introvert's guide to support raising

An Introvert’s Guide to Support Raising

Getting to the Field OMF Blog U.S. Homeside

By Maggie Bennet
When people hear that I raised support for my missions role with OMF, they assume one of the following things:

  1. That I enjoy fundraising.
  2. That I am super holy.
  3. That I am an extrovert.

None of the above is true. In fact:

  1. It’s hard for me to ask people for any kind of favor, much less financial ones.
  2. I don’t receive unique manifestations of the Spirit that enable me to boldly solicit funds on behalf of Jesus.
  3. I’m an introvert who tires easily after repeated social engagements.

Suffice it to say I’m not a shining example of an “ideal” support-raiser. And yet, through my support-raising journey, God provided three years’ worth of my salary before I even began my role and I have been working as a support-based missionary for seven years since. Raising up financial and prayer partnerships wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

If God is nudging you to consider missions, chances are you’ve thought about support-raising. If you’re an introvert like me, chances are you’ve had more than a few reservations at the thought.
Introversion is a spectrum, but can include traits like:

  • Self-reflective.
  • Needs to recharge after repeated social interactions.
  • Prefers to talk one-on-one rather than in large group settings.
  • Likes to think before acting.

Each personality type will have its own unique struggles with a task like support raising, but introverts in particular might be inclined to look at what’s required and say “no thanks—that doesn’t really fit my personality.” Sadly, that response could mean you’ve prematurely disqualified yourself from an amazing journey God is preparing for you and your community.

If you’re an introvert and want to get involved in missions but are terrified at the prospect of raising funds to do so, you’re not alone. Here are 7 common thoughts and fears that you might wrestle with as an introvert raising support, and some advice about how to overcome them.

1. “I’m terrified by public speaking. Won’t that make me a bad support-raiser?”

As an introvert, it’s likely you would rather have a meaningful one-on-one conversation than speak to a large group of people. And guess what—that’s a great trait to leverage as you raise support.

While the typical image of a support-raising missionary might be the person at the front of your church sanctuary gesturing at a PowerPoint presentation, group presentations don’t have to be the primary means of sharing your ministry. In fact, large group presentations were the least effective means of raising funds for me.

Support raising should really be a process of developing partnerships, not pitching your ministry. Yes, casting vision and giving strategic presentations are important, but investing in your partner’s spiritual journey is paramount. This happens best in smaller settings, which you naturally gravitate towards. As you and your ministry partner swap stories of God’s work in your lives, a holy disruption takes place, moving you both toward the Lord in a new way. After all, money is just a tool God uses to accomplish our inner transformation. So give your friends and family the opportunity to grow toward Jesus by partnering with you in ministry.

2. “Talking to people wears me out. Will I have the energy to meet with people constantly?”

 Support raising is by no means just a process of talking to people all the time. It’s a process of planning, e-mailing, database-updating, thank-you note writing, etc. Now, that list of tasks might not sound like a party to you, but they’re tasks that are crucial to the process and will give you a break from spending your limited social currency.

So, make a list of these tasks and keep them on hand for days when you need to withdraw from people and recharge. Every small task you can check off your list will help you maintain precious momentum as you advocate for your ministry.

3. “I’m not good at ‘selling myself.’ Why would anyone want to support me?”

As an introvert, your introspection is a strength; you’re aware of your motivations, desires and tendencies. Taking this introspection into the support raising process can benefit you, but it can also tempt you to make this experience about you and how well-equipped or well-suited you are for this process.

The thing is, support raising is not about you. It’s about others’ joy in Jesus.

Yes, you are the one in the ministry role, but God’s plans for your ministry extend to the people who will partner with you. God wants to give others the opportunity to grow in generosity and to be part of his kingdom work around the world. Even if you don’t feel 100 percent confident in your abilities, feel confident that God’s work is worthy of people’s joy. So don’t let self-focus limit you; be generous with God’s gifts.

4. “I already feel like giving up. If God called me to this, shouldn’t I be less discouraged?”

The short answer is: everyone gets discouraged while raising support. But as an introvert, you might be tempted to internalize that discouragement and assume you’re not cut out for this.

The reality is, support raising is difficult regardless of calling or personality type, and that’s okay. Sometimes God calls us into uncomfortable things to stretch us and increase our dependence on him.

Take time to pause and process your experiences. When you’re feeling down, don’t sit in that unforgiving head space for too long. Reach out to a friend who can extend grace and compassion to you. If you don’t feel validated in your struggles, you’ll be tempted to avoid your tasks, carry stress or throw in the towel.

