Asking for Support

When you contact people for support, use your inventory sheet to record conversations and pledges. Write down what you promised and your plan to follow-up. Use the Donor Support Records when you received their check (follow directions on the sheet). InterVarsity will email you several income statements to confirm what you should already know.

Asking Individuals

Ideally, try to meet face-to-face when asking individuals for support. It’s the most rewarding way to raise support and get people excited about your summer mission.

Consider taking the following steps:

  1. Call or e-mail him/her to make an appointment. Let him/her know up front why you wish to get together and for how long (at least 30 minutes). Depending how busy the individual is, give several days or weeks advance notice.
  2. Be early to your meeting. Relax and enjoy this time that God has given you to share.
  3. Although small talk is ok, be sure to allow for enough time to talk about your Urban Program and to invite him/her into partnership. Be sure to specify what you want.
  4. Ask if he/she has any questions.
  5. Ask how you can pray for the individual, and end your time together in prayer.

After your meeting, thank the individual for the meeting via email, social media or a thank-you card. In your message, confirm again what he/she committed to (e.g., “Thanks for committing to pray for me weekly and pledging $100.”). Try to do this immediately after your meeting, so you won’t forget! Also, if appropriate, write down the amount pledged on your inventory sheet.

Asking Your Small Group

If your church or campus small group is not already missions- and urban ministry-minded, this is a great opportunity for you to share what you are learning about urban ministry and missions.  By sharing your excitement and eagerness for God’s work in the city, you can stir up their own curiosity and interest. Ask your fellow small group members to join you in your Urban Program preparations:

  • As you read the newspaper or news online, share articles about urban justice issues with them (could be about the education system, or health care, or racial issues). Read articles from the local paper of the city where you’ll be spending your summer.
  • Ask your small group to pray for the director of your Urban Program, for the people you will meet in the city, and for your team. Can they hold you accountable to pray?
  • As you find out about what you’ll be doing on your Urban Program, share with the small group. What role can each member in the group play in your summer ministry? Ask them to pray with you about your city even before you go.
  • Ask your small group if they have friends (on campus or at their home churches) who might be interested to hear more about your Urban Program.
  • Ask them to pray for you during your fundraising process and during the Urban Program.  Share with them regular testimonies about how God is providing for you.
  • Ask them if they would consider supporting you financially. Ask your small group leader if you can give a short presentation one week and ask support from the members. In some settings, it may be more motivating for people to support you financially as a corporate small group effort. 

Asking Your Campus Fellowship

If you are in a fellowship that meets as a large group, consider sharing about your Urban Program at the large group meeting. Again, this is a great opportunity for you to stir up other people’s curiosity and interest in urban missions. The first step you may want to take is to discuss your ideas with your staff and ask for your staff’s help in mobilizing your fellowship. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ask your small group to prepare 5-minute presentations on different urban justice issues and lead the large group in prayer. Try sharing about 5 different issues in 5 consecutive large group meetings.
  • Ask previous Urban Program students to share their experiences and why they got involved.
  • Present a profile of the city you will be serving at.
  • Ask your staff to dedicate a large group talk on God’s love for the poor.
  • Get together with other students in your fellowship who are going on summer missions, and do a presentation to the large group together. At the end, pass out a pledge sheet (see sample in Appendix 3).

Asking Non-Christian Friends

If you have many friends who are not believers, you may want to consider asking for their support as well. However, it is not ideal for you to rely solely on this group of people for support because in most cases, they will not be able to offer prayer support. Nonetheless, inviting their financial support could offer an opportunity for you to share more about your faith and more about God’s love for the poor. Here are some suggestions:

  • Think about your non-Christian friends and their values. Which values do they have that are also true of your Urban Program? For example, if your friends care about justice issues, you can frame your summer in those issues.  
  • Invite your non-believing friends to help you in your preparations, such as learning more about city-specific justice issues.
  • Don’t send your non-Christian friends the same letters or e-mails that you send to your Christian supporters. Instead, tailor the letter to your non-Christian audience. Don’t hide the fact that you are a believer and that InterVarsity is a Christian organization, but be sensitive to your audience.

Asking Your Church

The first step in asking a church for support is to speak with a missions committee member or the pastor. If you don’t know them personally, have a friend in the church who does know them introduce you. It is also extremely helpful to know the history of the church – how much they typically support summer missionaries, what do they usually require from missionaries, etc. – BEFORE inviting the church to support you. This will prevent you from asking for too much or asking for too little. Do your homework!

When you meet with the pastor or missions committee member, be prepared to answer questions and be prepared to ask questions. What are their policies regarding fundraising? What would be most effective in growing a support team within the church? Allow the pastor or the missions committee member to guide your next steps. Keep them in the loop on your progress, and ask them their opinions about the following ideas, which may or may not work in your church:

  • Ask your pastor if you can give a presentation about God’s heart for the poor and your participation in your Urban Program during or after a church service.
  • Ask your Sunday School class to do similar things that you’re asking your small group on campus to do.
  • Do a presentation about your Urban Program to all the Sunday School classes. Pass around a prayer sign-up sheet (see Appendix 4).
  • Schedule a special Saturday brunch at church, where you could invite church members who are interested in urban missions.
  • Ask if the church can designate a special “optional” offering one Sunday for people who want to designate their offering toward supporting your Urban Program.
  • Ask if it’s acceptable for you to distribute your prayer letters at church or to send an email to the church directory about your Urban Program.
  • Schedule a meeting with a missions committee member or the full missions committee (depends on the church situation as to which one is better). Be prepared! It makes a big difference when you talk to a missions committee to show them your budget and say:

"My total summer expenses will be $1,650. Between what I, my parents, and my school IVCF chapter can give, I have commitments of $800. My church at school gives $200 to all students who go on summer missions. That leaves $600 which I hope to raise through this church and through other friends and family."

Compare that presentation to the more typical: "God has called me to urban missions this summer. It will cost around $1,650. Would you support me?”