Financial Survey Results

March 25, 2020 | 0 comments

In December we asked for your help by participating in a survey related to cross-cultural workers and finances. Thank you to the 209 who participated! This survey is going to be used in three ways:

  1. Heath and Eric, the financial specialists who you met earlier this week, will use it to guide decisions on what articles and resources to create.
  2. Heath and Eric will use it as they interact with other people interested in helping cross-cultural workers and finances. For instance, Heath has recently attended a conference and in part, used this data to help educate the broader community.
  3. Sharing it here, for you to also have a sense of the broader scene than just your personal or even organizational situation.

This post will be a brief summary of the survey with more in-depth posts to follow. The first five questions have pie graphs to visually capture the results.

Question one: Do you raise support? Of the 209 people who participated 91.9% answered yes, 8.1% answered no.

Question two: If you raise support do you also earn some type of outside income? 69.4% No, all of our income is from support I/we raise; 22.5% Yes, part of our income comes from outside of the support I/we raise; 8.1% (thankfully the same as question 1) said that they do not raise support.

Question three: If you raise support, are you currently able to raise enough to cover your financial needs? 67% responded that overall, yes they are able to raise enough to cover their needs; 25.8% responded that they are not able to raise enough to cover their financial needs; 7.2% reported not raising support.

Knowing that not everyone on the field raises support, Question four asked: If you do not raise support, do you earn enough to cover your financial needs? 15.3% reported that overall, yes, they earn enough to cover their financial needs; 12.4% reported that they do not earn enough to cover their financial needs; and 72.2% reported that all of their income comes from support they raise.

Question five asked: On a scale of one (not at all) to ten (extremely), how stressed are you currently about money/financial issues? 1 — 4.8% (10 responses); 2 — 13.9% (29); 3 — 12% (25); 4 — 8.1% (17); 5 — 11% (23); 6 — 13.9 % (29); 7 — 14.8% (31); 8 — 12.4% (26); 9 — 6.7% (14); 10 — 2.4% (5). You can see the results in the bar graph below.

Question six: Do you currently have debt you are trying to pay off? (e.g. student loans, credit cards, medical bills)? Please share “yes” or “no” and the type of debt, if any.

Responses: no — 66.5% (139), yes — 33.5% (70)

Examples of type debt:

  • Yes. Credit card debt (mostly accrued in early years on field being under supported). Will also have student loan debt in next few years.
  • Medical
  • Credit card
  • Taxes
  • Student loans
  • Mortgage in passport country
  • Bills accrued during deputation in the U.S. and repairs to our house on the field
  • Daughter’s wedding costs

Questions seven: How have you seen God provide for your needs on the field?

The answers were very encouraging and will be a future post. Here is a brief taste:

  • Donations from unexpected sources to cover medical bills. Unexpected new supporters.
  • The biggest one has been my cancer treatment. It costs so much more than anything we could ever have imagined, but it’s all paid for by our friends (and people we don’t even know).
  • We had a major drop in our support (10% in one month) which caused us to not be able to get our full salary. In just the last two weeks we received a large donation (without specifically asking) that covered all of the back pay and extra!

Question eight: What are your current three most pressing financial stresses?

The answers were touching and will inform future posts. Here is a brief taste:

  • Churches dropping us because we were forced to change fields, rising cost of living abroad, dropping value of our sending country currency.
  • (1) Having enough of a budget to run the ministry itself, (2) knowing that growth – which is good! – means it will cost more and that means more from my budget, and (3) I HATE, HATE, HATE raising support.
  • The banking system (and internet!!!) is a stressor!! Is the internet working? Sufficiently to run the VPN and the bank website? Conflicting weekends mean there are 3 working days in common. And is the local bank giving out funds? And in which currency?
  • Retirement is a huge concern.

Question nine: Do you save for the future? (e.g. children’s education, retirement, upcoming ministry needs) If so, what are you saving for?

Some gave a clear “yes” or “no,” other gave an answer somewhere in between such as “Sort of;” showing the complex nature of what might seem to be a simple question. Here is a sample of the answers:

  • Yes. Retirement and savings account for emergencies.
  • I haven’t been able to this year, as it was my first year as a full-time cross-cultural worker, and I didn’t do much fundraising, thinking it would just be a one year thing and I could just live off my savings. But now that I am about to start year 2, I am changing this perspective and hope to be able to save a bit for retirement and emergency needs.
  • No, can’t afford to.
  • Saving for a puppy.
  • Saving for university for kids, saving for retirement, trying to save for a new vehicle.
  • We try, but most months it’s not possible to.

Question ten: What financial issues and areas would you like for Global Trellis to discuss or provide training?

Answers include:

  • How to feel confident in direct asking for support.
  • Addressing the guilt response built up in spending money/enjoying and caring for self.
  • How to address churches and supporters in a way that honors yet educates them on their financial participation in the ministry.
  • How to address times of transition and financial needs during increased expenses (medical, home leave – its not a vacation!, training, sabbatical, etc…)
  • Simply learning to better manage my ‘personal’ finances—I am cheap so its not spending too much, just not keeping track of my money—in a place where its a little harder with few receipts and many tiny expenses. And honestly, learning to be more diligent and timely in expense reports to be reimbursed for ‘ministry’ finances.

Thank you to every one who took the survey! The data and information you provided has already started meaningful conversations behind the scenes that will spill out here and in other forums on Global Trellis.

As you read over the results — what surprises you? saddens you? encourages you? frustrates you?


In this month’s workshop, Lauren Wells will:

Get this month’s workshop while it is still half-price! In March’s workshop, Lauren will:

  • Introduce 9 ways your TCK could see the world
  • How stress impacts each TCK number and their behavior
  • How to help each number through transitions
  • Common TCK struggles for each number

Image by Andrian Valeanu from Pixabay 

CategoriesSkill Building

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