As a missionary you should be well aware of who your supporters are, how much they give and how much you have in your support account on a monthly basis. This means that you should set aside at least a day out of the month to review your budgets, communicate/thank donors and reconcile any outstanding financial business.
Missionary support is a very fluid thing that is constantly changing. Of coarse the better a missionary communicates with his/her supporters the better they will be supported (see communication). But change does happen and you need to catch it as soon as possible. This is how I help missionaries break down and understand their monthly support:
- Break each supporter up into two categories
- Ongoing Supporter – this is a person that has signed up for automatic withdrawal on a monthly basis. Meaning, that you can be fairly confident that this exact amount of money will be deposited into your support account on a monthly basis. Also, there are donors that don’t give electronically but are faithful at writing a check. This of coarse requires some solid giving history. But these individual that are sending in checks monthly can be included in your ongoing support.
- One-time Gift Supporter – These individuals might turn into ongoing supporters but for now leave them on as one-time givers. Which means that you cannot really count or fully budget this money into your ongoing support needs.
- Large Gift Donors – Sometimes individuals will send in a one-time large donation and sometimes that large donation might come in on a regular basis. Here is the hard question that you need to ask yourself before you consider this as part of your monthly support – how sustainable is this amount for the person giving it? That sounds a little judgmental but you need to be about to figure how how much you can depend on these large gifts coming in on a regular basis.
- Take a bird-eye view of the information you just categorized. Tally up all the categories and look at the bottom line. For example, you have $1,500 in ongoing monthly support, plus another $500 in one-time gifts, plus a large gift of $2,000 that has come in twice totaling $4,000. But you need a minimum of $2,000 a month of support before you can go to the field… are you ready to go? Well, you can go in a “step of faith” but you will quickly be tapping into your $4,500 surplus each month. Of coarse on the flip side you’ll probably get more one-time gifts each month that might slow down the financial leak. However, this is not the stress that you want as a new missionary. It is better to wait another month and have a few meetings with people (like the one-time /large gift donors) to see where they are at and if you can convince them to shift over to ongoing. Remember this phrases – “the most effective way to support a missionary is through ongoing monthly support.”
In the midst of the “business” side of being a missionary remember to pray over/for each donor and remember to reach out to them and personally thank them for their gift! They are a part of your team and you need to remember to engage them in what is going on in your life and ministry. Have integrity and manage this well as it is a gift from God for you and if you don’t have integrity in it He will take it away from you.