Top Tips For Writing Missionary Newsletter
In our last article, we explained how to write a meaningful missionary newsletter. Now that you have clarity on the purpose of writing and sending out monthly missionary newsletters and understand the three key groups (types of supporters) who need to receive your regular updates, let’s dive into the key steps that will make your supporters want to open, read and engage with your newsletter.
- Think like a donor. Most donors give first from the heart, and secondly from their pockets. In other words, a person’s heart is the way to their financial support. How do you reach a person’s heart? You give open and honest communication; and lots of it—regularly. Let them decide what they read and don’t read. Every donor is different. Some want a lot of detailed information on what you are doing in the field and some not as much. For example, are you accomplishing what you set out to do? If not, what are the struggles you are experiencing and how is God helping you overcome those struggles to accomplish your vision and mission? These are just a few questions donors ask. It’s important for you to include answers to these questions, in every newsletter. It isn’t difficult to do when you truly think like a donor.
HINT 1: Leave it for the reader to decide how much they want to read. Everyone is capable of scrolling through a newsletter and finding what interests them most; especially if you use headers and subtitles as discussed below. HINT 2: Also, think of the people and organizations that you give to. Ask yourself what it is that you are looking to read in a newsletter from them, and then make sure you include this in your missionary newsletter.
- Show donors that you belong to a reputable missionary organization that can accurately and reliably process their donations whether they give one-time, monthly, periodically or annually. Make sure your missionary organization is accredited by the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability)—at a minimum. Place the ECFA logo in the footer of every email. This will give donors a higher comfort level and increased trust, and shows that you have the proper accountability and do not work on your own as a missionary. Please take a minute to read what others are saying about Mission Quest.
- Make your missionary newsletter personal by using a mail merge program for the salutation (Dear Frank, Dear Jane, etc.) and the “To” field, where your readers see their name at the beginning of your email. This is an option in most mass email services offer at no charge, and you can also do it using regular mail merge. Also, always include a picture of you and/or your entire family if they are on the mission field with you. You can make this your permanent header or footer in your signature area and switch it every 3 months or so. Your supporters really enjoy being greeted with their name and your personal picture in every email correspondence from you.
- Use a compelling subject line. By this, we mean the actual subject line people see in their email inbox before they open the email. Why? A compelling subject line will increase interest in your missionary newsletter and the chance that your supporters will open it the first time they see it! Think of one of the main things you are sharing in each email, and then find a way to use engaging, compelling words in your email subject line that increase the curiosity of your readers to open it. For example: If you are sharing about a new outreach in a new area, say, Vietnam…instead of just being factual and direct in your subject line, i.e., ‘News On My New Outreach In Vietnam’…use more compelling, interesting words like, “Walking In The Fields Of Vietnam”. The latter subject line makes your reader more curious and interested in what you have to say.
- Be authentic, truthful and vulnerable. By authentic we mean to make sure you are being YOU when you write. Do not try and be someone else or impress people by sounding more ‘missionary-like’ (whatever that is!). Use the common, everyday language that you normally use when you talk with people. This will make it more enjoying to write and much more enjoyable for people to read. Also, be truthful.
Try not to make everything sound so rosy and wonderful because everybody knows that’s not what the mission field is really like. It’s easy to want to talk about only the good things you see God doing. Make sure you include the difficulties, the hardships, and the struggles. This helps increase the faith of your supporters; and believe it or not, they welcome that! And this is also what being vulnerable looks like; allowing your supporters to see your weaknesses. Not just your strengths. Be honest about the things God is doing in you and helping you overcome. And in this way…you can even encourage those reading your newsletter…that they are not alone in the problems they are facing. You are all in this together, working in the fields that God has called you to. Your field just happens to be in another nation (typically), while your supporters’ mission fields are often their daily work, family and social life. And this leads us to the next vital part of your monthly newsletter: Prayer Requests.
- Always include a list of Prayer Requests. This is SO important when sending a missionary newsletter. Not just for your prayer supporters—those committed to praying for you—but for you too! Missionaries often forget to pray for themselves, or at the very least, are too shy/self-conscience to share personal prayer requests. Make sure you are regularly sharing your personal and missional prayer requests. In this way, you are not only informing your supporters of your needs, but you are also creating a written log of the things for which you need prayer. This can become a great resource for you down the road as you look back on all God has done. Make sure to have a separate subtitled PRAYER REQUEST section (typically towards the bottom of every email) and be sure to include ANSWERED PRAYERS as well directly below your prayer requests. It is okay to keep the same requests on several subsequent newsletters. As long as you still need prayer in those areas…include it! Then when God answers the prayer(s), many will be able to celebrate with you.
- Be lighthearted and humorous. Yes, this is highly recommended to all missionaries when sending newsletters! Even if your newsletter includes some heavy, difficult things, there is always room for something lighthearted that you can share. Maybe you’ve run across a funny meme that perfectly describes in a humorous way, the difficulties you have been facing. Or, you can include a funny, lighthearted video about something you experience day-to-day in your mission field…like crossing the street. One missionary did just that; she posted a funny video of her and a team-member crossing a very busy street in an Asian nation, where there are no stoplights or lines painted on the roads. Just a free-for-all when it comes to driving and quite a daunting experience to simply cross the street. By taking and posting a short, lighthearted video about it, she brought certain joy and smiles to those getting to watch her cross that street. And this also causes your supporters to want to keep opening and reading your missionary newsletter updates when they know they get to read or see something humorous that you get to experience.
