This is the start of a small series of blog entries in which I will tell you a bit of how I keep my letter writing organized, because I found it very helpful to read such posts myself when I hit a point where I needed to be a little more organized about my letter writing.
When I first started sponsoring Citlali, I had a list of things I wanted to send to her eventually - in my mind. I never sat down and wrote down all the things, because I thought that with only one child it would all work out some how.
But when I heard about the correspondence sponsorship program, I thought, 'Well, I sure have enough time to write to another child'. And slowly but steadily I was assigned to 11 correspondence kids. Don't get me wrong, I didn't contact Compassion monthly and asked for another child, it was a process that took over two years. Whenever I had the strong feeling that I have enough time, energy and ideas to send letters to another child I have asked for one more.
For quite a while actually I kept up my (yes, I will admit it) naive "organization" of keeping my ideas for letter writing in my mind. I did have a folder for the letters my kids sent me and I stored the kids' information away in another one, but that was all.
When I was able to call seven kids my "own", I realized that this way of keeping things organized wouldn't work anymore. Suddenly I had no idea what I had sent each child, what topics I had written about three months ago and what theme-letters I had sent off.
I knew I had to get real organisation into my letter writing.
While the child packages provide great information about a child, it's the information a child gives yourself in the letters that are very helpful when it comes to sending, for example, birthday or Christmas gifts.
But with six kids (yep I did keep my unorganized organization up that long) I wasn't able to keep track of who provided me what kind of information about her/himself; who's cousin was called Yeider, who didn't like cats but loved dogs, who loved to play soccer and who enjoyed Spanish the most at school? I didn't know without going through all the letters I had received. And that bothered me the most.
I sat down and created my own Child Card, I know that some Compassion offices provide similar printouts for sponsors, but I wanted to add some more information to my cards.
Of course I also included the most important information such as name, birthday and child ID but also with enough room for other topics, such as favourite animal, sibling info, career choice, and hobbies...
I put all the child cards in a separate much thinner folder and have them all at hand in seconds without needing to go through the letter if I need certain information about a child.
Of course the kids don't provide all the information themselves, but in one of my next letters I want to send each child a "personalized" (adding only the parts I don't have an answer to just yet) questionnaire asking them to please fill them out and send them back to me. In return I will send them the same questionnaire with my own answers. That sure makes an interesting letter writing topic for both sides I think.
And here is now a link to the complete Child Card.