Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How to get forms in on time?

This week, I've almost pulled my remaining hair out trying to get forms from all of the students we have going to two different mission trips. It has been a virtual communications experiment trying to acquire the registration forms this week by the April 15th deadline. Actually the deadline was April 1st, but the grace period carried over to the 15th (yes, I know it's tax day). I was joking with a friend of mine that I had decided to look on ebay for a team of ninjas (preferrably elderly and fat ones to keep costs low) to send to homes and acquire forms and payment from families when we were up against a deadline. So, here is how I went about everything. Please let me know if you would have done things differently.
1. Announce it to the students at youth group.
2. Email the forms to parents.
3. Snail mail the forms to the parents because email obviously didn't work.
4. Call/text remaining forms.
5. Have the pastor announce from the pulpit that registration forms are due.
6. Call/text ones that still weren't in.
All of the families paid their deposits for their students to go, so whether the kid wants to go or not, isn't the issue. Payment isn't even due for them until next week after we do a fund raiser lunch. So all that was required was to fill out a form and send it back with their kid at a youth meeting. I would rather not spend a good chunk of my youth budget on old/fat ninjas, so I'm asking my colleagues in youth ministry what you do to get forms in on time. Please comment on your thoughts!


Russell Martin said...

I remember one church we had basically a "forms night" at MYF. We made sure we had a few notaries there, and collected the money and forms for the mission trips.

Could also do your dinner fundraiser and make that a forms night too... since it's already on their minds.

Justin Pitts said...

Forms in on time? Most of my youth trips forms getting turned in, involve the parents hand writing the form out and signing it as they are dropping off the kid to go on the trip. Don't know why that's easier than just filling out the one I printed out. I have the same issues, send home with students, have the bus drivers personally deliver the forms to parents, remind the students, announce from pulpit, call and remind the parents. None of it has worked for me either. I don't suggest getting the ninjas. I tried it once with warrior dwarfs but I think the parents simply put them wherever the forms ended up in their house never to be seen again. I miss those little guys.

Jason Huffman said...

Thanks, man...Robert Moore said that on medical forms he does one that is valid for the whole year. I have separate registration forms for our jr. high missions camp, high school missions camp, church camp, and occasionally for other trips, plus I have a medical form for all out of town trips. Thanks for the input. Sorry about the dwarfs.

Jason Huffman said...

Russell...I love the idea of a forms night! I will have to remember that for next year. Maybe get UM ARMY, BIG HOUSE, and church camp all done at once! I love it.

Russ Bowlin said...

I've been told by Russell and other wise people to do a form night...but I struggle remembering to put that on our calendar, and I also know others that don't like giving up the one or two hours of meeting time to fill out forms, but I think that idea is probably the most effective. The only easier way I can think of is to encourage organizations to move to online registration, that way you can send a link to the form in the emails and text messages, as well as give them the option of doing the old fashioned hard copy way. I think that it's usually people not wanting to locate the form, fill it out, and put it in an envelope or remember to take it to church, so if it's online, it simplifies... Just a thought.
PS- I decided a long time ago that I was just going to have to pay the late fees. Cause really...

Robert said...

If you need old and fat ninjas then I already have the outfit. But
obviously it won't still fit. I have the same struggles and do just
about the same steps you outlined. I have come to accept that certain
families just aren't going to get their stuff in on time and those I
usually either call or confront at church or assume the form will
eventually get to me. You might also try when snail mailing to
include a self-addressed and stamped envelope so they can just fill it out and get it in the mail with little effort and no cost on their part. Also, there is really only one form that I do not bend on and that is the Liability Waiver form. I make a new one for each year and it is good for the whole year. So if a kid does something with us early on in the year and fills that out, then he is good to go for any additional trip during the year. As new kids go on trips I tell them that if that form isn't filled out then they just aren't going. I have many fringe kids that I have little interaction with their
parents. I have sometimes gone to their houses to get their parents
to fill out the waver form because that would be the only way it gets
done. But that also gives me a chance to meet and get to know them. So GL and HTH.

Robert Moore

Jason Harris said...

I have this problem too, and I think the reason is lack of consequences. We want students to go so bad that we keep pushing back deadlines, grace periods, etc., and the students are onto us. We have trained them to know that no matter what they do or don't do, we will find some way to get them to go. If we would start sticking to our deadlines and actually not allow students to go who don't get their stuff taken care of, they will eventually wake up. I know this is something I have to start implementing better.

Russ Bowlin said...

@ Jason Harris- I understand your frustration and even understand your point about how "they're onto us" but I'm not sure I agree completely. I'm not sure how it fits in to our (as individuals and the church) modeling grace. I myself was changed by a trip to camp, and have experienced how one trip can make a huge difference- do we really want to wonder "what if...?" I know sometimes there are deadlines set through organization, but I think it's our responsibility to make our own deadlines a week (or even better a few weeks) before that deadline. What if the consequences weren't so cut-and-dry. For instance, have a late penalty in price, or require them to do some kind of work to make up for their tardiness. I understand your frustration, but I don't think we should become the sign up/form version of Seinfeld's Soup nazi... Also, Robert's suggestion of actually going to houses may take some time, but it is quite beneficial and sends the message to the student and parents that you care about them individually, that they're more than a statistic to you. Good discussion & good thoughts. Thanks for sharing