Someone recently asked about the "poverty mentality" in YWAM. Here is what I told her:
Since people who join YWAM need to raise support from individuals & churches, it is hard to raise enough money to be able to live comfortably, have money for daily needs, health insurance & save for the future & retirement. There are a few who go into YWAM from wealthy backgrounds or have huge monthly financial support from large churches.
Many of those who go into YWAM have a scholarship from a third world country which usually means they have enough for airfare & their school fees, but not much else. Once they finish their schools & stay on school or base staff, they have nothing!
Even though most people in YWAM would be in the legal definition of poverty, you are told to “trust God” for finances. Most are not allowed to get even a part-time job off base to make a little money to survive. This can mean that your staff fees carry over to the next month & the next, so by the time you want to leave, you are in debt to YWAM for thousands of dollars that they expect you to pay them once you move on.
There is the YWAM elite who are charismatic speakers & whose airfares are paid to fly to bases around the world to speak as well as given an honorarium. Many of these speakers also write books that they sell on YWAM bases and elsewhere. Most people in YWAM have little or no way to raise extra money and have little set aside for emergencies.
Also realize there is pressure on staff and students to dig deep financially to help out those who can not pay off their school fees.