It’s impossible to have the same level of involvement with everyone, so how do I “reach out and touch” so many people in so many ways?
This week, I asked, how can I encourage our ministry partners to be more engaged with us?
Of course, we do regular prayer letters, make phone calls, and send blog posts, text messages and greeting cards. The more points of contact I have, the easier it is for me to connect with people.
This post is like a Miss Manners advice column. I’m sharing my guidelines for connecting with ministry partners. I hope you find some thoughts that would work for you and your partner team.
“Reach out and Touch” Your Ministry Partners
For all donors
I know it’s possible to find phone or email addresses through online research. I’m reluctant to search for this information that they didn’t give to me personally. I make an exception if they gave this information to Cru or if our relationship is strong.
I like to use PeopleFinders to find out how old someone is. For instance, our older friends are likely to have a landline and haven’t used texting (also see under Basic Bill). I uncover nicknames through this site.
I only have a mailing address for Annie. I’ve made up a paper “getting to know you” form that I’ll send separately from our prayer letter. I’ll ask about her birthday and ask for a phone number and email address. I might include a bitly link or a QR code to make it easier for her to signup for our MailChimp list from her phone or laptop. I enclose a return envelope.
But what if Annie doesn’t respond? I decided this year to mail one of our blog posts or other information that she might like. I’ll send these occasionally. She’s missing these extra news items that many others are receiving electronically from us.
I know Bill’s address and phone. But what phone is that?
PhoneValidator will tell me if a number is a landline or mobile number. That’s helpful. I’m comfortable cold-calling a landline number, but not phoning or texting a cell phone. This depends on how old Bill is. If he’s below his 40s, I will call. If above, not. I don’t text anyone without permission. I would send the form and the “extra news” that I sent Annie.
I wanted to increase my phone calls to Bill and many donors during this past year’s Covid restrictions. People were not as busy and more available. I did make several calls. I’m still hoping to take advantage of this current opportunity during these next two months.
I will friend Susie on social media if we’ve had more than a year of other connections. I keep my eye out for Susie’s birthday, her anniversary, and the birth of her first grandchild. Many times God has alerted me to weddings, Covid struggles, and the loss of a loved one. Be online and respond to her stories.
Irwin has email. Hooray! Again, depending on how I know that, I invite him to receive our blog posts through MailChimp.
Pre-Covid, if someone was a financial partner, I used snail mail for their prayer letters. I felt it was a courtesy on our part for their financial investment. Also, both spouses are more likely to see and read a paper version.
Now, I’m comfortable with emailed prayer letters if that is Irwin’s preference. Early in 2020, I asked dozens of solid partners if they would receive our prayer letters through MailChimp. After several newsletters, I checked MailChimp member ratings. If any spouse rated as a 2 (or a 3), I put them back on the paper letter.
Sometimes, I never find out about Mrs. Irwin’s email address. If I know she reads his email, I’ll continue with the emailed prayer letter. Otherwise, it’s back to snail mail.
As you know, people seem to respond more quickly to texts.
Two days ago, I texted Tammy with a link to our family news on our blog. Later, she replied and we texted a bit. I then called her. We had a short chat and I was able to get her new email address and sign her up for our blog posts. She was on her way out to pick up fresh milk at a dairy farm, so we didn’t talk as long as I wanted to. We were both glad for our short visit.
I loved using texting to prepare for an MPD trip a few years ago. From setting an appointment to letting Tammy know we were on our way, organizing the trip went faster and more smoothly.
I use Pushbullet for most of my texts. Instead of thumbing on my phone, Pushbullet is more like an inbox. (I type very rapidly, so I love this option.) Since Tammy is in Texas, I pasted the same question to a handful of Texas friends: “How are you doing after the storm?” Most replied. (I keep my eye on weather news!)
What can I say about Al? He’s given me so many options to connect. He receives at least one thank-you note and greeting card per year. He reads our blog posts (which includes our prayer letter) every three weeks. I see him on social media every other month or so. I text him to see when a good time would be for a phone call.
He may have preferences, of course. I may know he’s more of a texter than an emailer. He may tell me not to call, too, I should honor that.
What are your guidelines? How have you tried to personalize your connections when you have so many relationships to steward?
- The well-known song, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), was the first solo single of Diana Ross. She released this in 1970, after a decade as the lead singer for The Supremes.
- Miss Manners (Judith Martin) has written extensively on etiquette.
- Miss Manners said: “It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.”
- Laptop and cell phone photo by Patrick Slade on Unsplash