Based on the booklet created for BuildaBridge by Dr. K-Lee Johnson (2002)

Asking for Support

Before determining who you should ask for support, simply brainstorm a list of the people you know.  Realize that it is difficult to predict which people will be willing to support you spiritually and/or financially.

Forty-eight percent of the money comes from households with incomes under $50,000.  Do not think you need millionaires and movie stars to do good fundraising.  Even if you are working in a low- or middle-income community, you can raise the money you want.[1]

The people (or groups) who seem most able to give are often the ones who provide little or no support, and the ones who seem to be in lack are often the ones who give generously.  Your responsibility is to simply share your mission and your need with those you know—then watch God work on your behalf!

On the following brainstorming worksheet list the names of everyone you know—yes everyone.  Begin by writing the names of your family members, friends, and co-workers.  Include those who seem unlikely or unable to give.

By writing one name it will trigger you to think of another.  For example, you may write the name of your 4 year old niece.  That may trigger you to think of her babysitter, her teachers, her doctors and the like.  Try to list at least 100 people.  If you get stuck, perhaps the list below will trigger some additional names for you.

  • Barber/beautician
  • Doctors (primary, dentist, ob/gyn)
  • In-laws
  • Teachers (graduate school, college, high school, elementary school)
  • Former teachers
  • Dry cleaner
  • Mechanic
  • Friends of family members
  • Family members of friends
  • Social/community organizations of which you were a part
  • Pastors, Rabbis, Imams–Churches, Synagogues, Mosques
  • Ministries or prgrams on which you serve or have served
  • Congrregation leaders
  • Congregational members
  • Members of clubs/organizations of which you are a part
  • Owners of stores you frequent
  • Co-workers/colleagues
  • Former co-workers/colleagues
  • Former employers/employees
  • Neighbors
  • Coaches
  • People in your phone book
  • People you would invite to your wedding
  • Lawyer
  • Go through your address book


Make a list of People I Know on a piece of paper or spreadsheet based on the list above.  Don’t forget your Facebook friends.

After brainstorming the names of those you know, thoughtfully begin to narrow your list to include those you will specifically ask to support you.  You can eliminate young children and people who are raising support with you but do not exclude people because they are old or poor.  Joan Flanagan in her book, Successful Fundraising: A Complete Handbook for Volunteers and Professionals said,

If you want to find the most generous prospects, here is what the Independent Sector survey revealed about American donors who give the most to charities:

  • They worship weekly. Eighty percent of Americans active in religious organization made gifts, compared with only 55 percent of people who did not belong to a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple.  People who regularly attend religious services made 70 percent of all contributions to charity and gave more to nonsectarian causes than those who do not worship.
  • The join. Good donors are members in other organizations, including unions, sports organizations and political parties.
  • They vote. Americans who vote give more money and volunteer more often.
  • The have the option to give through their company. The most generous donors have access to payroll deduction at their workplace; they also volunteer more often when the opportunity is offered at work.
  • They itemize. Taxpayers who claim their deductions on their federal income tax returns give four times as much as people who do not claim a deduction for charity.
  • They volunteer. American households with a volunteer contributed an average of $1,135; households without a volunteer gave an average of $275.  More then ninety-three million Americans volunteer and the number if growing.

Over 77 percent of Americans reported they gave money to charities in 1995.  This means that if you ask ten people, at least seven can say yes.[2]

After you have compiled a list of possible supports, draft a letter (click on link for the Arts Relief template) to send them.  The purpose of this letter is to inform them about your trip and inspire them to become involved in helping you and your teammates to go.  If possible, use a computer to type your letter, then you may photocopy it for many people.  Be sure, however, to address each potential supporter by name (in writing) and sign every letter in ink (in blue ink—people will feel it’s more personal).  Include in your letter greetings, the date and place of the trip, the name of the organization(s) with which you are traveling, the purpose of the trip, and what your spiritual and financial needs are. Insert pictures or graphics that would make your letter look more appealing.  Many people throw out “junk mail” without thoroughly reading it.

Remember to include a deadline for any donations (This should be at least a week before you have to turn the money in to BuildaBridge). Tell the potential donor to whom checks should be made payable (BuildaBridge). It is important to be on one accord with your organization so that finances are handled in a legal manner for the team.  I highly recommend individuals not handling their own donations.  There are two reasons for this.  First, it keeps the individual honest and accountable.  Second, it is the legal way for handling tax-deductible donations.[3] An individual cannot receive money for a missions/educational endeavor and have the donation be considered a tax-deductible gift.  The donation must be made to BuildaBridge.  BuildaBridge can then pay the expenses for the service trip to which the team has been called.  The appropriate person at BuildaBridge can then issue a receipt to those who want/need it for income tax purposes.  An individual cannot issue a receipt for tax purposes.  This designated trustee will also regularly inform team members regarding the names and amounts of the donations that have been received.  Also, consider enclosing an addressed envelope to make it easier for donors to send financial gifts.

