I am currently living in Cambodia. I am spending some of my time volunteering with a local nonprofit. I raised no support and am not relying on any donated money.
This was actually not my original plan. I was going to teach English full-time, and volunteer with an NGO if I had the time. Before going to Cambodia, I had worked as part of a small web design business in Colorado. We had discussed me working part-time while I was abroad, though I wasn’t sure how much. Once here, when I looked at all my goals, which included taking some online classes, I opted to support myself by working remotely. With the cost of living less than half of what it was for me in Colorado, it’s working out well.
I remember reading in one of Tom Sine’s books about students who would graduate from college, get part-time jobs, get an apartment together, share expenses, and spend 20+ hours a week volunteering in the inner-city. Ideas like that have got me thinking over the years at various ways of structuring a way of life. When I was in Colorado, I had a lot of flexibility with my job, and was able to spend a lot of time at our coffee house, meeting with people, volunteering, etc. I’m thankful for that.
There was a time while in college where I had the faith to believe that if God wanted me to do something, that the money would just be there. I had never raised $1000 or more though, and it’s hard to say how successful I would have been if I tried. It’s not so much that I don’t have faith now, but that I realize it often takes a lot of phone calls and meetings. I’m at a point now where I really would rather not raise support for myself. I don’t like asking for money and I realize a lot of people have limited funds. I also don’t have to worry about donor expectations.
There are certainly positives to support raising. Donors can give one moral support and accountability. The experience of presenting a vision and asking for money can crystallize one’s own goals. It can help one’s faith. Support raising is just not the only option, especially in the age of the Internet, which makes mobility and communication easier.
Working remotely has been good for growing my faith. I’ve had enough work that has made enough money. When my bank account has run low, I got paid in just enough time. My friend and I found a place to live from a referral, and when we had to move, were able to move in next door, with a price and location that was perfect. It hasn’t turned out well because I’ve tried hard, but because of God’s faithfulness and because of people who have helped me in a variety of ways without me asking for it.
I share this as one example of how to self-finance living overseas, though it could apply in the USA as well. It is essentially tentmaking, though I’m not volunteering with a Christian organization in this case. Yet, I am a Christian living in a Buddhist society where Christians are few.
If anyone has an other ideas or examples, please share!