Bill Dillon at People Raising: Seasoned Missions Fundraiser Confession #11.

This confession is probably where the difference between raising missionary support from individuals vs. churches becomes painfully clear.

You’ll see why soon, but if you are just joining us…

We are looking at Bill Dillon’s “confessions” regarding raising funds for missions.  (These appeared in the October 2012 edition of EMQ.)

We are getting close to the end – #11 of 13!  (See Confessions #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9., and #10.)

Keep cultivating your donors.

“Getting the gift was just the beginning.  I had to cultivate, thank, update, and stay involved and in touch.”

“Oftentimes, I call just to bring them up to date.  Those simple contact points can cement our relationship.”

Yes, I agree that we must stay in touch with, thank, and update our donors.

No, I do not think we need to cement a relationship with them.

I know, that sounds like heresy for somebody who raises funds.

However, it does not mean that I do not appreciate and love those who support our ministry.  I am very thankful to our supporters.  There is just one thing.

I do not have the relational and emotional capacity to have “relationships” with all of the individuals it would take to fully fund our ministry.

I just don’t.  And I suspect many potential missionaries don’t either.

Could I grow in being more of a people – ish relational -ish type person?  Yes, but I think everybody reaches a point where they can only have so many genuine relationships.

Also, keep in mind that the missionary probably has relationships among those whom he ministers to.

It would be crazy tough to keep all those relationships “cemented.”

The 20% guideline.

I’ve heard anecdotally from several experienced missionaries that about 20% of a missionaries time needs to be consistently spent cultivating those relationships with supporters.

20% may not sounds like a whole lot, but that is 1 in 5 working days.  As a supporter, would you want the missionary you support spending one whole day each week communicating relationships with those back home?  I suspect not.

The elephant in the room.

I know some of you are going to take this the wrong way, but I’ll say it anyways.

Raising missionary support from individuals can make a whole lot of personal relationships very awkward (to say the least).  You will have a tough time keeping up relationships with all of your supporters.  Worse, some friends will feel like you only call when you need more money.  And then they’ll stop answering the phone.  When money gets involved with friends and family, it can spoil the whole dynamic.

I’m certainly not saying that all relationships with donors go down the toilet or that missionaries have disingenuous relationships with their donors.  However, I am pointing out the reality that relying on relationships with individuals for funds can be very messy.

Raising missionary support from churches.

A great way to not have those strained and awkward relationships because of money is to not raise support from individuals.  Instead, raise support from churches.

Isn’t there still a relationship with the church and many of the individuals at the church?

Yes, but cultivating it looks a lot different.  They won’t be joining you for Thanksgiving dinner, so it’s different than the relationship with individual supporters.  Also, it takes a lot less time to cultivate the relationship with a supporting church.  That means more time for that they are supporting you for.


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  1. Bill Dillon at People Raising: Seasoned Missions Fundraiser Confession #12. | Be a Fully Funded Missionary - April 22, 2013

    […] Almost there…  Almost there… – #12 of 13!  (See Confessions #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9., #10, and #11.) […]

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