Making the decision to start back into global engagement, especially with short term trips, is enough of a decision on its own. Now it’s time to consider all the logistics for relaunching a short-term trip program. Yes, this is very much like returning to the gym after not exercising for some time. Short-term trip logistics is a finely tuned and highly skilled muscle that many of us have not exercised for some time. That’s all about to change. Think of this ebook as your warmup stretch for what’s about to come.
The first step in relaunch is making sure you have all the data. It’s time to be listening well to everyone to know the lay of the land and to have your ducks in a row as you start to relaunch. Here are some suggestions:
Research Logistics of Travel - stay on top of what the US State Department is saying about the global landscape and specific countries. It’s their responsibility to assess the global situations and bring you accurate and useful data. Lean into their resources and stay up to date with their news. Even staying on top of things will help you see trends and begin anticipating changes.
Connect with Team Leaders - leverage the amazing people you have who have lead teams before. Gather them together to learn from their input, ideas, and concerns. And when you do gather them… be intentional to actually ask their thoughts and not make it an information meeting. You’re going to need their buy-in for this relaunch.
Survey Alumni - reach out to anyone who has served with you before and ask them their concerns and learn from what it would take for them to travel and participate in a short-term trip again. Yes, many of these factors are out of your hands but building a list can help you either mitigate the concern or directly address how best to attack it. It’s also another great touchpoint to make sure people know you’re still working to re-engage.
Create Indirect Surveys - you may not want to come straight out and ask how people are feeling about reengaging. That’s okay. It some ways it feels like poor leadership to ask your constituents what they think you should be doing. I can see that. So get creative! We had one organization create a tool simply asking people where they would like to go and serve and place it on a world map and noting why they were interested in serving there. It’s indirect but still keeps people interested and showing their propensity for global mission work.
Build a Decision Matrix - build an internal grading system to help you determine risk factors for short-term trips. Essentially, map out all of your concerns or requirements, build a scoring system, and then evaluate based on the score. For example, you might have 10 factors and each factor has a 5 point scale. From that, you’re looking for a 36 or higher score to relaunch to that location. You should also educate your members on how you are making this decision and even sharing your core evaluation factors. Remember they are looking to you for leadership.
Map it All Out - take everything you’re learning from all these forms of feedback and map it all out. Give a huge whiteboard and a bunch of sticky notes to chart out challenges, opportunities, things that need clarity, concerns to overcome, ways to re-engage that help ease tensions, and more. This will help you build your overall plan and communication strategy for what’s next.
Now it’s time to start building out your tactical strategy. The focus here is to create your roadmap for kicking things back into gear. You haven’t just made a quick pit stop during this season, your vehicle has been hibernating for a little while. And hey, this is a great opportunity to see just how you might improve your overall process!
Brainstorm the Tasks - Gather all the right people together to map out the tasks ahead of you for this relaunch. Think about travel, communications, partner logistics, fieldwork, training, finances, legal forms, team leader preparation, meetings, and anything else that might fall into the logistics bucket. Basically, you are re-mapping all the common tasks to run short-term trips but you’re adding the spin of starting from a cold start.
Categorize Tasks - once you’ve built this awesome list of tasks, let’s take those and break those into categories and time blocks. It’s good to categorize as you might assign all financial tasks to a certain person. It’s also good to break into time blocks to help see when these tasks need to happen.
Build a Workback Schedule - now lets take all of this and create a spreadsheet or some tool to drop in our trip date that automatically populates all work back dates. This spreadsheet gives you a tool to quickly see when things should be done no matter when the trip might occur.
Your communication strategy is just as important if not more important than your tactical plan. This is where and how you communicate everything moving forward and it needs your intentionality and focus. Let’s unpack a few of the most critical pieces of your communication plan.
Know Your Controlling Message - it all starts with an overarching controlling message that weaves through all of your communications. That might be something like “Venturing Out & Staying Safe” if your main point to communicate is a re-engagement and keeping people safe. Regardless, you just need a controlling message.
Brainstorm the Messages - get together with your team to brainstorm the messages, the time frame, the needs, the questions, and the delivery methods. It’s important to lean into others for this stage so you get help seeing the gaps you’re missing.
Build a Timeline - this doesn’t have to be anything complicated but you need to create a timeline for your communications to rollout. This timeline should be months long and incorporate things like the key kickoff, the lead up to that kickoff, teaching moments, capturing stories around the launch teams, and celebrating their successes.
Write Everything - yeah, crazy goal right?! Trust me in this… just dedicate a day or two and write all of your communications at once. It’s going to help you get it all done while also keeping your mind engaged to see the overall negative at play. Doing this all at once helps you see this as one consistent campaign.
Distribution Channels - map out all of your distribution channels (email, newsletters, social media, blog, videos, etc.) and then see how each message should be delivered via each channel. Pro tip… don’t create new messaging for each channel, just maximize one key message customized for each channel.
Automate Everything - once you’ve written everything down and it’s ready to go… load it to tools like MailChimp, Loomly, HubSpot, or ServiceReef to automate the distribution of your messages at this given times.
Now you’ve got all of your building blocks in place - it’s time to pull the trigger and let things roll. You’ve done the hard work of building your timelines and loading the resources. Let the systems work for you so you can tackle all the necessary tasks that await you in this relaunch season.