“When you work in accounts or IT, you can’t really raise support very well. People want to give to those on the frontline of mission and if you’re in a third world country, all the better.”
If you’ve been familiar with support raising for any length of time, you will have heard this sentiment before. Maybe this is you? If you work for a charity doing evangelism or prison work or youth work you find that everyone wants to give to the worker on the coal face, but because you work in HR it’s so much harder to find supporters.
Well listen to this…I met a man the other week who told me that he only gives to people who work in the back office of mission organisations and doesn’t give to those on the ‘frontline’. I thought this might be because he felt sorry for all those who struggle to build partners for their work, but no! “The work in the office is absolutely vital,” he said. “Lose a student worker and your organisation will keep going, no trouble. Lose your Operations Director – you are going to hit the hard time quick.”
This man is absolutely right. In the past, the idea that there’s not much hope in raising support for background roles would have been something I would have agreed with. But now I know this is not the case.
If you are in a supportive role, you are central to the running of the organisation. If you weren’t there, a big gap would open up in the way the mission achieves its goals.
One of our very own Stewardship IT staff, Rosie, (who fixes your computer just by standing next to it – no lie!) put it like this in a recent staff meeting: “Working in IT at Stewardship is like being a roadie in the kingdom of God, working in the background and trying to keep things running smoothly.” Rosie recently moved on to pastures new and we miss her. We really needed Rosie in our office and I bet the same is true for you.
Again, if you work in the UK and feel that your job isn’t as exciting as sharing the gospel with people overseas who have never heard the name of Jesus, remember that God needs people everywhere. Working in the UK is no less needed than working overseas. Often it’s an illusion that people only want to give to those going to far flung places. What we see most at Stewardship as we understand support raising is that your friends, neighbours and church family want to support you, not someone they have never met.
The key to support raising is sharing with potential partners a ‘Vision-driven ask’ rather than a ‘Need-driven ask’. You don’t want to ask people to partner with you so that you can afford to go food shopping; you want to ask them to partner in the bigger vision. People need to envisage what your work is trying to do, then they need to see what your part in that is. Whether you are running a youth group or a HR department, your part is so important to the overall vision.
So if you work in Bradford or Battersea, in accounts or admin, don’t sell yourself short. As my friend on the train said: “you’re absolutely vital”.