About 5 years ago I handed in my resignation letter leaving behind a great corporate job for a life of uncertainty with the hope
Since then I’ve wrapped up seminary, had two kids, sold our home, moved back in with my parents for a year, led a church plant, started a non-profit network, and am incubating a little web startup for social good.
Much of my work is not exactly conventional, which means neither is my income. We’ve been draining a pot of cash saved up from the corporate days to get by these five years and are at a stage where I’m looking to begin fundraising.
Raising financial support is totally awkward. If I could share a few thoughts as I’m beginning this journey…
It is far easier to raise money for a cause than for a living wage.
A lot of organizations and missionaries try to make fundraising sexier by focusing on the causes and the impact, but the reality is the majority of people need an income to get by.
Should a person who works harder than the next guy get paid less because they happen to love what they do?
What does it mean when funds run thin? I know some faith-based organizations that say it means God isn’t affirming what you’re doing. How do people emotionally work around this?
I’ve always advocated interdependence, but the truth is I’ve built and planned my life to be independent of others, at least financially. This appears to be changing.
If I become community supported will I suddenly be on everyone’s payroll? What unmentioned strings am I attaching myself to?
I want to live an accountable life – but how deeply will I be judged? ie. ‘I saw Lon eating an angus burger on twitter – that should be my angus burger!’
Could I optimize our spending better? Yes. Could I take out another mortgage? Yes. Could I sell my body to science for some extra cash? Yes (and been there done that). Most of us would do anything we could before going to our friends wouldn’t we?
I’ve wondered If I should stop freely donating and supporting other causes? It feels a bit like I’m just passing someone else’s money along. I’ve decided we would continue donating until we literally couldn’t afford to. It’ll be okay uwayisaba.
Money is serious stuff. Because it gets to the root of what we value – Fantastic conversations have risen due to looking for financial support.
My bravest self would want my needs known. I discovered some friends who had been thinking for months about how to support me but weren’t sure how to bring it up. If we avoided these awkward conversations everyone risks losing.
I’ve had my Barack Obama fantasies. All I need to do is find 50 people to chip in $50 bucks a month online and I’m set. But I’m no Barack Obama.
I also wonder if this is some form of 21st century pan handling. Will this make any social capital I have completely tank? There’s always a shift in dynamics when there’s a person in need.
Expect the unexpected when it comes to fundraising. Don’t bank on friends with means, and don’t discount distant acquaintances.
Some people have asked if raising support is all that ‘biblical’. There’s plenty of references, but I think the early church practiced something even more profound than support raising when they shared ‘all things in common’. ie. Let’s all open our bank accounts and help each other out as needed. I bet that would get a bit awkward.
I’ve got a number of other thoughts percolating, but all this to say, support – how about it?