That's great! You're going to have a blast! Putting on a summer camp where you get to meet students, share the Gospel, and see people's lives change is an amazing experience. But there's a lot to do between here and there.
One thing that a lot of people stumble over when they sign up to go on a summer project is support raising. This is often one of the most difficult parts of trip preparation, and can be downright frightening for some. Fortunately we're here to help! There are a lot of great resources and training for you to take advantage of.
So let's say a quick prayer and dive in, shall we?
Lord, We know that You are sovereignly in control of everything. You know my going out and my lying down (Psalms 139:3), You know that I have committed to this summer project. Thank you for this opportunity Lord. Thank you for the chance to grow in my faith, and to learn to trust in You through difficult situations. I ask Lord that You provide for this work in a manner that dwarfs my expectations. Please bring in the full support that I need, so that like Paul, "in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge" (1 Corinthians 9:18)
The question has been raised before, and you might be asking it now: why shouldn't I simply write a check and support the mission myself?
Great question! The answer has nothing to do with how much money you make, or whether you would normally donate this amount, or anything like that. The answer has to do with the spiritual purpose of support raising.
Through the support raising process, God is going to work both in and through you.
Were you called to come on this project? Almost certainly yes. God has worked in you already to bring you to a decision to go this summer. However it would be a fatal mistake to believe that everyone who signs up for the trip is called. This is an opportunity to confirm your calling. We can be absolutely sure of this, that if you are called to go on the project, your support will come in.
And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.
for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.
If you are a believer in christ, you absolutely are called to be on mission.
If you are called to be on this specific mission, He will provide beyond what you could expect.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
So be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9)! God is on your side and He will bring in the funds.
So how do we do it? Your participant guide has a very informative page on this! I'll touch on the steps and expand with additional tips here.
One of the most important things you can do. This expresses your dependence on the Lord to bring in your support. Pray for specifics, ex. "Lord, I need $1700 to come in by May 11. I trust You that You will make that happen. Thank you for what you've already brought in. Fasting can also be a good tool during this time. Consider regularly fasting in order to express your need and prepare your heart to go. Don't fall into a trap of arrogance, presuming upon God's generosity, but rather humble yourself and take seriously the calling of God.
In the Campus Crusade world, they call this "namestorming". Write down every name you know. Regardless of whether they're a believer or not. Regardless of whether you have their contact info or not. We'll pare down the list afterwards if necessary. This is a key component. You never know who God is going to use to bring in the support you need. When I was getting ready to join STINT in 2015, I needed $2000 fast to be able to buy the plane tickets for the summer trip. The problem was I had been asking for $50/mo monthly commitments, rather than lump sum. As I prayed about the problem, my agnostic Aunt contacted me and said she wanted to donate up front $2400, rather than spreading $200/mo out over a year. God showed up big time, because I was faithful to put her name on my list of people to contact.
There's lots of ways to do this, obviously a personal email is better but you can use an email program to send out personalized mass correspondence. One option is Mailchimp, which has a free tier. If that's a little too "marketing-y", you can use a Mail Merge program like this one for Gmail.
A sample letter can be found in your participant packet. The key points to hit are:
Don't forget the ask! It's important to directly ask people to partner with you. A sample line could be:
Please consider partnering with me through prayer, and also financially.
Please do also direct people to the 2018 landing page to find out more about what we'll be doing!
You will have access to a tool that allows you to track your donations, including who gave what. In addition, we will be keeping an overall "progress bar" updated on the 2018 landing page
This is key. After you send out the email, personally call as many of the people on the list as you can. If you don't have their number, get their number from a friend or family member. The personal follow-up gives you a chance to directly share what is going on, and to answer any questions they might have. It could also be an opportunity to share your story of life change with someone who hasn't heard it. Try if you can to schedule a face-to-face meeting with them to share more about the trip. If you get a face-to-face meeting, they are 10x more likely to support you. Don't be pushy but don't be afraid to ask either.
A simple thank you note or postcard goes a long way. You can also pick a postcard up in country while you are there and write the note when you get back. People love to put those up on their refrigerators. It could also open a conversation to share about what God has done both in you and through you.
The fun part! Enjoy the trip!
Send a follow up email sharing about your experience. This is different from the thank-you note. Send this to everyone on your list regardless of whether they supported you financially. Some of them have been supporting you in prayer and would love to hear about what God did.
If you're willing, consider writing a blog post here on teamalbania.org about your experience. We'd love to have several of you share about what happened in each of your cities.
Gordon Burgett is a Team Leader with the Team Albania ministry, focusing on young professionals. He has been leading discipleship trips to Albania since 2013. For two years (2015-2017), Gordon lived in Tirana, Albania as a member of Cru's STINT program, where he focused on developing the young adults/professionals movement.