There are three important pillars to building a successful mission trip: Purpose, Planning, and Fundraising. First, you need to know what you want to do and how you're going to do it. Choose a community in need, a task that needs doing, and people that need the love and care of your missionaries. Discover what they need most and figure out how you, your church, and your team of volunteer missionaries can make the difference. Planning involves months of logistics preparation, ensuring that you have all the necessary paperwork, arrangements, and packing lists for everyone to succeed. However, none of this can happen without fundraising, a way to pay for the trip and the aid you plan to provide to those you'll be visiting.
A mission trip is all about donating your time and effort to those in need. For the missionaries, this translates into physical labor, teaching classes, improving medical care, and other hands-on activities. For those who donate to mission trips, they share in the mission by helping make the trip happen. The missionaries receive the reward of doing good works and seeing the smiling faces of a grateful community and it's only right to bring that joy to your donors who made the entire trip possible.
1) Make Them a Photo Album
One of the most exciting and rewarding parts of a mission trip is the opportunity to see the results of the good work. It's better than donating to a distant charity because you can help people with your own hands. Those who participate in your fundraisers and donate directly to the trip want that too, they just don't have the time or energy. To reward them, and possibly to entice more donors in the future, be sure to take plenty of pictures of your missionary team having a great time helping, of the people you're there to see, and evidence of the good work being done.
At the end of the trip, combine everyone's pictures into a 'best-of' photo album and make a physical or digital copy for everyone so that the memories live forever. Make sure to present your donors with a photo album of their own as a gift, and let them know that their donation made all those smiling faces a wonderful reality.
2) Bring Back Unique Souvenirs
While a mission trip can happen anywhere, they often take us to unfamiliar and foreign places where you learn not only about charity, but about the cultures and circumstances of people who you would never have met in your 'normal' life. This can be enlightening, educational, and incredibly rewarding. To share some of that great experience with your donors, bring back a few real-world examples of the culture you have visited. Hand-made gifts and souvenirs show donors how far their funds truly went to help real, if far-away, people. If you make unique souvenirs a tradition, your regular donors can put together a delightfully multi-cultural art collection as a representation of real-world reach of their generosity.
3) Provide Live Updates
Many older or very busy people who would really love to go on a mission trip themselves but don't have the time or energy to do so, will donate to mission trips instead. They do this as part of a desire to be a part of a mission trip even if they are unable to attend. Just as you might if someone had to back out because of a broken leg, you can make your donors feel like a truly included part of the team by creating and constantly posting live mission-trip updates. Videos of the work, pictures of everyone, and fun notes written by the team can make the mission trip a day-to-day reward for your donors. This can be done through a social media page, the church website, or even a special mission trip page you have built for the purpose.
4) Shoot Special Thank-You Videos
If you really want to make your donors feel appreciated, remember to thank them in as many different ways as possible. One great way to do this is with personalized videos. Take special thank-you videos of the team and the locals you've come to help to say thank-you, then share the videos with your donors. Do little interviews about what each person likes most about the mission trip, what they've had the most fun with, and what they look forward to next year along with a special thank-you for donors. You can do these as live updates or make a montage for a special donor digital thank-you package after the trip.
5) Thank Them in Service
For your donors that go to the same church, there's no better way to thank them as a community than to do so during service or a special social gathering later on. Your donors deserve recognition and being publically recognized is a great way to show just how appreciative you are to those who are willing to contribute to your mission trips. The difference they make by supplying and paying for missionaries should be recognized as much as the actual work your missionaries do. A special thank you is a great way to show them you care and highlight their charity to the spiritual community you share.
6) Make Them Special Guests at a Return Dinner
Going on a mission trip has a special way of bringing people together. When you return, friendships are closer and you may find yourselves wanting to spend more time together after work, school, and church. Whether you're just getting together for pizza and Bible study or you're all going out to a restaurant, invite your top donors to join you and share in the happy reminiscences from the mission trip. This shows your donors that they are an important and valued part of your team, even if they can't go on the mission trips themselves.
The financial aspect of a mission trip can often be the most delicate to discuss. However, fundraisers and donations that are done correctly make everyone feel good about the charitable works that have been and will be done. By appreciating your donors before, during, and after your mission trip, you can strengthen your community and increase the likelihood that those in your community will donate to your next trip as well.