Writing a Mission Trip Support letter can be very intimidating. If you’re anything like me, asking people to help support you financially probably makes you a little uncomfortable. But here’s the deal, not everyone is called to go out into the mission field - whether long-term or short-term. You, however, have had an opportunity put before you and now you have the opportunity to share that with people who love you and will support you if they are given the opportunity.
A Mission Trip support letter should be authentic and full of information while keeping it short and sweet. Try not to make your letter more than a page long and don't be afraid to add some flair to it!
Here are 9 tips for writing an incredible mission trip support letter that will help you stay connected and raise support.
Tip #1: Pray
Before you even begin making your list of who you’re going to send your letters to, pray over it. There may be people who you know that you would never consider sending a letter, but God may place them on your heart. If someone comes to you during your prayer, take the risk and add them to the list. Even if they aren’t able to support you financially, you’ll be able to connect with them.
tip #2: make it personal
This will be much more time-consuming than mass-producing a standard support letter, but it is absolutely worth it. By personalizing each letter, you have the opportunity to pray over each one individually while also adding a personal flair to the letters. Try to connect with the person you're writing to on a personal level. Do you have a memory of a time the two of you were together that you could reflect on? Do you have shared hobbies or passions that you can talk about? Be intentional about connecting with those you're requesting support from.
Dear Aunt Ann,
It was so great to see you at the barbecue in July! I had a great time playing sand volleyball with you. You have a mean serve! Uncle Joe's team didn't stand a chance against us. I can't wait to have a rematch next summer.
Tip #3: Be authentic, not sales-y
Nobody wants to be sold to. If your letter comes off as overly rehearsed and inauthentic, it will probably get placed on the stack with all the other bills and event invites. You want to create a refrigerator letter, not a junk pile letter.
You want to create a refrigerator worthy letter - not a junk pile letter.
Share your excitement about the trip destination and the people you will be encountering. Share photos or maps of your destination.
Share how this trip presented itself to you and why you decided to get on board. Talk about your role in the team and what your contributions will be. Will you be doing construction work? Running a VBS? Youth Ministry? Talk about why you think this work is important and what you hope to learn from this experience.
Our youth group is planning a Mission Trip to Jamaica to help paint and make repairs to a local church and the pastor's home. We also plan on putting on a short VBS while we're there! We've been working on small crafts that we can make with the kids while we're there.
We will be traveling inland, away from the resorts, where many of the buildings are in desperate need of repair. I'm hoping to be able to learn more about the culture in Jamaica and I'm really looking forward to experiencing one of their church services!
Tip #4: be clear about your support needs
Make sure your letter recipient knows that you are asking for both prayer and financial support. Have specific prayer requests. Request prayers for the team as a whole, for your fundraising efforts, for the lives of those you’ll come in contact with, etc. Knowing that you have a whole support system covering your trip in prayer is invaluable.
Be clear about your financial needs. What is the total cost of the mission trip? What funds have you been able to raise so far? Is there a specific amount that you’re requesting? (*more on that in tip #5) It's also important to include what other things you're doing to help raise funds for your trip. Are you babysitting on the weekends? Is your group doing fundraisers?
The total cost for this trip is $1500. $750 is due by December 1st to pay for the flight. The remaining amount is needed by March 15th. Our youth group is planning has a few fundraisers planned to help us reach that goal and I've been working extra hours after school to help too.
Tip #5: Request a specific amount
Take the total cost of your trip and break it down into smaller, more manageable amounts. For instance, if your total trip cost is $1500, that can be broken down into fifteen people contributing $100 or 30 people contributing $50, or 50 people contributing $30. Even though the option to contribute any amount is still on the table, almost everyone can and will want to help in $30 increments.
If thirty people are willing to contribute $50.00 to my fundraising goal, I would have my portion of the trip fully funded. Then I can help others on their trip with their goals and anything additional we raise will go to help with the cost of the painting and the repairs of the church and homes in Jamaica.
Tip #6: reiterate prayer
Not everyone can (or will) contribute financially to your mission trip and that is okay. Reiterate your need for prayer. This is something everyone can do.
Prayer is the most important contribution that can be made to this trip. Whether you're able to support me financially or not, can I please ask that you pray for this trip? Please be in prayer for our Youth Group as we plan and raise funds for this trip, for the church and pastor in Jamaica, and for the children we'll be serving at the VBS.
Tip #7: Include how they can contribute!!
Don’t forget to tell people how they can contribute. Include a website address if they can contribute online. Include an addressed and stamped envelope for those who would prefer snail mail. Be specific and leave your contact information in case there are any questions.
Tip #8: Follow-up
Okay, so not really a tip on writing the support letter, but it’s helpful nonetheless. Don’t be afraid to send out follow-up support letters thanking those who have contributed and updating your friends and family on your fundraising progress. Along with showing your gratitude, this can serve as a reminder for those who intended on sending you support but got distracted - as we all do.
Tip #9: Don’t forget to show your gratitude
I confess I’m the worst at writing Thank-You cards. It wasn’t something we did growing up and I tend to be so crazy busy all the time that it often gets pushed back. This is important though - trust me. Show your gratitude to everyone for their contribution. Tell your friends and family about your experiences - what you saw, what you did, and what you learned. They’ll be thrilled they had a part in it.
Raising support through letters is a tough gig. It shouldn’t be your main focus of fundraising (unless you’re going on a long-term mission trip and are requiring ongoing support, but that’s another conversation for another day). But, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
My husband likes to remind me that when we don’t ask, we’re robbing others of the ability to serve in the capacity that they’ve been called to serve in - whether that’s through prayer or financial support. Many of your family and friends want to support you - you simply have to give them the opportunity.
For more fundraising ideas, check out this blog post here.
Would you add anything to this list? I’d love to hear about your experience with support letters!