How did I decide to make those changes?
Sources of Input.
There were three main sources of input:
- My own practice of raising support. (Since you are constantly communicating with current supporters, you never really are “done” raising support.)
- Learning from other missionaries raising support.
- Learning from leaders of mission agencies who are involved with training new missionaries to raise funds.
What was the most helpful? I think learning from the leaders of other mission agencies was the most helpful. Quantitatively, they were able to provide the most data points to help make suggestions. I can’t share who they were or what missions organization they work with, but they were some big ones that we have all heard of!
What did they share that was most helpful? Broadly speaking, I learned from them that missionaries have to vary their strategy to raise funds based upon their situation. That is, where they live and who they know can drastically affect how they raise support. Consequently, Be a Fully Funded Missionary can help some missionaries raise 80% of their support. Or, if a missionary lives in the US where there are only a handful of very small churches within a radius of 6 hours, then it will be tough to raise missions support from churches.
So, to recap, BFFM is a tool, and different missionaries will have to use the tool in different ways.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but I learned that many missionaries struggle with supporters actually giving the money they said they would give. That is, somebody says they will give $100 per month for the next four years, but then they don’t give the first check, or they only give for a month or two! Honestly – that’s surprising!
Another thing I learned is that email is the commonly preferred mode of communication for missions people at churches. I suspect this is because they can respond when and if it is convenient for them. Now, missions people at churches are not typically cutting edge when it comes to technology, so only about five years ago, it seemed like email was still pretty new and too personal for many of them. Just a few years ago, I found that people were much more protective of their email address. Now, they often prefer to communicate via email. Having said that, I still do encounter some that do not have or use email. (And no, it’s not because they only use social media.) I have also found that some people want to be texted first, and then they can decide if they want to talk on the phone or use email. I’m sure preferred modes of communication will continue to change.
What has not changed.
Face to face communication is vital to raise missions support. The letters, phone calls, emails, texts, Facebook messages, and whatever mode of communication will come about in the future will be used, but they will all have the goal of getting some sort of personal meeting.
The technology will change, but you still have to know how to get those personal meetings, and then you have to know how to communicate face to face.