It is incredibly frustrating to email questions to an official TST group or a person in leadership and simply get no reply at all. Here are a few tips, strategies, and things to keep in mind if this happens to you.
Manage your expectations
Most groups take 1-3 weeks to reply to unsolicited emails. Please remember that TST is an all-volunteer organization. Most people have jobs that take up the majority of their time and can only work on activities for The Satanic Temple on weekends or a few weekday evenings that they set aside. Many congregations, committees, councils, and other leadership groups only meet once a week (or less). This means that if you ask a question that requires the group to discuss before they can answer, one week if often the minimum time you can expect to wait.
Be clear and concise
If a week or two have passed and you have not received a reply, look over the email you sent. Did you actually ask a question, or did you make several statements and expect a reaction? One of the most common experiences for people in charge of managing incoming emails is looking at an email and wondering, “What do they actually want me to say?” If you have a question, make sure to ask it.
Use complete sentences. Separate your thoughts into paragraphs. Emails that are nothing more than a few fragments, on one hand, or a wall of unbroken text, on the other, are very difficult to read. Emails like that require a lot of work from the reader, and are very likely to be put in the mental “will deal with that later” category. The easier you make your email to read, the more likely you are to receive a reply.
People sometimes miss things….
There is no harm in sending one or two polite follow-up emails, spaced with one or two weeks between each one, to see whether your question or request simply was overlooked. Because TST is an all volunteer organization, people can become overworked, distracted by their full-time jobs or families, or any number of other very human, very normal things that sometimes crop up in life. Sometimes the most compassionate response to someone (or some group) not replying to an email is to give them the benefit of the doubt: after a couple of weeks, send a quick follow up email asking to check on the status of your previous question or request, and tell them that you are happy to answer any questions they might have. This gives them one or two chances to catch an email that they may have simply missed or lost in the shuffle of their day the previous time.
…and sometimes they don’t
Of course, sometimes a lack of response actually means “no”. This can be upsetting if you imagine a person sitting at their computer and thinking, “We do not want this person in our group!” and just ghosting you instead of emailing you. But the reality of the situation is most likely much less sinister. Sometimes groups go dormant for a while, and there is nobody assigned to the task of replying to emails saying “this group is temporarily on pause.” Sometimes there are leadership transitions, sometimes there are projects that have everyone so overwhelmed they just don’t have time to reply to unsolicited emails, sometimes people in leadership position even go on vacation for a few weeks. (This is the least likely explanation.)
At some point you may have to make a judgment call, and realize that a lack of response — for whatever reasons — simply means that this group is not ready to take you one as a volunteer or a member that the moment. It’s time for you to move on.
Timing is everything
If you are sending an email asking about how to get involved in a congregation or a campaign and you do not receive any reply even after a few polite follow-up emails, put a mental “bookmark” in it for later. After six months pass, if you still have the time and the interest, reach out again.
You should never be persistent with a group that has said “no,” of course. No means no. However, a non-response could mean any number of things. Perhaps the group wasn’t very active and needed no volunteers the first time you reached out. Perhaps the group was in the process of changing leadership and needed to “get organized” before taking on new members. In these situations, and many others, a “no response” can turn to a “we need you!” overnight! It’s all about timing and circumstances. As long as you are patient and polite, there is nothing wrong with reminding a group that you are available.