Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned mission trip planner, let’s face it, corralling a posse of folks into unfamiliar territory where they’ll be expected to live outside of their comfort zones for a week or two isn’t the easiest gig to sign up for. That’s why your friends here at SignUpGenius have pulled together some helpful tips for leading a mission trip. Stick to these and we’re willing to bet your ragtag group will follow you straight into the wilds of downtown Detroit, or any other far off place, without a moment’s hesitation.
Create a Statement of Interest
Once you’ve decided on the location, dates, and costs for the trip, it’s time to start collecting team members. After praying for just the right people to fulfill God’s purposes for the trip, you’re ready to develop an application. Now just the word “application” is bound to make folks feel like their applying for their first summer job at McDonald’s, so call it a “Statement of Interest” if you will.
The great thing about a Statement of Interest is that you can include a lot of important information about the trip, and by filling it out and getting it back to you, potential team members are acknowledging that they have read it and really want to join you.
Make sure to include the following in the Statement of Interest:
- Trip Destination
- Criteria for team members (i.e. got to love being hot and sweaty with no shower options, enjoy eighteen hours a day of manual labor for no pay, won’t get scary mean without constant internet access. Ok, ok, maybe you can cover those during your first meeting, but how about criteria like, you need to be in good physical condition and you have to have a passport?)
The document also provides an easy way for you to get to know potential team members.
So ask questions like these:
- Why are you interested in being part of this mission trip?
- What special skills or talents do you have that will be useful for the types of work the team will be expected to do?
- What medical issues, if any, do you have that might limit your abilities on this trip?
By setting a deadline for submitting the Statement of Interest, you can also establish a solid cutoff date for adding new team members.
SignUpGenius Payments makes it easy to become a part of the team by donating to the mission trip!
Schedule Meetings in Advance
You might consider yourself to be a great organizer, but try getting a group of people to commit to meeting at the same time on the same day, and suddenly you’ll feel like you’re herding a clutter of stray cats. So decide before you ever get the team together what information you’ll need to cover in your meetings and if you want to accomplish anything else during those times (i.e. get-to-know you activities, packing, fundraising, etc.). Then, decide on how many times you’ll need to meet and throw out potential dates and times to all group members.
SignUpGenius.com can help! Design a sign up with several date options for each meeting and have everyone sign up for all of the options they can make. Then you can decide the final meeting dates and have everyone put it on their calendars before they book up!
Respect People’s Busy Lives
Your team members will love you if you keep meetings to a minimum. Commit to face time meetings only when you’ll cover a lot of important information in one sitting or when you want to create team unity by hanging out together. If you can combine objectives like organizing a packing day where you all go out to eat together afterward, your groupies will appreciate you even more. For the in between times when you want to keep people connected and you need to share trip updates, start an online forum for your group.
Cover Important Details in Multiple Ways
Just as you’re congratulating yourself for covering 101 packing details at the last meeting, you get an email from Mr. Absentminded who missed it all. Seems he was at home setting a new best score on his Wii Fit Super Hula Hoop and forgot to join you. No worries. Just make sure you have multiple ways of communicating with group members. Write up how to’s for each important step of trip preparation. Give them to team members after you’ve gone over them in a meeting, and then email the same info. to them after your get together. Even better, post them in that forum you set up for ongoing team communications, so that everyone has access to them at any time. If you happen to have team members who can’t make a meeting in person but could join you by phone, go ahead and have them phone it in via conference call. If you use a free conference call site, they’ll even record it for free, and you can tell Mr. Absentminded to go listen to it.
And just because we like you, here’s a checklist of important trip information you’ll want to make sure to cover with the team:
- Individual and group packing lists
- Travel tips
- How to purchase travel insurance, apply for a passport and visa, and raise support
- Cultural information
- Trip schedule and safety rules
- Trip cost payment schedule
The great thing to remember when you’re leading a mission trip is that you have a bunch of people who want the trip to be a success. Besides your groupies, they all have family and friends who are probably praying for this significant experience, too. Why not use SignUpGenius to round up some of that excitement? Create a sign up for people to volunteer to pray, sponsor or contribute supplies. You’re likely to be surprised by how many people are anxious to get involved in one way or another.
And when you get back, drop us a note to let us know how the trip went. We like to hear how SignUpGenius helps you make a greater impact on the world.