Does “STM/AIM Q&A” mean anything to you?
Probably not… so let me explain in a nutshell:
– STM = Short Term Missions
– AIM = Associates in Missions
– Q&A = Questions & Answer
One of the things that I want to do with these STMM posts is to answer questions that I’ve either (a) asked personally or (b) been asked by others.
Ready for the first question?
What’s the best way to publicly thank your ministry partners?
Since we’re in the internet age, the natural first choice is to use it to publicly thank those who have chosen to support us in some tangible way (whether financial support, in-kind giving, etc.) It’s an incredible resource and one that should be taken full advantage of.
The goal is to strike the right balance between:
Scenario a: I prominently publicize, in a designated place, both the name (individual, group or church) and the specific amount or nature of their gift.
Risk #1: I can be perceived to be merely name-dropping or self-promoting.
Risk #2: I can be perceived to be attempting to guilt those that have not (yet) given or who haven’t given as much as another church or individual.
(for example: small church “x” gives us a $25 PIM because that’s all they can while church “y” gives us a $50 PIM plus a $500 one-time offering. Both are doing what they are able and God will bless them both.)
Scenario b: In the interest of discretion (and perhaps the donor’s preference regarding privacy) I opt to not publicize, at all, donor information details.
Risk #1: If I am already promoting other ministry things publicly then I can be perceived to be more or less ungrateful, depending on the donor.
Finding the right balance is something that’s determined somewhere between your own way of using the web and your supporters’ comfort level with sharing of information.
- Social Media: Social media offers real-time connection between you and supporters (or prospective supporters).
Facebook: Decide whether you’ll interact via a fan page or via your personal profile and then ensure that you are connected to supporters or potential supporters who use this platform. Share brief interactions on each others’ walls and reserve more extensive interaction via messager / inbox.
Twitter: This is useful for more frequent but less extensive “tag-ins” or “pings”. There may not even be “conversation” but they are in your feed and you, possibly, in theirs.
Instagram – Simply another form of “pinging” Instagram allows supporters to get to know more snippets about who you are & what’s important to you while they’re deciding whether or not they will support you. It’s important to just be yourself.
Pinging simply means that you are on their radar … they repeatedly, over time, see your picture, hear your thoughts on this or that subject and get to know a bit about you. These all weigh into their decision about support.
- Blog: You could have some kind of “Wall of fame” on your blog or website, indicating who your supporters are. I highly caution you concerning this though… once you begin “a list” you run the risk of forgetting to add someone and causing offense. Also, you need to be aware of who is comfortable having their information shared publicly. Again, it can also come across as cheap name dropping.
- Conventional Mail: Affectionately known as “Snail Mail.”
By nature I’m a bit of a pen-to-paper kind of guy and like to send notes. A short note is, again, great for pinging… just letting someone know that you’ve thought of them, prayed for them, are wanting to thank them for something. It gives a personal touch that electronic means just cannot deliver. It has the downside of requiring more time and incurring extra cost, but my experience is that it has helped in maintaining great connection.
What we’ve done
- One thing we’ve done is feature, on our blog, a photo of ourselves together with them and thank them for supporting our vision. This underscores the importance that we place on the relationship with them first and foremost.
- We typically don’t mention specific dollar amounts. YOU know what each pastor gave, THEY know and the LORD knows. What I have done though is say something like: “Thanks to Pastor X’s giving, we surpassed the XYZ% mark in our support raising.” Discreetly, it communicates that their giving has made a difference.
- When it comes to blog vs. Facebook, I tend to prefer the blog as opposed to just mentioning them in a comment on my wall. The blog is a bit more focused and Facebook a little less personal.
- I’ve regularly offered up brief connections with pastors & supporters through by way of a short hand-written note (see above).
The Most Important
Regardless of the vehicle that you choose or the comfort level that you settle on, the most important thing is that you do it! Find a way to convey your thanks and appreciation to those who have believed enough in your calling and your ability to be used of God, to support you financially. It’s what will keep you there. for the long haul.
6 Hot Tips for Surviving Christmas on the Mission Field
What if your STM experience extends beyond the summer months and right through until Christmas, or beyond? What if you aren’t able to get home for Christmas?
It can be tough being away from family & friends over the holidays, whether it’s your first or twenty-first time. I’ll give you tips on making the most of Christmas abroad and how you can prepare for it even before you leave.