Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – The Basics

Note:  This material is for those just starting in social media.  If you are already engaged online – or if you are younger than 35 – this material will be too basic for you 🙂  You might find part 2 of this article, my specific strategy, to be interesting or useful to you though.

I’ve been talking for two years about missionaries using social media for fundraising. Now the missionaries are asking me how to incorporate social media into their support raising scenarios.  I just finished training nine newbie appointees on how to do their ministry partner discover (MPD), so let’s outline a few basics related to social media and support raising.  In my next post, I’ll hit a specific fundraising strategy that incorporates the use of social media.

Missionaries Need to Overcome Reluctance to Incorporate Social Media into Their Support Raising

A reluctant missionary makes an ineffective missionary.  Reluctance may rear its ugly head in the areas of language learning, making new friends or even leaving the apartment to venture out to go the market.  Many missionaries struggle with these adaptive tendencies, reducing their effectiveness to relate to a new culture and a new people.  Missionaries who are reluctant to adapt to modern technology and social customs may also suffer negative consequences in their lives and ministries, needlessly.

I share this because there seems to be a reluctance among many missionaries to use social media in their fundraising efforts.  A year ago I did a training session with a group of 30 missionaries on incorporating social media into fundraising and I was met with a lot of skepticism.  “I don’t know how Facebook could help me in my ministry” gets at the common response I received.

Reluctance may take the following forms – these are real life statements that I have heard:

  1. “I don’t have the time to be online.”
  2. “I don’t understand how social media works.”
  3. “Social media is a fad and not worth my resources.”
  4. “Social media wouldn’t be useful for support raising because all people do on there is tell us what they ate for lunch.”
Overcoming reluctance with using social media will benefit the missionary and his or her ministry.  Here are responses to those real life statements:
  1. True, social media takes time, but so does anything beneficial.  Taking ten minutes a day could have a significant impact on your relationships and capacity to share your mission vision.
  2. Learn.  Read my blog.  Ask friends who use social media.  Observe how others share their lives and ministry online.  Ask me any questions that you have.  I’m here to help.
  3. Social media is not going away, but it is evolving overtime.  If you ignore it, you’ll be way out of touch and missing opportunities to be blessed and to be a blessing.  Like music with a beat or television that were met with skepticism back in the day, God is using social media for his glory.  Plus, it’s basically free, so little or no cost is involved.
  4. Well then, don’t talk about your meals.  Talk about the person you shared the gospel with who needs prayer to come into the kingdom.  Write about your challenges in learning a foreign language.  Tell us about the fun wedding you danced at and the sick food you chose to eat (see food is important).
So get over your reluctance!
Missionaries Need Community to Make Social Media Effective

One key aspect to fuel the usage of social media among missionaries is community.  A church missions community recently began to engage me on these topics.  My response?  It takes a community.

This church wants to help missionaries raise support using social media.  I’m excited because it only takes a few people to get started, and the more, the merrier.

Don’t think of social media as an individualistic exercise.  It is social.  You can’t go it alone, but if you try, you will fail.  Take the initiative and then ask your existing communities such as family, friends, place of employment and church groups to join your bandwagon by sharing, posting, blogging, tweeting, and linking your content and posts to their online communities.  It is truly exponential community, AKA going viral.  Having an existing community get on board with your message will help to kick-start your engagement of others online.  And then keep everyone engaged with your fantastic content.

As this community develops, it will be easy and natural for you to let your financial, prayer and other needs be made known, to people with whom you are already connected, who already care about you and who will desire to partner with you once they hear of the need.

Social Media Is An Ideal Platform for Missionaries to Share Life and Vision

When a missionary shared with me “I don’t know how Facebook could help me in my ministry” I was stunned.  Then I realized that not everyone is plugged into today’s technology.  Social media is not a prerequisite for anything, but it is a helpful tool to share your life with others and to cast a vision for your ministry.

