Effective Communication for Ministry through Technology “Transcript”

This talk recorded at CSU2013 gives a good overview of what we’ll be doing in the You-Can-Too series. The following is not exactly a word-for-word transcript because I made sure this article is understandable.  I uploaded the PowerPoint that you see in the YouTube presentation to the e4e blog, so if you click this link you’ll immediately download the PowerPoint. I’ll put a few of the slides in this article. The timestamps match the YouTube video.


I’m not going to tell you how to use all these tools; I’m just touching on various options for you to enhance your ministry.  My goal is for you to see yourself in these scenarios.  Figure out where you are you in these pictures I’m going to paint and then you can decide what is the next step you need to do (you might also determine a long-term goal). I’m going to focus on MPD in the way I present these slides, but you can use this kind of setup with other ministry as well. I want you to take away something practical that you can use in your ministry. 1:00

If you look at the next slide with the basic building blocks for staff, I can say that 98% of you have all four of these already.  You have a database; you have eMail; you have some kind of social media (I’ll bet 98% of you are on Facebook); and you also have a web presence of some sort.

Basic Building Blocks

By the end of my talk, I would like you to consider at minimum having:

  1. A supplemental eMail letter in addition to your paper prayer letter
  2. A central database
  3. A social list of your donors on Facebook
  4. A blog type of website (post regularly if you do)

2:00 I also would like you to keep in mind three different key words that we’ll come across frequently as I talk:

1.    Social

2.    Mobile

3.    Fewer clicks

These will help you make your decisions when you decide on what your first step is going to be. Ask yourself:

  1. How can I have more social connection?
  2. How does my content look on a mobile device?
  3. Does my reader have to do too many clicks to get to where I want them to go?

Basic Tools for Staff 750

On this next slide, you’ll notice I filled in the building blocks with a specific name.

  1. I recommend you have TntMPD or MPDx as your central database
  2. You already have  eMail; you may decide to have MailChimp or some other eMail service
  3. I’d like you to have a list of donors in Facebook (or the social media site where they are most active)
  4. You must keep your give.cru.org site up-to-date

3:00 I’ll go through all of these in more detail throughout the talk.

A regular eMail newsletter

The first thing I’d like you to think about is doing a regular eMail newsletter. This would be in-between your paper newsletters or maybe sent quarterly if you want to do it that way.  It’s a nice-looking supplemental letter. Maybe it has a little more family information than you have on your prayer letter.

You have the option of using MailChimp, which I recommend.  It’s free up to 2000 in a subscriber list, so it won’t cost you anything.  One other reason I recommend using MailChimp is because your donors are increasingly using mobile devices to look at your newsletter or whatever you’re sending.

4:00 So, if you look at the next slide, you’ll see I’m showing the backside of a prayer letter that has a lot of photos on it.  Your reader only sees that little piece of your letter on their mobile phone.  They have to scroll to the right; they have to scroll up and down in order to read it.  It’s likely they just are not going to read it

This is one of the problems your readers encounter if they try to read a PDF letter on their phone. In addition, people have to click on an attachment to open your PDF letter and they just might not!  They may be looking at your eMail on their phone and think they’ll go home and open it up. It’s very likely they won’t get around to it.

If you’re going to use PDF, it’s just a photograph of your letter and is best for somebody who needs to print your letter.  It’s not really good for using in an eMail.


Now you see a sample of the give site.

5:00 John and Susie Staff haven’t done anything with their give site. Somebody wants to donate to them and they see this page. How do they know that this is them really?  If you haven’t done this, you need to upload a photo and some ministry information and maybe one or two links.

The next slide is a picture of what our give site looks like.  You can include the optional cover photo across the top; I have just two paragraphs about our ministry. It won’t take you very long.  Go to How Does Your Free Webpage Look? on my blog, eQuipping for eMinistry, to find out about all the steps you need to do to make your site look like this.

After you fix your website, the next thing I’d like you to do is to start sending some of your eMails and prayer letters with a link to your give site.  So, put a little giving link at the bottom of these.

Interact with your donors in a list on Facebook

6:00 Last month I friended one of our major donors on Facebook and right away she wrote back to me: “Now I can keep up with all your good news without waiting on your letters.  Hope all are doing well.”

This next slide shows my breakdown of our donors; we have 99 donors in a list on Facebook. So, it’s likely many of your donors would love being on Facebook with you and being connected, too.

I’d like you to make lists of your donors in Facebook. Simply go to Facebook help to learn how to set up a list on Facebook. It’s really quite easy.

You can also use that list on your wall to write directly to your group of donors instead of posting a public announcement on your wall. (Here’s how).

I have one good story that I think will convince you that you need to do this. I was checking my MPD list on Facebook one day and saw that a $25 a month donor wrote: “Please pray for us and our daughter.”

