Thursday, June 20, 2013

Missions fundraising: Keeping track of money

One of the things that has caused unexpected issues is keeping track of fundraising dollars. As a self-proclaimed math geek and part time bookkeeper at work, I figured this wouldn't be a problem at all. I enjoy spreadsheets, so what's the problem?

For those who don't love numbers, but must partake in this necessary side of missions, I suggest keeping very good records of incoming and outgoing finances.

A few things to consider:

Variety of payment methods:  Not only have we accepted cash, check, credit card and paypal, there has been the option for contributors to pay us directly, via our church and via WGM (the mission organization). Our company has also sold products, of which the profits were donated. Getting timely information is important, as are the details of each amount - how much, who from and so on.

Who is the payment for? Some of the funds were written to one of us directly, to our whole family, to Jason and I as a couple, or for the whole team of twelve of us. When recording this in your spreadsheet/ journal, make good notes about where the unusual sums come from. Weeks later, $21.56 won't mean anything to you nor will you know if you accounted for certain donations.

Outgoings: The biggest chunk of the money was owed to WGM to cover flights, admin costs and food. They took care of managing the administration of all of that, which made planning much easier. Other costs, such as shots and pills, mosquito nets, books for team members, team events and so on, have been paid directly by us as individuals.

Timing:  The bulk funding had to be sent to WGM one month before leaving. That meant that anything we did not collect would be covered by us directly. However, any funds sent to WGM by contributors after that date would be surplus and non-refundable. We can claim some of that back with receipts for things like vaccinations and the rest will be used for needed supplies or donated to the project.

Changing target:  Very late in the game, just days before our totals were due in, our target fundraising number dropped. A nice direction for the number to move, due to WGM getting good flight prices. I am sure there's a good chance it could have gone up instead.

Fees:  Some payment methods create fees, such as paypal and credit card. Don't forget to take those from your total.

Unknowns: There is still the possibility that we will have to take some supplies down as a group because the missionaries at Manuelito Project are still to determine exactly what we will be doing. For example, if we are doing VBS (in Spanish) we will have to purchase and take crafts, stories, papers and so on.

Overall, fundraising has been a great success. We've all had very generous donors and support, for which we are very grateful. Over the past few years, I've stopped thinking of coincidences as 'luck' or 'fate' but as reminders of the great provision of God. This endeavor has been filled with them, from unexpected checks showing up days after a new cost arising, to the recent report from WGM showing my family's totals all ending in 8.50 and exactly $50.00 apart. Those funny little situations I like to think of as God's gentle way of showing us how He is involved in even the smallest of details.

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