Health and Growth

5 Ways to Get Ready for a Missions Conference

Take these critical steps to make sure your missions conference is a success.

5 Ways to Get Ready for a Missions Conference
by

Paul Maxwell

Preparing for a missions conference can put a lot of stress on your organization.

  • The entire staff is taxed.
  • The normal roles and responsibilities are doubled.
  • The pressure to make the conference feasible is palpable.
  • Everybody has a criticism of the marketing materials.
  • People get resentful and jealous of others’ roles.

It’s easy to miss the big picture of what a missions conference can provide:

  • Unity of purpose.
  • Fresh content.
  • Another year of extra revenue.
  • Revitalized interest in your organization among your members and users.
  • A potential national impact for your cause and vision.
  • Refreshed unity among the team leadership.

But in the midst of all of the highs and lows of missions conference planning, it’s easy to lose sight of what makes a conference great:

Organization.

90% of event planning is logistics.

In terms of time spent, vision, glory, selfies, and ooh-la-la take up less than 10%.

If you are staring down the tracks at a missions conference week, you must remember to keep your eye on the essentials.

But if you don’t have your degree in event planning, it’s hard to remember what are the fundamentals and what are the glimmering distractions.

So, let’s get down to business and nail down exactly what you should focus on (and what tactics are most useful) as you prepare for your missions conference.

Here are five tools to crush missions conference week.

1. Decide who is Batman (and who is Robin)

Before you do anything, you need to decide who is the boss.

The biggest mistake organizations make when putting on a conference is creating a “committee.”

Trash the committee.

There must be one project manner who is able to be a “leader among equals.”

A successful missions conference production will be the result of solid teamwork that reflects the vision of the whole leadership team, but you need to have a trusted trigger person who can act as an executive project manner with veto power.

This doesn’t mean that this person has exhaustive administrative responsibility, or worse, comprehensive operational authority over every conference staff member and volunteer.

You don’t need a dictator.

You need a leader.

But if your organization can’t agree on a single person to oversee the missions conference project management, this signals deeper professional problems that need to be addressed before the conference production gets too much speed.

A good missions conference, by nature, will be a complex beast with many moving parts.

A good missions conference will require multiple authorities within your organization to execute diligently within their area of expertise.

But a good missions conference also must remain agile, or else its administrative back end will become too heavy, and you will discover the nightmare of having a conference that is too big even for a committee to handle.

Appointing a Batman to lead your conference’s Justice League is crucial to the operation’s ability to pivot and engage obstacles without disrupting the basic architecture of the event.

The decision not to appoint a point-person is a decision for chaos.

2. Use the right event management software from the start

First of all, don’t even think of using Google Docs and Gmail as your command central for conference organization.

While Google Suite is a very useful tool, when it comes to professional conference production, nothing says “amateur” quite like Google Docs, and nothing predicts being overwhelmed with disparate and disorganized details quite like a frenzied search through a 37-email long Gmail thread for flight details.

You need to use a professional event management software.

Thankfully, with Tithe.ly Church Management, you don't need a different tool to run a successful church event.

You have everything you need, including: 

  • Push notifications
  • Team segmenting
  • Registration tool
  • Payment processing capability
  • View and manage attendees
  • Role/responsibility management
  • Easy data export for email integration

If you’re planning a mission's conference, you should use this software to easily pull all your details into a single place.

3. Overestimate financial, personnel, and time cost

If there’s one thing conference attendees desire most, it is consistent high-quality production.

Nothing says low-quality quite like a group of feverish conference staff running around trying to fill more roles than they can manage.

Missions conference attendees want a smooth experience, and if they are constantly distracted by your event’s organizational buffering in real time, which they can see through your threadbare underestimation of how much time and money you thought it would cost, then your event is doomed.

If you think a piece of software will cost $100, budget $150.

If you think you need three people on A/V for the conference, make sure you have five.

If you can’t afford five people, make sure you have an A/V plan that only needs one person and hire three.

If your missions conference’s reach extends beyond your budgetary grasp, the production will look worse than if you had kept your original proposal modest and left a comfortable margin between your financial, personnel, and time cost and the real-time financial, personnel, and time operational needs.

4. Get the ball rolling at least a year ahead of time

If you want to plan a conference six months ahead of time, don’t.

If you’re reading this in July, don’t set your conference date until July next year.

Why would I kill your dreams like this?

So that your conference prep dreams can come true.

Here’s a basic timeline sketch that every conference has, which should require at least one year:

  • 12 months out: Create conference theme and message
  • 12 months out: Gather input from those internal to organization
  • 12 months out: Determine who will be project manager and who will be on the conference team
  • 12 months out: Consult others who have done similar conferences in the past
  • 12 months out: Set budget for conference space, marketing, and attendance goals
  • 12 months out: Set date, time, location
  • 12 months out: Write preliminary conference schedule
  • 12 months out: Make deposits for conference space
  • 12 months out: Get contracts with speakers and content contributors signed and paid
  • 12 months out: Confirm conference schedule
  • 9 months out: Create marketing materials for conference
  • 9 months out: Open and market conference pre-registration
  • 6 months out: Open and market conference registration
  • 3 months out: Market conference late registration
  • 1 month out: Double check finances, attendees, speakers, and details
  • 1 week out: Dry run through the space

5. Perform a dry run with your team

This is an important step that you must not skip with your team.

As soon as you have access to the space, and before you set up anything, do a dry run with all your staff for the conference.

Make sure you walk through the actual space and rehearse where each staff will be during each time block.

Reinforce locations for certain events/talks, establish who will be there, and run through troubleshooting protocol should something not work.

If you don’t do this before the set up begins, you open yourself up to operational liability and your preparation risks becoming weaker.

Strengthen the opportunity for your success by performing a complete dry run, from start to finish, for your entire conference.

Over to you

Don’t roll the dice on the success of your mission's conference.

You can run a successful, profitable, meaningful missions conference with almost any budget if you spend 90% of your time following this 5-step operational protocol for planning and preparation.

Do not allow yourself to indulge 40% of your time in the flashy product mockups, marketing materials, and vision meetings.

These are all important, but if the conference is going to have an impact — and more importantly, if it is going to have a second year — it must have an administrative smoothness that allows conference attendees to feel undistracted, hosted, and fully immersed in the content of the conference you produce.

Anything less than 90% commitment to acing these logistical details will yield a sub-par conference.

At best, you’ll experience diminishing numbers year over year.

At worst, you’ll experience a damaged brand reputation and a financial loss on an unimpactful event.

Don’t roll the dice.

Plan to win by winning at planning.

It all starts with setting a point person and getting Tithe.ly ChMS.

If you get these two things in place, your missions conference is on track to success.

Author: Paul Maxwell, Ph.D., is the Content Strategist at Tithe.ly. He lives in Fishers, IN with his beautiful wife and rowdy wheaten terrier.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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5 Ways to Get Ready for a Missions Conference