[serialposts]In keeping with our May Missions Focus, we have the author of Don’t Forget to Pack the Kids: Short-Term Missions for Your Whole Family, Jill Richardson, sharing seven ways to keep supporters interested in your mission. Here’s Jill.
Two weeks ago, I sat in a meeting where pastors shared their frustrations about low church support for missionaries. Their frustration, however, was less with the supporters than with the missionaries. It seems a common thread that many missionaries don’t make the time to communicate with their supporters. Notice I said make the time. We know you’re busy. Crazy busy. Nevertheless, the days of thrice a year snail mail newsletters are dead. There’s a lot competing for supporters’ attention and money, and it is regularly in their faces.
So what’s a missionary to do? These suggestions assume an internet connection, but if you don’t have a regular one, prepare many of them ahead of time and be ready when you do.
- Social media is your friend. One big reason people don’t support missionaries is a lack of interaction. You can use your personal Facebook page, but a better option is to create one for your mission. What to post? Get creative! Post photos, videos, stories of people you meet, quotes that inspire you, prayer requests, or things those you are ministering with say. Invite interaction with interesting trivia questions and “surveys”. Post local recipes. Do it daily; it only takes ten minutes if you’re disciplined.
- Maintain a blog regularly. Don’t make it sporadic–let people know they can depend on an update from you weekly. You might assume that things like Facebook, your blog, Twitter, and Pinterest are for people who have more time than missionaries do. Wrong–people in this age demand interaction. It’s time well invested.
- Organize (or suggest) an event with supporting churches via Skype or Google Hangout. It can be a fundraising event for something specific you are doing, featuring you as the special guest!
- Put together a PowerPoint or iMovie presentation for supporting churches to show at any time–not just when you’re there. A two-minute movie on a Sunday morning keeps people aware of you, and that’s what you want.
- Offer a short-term trip opportunity for people to come help you! No one is a better emissary for you than someone who has caught the passion first hand. It doest have to be a big deal–arrange for just one family or an entire team. Just letting your supporters know you’d love them to come excites them!
- Send regular e-newsletters, but make them anything but regular. Add drawings your kids have done of the country, thought bubbles with your prayer requests, photos, recipes, wish lists. I’ll let you know a not-so-secret: No one reads boring newsletters that are nothing but paragraphs of print. No one. Well, maybe Aunt Joan. But no one else. Take the time to make yours stand out and sparkle. Make them shorter and monthly rather than extensive epistles three times a year.
- Send a personal email periodically. Make sure they know this prayer and support thing is a two-way street. Take note of important events in your supporters lives and send personal congratulations. If they have specific interests you think a project of your addresses, let them know. (Maybe they have a son into soccer, or a daughter who loves horses, and you did something in that area.)
Remember–you’re not begging for money. You’re inviting people into an adventure. Make it exciting and easy, and they’ll want to be a part.
BIO: Jill has been a high school teacher, editor, and stay-at-home mom and is now a pastor and writer. She has a BA in English and Education and an MDiv in theology and has served as a worship, preaching, and discipleship pastor in three churches. She is the author of four books, including Don’t Forget to Pack the Kids: Short-Term Missions for Your Whole Family, available on Amazon.