How to Conduct an Offering of Letters
As you plan your Offering of Letters, know that you are helping millions of hungry and poor people worldwide by advocating for long-term change in our national policy. This year's Offering of Letters includes a petition to the president as well as letters to members of Congress.
Here are ten easy steps for conducting a successful Offering of Letters.
- Gather Resources
Order educational publications from Bread for the World and secure the right equipment to show the Offering of Letters DVD or stream videos from the Offering of Letters website.
- Organize an Offering of Letters Team
Ask people in your congregation, on your campus, or in other groups to participate on your team. When you talk to concerned people, be prepared to distribute copies of the "Act Now!" flier or other materials that explain the focus of the offering.
- Develop a Plan
Decide on a date, time, and location for your Offering of Letters. Give yourself adequate time to publicize the event, with a timeline of tasks to complete before the target date. Remember to confirm speakers and make hunger-related materials available to people who can help raise awareness. Check the website or call your organizer for the latest sample letter.
- Advertise the Event
Ask the leaders of your church, campus group, or other organization to include hunger issues as a sermon topic or presentation near the target date. Display posters around your church, facility, or campus. Write articles for your campus newspaper or church newsletter. Include an announcement about the Offering of Letters in the weekly bulletin, email newsletter, or other publication. See Spread the Word for more information.
- Prepare the Venue
Letter writing can occur wherever people gather. Prepare the room or sanctuary. If using tables, make sure there are sufficient chairs to accommodate writers. See that each table is supplied with a petition, sample letters, pens, stationery, envelopes, and the names of appropriate members of Congress. At a meal line, or similar venue where people won't stop to sit down, prepare several clip-boards that people can use to write quick letters and sign the petition. For a worship service or concert, distribute the materials ahead of time in the pews or the auditorium, or include them as packets in the bulletin or program.
- Conduct the Offering of Letters
Find a few people to sit down and write whenever the table is empty. If people see others participating, they are more likely to participate as well. Assign someone to take photographs to share later on Facebook or elsewhere.
Have your team members act as shepherds, guiding people gently to the tables, answering questions, and helping people who are physically challenged to participate. Encourage participants to write letters with the group. Taking materials home generally produces fewer letters since people tend to forget or always intend to do it later.
Gather the completed letters in baskets or piles. At churches, place the letters in the offering plate and pray for their success. This action teaches everyone in church that persistent advocacy is an integral part of stewardship.
- Count, Stamp, and Mail the Letters
Write down the number of letters written to each member of Congress. Affix proper postage to each letter and mail each separately to the appropriate address. Then celebrate with your team members. Every letter written is a triumph and will influence legislation. Remember to thank your organization's leaders, staff, and those who wrote letters.
- Send Your Petition to Bread for the World and Provide Feedback
This step is extremely important. Bread for the World will be delivering all petitions to the White House. We need as many signatures as possible to effect change. Use the prepaid response envelope in the front pocket of your kit to send us your petition. If you do not have the envelope, send the petitions to Bread for the World Offering of Letters, 425 3rd St. SW, Suite 1200, Washington DC 20024. You may also fill out the petition online.
Also please include the feedback form and participant sign-in sheet.
- Stay Connected
Follow the progress of the Offering of Letters campaign through Bread for the World's website and through contact with your regional organizer. Relay this information to team members as a way of staying engaged. Update your church or campus as the campaign progresses.
- Take the Next Steps
Follow up your Offering of Letters by scheduling an in-person meeting or a phone call with your representative or senators. Your organizer can provide you with an agenda and guidance on the process.
Consider turning your short-term Offering of Letters team into an ongoing team (or form a new one) focused on
- continued advocacy actions throughout the year,
- educating yourselves and others in your community,
- outreach to other people at your church or campus, and
- engaging media with letters to the editor and posts on social media platforms.
Keep your organizer informed about your actions and plans. You can find your organizer's contact information here.