission trip? Here are some tips to help you reach your goal.
Gearing up for a group mission trip? You’re probably busy planning transportation, an itinerary, a packing list, and more—but you also probably have to raise funds to get there too. Fundraising can be daunting for many people, but it doesn’t have to be!
Here are some helpful tips from James Vanderlaan, Resonate Global Mission’s Director of Advancement. He has more than 20 years of experience helping individuals and groups raise funds to get them to the field.
Have a Healthy Perspective about Fundraising
For some, “fundraising” might be a dirty word. Some people might feel afraid to ask people to give to a missions trip, feel ashamed, or feel like they’re begging.
“Fundraising is the opposite of begging. It’s an invitation. You’re inviting people to participate in something that God is already active in and cares deeply about,” said James.
If you need some help shifting your perspective about asking for money, James recommends starting with prayer. A helpful book to read is A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri J.M. Nouwen.
Set a Goal
How much money do you need to raise, and how many gifts will it take to get there? James mentioned that it might be helpful to create a gift table: “For some, it’s helpful to understand how their contribution can fit in and be part of the target.”
Here’s an example of a gift table:
|GIFT AMOUNT||# OF GIFTS||ROW TOTAL||CUMULATIVE TOTAL|
For a group, you might even have a group fundraising goal that you work to meet together and individual goals everyone works to meet on their own.
Tell a Story
Why is your group going on a mission trip? What do you hope to accomplish? What’s the impact of the trip?
“People want to give to things that they know will make a difference,” said James.
Mission trips make a big difference both in the group that serves and the community they serve alongside. Is there a service project you’re going to complete? What difference will that project make in the community you’re visiting? What are you hoping to learn from the community and culture you visit? What impact do you hope the mission trip has on group dynamics, or how do you hope individuals grow through the experience?
“People give because they’re asked,” said James.
Don’t be shy about asking for a gift. If you’re not clear that you’re asking for money, people might be confused and miss an opportunity to partner with you. If you’re nervous about asking, James suggests starting with friends and family members you love and trust, and who love and trust you in return. Pitch your ask to them, and then ask them for feedback so you can start asking those in your wider circle.
If someone says no, that’s okay! Don’t let that discourage you. It may not have been the right time. Move on.
Do What Works
From personal visits and phone calls to fundraising events like an auction, dinner, or dessert evening, there are plenty of ways you can raise money for a mission trip.
“You can do a lot of busy work with very little return, or you can make a few very focused phone calls and have a much better outcome,” said James.
Fundraising events for groups typically can make a big dent in your goal—but if you host an event, James recommends being clear on your purpose for your event and being strategic in who you’re inviting to attend.
“Invite people who are passionate, interested, and connected,” said James.
Don’t Just Ask for Money—Ask for Prayer Too
Money isn’t the only thing you can ask people for—asking people to pray for you is also important. If someone isn’t able to give to you financially, praying for your mission trip is a great way they can partner with you. Share specific prayer requests with them. You might even print out a list of things they can pray for such as health and safety, relationship-building, group dynamics, and prayers for the communities you’re visiting.
Say ‘Thank You’ and Report Back
Fundraising is a partnership. Those who give to your mission trip and pray for you are partnering with you and God on mission, and they gave because they wanted to make a difference. Once you’re back from your overseas mission trip or local service trip, find a way to share the impact with your donors. Share pictures, videos, and personal testimonies. What difference did the trip make in the community you visited? What did your group learn? How did individuals grow?
If possible, you can also find ways to communicate with your supporters while you’re on the trip too through blog posts, emails, videos, photos, and more.
At the end of the day, fundraising is asking, thanking, and reporting on what’s happening, said James.
While fundraising may be daunting, James shares that there’s a lot of opportunity for life and joy in giving. He witnesses it everyday in Resonate’s community of volunteers, ministry leaders, and supporters.