Only got five minutes to spare? Not to worry, here are some quick letter writing tips while you wait for your morning coffee.
20 Jan, 2020
It’s the morning and in my waking moments, I reach for my phone to check my notifications and refresh my emails.
There’s a new letter from my sponsored child in Uganda. His name is Ivan and I wonder what picture he’s drawn for me or what response I’ll write back. I plan to write to Ivan after I brush my teeth and fix some breakfast but after the morning rush, the letter remains unopened. There’s a midday meeting and dinner plans with friends and before I know it, it’s time for bed.
I tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow. Sound familiar to you?
We live in a society where unread emails, a piling to-do list and a non-stop calendar are part of our everyday lives. Our attention is spread thin so finding time to write to our sponsored children can easily become de-prioritised yet writing letters keeps your relationship with your sponsored child thriving.
Stories from Compassion assisted children across the world remind us that your prayers and letters have the power to encourage, empower, strengthen and celebrate life.
Discover how you can write an impactful letter to your sponsored child in under five minutes. And if we’re honest, we all have a spare five minutes in our day!
1. Start with ‘hello’
Writing a letter sounds like a time-consuming and complicated process so we put it aside for as long as we can. Our minds tend to avoid difficult tasks, so break down the letter-writing process into small manageable steps.
Starting is always the hardest so the first step of writing a letter is to simply write ‘hello’. Tell yourself that’s all you’ll do.
Writing ‘hello’ takes just a few seconds.
By committing to one word, the start of your letter has already formed. When we demonstrate to ourselves that we are capable of finishing this small task, we are more motivated to tackle the next challenge.
After you write hello, there may be a natural flow of conversation. We might think to write ‘how are you?’ or ‘thanks for your letter!’
If not, save the letter and come back to the task: it’s less challenging to pick up where you left off instead of starting from scratch!
Read this: If it’s your first time writing a letter, here are some tips from other first-time letter writers!
2. Take notes as you read
The same rules of a healthy conversation also apply to letter writing. When you’re lost for material, the best way to write a reply is to respond to your sponsored child’s letter.
As I read Ivan’s letter, I jot down notes and topics that I can write about in my letter.
For example: - Ivan’s favourite season is Autumn - Ivan is on holidays - His favourite game to play is hide and seek - Ivan wants prayer for his family
These quick notes will then form the different sections of my letter. I can tell Ivan about Autumn in Australia, I can ask what he’s doing in the holidays and I can write a prayer of protection for his family. And before I know it, three sentences of my letter are already done!
3. Reflect on your devotions
Thinking of what to write can be more time consuming than actually writing. A quick workaround is a share a short reflection from a Sunday sermon or a bible passage you’ve read earlier. You can share your devotion material in a letter by sharing a passage or prayer. It’s a quick but great way to encourage your sponsored children with a snippet of the Bible!
4. Ask questions
Just like you would in a conversation at the coffee shop or dog park, asking questions is a quick and easy way to get to know your sponsored child on a deeper level. Asking questions opens the door to new conversations and stories from your sponsored child that you might not otherwise hear.
Adding questions to your letter is a speedy yet effective way of communication. Creative questions you can ask your sponsored child include:
- What do you like to play with your friends?
- What is your favourite farm animal and why?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What are some ways that you feel loved?
Tip: Need more inspiring questions, here are seven curious questions you can ask your sponsored child.
5. Add photos
If a photo says a thousand words, pictures are the perfect addition to a letter when you’re strapped for time. Attaching a photo of your family, pet or yourself is a quick way to send an impactful and engaging letter. Simply add a description and story to the photo and your letter will be transformed into a memorable tool to help your sponsored child feel more connected to your life. You can even include some photos of Australian native animals with some fun facts about Australia!
Silfia loves receiving letters from her Australian sponsors and getting photos of their much-loved pet cat! Silfia's family have even framed one of the photos on their wall.
How to attach a photo to your letter:
1. Login to ‘My Account’ and click on the photo of your sponsored child
2. Select ‘write a letter’ below your child’s photo 3. Click on ‘photos’ and then choose a preferred layout to present your photos 4. After choosing a layer, select the image file you want to send to your child 5. Complete your letter by heading back to the ‘message’. When you’re ready, click ‘send’ or save your progress for another day!
Tip: Make sure your photos are culturally appropriate by following this guide.
6. Remind yourself
Technology can be a powerful tool to help get through our to-do list.
- Adding a reminder or alert on your mobile device can give you a polite nudge to write your letter. You can add reminders to write on special occasions, like birthdays or Christmas.
- Bookmarks act as shortcuts on your browser to save the pages you frequently visit. Adding Compassion.com.au as a bookmark on your Internet browser makes it easier to write a letter. Adding a bookmark online is also a visual reminder to write a letter!
The opportunity to speak truth into our sponsored children’s lives is a privilege and joy. No matter how busy or fast-paced our daily lives can get, these tips can help you write a letter in a jiffy.
Happy letter writing!
Sponsorship changes lives, but if you would prefer to give a one-time donation to support children living in poverty, you can give to Critical Needs. When you give a tax-deductible donation to a Critical Need, your gift gives a child living in poverty life-saving support. Poverty leaves children without any safety net or protection, so when unforeseen circumstances arise, there is often little hope for recovery. You can give an online donation today and make a significant impact!
To claim a tax deduction at the end of the financial year, all you need to do is keep an eye on your email. Your tax receipt will be emailed to you by our friendly team. Thank you for your generosity—your gifts and donations truly make an impact.
Words by Shona Yang
Photos by Ben Adams
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