Our mission agency told us to expect support raising to take 9-12 months. What should my husband and I do for income during this time?

“Keep your job or get a more flexible one, reduce expenses, and find people who can help meet your needs before you go.”

Raising support takes a lot of time and energy. It can be a full-time job on its own! Continuing any kind of work that requires much of you while you’re raising your support may be difficult. Yet many mission candidates can’t afford to quit their jobs yet, either, because they need the money to live on.

Some stay in the jobs they have and keep their future plans quiet. Others tell their supervisors about the coming transition. Depending on the company, the relationship you have with them, and how much they want to keep you, an open discussion may result in an offer of greater flexibility.

Others leave their jobs and live on savings, possibly taking a lower-level job (e.g., part-time or temporary work) that will help pay the bills but can be left more easily when the time comes. 

Many take extra measures to simplify their lives and reduce their expenses while raising support. Often that means moving back in with parents or looking for another low- or no-rent option like house-sitting for a number of months. Your church may be aware of someone looking for a house-sitter or housemate. That can really reduce financial pressure.

This is often a good choice if you are single or if your support-raising plan will require much travel. Sharing with others may be awkward or uncomfortable at times, but God may that to help prepare you to be more flexible and/or to live with less. 

Another approach is to seek out donors to help support you specifically during this period. For example, someone may be willing to make a significant financial commitment for a period of three to six months or provide a full year’s worth of support in advance. Having support already coming in could free you from having to work an outside job and allow you to focus on raising support.

Whether or not you receive funds through the organization (which would be tax deductible) may depend on your organization’s policies. You may not be able to receive a mission-agency salary until you are ready to go or very actively preparing. Donors often assume you don’t need funds until you actually leave for the field, so giving may be slow at first anyway.

The ministries that come alongside those raising support have not published much about this question, but they might be able to offer some helpful tips, and additional training/encouragement if that’s something you need as well. Check out Support Raising SolutionsPeople Raising, and a newer ministry designed to provide more personalized help called Tailored Fundraising.

Answer from Marti, who has served as a mission mobilizer for 20+ years, more than ten of them with Pioneers.

“Keep your current job if you have one.”

Honestly, this was one of the biggest frustrations I faced when my family and I were appointed to serve with an agency. I was the only person in my appointment “class” of around fifteen people who had to take non-paid leave from my job to make it to the initial trainings. The reality is, in a sense, missionaries are appointed to “jobs” that don’t pay. 

First, if you can raise your needed support in 9-12 months, praise God, that is very fast! It depends on how much you need to raise. We initially spent two years raising support and never met our goal, though God provided another (more affordable) ministry we could be a part of.

As far as how you should support yourselves during this time, it depends on how long you expect it to take. Do not depend on averages for this. I wouldn’t even depend on what mine was or any agency says it will take. If you need to raise, say $5,000 in monthly support, but have few mission-minded friends, family, or church connections, it could take three years to develop that kind of support team.

If you already have several hundred individual connections and a few churches that you know are on board to support you in a substantial way, you could be done in less than a year. In any case, I would never plan for less than a year to get to the field. I say this as someone who substantially underestimated how much time it would take. 

If you can estimated a realistic time frame to build your support team, then you can decided what kind of income stream you will need in the meantime. With those that need 2-3 years, it is better to find a more permanent job.

The reality is, support raising is ALL about meeting people face-to-face, and it is usually impossible to do this during the work day anyway. Even if you don’t have to work for a living during this time, it is very unlikely you will have appointments with people every day, during the day anyway. Thus, a day-job will not necessarily slow down your progress. 

From my experience I will say that having another job during support raising, especially if it’s going to take more than a year, is essential for sanity. Raising support was one of the lowest times in my life, but if I had another outlet during those months when no additional support came in, it would have helped the discouragement.

Answer from Eric, who has served in missions in Singapore and the US for five years and currently works with Joshua Project.

“Your mission agency may help.”

We took about 18 months to get fully supported in our initial fundraising efforts, and that was after reducing our budget. Support-raising can be like a full-time job, but in our experience it was an evening and weekend job. Of course, if you need to travel outside of your local area to meet people/churches, it could take up more significant time.

Our first mission organization actually gave us a percentage of our “salary” as we hit support-raising goals, and we were actually able to be on our full salary by the time we were 75% supported. Does your organization offer this sort of pay scale? If so, you could be having income from your support before you’re fully-supported.

If not, the other answers sound reasonable. It’s a strange season of life, but it is rewarding in its own way. Stay open to the blessings!

Answer from Rebekah, who has served with Child Evangelism Fellowship in Puerto Rico and the US for eight years.

“Do all you can to eliminate debt.”

All the previous answers are sound, but I would add the importance of being debt-free before you enter the mission field.

Answer from Andrew, who has served three years in Ireland.

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