You always have to start with a plan. Benjamin Franklin once said, “failure to plan is planning to fail”. Your plan should include dates, team leaders, expectations, preparation, resources, travel logistics, legal resources, fundraising tools, communication plans, and more.
Work the Plan
It might sound simple, but once you have the plan, work it! Review the plan at least weekly with the lead team for each event and make sure you're keeping your deadlines.
Have a Team
Working with a team makes all the difference. Most of us aren’t wired to do everything… we aren’t great at leadership, finances, administration, communication, follow up, and all the other aspects. Create a team that compliments all the needs of an effective team.
Tools should work for you, not the other way around. Consider a tool like ServiceReef. Most organizations will spend over 150 hours managing a single short term trip. ServiceReef enables organizations to manage trips in less than 40 hours. Spend the time where it counts and not in the administrative weeds. You have a task to equip people for missional engagement, keep focused on the main goal!
It really does start with the right person and this is often best known by watching people as they experience serving opportunities and how they handle smaller responsibilities. You are looking for a person with the right character, the right temperament, the right social skills, and the right administrative skills. Know what you are looking for and keep lists of potential team leaders.
We can’t stress this enough: it’s so important to define the responsibilities of your team leader… what do you expect of them, what can their team expect of them, and what should they expect from themselves? You may also clarify what’s not expected of them.
Leader in Training
Never miss the opportunity to be looking for future leaders and training one or two people on every trip. You can make this as formal as you'd like, but also be training new leaders in the environment of known and trusted team leaders. Give these leaders in training an opportunity to lead and to fail. It’s much better to provide these micro leadership experiences before you allow them to lead their own trip.
Prepare Them Well
Don’t expect your team leaders to just magically appear. This is a skill and it takes training. Consider a team leader training program where you help equip them, clarify expectations, help them navigate team preparation and team conflict resolution, and equip them with the tools to lead well. Ask former team leaders what makes it a success and what tools or training they wish they would have had.
Clarify expectations with your team. Consider outlining expectations for different groups involved and the different stages of the event. You might outline expectations for the team members, the team leader, the field partner, and the sending organization. You may also outline expectations leading up to the event, the event, and post event.
Create an experience that’s going to be a success for your team members; provide them with resources like fundraising tools, ways to connect with other team members, educational resources, information about the partner, and any other resource you feel important.
Educate about Tools
For organizations who are using ServiceReef, each participant has their own personal fundraising page where they can share their stories, post a personalized message and video, and provide a means for donors to help support them… make sure they know about this. You may have a number of tools that you have created for short term trip participants; make sure your participants know about them!
This may be a first experience for many of your participants, so be sure to help encourage their journey as a trip participant, in their fundraising, and how they share about their story.
Encourage your participants to share their stories, and these start long before the actual event. For organizations using ServiceReef, your participants can share stories at any point in their journey and these stories aggregate together for the entire team to create a team blog. This is a great way to share the bigger vision for missions in your organization.