Understanding the Opportunity Section of the Account Control Panel (ACP)
1. To get a feel for what your information is going to look like, I recommend first going to www.ShortTermMissions.com/search and look at several trip descriptions.
The hardest part is writing an attractive and concise “brief description” that shows on the search results, and then a more detailed, but catchy longer description. Also it is a good idea to do a couple searches using key words, like “orphanage”, “construction”, “teach” or “photography” to see how that works. You want your opportunities to show up on the key word searches as well!
2. Now go to your Agency Control Panel (ACP) at www.ShortTermMissions.com/agencies, enter your logon and password and then review the information displayed about your agency.
On the side navigation menu, go through each tab to add or update information. Be sure and update after each change before leaving tab to save it.
The organization tab gives information as well as contact info for your agency. The doctrinal statement as well as the mission or vision statement can be cut and pasted from your agency website. To add or update a logo, email it as an attachment to [email protected] as a jpeg or png. We will need to format those and add to your page.
3. I found it worked really well to make a Word file open with a 3 line (200 characters) trip description and another more complete description before I started.
You may have one already on your web site or in your brochures or literature. By putting it in a Word file you can easily spell check it, and it is easier to read and edit. In the same file put a sentence describing the first application steps a person would take, e.g. “Call us at 123-456-7890 or email us at [email protected]!” Then you will be ready to cut and paste it into all of your trips at the very bottom.
4. When editing an opportunity, you want to be sure to include all key words in your full description.
This includes all the common forms of those words, e.g. “teach”, “teacher”, “teaching” if you are talking about MK teachers. The “Full Description” and the “Title of the Opportunity” are the fields used for the “Key Word(s)” search. Consider what words or phrases a person might search for to find your opportunity. Include the name of the country and the people groups in your description since those fields aren’t currently searched on the Keyword search.
5. The “Title of the Opportunity” is what is displayed to inquirers on the search results, so word it to draw attention.
The “Internal use only title” appears only in the Account Control Panel and is never displayed with the trip information. You can abbreviate words in that title and use your mission acronyms so you can quickly identify and distinguish it from similar trips.
6. If you have a scroll wheel on your mouse and you use it to move up and down the page, be careful that you are out of the drop down boxes before you roll it.
You can do this by clicking on any blank space on the page. If you don’t, you may change the “date” or “country” without realizing it.
7. If the opportunity is in Latin America, be sure to select “Central America” for region.
Please Note: Unless this trip is to a sensitive country, we strongly encourage you to specify the location by country instead of by region.
Each country is mapped to a region. The regions corresponding to the countries that you select will automatically be added to your trip details.
In the “Activities/Location” tab you can also add the state if trip is in the US.
8. The entry of information goes faster if you enter one basic trip with all of your shared information, save it, then “duplicate” it, and “edit” the duplicate copy.
That way you only have to change or add the details that are different.
9. About security and closed countries: Remember, these descriptions will be read by the whole world, including the government officials of the countries to which you are taking a group.
Therefore, on some countries you will want to tell enough to interest the searcher, but not enough to close the door to your going to that country! A phrase like” develop relationships and learn of their culture and worldview” is more neutral than “do friendship evangelism”. With closed or restricted access countries avoid any usage of the following words: evangelism, missionary, evangelize, evangelism, witness, missions, etc. Check out how Pioneers or others word their opportunities.
10. After entering and saving the information for an opportunity, click on the eye icon to the far right of the opportunity title in the ACP, to see how your trip looks on the public side of website.
That will allow you to quickly see what it will look like without having to leave the ACP.
11. After entering your trip descriptions, go back to the search page and search by your agency name and then by each country or region to make sure they all come up as you expected and that all the information was recorded correctly.
Almost always there are a couple details that don’t turn out as you expected!
12. Use action verbs and colorful adjectives in your descriptions!
Add descriptions that appeal to all senses such as smells, sights, sounds and colors. Another good idea is to print off a copy of your opportunity description from the “search” page and give it to your staff writer or a friend who has journalism skills and ask them for suggestions.
13. The “Opportunity expires” date and the Application “deadline date” MUST BE THE SAME or you will get an error statement when saving.
When the “Opportunity Expires” date arrives, the website automatically takes that opportunity description off line, marks it with a yellow button in your Account Control Panel, adds the word “Expired” in front of the opportunity name and sends you an email stating its expiration. This keeps the information on the website current, while the e-mail alerts you to the fact that the date has arrived so that you can extend it if you so wish.
14. Error message: “date of the opportunity selected occurs in the past”.
If you receive this message, it usually means the date selected in the “This opportunity expires:” box is past.
That is the date upon which the opportunity will cease to be displayed on the website and will go on “hold” in your Account Control Panel. The other date that sometimes triggers this message is the application deadline near the bottom of the form.
Don’t forget to add pictures. You can add 2 per trip and associate with specific trips or add some in the picture manager tab for using later.
General Tips for keeping your opportunities posted through the year:
In the late spring and summer, when you have passed your application cutoff dates and your trip “expires”, it is wise to quickly go in and place a general statement like “summer 2020” for a date, and “to be determined” for the cost so as to keep the opportunity visible for next summer while you get the details figured out. If next year’s opportunity will be a bit different from this year, you can preface the present description with: “Here is a description of the trip in progress now. Next year will be similar.”
Do that on at least one of your opportunities in order to keep your agency contact information visible to people browsing the site throughout the year. In April, May and June from 2% to 18% of the searches are for the next summer already, and some of the searches are actually for 2 years out!
Some of these are the new student mission fellowship people who have just been elected at the end of the school year who are beginning to plan the short term mission trips for the next summer 14 months away which they will announce in Sept and Oct. If you want school groups, you want your info up, even if it is general!
*Another important tip to not forget!
Make sure after entering or updating/duplication opportunities that you make sure it is “published” and not “on hold” so the public can see it. The easiest way to do this is in the “Trip Manager” area listing trips. If the status is green it is showing public, if red is it not. You can switch it right there by clicking the box or you can edit the trip and change it on the basic information tab. If you get an error message, edit your information to see if required fields contain information or if your dates have expired.
Contact customer service if you have any questions or need assistance: Email us at [email protected] or Call 479-310-5220.