In the Spring of 2008, my team wanted to reinvent a fabulous idea for some creative funding to support some summer student missions teams: the tried and true Silent Auction. We were going to do this one better though: combine it with an ice cream par-tay. And even better than that, we were going to crowdsource it by engaging a faith community of 2000 families, inviting them to be a part of it by contributing their talents - products and services they could contribute to help fund student teams.
You know the idea - someone has a product or service they donate to the cause. Whomever buys the product or service ends up donating the costs to the org/team/whatever. For example, I own a car washing business. I donate two car washing packages to the org. Whomever buys those two packages ends up donating the price to the org while I wash those cars, potentially earning more business and helping fund those students with my talents in the process.
Due to a specific financial policy from the HigherUps, we were actually not able to crowdsource it to the whole congregation. Instead, we ended up with a mediocre event and raised a few hundred dollars and continued to miss engaging thousands of families with incredible cross cultural projects the students in their very own church were doing. But no, I'm not bitter.
I still believe in the core of the idea - that we all have gifts and talents that can be donated for the better of someone else. Combine that with the latest fundraising developments, like the missions support letter in desperate need of being tweaked; and donor, cause and nonprofit fatigue; and you have a slight shift in how Ember is approaching missions support for 2012. It's called the Creative Revenue Plan.
Each participant on our summer teams is going to be required to come up with the Plan - a way that they can use their talents and gifts to help supplement their student missions support, anywhere from 10-25%. Gifts, talents, products, services: here's some that have been thrown out already: babysitting, powerwashing, homemade jewerly, and throwing a LAN party. This plan also gets documented in support letters so that the potential support team realizes the level of commitment and initiative that our student missionaries are going to exercise. I don't know how well it will go but here's hoping.
This is another vital step in preparing our emerging global leaders to lead. You know that the skills of establishing rapport with a potential customer, the ability to pull others to help you accomplish a project, the challenge of selling your skills - those are amazing things to learn about. The sooner a young person gets those experiences, the better. Not only for their missions team but for their future and for the future they lead in.