5. “I’ve shared with everyone I can think of and I’m still at 20%. I can quit now, right?”

Well, not quite. Introverts tend to prefer having a small circle of close friends instead of sprawling social network. As you’ve probably guessed, the support raising process will require you to talk to more than just a few trusted people. You might end up sharing your missions journey with your friend’s mom or a random member of your church.

There’s no way around it—approaching strangers can feel awkward and uncomfortable. But, God has placed you in your unique circle of influence for a purpose: you can reach people that no one else can. While Christians often talk about “reach” in terms of evangelism; it also applies to discipleship—and in this case, missions discipleship.

Throughout my support-raising process, I had to admit that if God provided 100% of my funds immediately, I would have stopped talking to new people about God’s work in East Asia. But that would have been a loss for the body of Christ God had placed me in.

If you’re not at 100% support yet, that doesn’t mean it’s time to collapse in discouragement. It means there’s still someone out there who needs to hear from God through you as you share about your ministry. If you disqualify yourself from the calling to raise support, there’s a community of Christians who might never receive a personal invitation to participate in global missions.

If you’re not yet fully funded, make it a goal to talk to just one more person. You never know who’s waiting for the invitation you’re about to extend.

6. “Okay I’ll consider raising support … but let me think about it some more.”

As an introvert, you like to prepare mentally before taking action, which is a strength. However, when mixed with the inevitable anxieties that come with support raising, this thoughtfulness can easily turn into stalling.

While it’s helpful to do your homework and prepare mentally and spiritually for the process, you might, like me, be tempted to drag out your preparation and delay getting to the work of doing support raising. My support raising training should have taken me 6 weeks, but instead I dragged it out for 5 months. Whoops!

Find a friend who would enjoy assisting your journey into missions by being your accountability partner. This accountability can take many forms, but at the very least, a weekly check-in conversation can be extremely helpful. To this day, my most productive support raising seasons were the times when I had this kind of weekly call with my uncle.
During these conversations, allow your friend (or family member) to ask what tasks you accomplished the previous week, and what you plan to do the upcoming week. This discussion will help you create manageable goals and more accurately track what’s getting done.

7. “Have you seen how much money I have to raise? This is impossible.”

Introverts and extroverts alike struggle with this one—and I get it. I’ve been there, too. When I started raising support, multiple people looked at my budget and audibly questioned whether I’d be able to reach my goal, especially since I was taking up a U.S.-based role instead of an exciting overseas position.

But since when did God promise to only give us reasonable goals? As cliché as it sounds, a hugely important part of support raising is learning to depend on God in prayer.

Prayer became my lifeline during support raising, and I’m thankful that the process was unnerving enough to bring me to my knees. I prayed not just to calm myself down and ease my anxiety; I prayed to ask God to do real work on my behalf. And he did it.

One day, as my support hovered at a discouraging percentage and I had reached the end of my creative rope, I brought my concerns to the Lord. While spending time with him, I came across this passage from Micah:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

I felt inspired to tell God that if he wanted me at 100 percent, he would need to finish the job. I, for one, didn’t have any ideas left. About an hour later, a friend called me and asked how much I still needed to raise. I told him the gargantuan figure: $14,000. “Okay, I’ll cover that,” he said. Later that day, another friend gave a generous monthly pledge that sent me over the 100 percent mark. Talk about opening the floodgates.

I’m not telling this story to promise you that God will provide for you in the same exact way. He might not. But God promises to provide for any work he has called you to. If you take him up on his promises, you’ll have faith-building stories to hold on to the rest of your life.

A final reminder

Support raising is ultimately God’s job. If you forget this, you will have a really rough time, whether you’re introverted, extroverted, tall, short, circus performer, salesperson, etc. Not only that, you will miss out on seeing God do things you couldn’t possibly conjure up with hours of practice or training.

Learn what you can, ask for help and be diligent, but most of all, talk to Jesus throughout the process and surrender it to him. Support raising will grow your faith and be an incredible blessing to you and your community.

Remember: God didn’t make you an introvert so you could shrink away from opportunities. He made you the way you are so that he could use you to build and expand his church. Will everything he asks you to do be comfortable? No. But will those things be saturated with purpose and be glorifying to him? Absolutely.

As an introvert, you have so much to offer the people you connect with on this journey. People will be amazed by God as they hear what he has done in your life. So don’t keep this journey to yourself. Share the joy—Jesus is worth it.

 

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