January 25, 2017 Tom Harshberger

Missions Fundraising: A Behind The Scenes Look

missions fundraising desk

What is the process for missions fundraising? When it’s not the weekend, we’re working behind the scenes to make connections, book services, and connect with our donors. Here’s what we do week to week so that we can reach the missions field quickly.

First, some great news: Brooke and I reached 40% of our required monthly budget a few weeks ago. This was such an exciting moment for us! We have been blown away by the support of our friends, family, and churches who have supported us to serve Ireland. This past week we also filled up our weekend bookings through Easter. Many people assume missions fundraising only happens on weekends and wonder what the rest of our week looks like. I wanted to give our supporters and future missionaries (fingers crossed) a look at what we do during the week.

What Day-To-Day Missions Fundraising Looks Like

I do most of the itineration nuts and bolts of missions fundraising throughout the week since Brooke is still a full-time social worker. Every day is completely different, but I make an effort to have a routine. Mondays and Wednesdays work best for phone calls, Tuesdays are a great day to write thank you cards, and Thursday is prep for the weekend. Friday is Sabbath. The occasional Wednesday evening service and Saturday travel makes the weeks go by fast. We also take time each week to write emailers, plan travel arrangements, book hotels, follow up with pastors, write our Facebook group updates, and other tasks. Add in normal routines like quiet time, gym time, date night, and basic chores and our days are flying.

No matter what, each week we cover three bases: Call somebody, thank somebody, and visit somebody.

Call Somebody

Phone calls are a huge part of itineration. I call pastors most days to connect, set up coffee meetings and services. It can be hard when you get lots of voicemails, but when you get to connect with pastors who resonate with your heart for missions, it’s definitely worth it! Any given weekday I could be making between 10-30 calls. Being in the PennDel District is a blessing. Our network has a real heart for missions. Sometimes you’ll hear the ‘doom and gloom’ stories about missionaries calling pastors, but we’ve had a lot of great experiences. I keep a list of who to call on my phone so I can call on the go.

Thank Somebody

Thanking your donors is vital. You need to thank every single person who gives to you. You are being entrusted with someone else’s money and your response to their gift should carry the importance and weight of this responsibility! Send handwritten thank-you cards, call them up if you can, keep them in the loop via social media, and make sure they never get left behind. We spend days writing thank you cards because it’s important! We include a thank you note, a prayer card, and a receipt (if necessary). When you don’t communicate appreciation, donors will assume their gift is not important and maybe that your mission isn’t as important as you first told them it was. Eventually you will get behind on this, so you must keep good records.

We are also planning some ‘going away’ gifts for our donors when we get the final word that we are approved to leave the country.  We’re pretty excited to give them out. These small mementos are great reminders that their support matters and that they are in this with you!

Visit Somebody

When I’m not on the road meeting with pastors, I fill my schedule with lunches, coffee, and dinner with individual donors and local pastors as much as I can. The most gratifying meetings are connecting with people who have already started supporting you. No agenda, just hanging out and thanking them. Your supporters want to hear the real you, not just your percentage raised or what church you’re going to be at this weekend. They want to hear your stories, challenges, and specific prayer needs. This is also a great opportunity for you to ask your supporters what their prayer needs are as well.

The Financial Nuts and Bolts

We forward all our finances to HQ monthly in an Itineration Report. This report includes receipts, expense reports, forms, mileage logs, etc. It’s a pretty thick envelope when you drop it off at the post office! Throughout the week we record each service offering, gift, and expense in spreadsheets and merge them into our reports at the end of each month. It can be an overwhelming process, but it ensures that we’re on top of our donation records. As long as we’re keeping good records, we’re all good.

Our Toolbox

Outside of the obvious (Facebook, Google Calendar, and Gmail), we use quite a number of apps behind the scenes to make the itineration process work smoothly. Here’s some of our favorites:

Wunderlist – Our favorite list app. It’s free and we can assign the jobs to either Brooke or I so we know who’s doing what. It also syncs on all our devices. (iOS/Google, Windows/OS X)

Mailchimp – What we use to create email newsletters, manage email lists, and add subscribers. Our favorite tool is the Mailchimp Subscribe app. This app gives us an easy way for supporters to sign up for our newsletter on our iPad following services and events.

Google Drive – This is my life. From our donor spreadsheet to message notes, I use this every single day. Drive is cloud-based and has mobile access. You can access and edit anything on the fly. Thanks Google!

Photoshop – Making a good first impression is important. I strive to make sure our design work always looks topnotch on print and web. When I need to make graphics on the fly, I use iOS apps like Wordswag, Phonto, and Afterlight.

WordPress – We use WordPress for our ministry site. If you have a quality theme it is easy to use. We use Brooklyn for this site.

iMP – This app, created exclusively for overseas workers to organize their missions fundraising, helps organize your contacts, giving, itineration report’s, and more. It also generates reports that we need in a snap. It’s an unbelievably powerful tool!

missions fundraising journey

It’s A Journey

It’s only been a couple months, but we’re enjoying it thus far. There’s so much behind the scenes, but it’s in an effort to partner and serve our local churches. We’re not on the field yet, but we’re casting vision and sharing our hearts about Ireland everywhere we go. We can literally feel our love for Ireland grow every time we share.

Our biggest desire in this preparation time is to help encourage churches to see their role in world missions and to challenge those we speak to to see themselves as a missionary to their neighborhood, workplace, and city.

Foreign missions is only foreign until you’re there. So, wherever you are, home or abroad, you’re a missionary.

Tom and Brooke are Assemblies of God missionaries preparing to serve in Ireland. Subscribe to our e-newsletter. If you’d like to connect with us about missions, please email us! For safe online giving, click the button below.

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What questions about missions fundraising do you have? What would you add to the conversation? Take a moment to comment below and share.

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