About Keeping in Touch with People.

‘Tis the season after the season. Resolution season.

As a result, one of my life goals is to avoid joining a gym in January (again).

Other life goals include never committing to watch American Idol because it takes roughly 4 nights per week, from what I can tell. And seriously, calling the winner of it a “superstar” is a bit of an exaggeration, commercial-writers. They get a record “deal” so fraught with red tape you could not possibly call them an “artist” with a straight face. Entertaining Fox-puppet, maybe. At a bare minimum, “superstars” are popular for long enough to finish an entire box of Cheez-its. (4 minutes and 42 seconds, if you are keeping score at home.)

How’d I get off on that rabbit trail? My point is, right now a lot of you are making resolutions. If you’re looking for suggestions, 100% of the physicians interviewed for this article agreed that resolving to read ATB daily helps lower cholesterol, when combined with a heathy diet and exercise. The only thing healthier than reading it is sending links to your favorite posts to all of your friends.

In the life of a support-raiser, however, this is the season of deciding to be better at keeping in touch with donors. Or perhaps that was just me.

I had the best of intentions, but reality was not my friend. Anyone who’s ever been my friend can tell you that I am not so big on the telephone, or the concept of keeping in touch with people.

When I left for college, I think I visited home exactly once, counting Thanksgiving, during the entire fall semester. My mom did most of the calling, and left a lot of messages (on my dorm room answering machine…. this was before the days of rampant cell-phone use). So when people came on my team of ministry partners, they were fortunate to get a mass-mailed prayer letter once every month(ish).

But every year I’d make a NYR (New Years Resolution) to be better at keeping in touch with the folks who supported me. And here’s a few of the tactics I put in place with the hopes of making that happen:

Buy a stack of Postcards.
I’d heard from other missionaries that one great way to keep in touch with folks is postcards. So I’d purchase a stack of postcards from wherever I happened to be on January 4th when I made the NYR and then proceed with sending them to a few of our ministry partners. By about the fifth postcard, my hand got tired and I vowed to continue tomorrow. By “tomorrow” I must have meant “never,” though, because the remainder of the cards would get lost somewhere in the fallout zone that is my rear floorboard (true story), never to be seen again.

Call Through the List.
When I got engaged (December 7th, 2005… the Japanese drop bombs. I drop diamonds), I thought it would be a neat thing to call through my ministry partners and announce the news personally. It sounded like a great idea, and probably was a great idea. What turned it into a colossal awkward-fest was that I didn’t do what Henry* did.

In 7th grade, my friend Henry had a humongous crush on one of the popular girls (hint: I was not popular, and he was talking to me) and so he’d call her at night (or so he told me, I never got up the nerve to confirm the story with her) and literally have a sheet of notebook paper full of relevant topics that he could go to if there was a lull in the conversation. As he talked about each one, he’d cross it off, to make sure that he didn’t repeat himself.

I should have done that, when calling through this list of folks. But instead, I relied on my wit and charm. And after mentioning that I was engaged, the conversation hit a lull when both parties would realize that we have almost nothing else of interest to talk about. We’d stumble through a few awkward sentences about our family, and then hang up.

The best part of this true story is that I seriously repeated this process over 100 times without ever thinking to pull a middle-school Henry.

*I’ve changed this name to protect the awesomeness of this 7th grader from being revealed without his consent. He can feel free to out himself in the comments. I don’t think I went to Cook Middle School with anyone named Henry.

Start a blog.
Have you ever started a blog? A friend of mine started one called “Alex vs. Procrastination.” There are no posts on that blog. Sadly, he did not do that for the poetry. Blogging takes persistence. And bloggind with ministry updates takes persistence and a good amount of stories to tell about what’s going on in your world, ministry-wise. So when I started a blog, it was primarily about my kid, and I sprinkled other stories and ministry updates in there. And I’ll be honest and say that were it not for the fact that I just really enjoyed writing in general, I would never have stuck to that, either.

Yep, I’m officially 1-for-25ish when it comes to tactics for keeping in touch with ministry partners.

What have you done to keep in touch with the important people in your life? Comment below.

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