Archives For Support Raising

What’s stopping a flood of laborers from being sent out from college campuses?

Overwhelmingly, there are two barriers holding college students from being sent into full time ministry:

  1. Parents
  2. Money

The last post addressed Parents. This post will deal with half of the money issue – how support raising prevents graduates from being sent. The next post will deal with how educational debt chokes sending (is it OK if I cheat a little and split money into two posts??).

If the world’s greatest need is laborers, one of the biggest obstacles is raising support. There are tens of thousands of college grads who want to do full time ministry but, upon learning that you have to raise support, bail out.


So what we can do about it?

  • In general, the main issue to press is – “if the cause is worthy, the cost is irrelevant”.
  • Staff need to model what a life on full time support looks like.
    • Have students in your home. To see how you live. To see your family. To visualize what their life can look like.
    • Students need to see this is a viable career option. You can provide for a family on staff. You can save for retirement. You can give generously (that’s one reason we always encourage students to send us support letters for Summer Missions).
    • Staff need to watch how they talk about support. Do we always complain about it? Are we cheap and always using poor talk? (see more in Ali Enos’ excellent CruPressGreen post: Poor Language Could Be Costing Us Laborers)
  • Teach the principles of living a simple and modest lifestyle. Whether you go into full time ministry or not you should live simply and give generously because it’s God’s money, not yours. Take a discipleship appointment and listen to and discuss Roger Hershey’s phenomenal talk on the subject.
  • Make it clear that we provide incredible training and coaching on how to raise support. In our region with Cru, the success rate for interns getting fully supported is nearly 100% (for those who work at it full time). We can fairly confidently say – if you work at it, God will provide 100% of your support.
  • Share with students stories of God providing financially.
  • Walk through a Biblical basis for support raising. I’ve unpacked some of that here: Jesus Was Supported by Others – Will You Follow?
    • Students need to see that support raising is not begging for money, mooching off others, wasting their degree. They need to see that they may believe more in the American dream than the Bible.
  • Students need to see that brilliant men and women, who literally could have made millions in the marketplace, have foregone earthly riches in order to serve Christ (following in the footsteps of Moses and other greats of the faith). We need the best and the brightest, not those who can’t find viable work elsewhere. They need to hear (true!) stories of other grads leaving six figure starting salaries and $50k signing bonuses on the table in order to go into full time ministry. My discipler in college had chosen staff on Cru – he held degrees in economics and mechanical engineering from Rice University. He could easily start with a six figure salary. That inspired me. It emboldened me. It let me see that full time ministry is a great investment of incredible talent and brains. We have the greatest cause in the world and we need the brightest minds in the world to give their lives to fulfilling the Great Commission.
  • Spend a discipleship time listening to a talk Steve Shadrach’s talk at Urbana on 5 Essential Keys to Fully Fund Your Ministry. It has great vision and practical insights on raising support.
Some helpful links:

What are ways you have helped students move past the obstacle of support raising?


photo courtesy of Tax Credits

This is the fourth in a series of posts on Raising Support. Click to read the 1st2nd, or 3rd

I spent 10 weeks this spring raising support. I learned a lot and wanted to share the wealth. 


This spring we were very blessed to have a few supporters join our team in the range of $500-$1000/monthly. It’s not like we’re just awash in big donors. Previously we had 2 supporters in that range. Here’s a few things we learned.

Insights on asking for significant monthly support:

2 people at business meeting

Who should you ask?

  • Your own discernment will get you a long way – but you need to have some indication that they are capable of giving at this level.
  • This is not by, any means, a normal ask that you will use very often.
  • This spring we asked 101 people for support. I only asked 4 to contribute at this level. 3 chose to do so. The 4th joined our monthly team at a lesser amount.

Respect their time

  • I offered to stop by their office for 15 minutes. Most of them wanted to just talk on the phone for 5 minutes. Obviously face to face, relationship building is better. I had known most of these folks for many years so the phone option worked fine.

They won’t be offended by your ask

  • They are used to being asked and are not offended and likely make big financial decisions every day for their job. They will tell you no if they don’t want to give. But they won’t be offended.

Offer an option to give annually

  • Many large donors like to give all at once.

