Category Archives: Advice for missionaries

Three Free Tools Every Missionary Should Use (spoiler alert)

MailchimpEmail Communication (spoiler alert)

MailChimp is a tool that is use to send to emails to keep people interested in your work up-to-date on what is happening in your ministry. It is quite easy to work with and I just use the free version as it meets all my needs. I use Mailchimp to send out messages to two different groups. The largest group is folks who I have signed up for my newsletter that I try to send out a newsletter once a month. When I speak to groups or at churches I always have a signup sheet and ask for email addresses. I as them to check if they want to receive our newsletter or join our prayer crew. Sometimes it’s hard to read handwritten email address but 99% of the time I get people signed up. The second email group is a smaller list of people who said they would pray for us and we call these folks our prayer crew. (Spoiler alert) With Mailchimp Newsletters you can track who has opened your newsletters. I have some people who open every one of our newsletters and some people open none of my emails. I suspect that these are people my newsletter gets sent to the spam folder of their email system. Maybe in the future I should note on the signup sheet that people should check their spam folder if they are not received any newsletters.

Now there is also a Mailchimp an app that I use for quick emails right from your phone. You can use either iPhone or Android phones. You can send the email from your phone to any of your MailChimp lists. In addition to the lists I mentioned earlier, for families with young children they may want to create a Mailchimp list for families and friends that they want to send photos and updates about their kids. The online version of Mailchip lets you sent multiple photos but the phone version you can only send one photo and it crops the photo square.

With either the phone application or the online version you can pick a segment of customers you want to send a newsletter to. The main reason I send a segment is sometimes I send a second newsletter to people who don’t open the most recent fee newsletters. At times this second mailing catches people at a better time and the open the second one after missing the original version. The risk is folks could feel they are being flooded (spammed) with my emails and would be turned off. So, I don’t do this very often.

Mailchimp is free until you have more than a total of 2000 subscriber’s names on your lists or if you want more detailed statistics about your email group. When you get to this size of list that will be great and worth subscribing to the service.

People can sign up to receive our Mailchip Newsletter themselves online or you can add people one by one online. Look at our website and on the right side of the page you can see the sign up form. (Give it a try and sign up yourself.)

After an event where I have collected a number of email address I like to type the names and email address in a spreadsheet and then copy the list into Mailchimp. This ability to copy and paste in a long list of new subscribers makes adding folks to the list fairly easy. Another way to add to add names to Mailchimp is the use the paid version of Insightly and the Insightly will help you move names and email address from Insightly contact management system over into Mailchimp.

Insightly—Contact Management System

Insightly is such a sweet program.  Not all of us missionaries remember everyone we have met or remember all the details of all our supporters.  I love having all my prior communication with a person all neatly filed in one place in Insightly. My memory is not great so being able to look into Insightly just before meeting with someone helps me recall the details about how many kids they said they had in their last email. This is nearly perfect contact management system from my point of view. One of the most amazing features is you can add a contract by sending an email to your private Insightly email address. It takes the name right from their email address and populates your contact with their name and email address. You need to add mailing addresses either by hand or you can import people using a spreadsheet.

The program has lots of features and has a lot of potential but for me I use it to keep a record of who people are and which church or other organization they are a member of. I often put notes in the note section as I learn more info or if they become a regular supporter.

If you use the paid version of Insightly you can export names into Mailchimp. We have a paid subscription for a while but now we moved to the free level since we are not adding very many new names to either Mailchimp or to Insightly.

Expensify—A super easy way to track experiences.

Expensify makes it easy to look at every financial transaction to make sure you have not forgotten to report any mission related expenses. If you want, you can have it import activity from your bank account and credit cards.

I was just in Congo and every time I spent cash I would record the cash spent at the time. If someone gives me a paper receipt I use the program in my cell phone to take a picture and then I enter the amount and which company the receipt was from. This is what I use to report my spending and it gives or financial folks the details they need to confirm our expenses and send us reimbursement. Their Smart Scan feature is a paid feature that extracts the photo receipt and fills out the data in the record. Because I deal with just a limited number of receipts this simplification is not really worth the expense. Another cool feature is when I get a emailed receipt I just forward this message from my email address to and Expensify files it into my record.

With Expensify you can track miles manually, using GPS, or odometer readings and report this as an expense when you are traveling to meet with supporters.  The Expensify phone app works offline so you can upload using WiFi instead of cellular data.

Share your heart

People want to hear about your passion and to hear about what God is doing.  Uses these tools to make the work of ministry easier.  Romans 2:11  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.