Many people make their first trip abroad relying on just their savings, or the rent they receive on their house, if they have one. While this may work in the short term, funds can quickly run out, as independents frequently underestimate the cost of things like housing (which can be very high in foreign cities) and buying a property for their operation.
So you will need to consider how to keep funds rolling in, and this is better done in advance rather than once you’ve been abroad for three years. Doing it as part of your preparation will work well. Many of your friends will be willing to support either you personally or the work that you do, and don’t be afraid to ask them. This will help them (literally) to buy into your vision.
You can raise funds in a number of different ways:
Personal support. Ask your family, friends, colleagues and church members if they will be willing to donate to you (or your charity) a set amount each month. You will need to explain carefully why you need this. People are going to be reluctant to support you lounging about having a good time in the sun while they’re hard at work, so think through what their support means and engage their interest.
Set up a charity. If you a planning a specific long-term ministry it might be worth you setting up your own charity as a vehicle for it. It’s not particularly hard and it will give you a lot of credibility. Funds that people donate will be eligible for Gift Aid (currently 25%) of the gift which will boost the charity’s income significantly. It will also boost the confidence of donors that you’re accountable.
Churches and agencies. If you are doing something that could attract organisational support, make sure you apply. Get the support of your church, denomination and other local churches behind you. It may be hard for you at first to convince them it’s a good investment, but build a relationship and show them your reliability. There may be large charities looking to partner with small local operations. It does no harm to enquire.
Activities. Do something to engage people’s attention. Whether it’s a quiz night or a marathon, washing cars or doing a parachute jump, something specific as a fundraiser will build support, particularly if it’s an area you’re good at (baking?), challenged about (a sponsored silence if you’re really talkative) or scared of – men waxing their legs always draws an interested crowd!
Grants. There are a large number of charities, Christian and otherwise, which will give grants to projects that further their aims. Again, it may be difficult for you to get funds to start with, but keep trying. There is a website called Guide Star which culls information from the UK Charity Commission website and allows you to access it via their search criteria.
It is vitally important that you do not overlook financial support as part of your preparation, as there is nothing quite so embarrassing – both at home and in the host country – as returning home with the job half-done simply because you’ve run out of funds.