When preparing for a mission, cost should be a concern addressed early on. With a plan in place, this daunting task can be a straightforward and faith building experience. Before a missionary report, knowing how the funding system works, and who to talk to when it comes to monthly payments and coordinating donations from extended family or generous friends can be a real relief for families.
When setting savings goals, consider not just the $500 monthly cost. Include in your goal equipping costs for luggage, clothing and supplies. Medical costs should be considered, if insurance does not cover the exams and vaccinations required. Missionaries are also required to furnish their own mobile devices, and while families may find used options to bring down the costs, this is another expense to include in a savings target.
If the costs seem beyond your means, you are not required to manage this situation alone. Family and friends, even perfect strangers, can donate to a specific missionary’s expenses online using the church’s donation page. All that is required is the unit number where the missionary’s records reside. No matter what your arrangements, speak with your bishop openly regarding your financial concerns as part of the preparation interviews. It is part of the ward’s responsibility to ensure this aspect of preparation is addressed. This does not mean all the funds must be obtained in advance in every case.
Distribution of funds from your payment to your missionary goes through the ward as well. Monthly payments processed on the ward level are collected by Salt Lake and distributed to the mission offices. If payments are short for whatever reason, it is up to the ward leadership to balance the accounts. If multiple people are donating to your missionary’s funds, set up a regular appointment to check in with your ward leadership and confirm all is going well.
Most importantly, if there are changes to your family’s financial situation that will affect missionary support, bring this up with your bishop no matter the cause. There are options available in these circumstances, and your missionary will not suffer in an unforeseen emergency!
Preparation will do the most to ease concerns regarding mission finances. Long-term saving is a helpful thing, but not possible or practical in every circumstance. Prospective missionaries looking to bank up savings fast should network with leadership and their own ward and stake members. Help your missionary recognize these opportunities and seize them, as most well-paying jobs available to young people do require willing hands, determination and gratitude for the opportunity. A strong work ethic paired with a willing employer who knows the importance of missions can sometimes be a match made in heaven!