The current missionary support raising model is dying

Got a great-and-sobering note from a dear brother of mine–a leader at a great missions agency–this week.

Subject? The traditional dial-a-church model of missionary funding is becoming such an exercise in futility that it’s really best termed SPAM.

Here’s the note:

‘We’ve been calling 200-300 churches a week and getting one service out of that.’

That’s the quote that was ringing in my head when I woke up this morning. Last night on our conference call with [a couple of our missionaries] I asked them how [their support raising] was going. That was [one missionary’s] reply.

When I think about my job and think of having to make two to three hundred cold calls a week and getting a ‘no’ every time but one, I wonder just how long I would last. I once sent out one hundred resumes in a month and the feeling of rejection was overwhelming.

As a [mission leadership team] we have had discussions about not wanting to SPAM our constituency. With our past model, if [every missionary raising their support] was as zealous as [this missionary], then from our 60 plus missionaries on home assignment, we would have 12,000 to 18,000 cold calls going out each week to churches asking them for a chance to speak in their service. Is a picture forming in your mind?

The current missions support raising model is on track to run out of gas in our generation. In its last gasp it is managing to cheese off a lot of churches who are ever more tired of and guarded against missionaries who are still taught this funding model as if it were Gospel.

Sadly, the greatest casualty may be the budding missionaries on the receiving end of all those no’s from churches.

I wasn’t surprised to hear from another staffer at the same agency (which is in the process of scrapping the traditional fundraising approach in favor of a Transformational Giving model) that one young couple preparing for missionary service interviewed three agencies before choosing this one.

The basis for the couple’s decision?

They couldn’t stomach the traditional approach to fundraising but resonated deeply with the TG approach.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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