Pushed Toward Extinction: The Handwritten Note

I was intending to write about how large an impact that a simple handwritten note can be to ministry partners when I got inspired.  Every year certain neighborhoods in Dallas are victim to some species of migrating birds that can overwhelm a community with their incredibly loud squawks and unbelievably voluminous and noxious projectile excriment.  Neighbors want to be able to take action and scare the birds away but an advocacy group protested downtown City Hall because the birds are facing extinction.

The protest and campaign that insued left me to think about how the press might write about the weirdo’s, like me, that advocate for the protction of a dying art, handwritten notes.  Following is how I imagine that story might read:

More than 100,000 scientists have protested to the Government over fears for the future of an endangered native species, the Handwritten Note.

An open letter from 10,507 conservationists and scientists from universities and institutes around the country was released to the Minister of Conversation Conservation today, mid-way through the 25th International Congress for Conservation for Meaningful Communication [ICCMC] being held in Washington, D.C. this week.

They say the loss of meaningful relationships over the next six months will damage ICCMC’s efforts in meaningful communication management and planning, as this essential species, vital for meaningful relational ecosystems, are now on the edge of extinction.

“We have the expertise to prevent this from happening but handwritten notes require time, patience, and love,” said the hand-written letter.

Signatories, including financial partners from more than a thousand ministry organizations, are upset that communication from ministries that they support has dwindled to newsletters, form letters, and what they term as the bane of communication, broadcast e-mail.

Since the invention of computerized mail-merge, non-profit leaders everywhere have opposed sanctions against direct marketing because personal communications with donors distracts from what they call, “real ministry.”

The reduction in support and investment of time for handwritten-notes is actually undermining the work of passionate staff who have helped save species such as the volunteer, prayer-partner, planned giver and the elusive long-time financial partner from extinction.

“The loss of dedicated staff coupled with non-governing boards who rubber stamp any new ministry initiative while ignoring the growing discontent of their financial partners has resulted under-resourced and under-funded organizations,” said the letter.

Instead of doubling efforts to reconnect more meaningfully with partners who have demonstrated long-time dedication, struggling organizations favor the convenience of direct-marketing strategies that prospect for new donors.

Prevent Extinction and Save The Species! 

The letter concluded with hopeful steps that they believe can help to save handwritten notes from extinction.  They include

  • Write one handwritten note per day to a different long-term ministry partner.
  • Keep a box of note cards, envelopes and stamps in your automobile so that every time you meet with someone, you can sit in your car, write a note and drop it off in the nearest postal box, en route to your next appointment.
  • Handwrite a personal sentence or two of gratitude on every donation receipt.
  • At every board meeting, give each board member the names and addresses of five different ministry partners along with a small note card, envelope and live stamp.  Take fifteen to twenty minutes of the meeting for each member to handwrite a note of thanks to each partner.  Hand in the cards before the meeting adjourns (make copies of each for the donor-file) and mail them all that very night.
  • At every staff meeting, do the same thing as above with your staff, but assign just one ministry partner to each staff member(especially if staff meetings are weekly).

Though more can certainly be done, few believe that meaningful change will happen within organizations whose culture depends on direct marketing.  New ministries lead by the Facebook generation are also unlikely to demonstrate concern over the loss of the handwritten note.  Only time will tell.