Most people think that the most important steps of raising support happen before you head overseas.
That is not necessarily true.
So many students who go overseas miss the crucial post-trip steps of raising support. As a result, support raising leaves a bad taste in their mouths, and in the mouths of their supporters, too. Without these vital steps, raising support feels just like asking for handouts, instead of a partnership in the gospel like it’s designed to be.
So what’s the big secret, then? It’s all about what you do when you get back.
Here are three things you can do when you get back from your mission trip that will honor your supporters’ investment in you. These three things will even help you answer the question that we all ask ourselves when we get back to “normal” life: So what do I do now? And lastly, if you do these all three of these things, you will also set yourself up well if you go back overseas and need to support raise again.
So what are three things you should do? 1) Update and thank your supporters, 2) apply what you’ve learned, and 3) update & thank your supporters again.
1) Update and thank your supporters! Right after you get back (1-3 weeks), you need to write your supporters a brief letter to let them know how God worked during your mission trip. Pick 2-3 highlight stories from your time overseas where you saw God do big things, and don’t forget to tell your supporters how God worked in your own heart, too! If you can, include some pictures that go along with your stories. A good length of an update letter is about one page. And of course, thank them again for investing in you. Let them know that without their prayerful and financial partnership, the trip would not have been possible.
2) Apply what you’ve learned! This is what sets a mission trip apart from a cool overseas adventure. A vacation is a time for rest, but a mission trip is a “greenhouse” for spiritual work. Look for a concrete way to put into practice what God taught you on the trip. Did you share the gospel in India? Go to the international student office on campus and get connected with the Indian students on campus. Did you help lead a kids’ sports camp? Consider coaching a local youth sports team and demonstrating the same love for these kids as you did overseas. Did you prayer walk in Kenya? Start a world prayer group on campus that prays for different countries each week. Sometimes getting involved in things like these aren’t as glamorous as they were overseas, but they are no less spiritual and they reveal the truth about your motivations: Are you willing to go outside your comfort zone only when you’re in another country, or are you willing to follow God no matter your zip code?
3) Update and thank your supporters again! After a few months or even a semester of applying locally what you learned overseas, let your supporters know about it! Send out a short email or letter telling them what you’ve been up to as a result of your mission trip. Do not use this letter to raise funds for your next trip; you just want your supporters to know again how appreciative you are and how their investment of prayers and finances is reaping dividends, even long after your trip. This letter will demonstrate that you truly see your supporters as ministry partners.