Plan Ahead to Publish Regular Prayer Letters

Do you have a plan for publishing your newsletters?  Here’s my plan and what we actually did last year.  (Right-click on the image if you want to look more closely at the details in another tab while leaving this post open.)

We plan for a prayer letter every six weeks, totaling eight letters.  We also send two fund appeals per year.  In-between the prayer letters we send eNewsletters with some family and ministry news for the financial and prayer partners that have given us eMail addresses.  This group of people hear from us every three weeks.  (I also print and mail some of our eNewsletters throughout the year for top donors who don’t have eMail addresses.)  We also have a handful of people who receive our letters quarterly.  They’ve either told us not to spend money on writing to them or we’ve put them in this group for some other reason.

How did we do?  Last year,  you can see under “actual” that we did nine letters, two fund appeals, and twelve eNewsletters!

Here’s what to do

Download the entire Excel spreadsheet in Office 2003 format or in Office 2007 format or make your own spreadsheet.  Delete all the dates and notes in the yellow and green boxes under “Actual”.  You can keep the dates we use under “goals,” or set up your own dates.  These dates are the same every year, but I “tweak” the dates ahead of time if we need to.  I look over the spreadsheet in January and try to stay with my prayer letter goals in the green boxes and the eNewsletter goals in the yellow boxes.   This coming year, for instance, our son is getting married in May and we’ll be going to Staff Training, but the dates we’ve planned are going to work out.  Unless something develops later on this year, we’ll stick as close to these dates as possible.

This next step will take a bit of time initially, but you won’t have to do this step at all in subsequent years.  In Outlook calendar, set up recurring reminders for all the dates.  Because these are annual recurring reminders, you won’t have to figure out the dates again.

Make the following reminders in Outlook Calendar:

  • Two weeks before each planned prayer letter, create a reminder to start writing and planning the letter and to pick up paper, envelopes, and stamps.
  • One week before each planned prayer letter, create a reminder to start printing, signing, folding, and stamping; you should then be mailing your letters close to your planned date.
  • Create a reminder to mail prayer letters (and to email eNewsletters, if you’ll be doing that) for each of the dates in the green and yellow rows under “goals” in the spreadsheet.

Now you’ll be in the habit one month after you send a prayer letter to start getting the next one ready so that your letters are going out every six weeks.  If you add eNewsletters, most of your partners will hear from you every three weeks.  You’ll have to change my dates, of course, if you want to be on a one letter per month cycle.

If you like, fill the dates in every six weeks in the spreadsheet this coming year with your actual prayer letters and eNewsletters.  Save each year’s spreadsheet and/or start over in January.

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