One crucial aspect of your preparation for joining an OM outreach is recruiting a team of people who will commit themselves to stand with you in prayer and/or financial support as you go. Building a support team is based on relationships. Your scope of relationships may include family, your church, home groups, co-workers, and others who would be interested in you or the ministry in which you will be involved. They may sponsor you financially, but sharing about your work in missions may also challenge them to evaluate their current level of service. They may even take the step to participate in a mission trip themselves.
Effective and lasting relationships require a commitment to communication. First and foremost throughout your preparation, duration, and re-entry, it is essential to show a genuine interest in the lives of your support team, just as you are asking them to do for you.
As you prepare for the outreach, you will be sharing facts about the outreach, your needs, your fears, answered prayers, praises, and how God is working in your life. During the outreach, keep an open eye to photo opportunities and souvenirs and a sensitive heart to stories that will have a special meaning to your supporters. These are some simple ways to value your team. Upon your return from the outreach, take the time to share the events of the outreach with them as well as photos and memorabilia. Validate your relationships by expressing gratitude for their involvement and how their generosity impacted you.
Building a support team follows the Biblical pattern of giving others an opportunity to partner with you in ministry; you are not begging for money. You are building a ministry team based on relationships. Though they may not be called to go, your support team can impact world missions through the work you are being called to do; they can reach the world for Christ through you in a tangible and personal way.
Tell your story and cast a vision. People will support your ministry either because of relationship with you or because they share your vision. You are not obligated to have a financial support team and can personally bear the expense of the outreach if you so choose.
The Local Church
OM believes strongly in your relationship with your local church and believes the local church is God’s primary instrument to evangelize the world. We encourage you to make an appointment with your church leadership and/or missions committee to seek their counsel and request their prayer and financial support for your upcoming outreach. This ensures their commitment to you and their involvement in your ministry. They will then be able to share in the joy of what God does in and through you on your outreach.
Building a Financial Support Team
The following suggestions are taken from an article written by leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ. These general guidelines can also be used when building a prayer support team, if you choose not to build a financial support team.
- Namestorm - Develop a list of potential sponsors including your church family, colleagues, family, friends and work associates as God leads.
- Write a support letter - You will find an example of a support letter following these suggestions. You may use as much or little of the words or ideas given in that letter as you would like. Send it to people using standard post or email it as an attachment.
- Call - You may want to make a follow-up phone call to some of your potential sponsors. Most people suffer from “information overload.” Consequently mail is easy to ignore or forget. A call from you will help you get decisions as quickly as possible. A follow-up phone call provides an opportunity for the potential sponsor to ask questions and learn more specifics.
- Make an appointment - Face to face meetings are a very effective way to build a ministry support team.
- Thank You - Send a thank-you note the same day you receive funds. Keep an accurate record of funds received and thank-you notes sent. The thank-you letter is an important part of maintaining a relationship with your supporter.
Whether you are raising funds through a financial team or funding the outreach personally, here are some details worth remembering. (Pay close attention to the deadlines that you agreed to by signing the Financial Agreement form included in your application. All monies are due at OM USA 45 days prior to the outreach.) This confirms your intention of being part of the team and allows us the necessary time to transfer funds to the field of outreach.
- The following ministry expenses are covered in the cost of the outreach: transportation while conducting ministry, accommodation during the outreach, food and water supplies during the outreach, and insurance (see *Insurance*). Most OM fields arrange your transportation from the airport on arrival and to the airport for departure and include this transport in the price. For those that don’t supply transportation instructions, those expenses will be reimbursed to you as per OM policy below (#6).
- OM can accept funds into your account to cover the cost of the outreach, travel expenses to and from the field, immunizations, and visas. Reimbursement for these expenses will be granted if there are sufficient funds in your account and you have submitted a receipt for these expenses to OM. We will not reimburse you for an amount less than $10.
- All gifts made payable to Operation Mobilization (OM) are tax-deductible donations. The donor will receive a receipt from OM USA within days after entry into our financial database. The donor should retain this receipt for tax purposes. OM does not send out end-of-year statements.
- The donor should include your personal account code on all donations. Using this code helps to maintain accuracy and accountability.
- All gifts designated for your account will be used for the costs of the specific outreach for which they were given.
If for any reason you cancel your participation in this outreach, those funds may not be available for future trips. In accordance with IRS requirements, funds given in excess of short-term mission costs cannot be refunded. However, they can be used to reimburse your airline travel costs, visas, and vaccinations when your original receipts are presented with your reimbursement request. Reimbursement will be made up to the total of the cost of these expenses or the remainder of your funds, whichever comes first. Any excess funds will remain in your account for two years and may be used for future OM short-term outreaches during that time.
- Funds by Check: Make checks payable to OM or Operation Mobilization. Checks should include your personal account code (given to you by your coordinator). If a check is made payable to you, and the donor would like a tax-deductible receipt, sign the back of the check and write “payable to Operation Mobilization.” Checks should be mailed to OM: PO Box 444, Tyrone, GA 30290-0444, Attn: Finance Dept.
- Funds by Debit/Credit Cards: Donations by debit/credit cards can be completed online at www.omusa.org/give. Choose “Give to Support OM’s Work through a Missionary” button. After clicking this button, the donor will search for your last name, select it and complete the next page. Clicking the “Donate Now” button at the bottom of the page will complete the donations transaction. If you are not listed, your donor should follow the directions on the Search page. The minimum amount that can be processed online is $25.
- Funds by Cash: Often cash will be given to you to cover personal expenses. It can be applied to your account and a tax receipt sent only if it is converted to a check payable to and submitted to OM.
In accordance with IRS requirements, all gifts are given to and must be treated as belonging fully to Operation Mobilization and are subject to its control. The IRS requires that OM have the power to modify any restriction of designation if, in its sole judgment, such restriction becomes, in effect, unnecessary, incapable of fulfillment or inconsistent with the charitable purposes of Operation Mobilization.