Recruiting a team might not be as hard as you think. Think broadly — people in your community may be more interested in joining a service experience than coming to a more traditional church event. To help your recruiting have some preliminary answers to these four things:
Where: Where do you think you will be serving? St. Louis over a weekend, Puerto Rico over a week, Mozambique on a two-week experience?
When: Rough idea is O.K., but be sure you are far enough out in relation to the experience. If it is a weekend, a couple of months before should be O.K.; close international trips three to six months before; far international trips nine to 12 months before.
Why: This is the fun part! Share your passion and the opportunity. Maybe you have seen a great way to help, maybe you feel called to work with a particular community, maybe you can’t articulate it exactly but you are excited and want them to come with you!
How much: The all-important price question. Be sensitive to the fact that price can keep people out of these experiences, so work hard to be thrifty, honest and a good steward. Most of the time groups break their costs down to two ways: 1. Transport to and from; 2. On the ground costs. This is covered more in the budget question below. At this stage, be honest about the cost but also suggest that fundraising might help bring that down for the group.
People select service sites in different ways – perhaps there is a connection within your church or community to a particular place; maybe there is a pressing social issue on your heart like food security; maybe you are teaming up with others on a specific area of immediate need like hurricane relief. Whatever it is, think through how it would sound to prospective team members. Would you give of your time and money to work on this project?
With the potential team members in mind you might also be able to think more carefully of where to serve. Are my potential team members college students with a bit less cash? Cost will be something I want to think about so we need to find a place relatively inexpensive. Maybe some of the team have health issues to consider so something far off the beaten path might not be best. Think of your team from the start.
If you are traveling by air and have 10 or more people in your group, purchasing group airfare is likely the best way to go. You will need to call the airline with your travel dates and locations, and you will be able to lock in a fare with a deposit. The price per ticket will likely be a bit higher than the lowest advertised price on websites, but this is still the best deal as ticket prices increase as they are purchased.
The big advantage of buying group tickets is you have free name changes on most airlines up to 72-48 hours before departure. That means if one team member is unable to attend you can fill the seat with another at no additional charge — a big help if you are booking months in advance.
This will depend on the kind and length of mission you are planning. If it is a weekend, a couple of months before should be O.K.; close international trips, three to six months before; far international trips nine to 12 months before.
When you plan a trip, set a deadline for non-refundable deposits (often the price of airfare or on the ground transportation). This will allow you to stagger payment while maintaining a pulse on commitment. So if it was January and you were planning a trip to Puebla, Mexico, in July, an April 1 deposit would allow you to use the deposits to purchase bulk airline tickets.
Short answer, yes. You might have some coverage through personal plans or other organizational plans, but there are affordable insurance options specifically designed for these experiences. They will often include coverage for evacuation and are more adept to working in various contexts. You can find international and domestic coverages at the bottom of this page.
Think of your trip in relation to thresholds. For example, a minimum of 10 is necessary to get bulk airline rates; a 15-passenger van will be waiting for you at the site; you have chartered a 36 passenger bus … etc.
If, for example, you have a 15-passenger van at the mission site and you recruit 17 folks, things just got a bit more complicated — not impossible, just more complicated. Prices are often related to these thresholds because likewise if you are renting a 36-passenger bus but only have 21 participants, the price per person is quite a bit higher. Have a sense of where the thresholds are and be reasonable about your ability to recruit to those.
There are recurring costs on most trips. The big ones are:
Then there are ancillary costs to consider:
Generally it is best to consider the budget broken down to a per person level. Here is an example:
The cost is $812 per person
Nailing down this number will help in recruiting as well as determining deposits. In this scenario, it would be best to receive a $450 deposit three months before the trip to purchase airfare.
Yes! The best way is to have team members fundraise by telling the story and asking for support. You may want to create a way for people to contribute online, ask for some time to share the opportunity with a missions committee or on Sunday morning, ask friends and family to help along the way. When fundraising groups usually decide whether to centralize donations (i.e. the $2,000 the church group gave is split evenly among all participants), individually (i.e. Suzy’s grandma gave her $330 for the trip so it goes to her), or a mixture of both. Whatever it is, work together to find sources of funding and you might be surprised.
You may also consider getting community funding specifically for project costs. Something like “I am volunteering to go and help organize medical supplies in Haiti, but the clinic needs $2,000 for materials. Would you partner with us by contributing to that $2,000 cost?” Be creative and don’t be afraid to ask!
Here are some resources you may use while preparing for your experience. Financial sheets, devotional materials, medical forms and more are available as you prepare to lead. If you don’t see something here or would like to add a resource you have created to the list, contact us.
Methodists in the surrounding states have put together a general handbook for mission experiences. As you prepare, you may want to reference portions of this booklet to help organize.
Insurance for your team is critical to ensure the safety of all individuals and organizations involved. Contact one of these providers to secure insurance for your group. Click the name to be redirected to their website.
Insurance Plans Offered Through Annual Conferences
Insurance Plans Offered Through Jurisdictions of the United Methodist Church
Insurance Plans Offered Through Private Companies
Available for purchase online directly or through this broker in St. Louis:
Norman Montgomery, CLCS Broker