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Raising support

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?

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Shanna May 24, 2011, 11:27 am

    Just a personal note on this subject…

    Two years ago, my husband and I were secretly struggling..and not sharing this with anyone…We had just given birth to our fifth child, struggling financially, near losing our home…water was about to be shut off and other utilities not far behind…we went to church one day on so little fuel I’m not sure how we made it there. Our pastor was teaching a sermon that day on community and how some of us are in need and others have a little extra and at the end of the sermon white buckets were placed around and people were invited to come and give or take depending upon individual circumstances. I was astonished at how many stood in line to give and that I was seeing no one take. (It was a loooong line..we attend Mars Hill..guess we’re considered a Megachurch.:)..) So I sat holding my 1 week old son…amazed and of course, crying and people start forming a line in front of me and dropping money in my diaper bag, giving hugs, offering support and phone numbers….none of these people knew my situation. I hadn’t even attended my normal service that morning. They sensed a need and wanted to help to fill it. In the end, I made a few friends and the money that was given to my family was exactly enough to pay my water bill, gas bill, and electric bill and fill my gas tank full of gas. I had exactly 2 dollars left after this. There was a strange feeling accepting that money that day, however, it was the beginnning of our opening up about what was going on with us financially and we were able to seek help through members of our church community…we did lose our home but we are in a much better place now and have been given the opportunity to share our story with so many other people. Had we not accepted the help that was offered to us in our church, never would we have been open to the blessings we’ve received since then (and not monetarily) and never would we have had the opportunity to be a witness to the ways in which God has taken care of us…

    Did I ramble on a bit…I apologize.

    • Lon May 24, 2011, 2:00 pm

      Hey Shanna, thanks for commenting, no need to apologize for sharing about your own journey.

      i’m well acquainted with Mars Hill from a distance. I heard about the white bucket project a while back and it’s definitely informed some of my own thinking on money & community.

      Really glad to hear you were able to benefit from the initiative, and awesome knowing how God works especially when we’re in need…

  • jum dengha benard July 26, 2011, 10:10 am

    please my brothers and sisters in christ . for the past years now i have been working and helping the poor and comforting and healing the sick by the power and the grace of god . please i really want some people to help me financially because am not able to continuen my servisesto the needy. may God bless those who will read this message and help. you can contact our numbers on +23794918809 or +23777530793 and prayers also bye for now.

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