This is the time of year when many campus missionaries are developing their partnership teams, so I have spent the month of June writing about a number of important things to keep in mind when developing partnership teams. I wrote about the importance of communicating with our partners, offered a few tips on how to best communicate with our partners, and this week I will just give a few random bits of advise.
Our partners need to be among the most important people in our life and ministry. In a busy day or busy week, we sometimes have to put off replying to an email or returning a phone call. When we’re busy, we naturally create a triage of important people to respond to. Our partners always need to be on the top of that list.
Responding quickly to partners communicates one thing: They are important people to us. Not replying quickly communicates just the opposite. So whether they reply to our emails to say they are praying for us, send us an email to ask how we’re doing, call to say they are having trouble giving through our website, call to say they are missing a receipt, or whatever the circumstance we must reply quickly and kindly.
Shoot. We should be thrilled when they try to stay in contact with us. Consider it a compliment, not a burden.
I am very surprised that so many missionaries do not send their partners thank you notes. It’s truly unbelievable! Recently Brenda and I just distributed a tithe of our tax return and some unexpected money we received to about five people/organizations. None of them sent thank you notes. None!
This is egregious. If you have time to ask for partnership you cannot fail to make time to be grateful. Trust me when I say this is important. We have stopped giving to folks who have not expressed gratitude and so have many others that I know. It is not about wanting acknowledgment or something in return, it is about feeling appreciated and invited into a team rather than just giving a hand out.
By the way: by “thank yous,” I mean thank you notes… handwritten. Thank you emails are a cheap way to express thanks. Show some effort and write a note.
This may apply more to churches and foundations than individuals, but the principle is important no matter the circumstance.
Churches and foundations often have some sort of application process and some sort of reporting process. We should aim to be the first to complete the application and the first to complete the report. When we’re the first to complete the application or report it shows that we care about the partnership and that we’re disciplined and organized (a worthy person and organization to give to and one who is tracking our progress and measuring our own success). What does it communicate to donors if we miss deadlines or even submit things on the last day? Not what we need to communicate to them, that’s for sure.
One way to help with this is to keep track of churches and when their applications and/or reports are due. I have a church that requires quarterly reports. I know exactly when they are coming so I’m able to get my report ready before they ask for it. When it comes, I am the first to send it in. Even if a church surprises me with an application out of the blue, I immediately move their request to the top of my triage and get the application in that week.
Justin Christopher is the National Campus Director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Network and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.