Here’s a new year’s resolution for all missionaries:
Stop sending prayer letters. Switch completely to regular personalized electronic communication with your donors in 2011.
I know, I know. You have no time for communication while you’re in the field, etc etc. Older donors can’t use anything more electronic than a blender, etc etc. People treasure generic letters sent out with old news months behind schedule, etc etc.
These are all great reasons to stick to printed prayer letters, except for one thing:
They’re all based on data which is staler than the Christmas cookies still remaining on your counter.
Christianity Today ran a nice update piece on missionary/donor communication just in time to help you toss out old thinking about support raising and ring in the new. Among the insights:
- A third of Wycliffe missionaries email daily from the field with supporters back home
- Around 70 percent of those missionaries have 40+ hours of Internet access weekly from the field; 75% have high-speed connections
- 50% of the missionaries Wycliffe surveyed are able to stay in the field longer and make furloughs shorter because of electronic communication
Those are staggering numbers with which most missionary communication strategies have yet to catch up.
Missionaries with older constituents may be tempted to disregard this data, consoled by the certainty of the incompatibility between the elderly and the ethernet cable.
But the times, they have a-changed.
- Facebook use among those aged 65+ increased by 100% in the last year alone, which means a quarter of those in that age category are now Facebook active (half of those between the ages of 50 and 64 are as well)
- 11% of adults aged 50 to 64 now use Twitter
- Old people can’t read the prayer letters you send anyway because you always make the font so small so you can fit more in on a single page
OK, so the last one is just a personal rant. But as long as I’m indulging personal rants, permit me one final question:
Why is it that the missionaries who tell me that they’re too busy to communicate with their donors while in the field are the same ones whose Farmville and Mafia Wars updates are constantly clogging up my Facebook page?