7:00 I noticed that she had written this three minutes before, so I decided to phone her. It turned out that their daughter had run away.  They knew where she was; she was coming back the next day.  I had that opportunity to minister to our donor and to pray and be a part of that family’s concerns that weekend.

That’s just one story of many that I’ve had in being connected with donors.

So, another question that you might have, on the next slide, is which social network should I be in? If you have a business-oriented ministry you might prefer LinkedIn, for instance.

For me personally, my blog is my base camp and Facebook is my embassy and then I have outposts at other social media sites. (Read A Social Media Framework by Michael Hyatt)

8:00 I recommend picking one embassy, focus on that. It’s okay to have outposts, too. You can gather eMail information, you can get photos of donors by being in these other social networks (the outposts). Just use them for information-gathering, not networking necessarily.

For instance, in this story from LinkedIn, a donor ($60 a month) was not donating for half a year.  I looked him up in LinkedIn and found out he was unemployed.  So, instead of writing a letter asking where their donation was, I was able to write a more sensitive letter to him.

Have a central database

I’m briefly going to mention that you should choose a database.  I don’t want you to fall into the trap of having names in this spot and addresses over here and eMails updated over there. That’s why I do recommend TntMPD or MPDx to keep names and addresses all in one place.  I use TntMPD because it syncs with MailChimp and with my eMail information.  I keep much of my eMail history in it. So it’s really quite an effective tool that you should be using.

Make your MPD website more social

9:00 Again, keep in mind: social, mobile, and fewer clicks.  As much as possible send your readers straight to the content that they need to be reading.  Don’t lose them in a trail of clicks as they try to get to where they need to be.

The “can you be more social” slide is for those of you that have a website instead of just the give.cru.org site. I’m talking about a website that doesn’t have a blog feature in it.  Maybe you’ve had a website for years. What you’re probably doing is: you update your website and then maybe you’re sending an eMail about the update on your website (maybe even a PDF attachment) and if you’re really on top of things, you’re posting about your update in social media as well.

10:00 I put an arrow that’s dashed in the slide because this is the old way that the web works. What we’re in now is called Web2.0; it’s more social.  You need to update that website of yours and make sure it has a feed.  I explain on this next slide very briefly what a feed is.

Your Website Needs a Feed 750

So, I’d recommend that you get a website together that has a blog in it that sends out a feed of your posts to your readers.  There’s other reasons that’s a good thing to do, but feel free to write me as I’m being very brief on a lot of different topics. Please write sus.schmitt at ccci.org for any answers to questions you’re probably having as I talk.

11:00 The next slide is about a blog and MailChimp option.

Blog_MailChimp option 750

Remember I showed you the three different steps you did with your old website?  Now in this option you’re writing in your blog and, because you’ve set up these features, as soon as you post that, it appears in Facebook and Twitter and it will send an eMail through MailChimp.  You’ve done one thing instead of three things and yet you’ve accomplished the same effect.  It also creates more interaction with you and your donors.  With MailChimp you will know who is reading your information; who’s actually engaged with you.

This slide here is of our grandson, Patrick, at the beach; This is our web site. MailChimp sent this post out to our readers.  The next day, I got an eMail from a $150 a month donor and they wrote:

“Love the pic.  Such a beautiful and happy baby, your Patrick.

12:00 Have to tell you one week back from overseas and first time I’ve really had time to read your blog much in about a month. Such great info and reading as always.  Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into it.  Such a blessing”

So apparently, being gone a month, when she had an opportunity, she read everything she missed. She’s really engaged with us, keeping up with the blog and appreciates the effort I put into it to send her that information.

Remember your readers are using mobile devices

The next slide shows how our website looks on a mobile phone.  This is something I’m going to do; I need to find a mobile-friendly theme for my blog.  So, if you have some kind of a blog that’s not responsive (that’s the word you’re looking for), you’ll need to upgrade your theme.  A responsive theme will resize your post to fit on a phone, an iPad or a laptop.

In Summary

So, again, I recommend, at minimum:

  1. Send a monthly eMail letter with different content than your paper prayer letter
  2. Have a central database 13:00
  3. Be involved with  your donors on social media
  4. Post regularly if you wish to have a blog type of website

You can do this.  Have faith in God and in yourself.  You may need skills, but we’re here to help you.  Follow my blog or find mentors and other resources. You have a story and also people who want to help you get your ministry and that story heard above the noise on the Internet. They want to help you accomplish your ministry.

Care about them; build your partners into a team and focus on these tools as a ministry to them (instead of thinking of it as a broadcasting of yourself). Start small; add a little at a time; be consistent; keep at it.

You can master these tools.  I’m learning, too, and will be glad to help you in any way I can.

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