Keep track of the names of people to whom you have mailed support letters.  The follow page contains a form you may reproduce for maintaining accurate records.

If you do not receive a response from potential supporters within two weeks, follow-up with a phone call or visit.  Many times people want to support you but they have misplaced the letter or simply forgot to do so.  Do not be afraid to talk to people about your project.  If you have made requests to businesses, corporations, or civic organizations be sure to make an appointment to speak with an appropriate representative.  In your conversations with individuals or organizations, ask them to give you referrals to others you might be interested in supporting your endeavor.

Last, send thank you cards to everyone who provides prayer or financial support.  These notes should be handwritten and they should be mailed within one week of receiving the donation.  When you return from the trip, send them another thank you perhaps in the form of a newsletter and inform them of how their support enabled your team to accomplish its goals.  People want to know that their donations were used for the purposes for which they were given.


Use this chart to keep accurate records of your prayer and financial support.

Name, address,

Phone #

Letter sent


Follow-up Call or Visit


Type/Amount of Support Thank You Sent


Return Follow-up Made



Additional Ways to Raise

Here are some fundraising ideas.  Remember, at every event, inform people of what they are supporting by participating.

  1. Sell candy. You can get fundraising cases at stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.
  2. Sell dinners.  (Ask people to donate food items for it).
  3. Roller skating party at local rink.
  4. Ice skating party.
  5. Bowling party.
  6. Community Car Wash.  Advertise one week in advance.
  7. Coffee House.  Serve coffee and light snacks.  Ask people to come and share their performing arts gifts such as singing, reciting poetry, drama, miming.  Give a suggested donation such as $5.
  8. Fast food drive.  Make arrangement with local fast food chain such as McDonald’s to work in their store for a period of hours.  A percentage of all sales during that time would be donated to your cause.  The key is making sure all of your family and friends get fast food at that restaurant that night.
  9. Sell candy-grams for Valentine’s Day.  (or carnations)

10.  Singing telegrams.

11.  Donation jars.  Arrange with local supermarkets and other stores to put donation jars at the registers.

12.  Spaghetti dinner or Fish fry night.

13.  Bake sale.

14.  Concession stands.    Sell snack items at community football, basketball, or baseball games.

15.  At Home Tea.  Invite people to have an at home tea.  Purchase tea bags (regular and flavored).  Create (on computer) an invitation for the individual to stay at home and enjoy a cup of tea with a friend.  Request a $2 donation.  Explain on the back of the invitation card what the money will support.  Put invitation cards in an invitation size envelope.

16.  Free-will offering events such as Concerts.

17.  Ministry/service group sponsors.  Ask various ministries in and outside of your church to support you through a direct gift or by sponsoring a fundraising event and donating the proceeds to your group.  Maybe the Youth Group or a Choir or Children’s Church or Usher Board might want to sponsor a project on your behalf. If you do not attend a church, approach groups in your community.

18.  Build-Your-Own-Sundae Party.

19.  Buy a Mile.  Make a chart/picture showing how many miles from home to your trip destination.  Ask people to buy a mile (or two).  They can contribute any amount of money for any amount of miles.  As more money is given indicate that on your chart.  A good on-going project.

20.  Sell t-shirts (that people would want to have).  Consider getting permission to sell t-shirts with your church’s name on it.

21.  Housekeeper/Groundskeeper for a day.  In groups of two, do chores in the homes of people you know for a donation.  You can also do work outside of someone’s home such as landscaping.

22.  Shovel snow of rake leaves in the community for a fee.

List 5-10 additional ideas of your own and then determine your fundraising schedule.

[1] Joan Flanagan, Successful Fundraising: A Complete Handbook for Volunteers and Professionals (2nd Edition) (Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary Books, 2000), 12.

[2] Flanagan, 12.

[3] I am not an expert on tax law.  The information shared above is based on things learned over many years of involvement in fundraising for missions teams.  You should verify the information with a tax attorney.

Solicitations from Merchants

Often, artists wish to solicit goods and services from area merchants, to be utilized for raffles and silent auctions.  When approaching area merchants, BuildaBridge recommends the following:

  • Begin by mailing a letter to merchants, which should be written on BuildaBridge letterhead.  Specify a clear purpose of your desired partnership (e.g., silent auction) and the benefit to the third party (e.g., tax write off)
  • If approaching the merchant directly, always take a letter of support with you.  Merchants will not “donate” goods without a letter.  Always dress professionally, or wear BuildaBridge attire
  • Do not solicit individuals or third party organizations for cash donations without first speaking with a BuildaBridge staff member.


Check out Fundraising Ideas from Fundraiser Help.

Ideas from DIY Fundraiser.

BuildaBridge Arts Relief and Diaspora of Hope fundaising letter template.


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