Alternate Funding Models

The most common method of fundraising in recent years is the Self-Support model, in which missionaries seek out churches and individuals to make monthly support commitments. When enough is committed for the missionary to carry out their ministry, then they can begin. This has worked well in western cultures, but there are many others contexts in which it is not ideal. Tim Welch, author of "New Funding Models for Global Mission" has outlined 17 other models that can also be used. We summarize them below and mention their main pro's and con's. Be sure to read the book for all the details.

Self-Support Tweaks

Third Party

Third party looks for support on behalf of the missionary. Have them share your Ergatas profile page link.

Pro: Reduces the burden on the missionary

Con: Dependent on a supportive environment

Example: Peru, Ethiopia

Mission Pledge

Individuals and churches pledge how much they will give.

Pro: No continued asks needed

Con: It needs a culture of trust; requires people to have an idea of their future income.

Example: Ethiopia

Mission Start-Up

A support group for the missionary 

Pro: Reduces the load on the missionary.

Con: Requires an active group of people.

Example: Honduras, Nigeria


Seeking support from people in the diaspora. Post your Ergatas profile link where they might see it.

Pro: Often better resourced financially

Con: Works better for projects than persons.

Example: India, Nigeria


For these methods funds primarily come from a business. But you can also have an Ergatas profile on the side to bring in a little extra now and then.


Missionary has a job besides doing ministry.

Pro: Acceptance by society

Con: Time away from ministry; too often the self-employment fails.

Example: ~50% of majority world agencies

Business as Mission (BAM)

Missionary does ministry through a business 

Pro: Holistic view of ministry and work; impacts a local economy.

Con: Hard to make it profitable; requires a lot of capital to start

Example: Central Asia

Spouse Employment

The spouse gets paid employment.

Pro: Creates financial stability; can create a new ministry.

Con: The spouse is not involved in the primary ministry.

Example: Côte d’Ivoire

Agency fundraising or initiative

Mission Supported

The mission’s president raises the funds for all staff

Pro: Fits hierarchical cultures.

Con: Depends a lot on the charisma and health of the mission leader.

Example: India


Western partners provide the resources; local partners do the ministry.

Pro: Builds on each other’s strengths

Con: Creates dependency; can fall apart due to control issues.

Example: Many examples all over the world


Funds are raised via a website. (Like Ergatas!)

Pro: Easy and quickly can make a need known to a large audience.

Con: Many majority world countries lack the infrastructure to make this work.

Simplified Procedures

Opt for simpler solutions; use technology to reduce the role of the agency.

Pro: Enables less affluent countries to participate.

Con: Accountability and support shift to field missionaries.

Reducing Cost

The overhead costs are cut by using volunteers.

Pro: Engage people with different skill sets.

Con: Some support roles require professionals.

Example: Wide use in the majority world

Endowment Fund

Paying the missionaries out of the interest of a large fund

Pro: Future-looking

Con: Requires a large fund; requires much discipline to not use it for other needs.

Example: Nigeria, Ghana

Agency Contributes to the Local Church.

Mission agencies contribute to the life of local churches and not just “steal” their resources.

Pro: It enriches the local churches, gives them more of a heart for missions.

Con: It takes resources from the mission agency in the short term.

Church Support

Twelve-Church Model

Twelve churches/groups take responsibility for one month of support per year.

Pro: Reasonable responsibility for a church, less burden on the missionary

Con: Reporting back to 12 churches every home assignment.

Example: Bolivia, Peru

Revolving Savings

Each week a certain percentage of the offering is set apart for missions.

Pro: Simple; more effective than savings accounts in banks

Con: Has not yet been tested concerning mission funding.

Example: Wide use in the majority world

Living Off the Fruit of Ministry

The ministry, e.g. the planted church, starts to finance the missionary.

Pro: Fits in with the culture/practices of the majority world.

Con: Makes the missionary financially dependent on “the fruit”.

Example: Côte d’Ivoire

Diminishing Support

Similar to the previous model but with a plan for gradual decrease of outside support

Pro: Clear and straightforward

Con: As every situation is different, it needs to be applied in a variety of ways.

Example: Nigeria

Handful of Rice

Church members bring part of their harvest to church every week. It is sold, proceeds go for a mission or missionary.

Pro: Works well with poor congregations.

Con: Depends on local church to motivate and then do its part faithfully.

Example: North East India, Ethiopia

Mission Designation

Church members designate a portion of their livestock or income to missions.

Pro: It allows relatively poor people to participate.

Con: Depends on local church to motivate and then do its part faithfully.

Example: Papua New Guinea

Focus on the Ministry

The ministry, not the missionary, is adopted by the church. 

Pro: Helps when the missionary is unknown to the church but there is enthusiasm about a certain ministry.

Con: Harder for long-term ministry

Example: Nigeria

Activities and Events

Churches organize events to promote missions.

Pro: Increase of vision and giving; many people involved

Con: Lots of short-term work

Example: Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire