6 Ways to improve your mission trip support letter
Nothing is more exciting than writing your mission trip support letter! I mean, who wants to go to the movies on Friday night? Not me. Give me a pen and paper and let's write a support letter!
Ok, this may be an exaggeration, but writing a great support letter is still a crucial part in raising the financial, relational, and spiritual support that you need. A support letter is also a great way to complement any other fundraising efforts you make as you prepare for your mission trip.
However, most support letters tend to be boring and unengaging. If you want your letter to be effective, it needs to be exciting and engaging. Here are 6 ways to improve your support letter.
1) Be brief and to the point
If your support letter looks like an English 101 term paper, you might want to consider editing it down a bit. It may be tempting to share everything that's going on in your life with your recipient. However, if it's going to take them 30 minutes to read, they probably won't read it right away (if ever).
You want to grab your recipient's attention right away, and you don't want to bore them. We suggest keeping your letter to 1 page in length. Answering the following questions will help you keep your letter brief and to the point:
- What mission trip are you going on?
- What will you be doing while you're there?
- How can your recipient participate (usually financial, relational, & spiritual support)?
- How will their participation impact you and the people you plan to serve?
2) Get personal
Although we're using the word "recipient" in this article, you should definitely NOT use this term. Phrases like "Dear recipient" and even "Dear friends and family" are impersonal and difficult for people to connect with. If people feel like they're just one of a hundred people that are receiving the letter, they'll be less likely to support you. They'll be tempted to think, "If I don't support them, I'm sure someone else will."
Instead, include your recipient's name in the letter. Personalized letters are more effective because they strongly encourage the recipient to respond, since you're addressing them specifically.
It'll take a little more work on your part to personalize each letter (it's not as easy as just printing 30 copies of the same letter), but the results will be worth the extra effort.
3) Make it easy to respond and give
If your recipient has to jump through a bunch of hoops to support you, they'll be less likely to participate. Do they have to write a check? Boo. Do they have to find a stamp to mail back a "Promise to Pray" card? Boo.
Making it easy for your recipient to respond means taking the guesswork and legwork out of the process. Can your recipient donate to you online? Great! Give them click-by-click instructions on how to do that (no guesswork!). Are you putting together a team to pray for the trip? Awesome! Give them some specific areas your team will need prayer (no legwork!).
4) Make it digital
In some cases, the biggest thing your support letter will do is direct the recipient to your online support page. Having an online page is 10x better than just having a letter. It could be an online fundraising site, Facebook group, or even a blog that you start. No matter where it is on the Internet, an online page is a place where you can truly engage with your friends and family during the support-raising process.
Support letters tend to do pretty well in raising financial support. However, traditional letters are lousy at raising prayer and relational support. An online page dedicated to your mission trip is a better way to rally community and prayer from your friends and family.
5) Make it your own
Chances are, if you're going on a mission trip with a group from church or a missions organization, they gave you an example support letter and template that you can follow. These are meant to give you guidance on how to write your letter and the type of information you should include.
That's fine, but don't fall into the trap of simply mimicking what the sample letter says! That sample letter is probably generic, boring, and long. These are three words you don't want to describe your letter. You want your letter to be specific, interesting, and concise.
Don't be afraid to make your letter different from any other support letter you've seen before. Make it your own!
6) Give letters generously
Whew! Your support letter is finally written. Now, who are you going to give it to? This is one of the biggest ways we limit our own fundraising ability. We assume who will support us and who won't. We give letters to those who we think will support us, and we don't even mention our trip to the other people.
This is a bad idea. You can't predict who is going to support you and who isn't. Give letters generously.
Putting it all together
There's no magical support letter that ensures you'll raise all the money that you need. However, being intentional about writing a great support letter that your friends and family will actually read is a great step.
Finally, remember that Jesus isn't worried about raising enough money for your mission trip. And if He's not worried, you shouldn't worry either.
Written by CJ