BY CATHERINE DURAND
Franciscan University of Steubenville students will have to raise a total of about $250,000 to go on mission trips this year. That means students individually will have to raise anywhere from $250 for the Steubenville mission to $2,300 for the Ecuador mission.
Rhett Young, director of Missionary Outreach at Franciscan, explained that a large part of the mission costs is the airplane fare and cited the cost for flying to Ecuador to be around $1,800. As a result, the domestic mission trips are much cheaper.
Young encourages each mission trip to raise more money than is necessary to leave as a gift for next year’s mission groups. He expects fundraising efforts to continue until the last possible moment.
“Whatever we don’t raise, we have to raise when we get back,” said Young, explaining that only two of the nine mission trips have reached their financial goal. The other seven are expected to have collected the money by Feb. 24.
This year the mission trips are fundraising using a new three-step process. The first step includes a letter-writing campaign. The students send letters explaining where their mission team is going and why, while requesting financial support. These letters only go to family and friends, which Young explained is “not as difficult” as appealing to strangers.
The second step of the process is a phone-a-thon where the students all sit down together for a specified amount of time and call as many people as possible for donations.
“We send a letter as a way of priming the pump,” said Young, explaining that the letters prepare the potential donors for a telephone call where the students ask for a personal financial gift.
The final step involves the students speaking with their local pastor. The students are expected to request financial help and see if they can receive donations from their church to help pay for the trip.
Another aspect of the fundraising, more familiar to the general student body, includes dances and bake sales.
“Those are all good, and we do them to help the students feel involved,” said Young, calling them “community builders.” He added that, because these only raise about $500-$1,200, they help out but they are not the main source of income.
Although the fundraising can be very difficult at first, Young explained that the students often improve their fundraising skills, and help one another to raise the necessary money. He recounted the story of a student who wanted to go on the Ecuador mission trip.
“The first time he went on this mission, he told the leaders he would not be able to raise the full amount,” said Young. This semester that same student raised more than $6,000 more than was required of him.
Last year, The Gadfly raised the issue that the money raised by the mission trips might be put to better use if all of it was sent to the different locations instead of sending students. In response, Young said:
“You can’t put a value on going to these people’s houses, and loving them and sharing the gospel with them.”