- Use PLENTY of photos and videos. This is something every supporter who reads your missionary newsletters loves to see—a lot of photos and even some videos. You really cannot have too many. Most phones (android or iPhones) can take pretty good pictures and videos these days. And mass email programs make it easier than ever to insert them into your newsletter while formatting them to make them evenly spaced and look good to your readers. Again, try and take pictures and videos not just of the big moments (i.e. missionary evangelism events), but your day-to-day experiences, like the local cat who frequents your home or missions outreach area, or a beautiful sunset that was especially brilliant. This gives your supporters the chance to feel like they are really a part of what you are experiencing in the field and helps them relate even more to what you are experiencing.
- Share testimonials—not just in the people you are serving and the situations you are experiencing, but be sure to include what He is doing in you! Include any revelations He is showing you and your team. In fact, each of your newsletters should have a separate testimony section that your supporters can look forward to reading every month. Even if you don’t think a certain testimony is worth sharing, ask God about it. And trust that He will show you the testimonies He did that your supporters will want to read about or watch in a short video. Sharing testimonials is something that Mission Quest utilizes to show everyone how dependable our missionary service agency is, and how it impacts people’s lives worldwide.
If God has helped deliver you from rejection or helped you overcome fear in some area of your life, make a short 3-to-5-minute video about it and share it in your testimony section.
- Always use headers and sub-headers. This makes it so much easier for your readers to read your email without getting lost in a sea of words. Headers and sub-headers break up the text in your email and allows people to find the things they may want to go back and re-read, more easily. One simple way to do this is by creating your email with the same sections every time: New Things Happening, Revelations, Testimonies, Prayer Requests, Praise Reports, and so on. Be sure to include special pictures that pertain to each section just under the sub-header and you will make the reading/watching experience so much more enjoyable for your supporters.
- Thank your supporters in every single missionary newsletter. Be sure to not only thank your supporters for continuing to walk with you during your missionary adventures, but for their ongoing prayers and giving support. And yes, you can make this a general statement towards the end of every email, just before you close, while including a special scripture each time. Also, ask your supporters what you can be praying about for them. Prayer is a two-way street and will encourage your supporters to get in touch with you as well. In your closing remarks, always tell your supporters that you would love to hear from them and find out how they’re doing and what you can be praying for them.
- Include Your Contact Information. While this is an obvious step, many missionaries forget to include this in every email. An easy way to remember to do this is to place your contact information in a permanent footer. This is helpful to keep the channels of communication open with your donors, especially those that prefer to communicate in ways other than emails.
- Always include a ‘Give’ or ‘Donate’ button at the bottom of your email. Many people who may not normally give to you, may decide upon reading something that touched their hearts in a particular newsletter, to give to you right away. Or if they are already donating, they may want to increase their gift because God touched their heart as they read your update. Make it easy for them to give by including a giving button at the end of every email after you’ve thanked your supporters and asked for their prayer request. We advise you to place it after your prayer and praise reports, at the very bottom, just before your footer. If you are asking for something specific in your email that you need to raise funds for immediately, then yes, include the donate button earlier in the email and again, at the end. You don’t want your donors to have the desire to give, and then not provide an easy way for them to do that.
- Use a mass email marketing platform to send out your monthly missionary newsletters. We’ve mentioned this a few times before because it is the best way to easily send your newsletter in bulk to many people. These programs take just a few minutes to ‘learn the ropes’ and even have templates you can easily use and just insert your text, photos, and videos in a nice, inviting layout. A few other bonuses in using a mass email program like Mailchimp, are that you can see who actually opened your emails and what links they may have clicked on. This lets you see which of your supporters are most interested in reading what you are sharing each month and can help you see if your subject lines are causing more people to want to read your updates.
HINT 1: The day and time you send out your email can positively or negatively impact whether people see, open and engage with your email. This article gives some good insights as to what days and times give the best likelihood that your supporters will open your missionary newsletter update. HINT 2: If you’re wondering what a good ‘open rate’ is for the newsletters you send out, 50% is considered a pretty good average. If you are faithfully applying the tips we’ve given above, we believe you will have at least 50% of your supporters opening and engaging with your emails, if not more.
A Final Note!
Now that you’ve read through the top 14 tips for ‘writing your missionary newsletter and making it meaningful’, we cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure all your effort is put to best use by partnering with a reputable missionary organization. Mission Quest® supports 70+ missionaries across seven continents; missionaries who entrust us with their livelihood and their relationships with their donors. We are a missionary service agency that makes it easy for donors to give tax-deductible donations to you online with a credit card, a debit card or EFT transactions. We also process offline donations for missionaries via checks for those who prefer donating by mail. Our high financial accountability standards and financial transparency have been acknowledged and accredited by multiple third-party organizations including the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and GuideStar USA. And we make sure you have multiple ways to interact and keep track of your donors via multi-use reporting that you access whenever you want to.
Read this article on how to write a meaningful missionary newsletter