Imagine being able to ask hundreds of people instantly for a significant prayer request.  That’s Facebook.  Or seeing pictures of a birthday party halfway around the world.  That’s Flickr.  Imagine tapping into or developing a network of people interested in your particular ministry.  That’s Twitter.  If you can communicate “it” then you can utilize social media to transform “it.”

In this context enters financial needs.  A family you are ministering to needs $500 for a surgery, so you share it with your online networks.  A disaster strikes your community, so you Facebook it and tweet it and ask for people’s generosity and compassion and before you know it, $10,000 has been raised so that you can be a love witness to your community.

Or maybe one of your major donors contacts you saying they need to stop supporting you.  What do you do?  Leave the field?  Well, first thing, pray.  Then tastefully share your need with your online friends and ask God to provide through them.

Share your life.  Share your vision.  I bet that God will be glorified.

A Basic Social Media Fundraising Strategy for Missionaries

You need to read part two for the full strategy, but here is a basic outline:

  • Make Facebook the hub of your strategy to connect with others online.
  • Open a Twitter or LinkedIn account to focus your online activities more narrowly around the emphasis of your ministry, i.e., “church planting among the unreached in Asia.”
  • Begin a blog with the same focus.  Write a short post 1-2 times each week.
  • Every time you blog, post the link to your blog on Twitter/LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Use your Twitter/LinkedIn account to create a network of people who are interested in your focus.  Become an expert on your subject and you’ll find others who are interested join in.  Network within the network.
  • Start your online presence with 2-3 applications (the ones mentioned above).  Once you have a good routine down, add one other application occasionally, but for a specific purpose (YouTube for video sharing, Flickr for photo sharing, Pinterest for expanding your network, etc.).
  • Integrate, don’t isolate your basic platforms.  Over time though, you will be adding applications that will isolate aspects of your message into a narrow emphasis.  At some point you’ll have both the big picture and the details covered.
  • Relate and build relationships with people online.  Don’t open social media accounts and then not use them.  Share your prayer requests, financial needs, family updates, favorite joke from the local culture, insights into the way they do life…you get the point.

That’s it.  Happy social networking!  Hopefully you are more convinced of the importance of social media in your ministry and in your support raising.  If not, let me know so I can address your specific needs.

[Note:  this material may not apply to you if you are working in a secure location or if you do not have decent Internet access]

Next Steps:

Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – A Facebook Strategy

Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – Featuring Twitter

3 Ways to Fail at Social Media and Missionary Support Raising

Poll:  How Do You Use Social Media in Support Raising?

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7 Comments on “Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – The Basics”

  1. Kyle D. Tromanhauser Says:

    Thanks Brian! For one who who’s last mission required a low profile our experience with social media is very limited. This has helped put things in perspecive. Look foward to your thoughts on strategy

    Reply

  2. Joy Neasley Says:

    Hello,

    My name is Joy and I am a full-time missionary in China. Thank you for organizing this article and the others you have written about social media and fundraising. I have been building a following on Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, and blogger four years now. This past December I needed an emergency surgery here in China.. Even though I had not utilized social media for fundraising in the past, I posted the need for immediate funds on FB. Within two weeks the funds came in to cover the surgery itself, a 20 day stay in the hospital, and the followup care needed. It was amazing.

    Recently, the past few months, support has really dropped. Searching for a way to implement a fundraising strategy using FB, I found your articles. They are great. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Brian Stankich Says:

      Hi, Joy, nice to meet you. I am grateful that you have shared your testimony here and I’m praising God for his work in your life. Thank you for serving and please keep us up to date on how you see social media and fundraising and ministry integrated.

      The Lord bless you.

      Brian

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – A Facebook Strategy | FULFILL - July 23, 2012

    […] Social media is an ideal platform for missionaries to share life and vision. If you missed the first post, get it here:  Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – The Basics […]

  2. 3 Short Polls: How Do You Use Social Media in Support Raising? | FULFILL - August 2, 2012

    […] Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – The Basics […]

  3. Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – Featuring Twitter | FULFILL - August 6, 2012

    […] Social Media and Missionary Support Raising – The Basics […]

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