Be prepared and know your numbers

  • They might ask a lot of critical questions – but don’t take it personally. They want to give wisely and be well informed donors.
  • These are often successful businesspeople who live in the realm of numbers and spreadsheets. They will be doing the math in their head as you talk about your need.
    • Me: “I need $4,400 in monthly support…”
    • Them (interrupting): “So that’s close to $53,000 on an annual basis. Why do you need that much?”
    • Me: “That will get us back to full salary – $60,000 – and cover our healthcare and personal ministry expenses”

Be able to answer – “How did you get into this predicament?”

  • My response:

“This past fall we were getting short paychecksIt’s a combination of the economy (we lost some key supporters in the past few years) and our costs have escalated.

We haven’t stopped to raise support like this since we came on staff 15 years ago. With 5 kids and increased healthcare costs, our financial needs have grown quite a bit.

So this spring I am working full time on raising our personal support and taking serious aim at broadening our base of support so we can lead long term with Cru in reaching college students in an undistracted way.”

Let them know that they are not alone

  • I’ve heard from several wealthy, Godly, generous people that one of their chief concerns is you becoming dependent on them.
  • I’ve heard it in different ways:
    • “I don’t want to give too much because I don’t want to steal the blessing of giving from others” (And they seem to genuinely mean this. They find joy in giving. They could give much more. But they want others to partner with us too.)
    • “It worries me that if my company should go under it will take you with it.”
    • “I once supported someone significantly and was unable to continue for a season, and they couldn’t recover. They left ministry.”
  • So I make a point to let them know that they are not alone – we have several people who give in this way.
  • What I say: “We have a handful of supporters who are significant partners with us in reaching college student who give between $500-$1000 monthly, or $6-12,000 on an annual basis. Would you and Julie consider partnering with us in this way?”


If it would be helpful to you, you can download a Word doc of my flow of a conversation/ask for a significant monthly gift.


Next Post: 10 Tips and Resources for Raising Support


photo courtesy of thinkpanama


This is the third in a series of posts on Raising Support in ministry. Click to read the 1st and 2nd

I spent 10 weeks this spring raising support. I learned a lot and wanted to share the wealth. 


cattleOne of the most helpful things to me in this season of raising support full time has been gaining a deeper understanding of the Biblical foundation of raising support.

The One who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” is not sweating my support needs.


A few (of many) examples of support raising from the New Testament that were particularly encouraging to me:


The Example of Jesus:

Luke 8

“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.”

Scott Morton in his book Funding Your Ministry with some profound insight:

“If it were wrong to be supported by the personal gifts of others, Jesus Christ would not have allowed it in His own ministry. Jesus was not underwritten by a religious body, nor did He work an outside job once He began His ministry. He allowed Himself and His team to be supported by the gifts of a large group of followers.

Could not the One who turned water into wine have supported Himself? Could not the One who multiplied two fish and five loaves into enough food for 5,000 have supported Himself? If anyone could have been self-supporting, it was Jesus Christ. And yet He purposely chose to live by the gifts of “many others.”

I spoke to a department manager at a missions agency office about helping one of her workers raise personal support. “Oh, we don’t do it that way!” she replied piously. No one in her department would ever “stoop” to receiving personal support. Too bad. Jesus did. Was He wrong?

If Jesus Christ became vulnerable enough to be supported by others, you and I must be willing as well.”


The Teaching of Jesus:

Luke 10:1-8

Steve Shadrach’s commentary on this passage: “After modeling to the disciples (in Luke 8) a life lived on support, He then turned them loose to do the same. Jesus sent them out in pairs to go door-to-door to people they did not know and ask for the room and board required to carry out their ministry in that city. What was His rationale? “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Here Jesus reaffirmed an Old Testament principle that God’s ministers deserve to be fully supported.”


Paul’s Teaching and Example:

I Cor 9

Paul speaks at length throughout the chapter about funding for his ministry and culminates with: “the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” It’s not an option but a command.

Philippians 4:10-19

Starting in v 15: “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”


What Bible passages are most encouraging to you as you raise support?

Tomorrow I will share: How to Ask for $1000/Month Gifts.


photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos

This is the Second in a series of posts on Raising Support in ministry. Read the First for an intro. 

