When embedded in the church community for decades, you see both wise practices and critical errors in mission trip crowdfunding. Below, Sixpence staffmember Brad Dell discusses five common yet easily avoidable mistakes.
1. Crowdfunding exclusively in the church.
It's instinctual to focus mission trip crowdfunding efforts on “church people”, but broaden your vision! I’m not just talking about shifting focus from “your church” to “the church”; crowdfund from people outside the church community, too.
A person doesn’t need to be spiritual to desire to support your involvement in reconstruction projects or aiding trafficking victims. Of course, be transparent that you’re going into the mission field for faith reasons. Still, you’d be surprised how many people want to help regardless of the context for your decision.
2. Sharing boring or nonspecific mission statements.
Don’t just say you’re “going on a mission trip to Palestine.” What are you doing there? Are you helping an organization? Are you going to rebuild homes? Are you going to feed the needy? What’s the story behind your decision to pursue this trip?
I had a friend who went on annual mission trips to Hawaii. The church he supported really needed his help, and he worked 12+ hour days there. The state has a small Christian population, and the cost of living thins resource availability for churches. But he would crowdfund by merely saying, “I’m going on a mission trip to Hawaii for a couple months, please donate.” People read that as, “I’m going on a two-month vacation in paradise, please pay my way.”
3. “Please donate
or share …”
In the world of social media and “slacktivism,” sharing a post makes people feel like they’re doing something. So, they keep their money to themselves and share your mission trip crowdfunding page or “like” your post, absolving themselves of guilt. Simply ask for donations. Be direct.
Once, I had a crowdfunding campaign that had 33 likes and eight shares on Facebook. And one donation. How did I word the end of my post? “Please donate or share.”
4. Disregarding social media algorithms’ limitations.
Your mission trip crowdfunding posts don’t reach every active person on your friend list, thanks to Facebook’s news feed algorithms. To ensure your post reaches those who you think are most likely to financially support you, tag them (or even just direct message them) — be forward. You are doing the Lord’s work, after all.
Consider other workarounds for the Facebook algorithms: Videos will almost always reach more people on your friend list. Live videos of anything relevant to your fundraising campaign would perform especially well. Also, your post pops up more frequently on news feeds if you reply to every comment, and that makes you look extra grateful to your supporters.
Social media shouldn’t be the only internet means of crowdfunding: Look into hitching your funding request onto newsletters and other group emails.
5. Relying on lump sums or recurring donations.
Psychologically, it is difficult for people to donate a hefty sum all at once (or a small sum when the amount needed is large). Same case with recurring monthly donations. But Sixpence’s research has found that people are more willing to donate a little change here and a little change there, even if they end up giving as much as they would have with the lump sum.
In response to this mentality, Sixpence offers a roundup system: Your United States-based supporters can visit your crowdfunding page on Sixpenceapp.com, and “subscribe” to roundups. Anytime they use their credit or debit card at any place in the U.S., that purchase will round up to the nearest dollar. The change flows directly to you, and that “spare change” truly mounds up — as much as $20 per subscriber each month. A mere 50 supporters could mean getting $1,000 a month!
Sixpence has faith that you can accomplish beautiful things in unfamiliar places. We want to help you get there.