How To Improve Your Mission Support Letter

Unless you happen to be a person that really enjoys writing putting together a mission support letter can be a difficult task. However writing a great support letter is still a crucial part in raising the financial, relational, and spiritual support that you need.

Most support letters can 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 a 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. The best way is to hand write the letters but most of us may not write well enough to be easily read. If the letter is printed leave a space above your name at the end of the letter to hand sign it…. It’s important to see the personal touch!

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? That’s OK for some people but most would rather do it an easier way. Do they have to find a stamp to mail back a donation? If you’re offering the one giving an opportunity to mail a check then provide a pre addressed stamped envelope to send it. If possible, route your funds through your local church.  For example, your enclosed envelope should have an address that reads something like: Local Open Bible Church - Attn: John Doe's Mission Fund - Address.  This will also make things less confusing for your church's financial secretary if there are multiple letters coming in.

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.

5) Make it your own

We have provided a couple of examples of support letters. These are meant to give you some ideas on how to write your letter and the type of information you should include. Please don't fall into the trap of simply mimicking what the sample letter says! Just use it as a guide if needed and make your letter 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

Okay, your support letter is finally written. Now, who are you going to give it to? This can be of the biggest ways we limit our own fundraising ability. It’s easy to 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. That’s not a great idea. You can't predict who is going to support you and who isn't. Give letters generously.

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.

One last thing… 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.

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