What do you do after a First Gift?

© The Navigators

© The Navigators

Think back to the last time you sent a gift for a missionary that you had never supported before.  Got it?  How did they respond to you?  Often, missionary responses to first-time gifts fall into these categories.  You get:  

  • Nothing, did they get the gift?
  • The missionary’s newsletter
  • A warm phone call
  • A handwritten expression of thanks
  • An email, text or facebook thanks
  • A thanks note handwritten in her next newsletter

Which would you prefer?

Alma and I have sent lots of first-time gifts to missionaries and often we hear little in response.  The only reason we know they got the gift is because of the organization’s official receipt. 

For one good friend we got added to his mailing list, but there was no personal acknowledgement of our giving.  We soon stopped.  We might have given again if we had been warmly welcomed.

 Yes, I know.  We give to God and shouldn’t need a thank you.  But being human we long for affirmation. Didn’t Jesus immediately affirm heavenly values when he saw them? 

  • He searched for the blind man after the man had been kicked out of the synagogue. 
  • He affirmed the faith of the paralytic let down through the roof. 
  • He affirmed the faith of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. “Not even in Israel have I found such great faith” (Lu 7: 7, 8).

When you find out about a new donor, stop the world!  Take time to thank the Lord, then take time to thank your new giving partner!  Interrupt your day. This calls for a celebration! Send a text, send an email, make a phone call, write a letter—but do something to affirm your new partner within 48 hours or sooner.

Let me suggest this three-point plan for welcoming first-time giving partners: 

1. Do it now!  Don’t dilly-dally for a better time to say thank you.  Here is language I use:

“I just got our partner report and your name was on it for [$100] and I wanted to say thank you right now.” 

2. Have a plan!  You don’t need to search for a brilliant, creative new way to acknowledge each new partner.  I use a standardized letter and send a small gift book.  The letter is in my computer.  I personalize it and mail within 48 hours. 

I say this:  “The small booklet, “Master Secrets of Prayer,” helped me years ago when I was a struggling young believer in the TKE Fraternity House.  I read it under the covers at night with a flashlight as we slept in the cold room; it kept me alive spiritually.  I pass it on to you with our thanks.  Welcome to the team!”

You can do more for some partners if you wish, but if you have to come up with a new plan each time you get a new donor you will procrastinate. 

3. Keep it simple!  Enough said.

You can do this!  If you don’t affirm new partners quickly, you likely communicate an “I don’t care” attitude.  Okay, I know you do care, but if you are unwilling to change your schedule to immediately to say thanks, you are kidding yourself about how much you understand human nature!