Raising Financial Support During Quarantine - Part One

May 05, 2020

While we pray for safety, health and healing around the world, we want to share our thoughts on what fundraising might look like during this time.  We acknowledge that each of us is going to be affected in different ways, so this series is not intended to be a one-size-fits-all solution.  Instead, please ask for and seek wisdom and guidance as you consider how to apply this within your specific context.

By Debby Wisham, Corrie McKee and Haley Jones

With social distancing and the cancellation of many in-person events, you may have extra time on your hands to refocus on becoming fully funded. However, in such a unique time, it’s important to sensitively tailor your fundraising efforts to each partner; as mentioned in the Ministering to your Partners post, it is best to become familiar with their situation before asking for support. Connect with them, thank them for their faithfulness in giving and/or praying, and ask about their concerns and prayer needs in this trying time. After you understand their situation, you can make your support raising more appropriate to them personally.

Below are some approaches for raising financial support in this unique time:

  1. Appeal to practical opportunities

    This season may be one in which your partners’ finances are shifting due to sacrifices they are making in their personal lives. There may be opportunities in which they will be willing to go above and beyond in their giving.  If your partners normally give at the end of the fiscal year or at Christmas time, ask them to consider making that gift now. If they normally give monthly, ask if they can give a full quarter or 6 months at one time. Remember, many people want to help in this time, so don’t be discouraged that they will say “no” to giving. Some may be unable, and that is understandable, but others will be ready and willing.

    One example of this: a local ministry in my city provides meals and clothing to those in need. Last week, a generous donor walked in with a $15,000 check. She would have normally given this at the end of the year, but decided to do it now - because she knew the need. Another reminder when it comes to practical financials: never ask for a “one-time gift.” Rather, ask for a “special gift.” The phrase “one-time” sends the subconscious message that the contribution is only needed for an emergency now, while “special giving” connotes a broad range of possible giving in the future: annually, quarterly, whenever available, etc.

  2. Monetize the mission

    Be very specific about your needs. If you have recently returned home from the mission field, remind partners that the cost of living is much higher in North America than it is in many countries of service, and you are facing added expenses. Make sure to attach a figure, and avoid saying “about” or “around.” Partners will be more confident in considering your needs if you can state them clearly.

    Some partners only want to give to specific projects, so you can encourage them to give to projects such as:
    • $4,000 for our family airfare to return to US during COVID (or to return back to country of service afterward)
    • $1,000 for a new laptop to continue reaching people online
    • $1,000 to help with added living expenses in the US
    • $25 to provide groceries to a family we serve for one week
    • $100 for a new believer to take an online ministry training class in their language 

  3. Host Virtual Events

    Spring tends to be a prime time to host fundraising events. Instead of traditional dessert parties, banquets, golf tournaments, etc, why not have a virtual fundraising event? Consider hosting a live event on Facebook or some other platform. Here, you could include many of the things you would have at an in-person event: stories of life change, videos, testimonies, prayer, and special music. You could record this live event and make it available to the public so that even more people will see your event and consider giving.

    Here are a couple additional ideas that you may find helpful in creatively thinking through how to utilize virtual platforms:
    • Ask your biggest advocates to champion the cause of your mission by fundraising for you in their platforms and networks.
    • Create a fun but actionable activity to do on behalf of your ministry (think back to the Ice Bucket Challenge of summer 2014 which raised $115 million).Or simply a challenge to re-post a graphic made by you or your ministry, with a giving link attached.

  4. Consider those on the fringes

    If you have been fundraising for a while, you probably have people on your list who are “following” your ministry but have yet to invest. They receive your email or paper updates but you never actually sat down with them to request a gift. Now is a logical time to check in and set up a video call with them. Establish a renewed relationship and ask how they are holding up under the strain of the pandemic. If appropriate, you can ask for a special gift or even the start of monthly partnership. Even if now is not a financially appropriate time for you to ask, at least you have started to invest in a relationship that could bear fruit down the road in deeper ministry partnership.

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