There is great value in fund-raising by writing friendly letters and emails. Do you write interesting letters or emails to your supporters?
Let’s look at Paul’s letter to the believers at Rome.
“But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.
Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.
So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.” (Romans 15:23-29 NIV)
Paul, the first travelling missionary, in the early church, had a way of thinking ahead when it came to fund-raising. He was heading to Jerusalem with some financial gifts from other small churches meant to help out the Jewish believers there who were experiencing food shortages.
However, he took time to write a friendly letter, full of doctrinal teaching, to the church at Rome, and confided that he hoped to visit them when he made his next missionary trip to Spain. He told them about his present trip to Jerusalem with funds given by the churches in Macedonia and Archaia. Then he suggested that they also put such a gift together to help out the Jews, from whom all the Gentiles had received the blessing of the gospel.
We know from reading Acts and the subsequent friendly letters of Paul in the New Testament, that he did get to Rome, but not quite as he had planned. He was not on the way to Spain, but brought in chains to appeal the charges made against him in Jerusalem to Caesar himself. All this took several years!
What can we learn here about fund-raising for our ministries with friendly letters, or for believers in need?
I think much can be accomplished with written communications, such as friendly letters and emails. Not everyone can naturally express themselves clearly in a written format, much less persuade others to cheerfully part with their money and make a generous gift.
(In fact, if you ever look into copywriting, you will find that those rare individuals who can write an effective sales letter, which persuades the reader to buy or donate – such writers can command very high fees for their services! I’m talking in the range of $50,000 or more for 20 minutes of work, writing just one or two pages of text!)
So then, is it impossible for a missionary or ministry leader to write effective friendly letters, to raise their support, or to get funds for a specific project?
No. I don’t think you need to hire a costly copywriter. If you pray earnestly, asking God to help you, and you write sincerely, sharing from your heart, about the work you are doing, and the needs as you see them, and if you write your letters or emails often enough so that people who care can feel that they understand what is going on in your world and what God is doing through you, then it is up to the Holy Spirit to persuade them to give generously. Our role is just to provide enough information for the Holy Spirit to work with.
It might be helpful if you can get one or more persons back home, or where you are reporting to, who will write back and dialogue with you. That way you can find out if your letters are clear enough. If your correspondent asks questions that indicate he or she did not understand all you wrote, you need to write again to the whole group or church, and make it more plain.
Today, we have so many other options. If you can’t express yourself well in written format, or you can’t spell worth three beans, how about learning to create videos? Or talking with people via Skype or such online programs? It is almost as good as being there in person!
Hmm… maybe we’ll have to prepare some lessons in this some time on this blog.