I spent 10 weeks this spring raising support. I learned a lot along the way and wanted to share the wealth. 


From observing thousands of missionaries raise support, Steve Shadrach has observed the following trends:

  • For a Small Group ask or just sending a letter/email – 10% will respond (support you)
  • Letters/Emails followed up with phone calls – 25% will support you
  • Face to Face appointments – 50% will support you


I thought it would be interesting/helpful to share statistics from my personal experience.

I’ll highlight a few insights and then share the raw data below:

  • 75% of Face to Face Appointments resulted in support (61% monthly supporters; 13% with One Time Gifts)
  • It took 8 calls/messages (email/text/Facebook) to get one appointment
  • It took 12 calls/messages to get 1 monthly supporter
  • The average monthly gift was $102/month (a HUGE change from raising support 15 years ago when I mostly asked for/received $25 and $50/mo)
  • For those that were long distance (too far to drive to have an appointment with) I emailed or Facebook messaged to try to set up a phone appt (click to download a Word doc of what I say in the email).
    • 27% of those emails resulted in phone appointment (so the vast majority never made it to phone appointments)
      • But with those that I was able to get a hold of on the phone (i.e. they answered my persistent phone calls), 77% supported us
        • My theory on the reason for that high percentage is that if they took the time to talk on the phone they had likely already made up their mind to support us.
      • Exactly matching up with Steve Shadrach’s stats, 25% of people I emailed/called supported us
      • Of those “conversations” that were just conducted via email/Facebook, 89% resulted in a “no”.
        • 3 people joined our monthly support team with just conversation over email/Facebook.
  • So meeting Face to Face is the quickest (though slow!) way to raise support.


Statistics from My 10 Weeks of Support Raising:

mpd stats


Would love to hear from you: any insights jump out at you? What surprised you? Does this match up pretty closely with your experience?


Tomorrow I will share some Biblical foundations that were helpful for me as I raised support.

This is the first in a series of posts on Raising Support in ministry.

A little personal background:

I am not a natural support raiser – I’m not an extroverted networker.

This spring we needed to take 10 weeks off campus to work on raising support and, to be honest, I was dreading the experience. We have been on staff with Cru for 15 years and after our initial support raising, the most we had ever raised was $1000/mo (in a summer). This spring we needed to raise $4,000 in monthly support and I thought it would never happen. Yet God has provided in amazing ways and I have learned a lot along the way.

In the next few posts I would love to share some great resources and insights from this experience of raising support.


Steve Shadrach is a leading expert on support raising. He just released a new book on support raising The God Ask – endorsed by Ellis Goldstein (Cru’s Guru of Support Raising) among many others. Cru Staff- I have a hunch we’ll get a free copy at Staff Conference. I’d recommend following Steve’s organization: Support Raising Solutions on Twitter.


harvestSteve gave a talk at Urbana on 5 Essential Keys to Fully Fund Your Ministry I’d highly recommend to anyone who raises support.


Great insights from the talk:

  • The biggest need of the world is laborers (the harvest is plentiful, the workers are few…)
  • The biggest obstacle = support (thousands want to do full time ministry but don’t/won’t raise support)


  • We need to move from budget driven to vision driven…
  • Most people in ministry make decisions based on “how much will it cost” instead of “will it further the spread of the gospel?” or “will it help my family flourish as I spread the gospel?”
  • We don’t want the epitaph on our generation to read: “we kept overhead low”
  • We want to change the world
  • Aside: see this fascinating TED Talk for a totally different (secular), yet likeminded, viewpoint- Too many nonprofits are rewarded for how little they spend – not for what they get done.


  • The average time for people to get to full support (across all ministries):
    • 18-23 months
  • We challenge people to get to 100% in 100 days


  • As we’ve trained 7500 people from 500 organizations in raising support, we’ve observed these Stats on Support Raising Methods:
    • For a Small Group ask or just sending a letter/email – 10% will respond (support you)
    • Letters/Emails followed up with phone calls – 25% will respond
    • Face to Face appointments – 50% will respond


Tomorrow I’ll share my personal stats and insights from 10 weeks of raising support.


photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney