Community Invitation Campaign (Marketing)

Marketing works – the proof is that so many companies “Just Do It” (Nike) and “Think Different” (Apple). Churches used to do marketing when they advertised the annual revival or other special services. Today, most churches have forgotten the need to advertise to their own community. Publicity about the church on special occasions gets results. Here are some fairly inexpensive ways let your neighbors know you’re there and invite them to attend.

  1. In a one or two mile radius around the church, place door hangers on homes. Pairs of people can walk prescribed routes the weeks before Easter and Christmas.
  2. Ask members to distribute postcards to work colleagues and neighbors. The postcards must have a message and info about the church.
  3. Find the election polling locations near your church. Then distribute postcards and cool water or hot chocolate; put labels with info about the church on the water or cups. Distribute the materials by setting up a table attended by volunteers during election day. The table with your material must be at the legal distance from the actual voting site. Remember that everyone who votes at each location lives within a couple of miles and is thus a neighbor of the church.
  4. Hand out $5 Starbucks cards to people at various local events. Include a card inviting people to your church. Giving away $250 reaches 50 people directly and probably 250 with the ripple effect.
  5. Give away boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Put a label on them with a greeting and info about the church. No one turns down cookies.
  6. At local sporting events for children, set up a tent and provide snacks and drinks to the kids and parents. Give everyone a postcard or flyer, too.
  7. Print church info on magnets and distribute those at some of the above functions. People tend to not throw away fridge magnets. You can create your own fridge magnets pretty cheaply or have them made professionally.
  8. Have pens made and spread those around nearby businesses and restaurants. They are always looking for extra pens. Good pens are great marketing material.

Think of your own ways to advertise that are appropriate for your own community.

Lead On!

Steve


www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Paying for Energy Efficient Improvements

Expenditures on items to improve your energy efficiency should have a payback of five years or less. Most churches do not have ready cash to make major investments in their building to reduce energy consumption and financing arrangements often are self-defeating (the energy savings go to pay for the bank loan and by the time the loan is paid off, the equipment needs to be replaced). Here are some ideas to offset these expenses.

  1. On electrical work, always use a licensed electrician. Poor electrical work can lead to fires which won’t be covered by insurance if it wasn’t done properly. Your church may have a member who is a licensed who will do some of this work pro bono or at cost – take advantage of those skills (and thank them publicly!).
  2. Have a capital campaign or special offering for specific equipment. Ask interested members to give to a purpose which ignites their passion. You may be surprised at what some members will give and how much they’ll give. Younger members are especially attuned to environmental matters.
  3. If you need to pay from your budget, here are a couple of ideas
    1. Have the work done at the end of a fiscal year (December) and then pay the bill from two fiscal years (December and January). That will have less of an impact on your budget and your electrician still gets paid within 30 days.
    2. Do the work early in the fiscal year and pay for it out of two separate budget lines: the maintenance budget and the utilities budget. Since the utilities expense will be less for the rest of the year, it is reasonable for the utilities to absorb some of the maintenance cost in January and reap the savings over the rest of the year (and future years).
    3. Do both of the above paying out of two fiscal years and two budget lines. That spreads the expense even further.

Lead On!
Steve


www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

More Expensive but Beneficial Measures

Here are some savings on electricity which cost more, but which also have benefits beyond energy efficiency. Here are some ideas.

  1. Wooden windows need to be painted every 5 to 7 years. Instead of painting, use the money and replace them with double-pane windows. Vinyl windows are relatively cheap (about the cost of 2 or 3 paintings) and they are good for north, east, and west-facing sides of your building. South-facing windows take the brunt of the sun’s heat and UV rays and aluminum windows are recommended for that side. Aluminum windows won’t sag in the middle under the intense sun. Double pane windows also mean you can clean the windows easily from the inside.
  2. Wooden window frames can be replaced with the entire window but a cost-saving measure is to wrap the frames in aluminum. Aluminum comes in a variety of colors and it never needs repainting. Wrapping the wood eliminates forever the cost of painting.
  3. As your HVAC units die, replace them with higher SEER rated units. They will cost more but they’ll be more energy efficient. Get as high a SEER rating as you can afford each time.
  4. Older model gas boilers were 60% efficient. That means that 40% of the heat they generate goes up the chimney. New models are 97% efficient. They cost twice as much but over the 20-25 year lifespan of a boiler, it will pay for itself several times over is gas savings (and pollute less).
  5. Tankless or “on-demand” hot water systems are efficient ways to have unlimited hot water. A hot water tank holds 40 or 100 gallons and keeps that water hot all the time. A tankless system heats the water only when it is needed eliminating the constant use of electricity on a tank system. Tankless systems also use less space in the boiler room.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Natural Energy Efficiency Improvements

Nature itself can be used to help your utility bill. These methods are popular and they are quite effective.

  1. Green Roof. If you have a flat roof, install as much greenery as possible. Plants on a roof will absorb heat and rain water, which would otherwise land directly on the roof. Plants will also provide flowers and homes for bees and other insects. Do NOT put soil directly on your roof; instead, buy plastic kiddie pools and put them on your roof. If possible, the children and youth can help fill them with dirt and plant seeds – get them involved in caring for their church. You can even use some as a vegetable or flower garden.
  2. Renewable energy. Roofs can also be used to generate energy by installing windmills and/or solar panels. If you have good access to steady sunshine and/or wind, these can make a significant reduction in your electric bill and your electric company is required to buy any excess energy you generate.
  3. The initial cost is pretty high and the payback period is 5 years or so. You’ll need .  You might ask some members to specifically contribute toward these due to the high up-front costs.
  4. Be careful with salespeople’s promises. Call their former clients and even pay them a visit to see what was done. You don’t want work that will be aesthetically ugly to your building.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Motion Sensor Equipment

For a multitude of reasons, people in churches don’t turn off lights. Fortunately there is motion sensor technology that can do this work for us. There are a variety of motion sensors that can save money while providing what we need.

  1. Motion sensor light switches turn off lights when no one is in the room. These cost $15 to $20 at a hardware store and are pretty easy to install. You’ll see immediate savings.
  2. Paper towel dispensers with motion sensors provide just enough for a person to use. Many times people will pull off lots more than they actually need but they don’t want to wait for a machine to dispense the towels.
  3. The same is true for soap dispensers and water faucets that are motion activated. Having these provide just enough will save money.
  4. Motion sensor flush valves in toilets ensure they are flushed after each use and are thus clean and ready for the next person.
  5. Motion sensor thermostats, even on commercial HVAC equipment, can save a lot of energy in churches. Ensuring rooms are heated or cooled when people are present is a challenge and all too frequently the AC or heat stays on long after people have left the room. A sensor in each room can turn on and off the HVAC unit serving that area. HVAC use is up to 30% of an electric bill so controlling this expense is vital.

Lead On!

Steve


www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Better Lighting Techniques

Many church buildings are not energy efficient – they were built when electricity and gas were cheap. Today, the utility bills of church buildings are a major budget item. Churches can reduce their energy bills by taking small steps every year which, over time, will have a significant impact. Here are ways to save on your electric bills.

  1. Meet with your electrician and ask him for ideas in their industry. Get them to be part of the solution, not just a repairman. While salespeople visit with all kinds of new gadgets, they leave after the work is done but your electrician has a vested interest in ensuring your building is up to code and working efficiently.
  2. Have a meeting with a representative from your electric company.
  3. Find out if you’re on the right billing rate
  4. Ask about rebate programs for installing energy efficient lighting
  5. Ask about deals for other energy efficient equipment for your church kitchen, hot water tank, exit signs, etc.
  6. Change your lighting to energy efficient lamps and bulbs. Many churches use 4 foot T-12 lamps. T-8 lamps are 30% more efficient and 30% brighter; they cost about $5 each. LEDs are the rage but they are still pretty expensive.
  7. Reduce the different types of lighting to two or three. Many churches have up to a dozen different types of lamps and bulbs. You may have to change some fixtures but in the long run, having only 2 or 3 types of lighting will save money. For instance, remove 2×2 fluorescent fixtures and replace them with T-8 2×4 lay-in fixtures. 2 ft U-shape lights are more expensive than long 4 ft tubes.
  8. Replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs (corkscrew bulbs). CFLs come in different types of light, from yellow to bright white so you can get whatever shade you want.
  9. Replace exit signs with LED exit signs which are more efficient and don’t use expensive bulbs. Many old style exit signs use incandescent bulbs which run hot and use up to 50 watts 24/7. New LEDs exit signs use 3 watts – that is immediate savings.

Lead On!

Steve


www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Marketing – Door Hangers

A couple of years ago I spoke with a guy doing political print ads. He said that the best way for a politician to get his point across was to speak directly to the voters. The second best way was for volunteers to put door hangers on people’s homes – the inference by the recipient is that someone walked up to their house and left the info. Voters see that as far more personal than a radio, TV, or web ad and respond favorably to door hangers.

Most churches don’t count neighbors within walking distance as potential attendees; we’ve become that much of a car society.  Decades ago, revivals and crusades used to be the church’s main form of growth and the church spent loads of money on those annual events. That was the marketing budget. The church doesn’t do crusades or revivals anymore and most churches don’t do any form of marketing much less neighborhood outreach. Churches must do something to tell the neighbors “we’re here; we’re not scary; come try us out at a special occasion.”

The best times in the year to do marketing are Easter, Christmas, and August-back-to-schooI. These are the times of the year that people are most open to changes in their routine, especially if it involves going to church for the first time in years or decades. A simple door hanger will be a great form of introduction to the neighbors of who the church is.

The door hanger must include a graphic (to catch the eye), an invitation to attend (what you want the person to do), times, dates, & place (when and where the events are), and words of appreciation for them being the church’s neighbor and your desire for them to come and get to know even more of their neighbors.

Doing this once or twice a year will have an impact on your attendance. The door hangers can be placed out on a couple of Saturdays by volunteers walking the streets around the church. Draw a radius of about one mile out from the church and assign blocks to teams who will spend an hour putting out door hangers. After the volunteers are done, ask them to come back to the church for a snack and to tell stories of what they encountered as they put out the hangers.

And, most importantly, have fun doing this!

Lead On!

Steve

Guerrilla Marketing

Churches must do more marketing to become visible to their neighbors. While people see church buildings, they may not have a personal contact with that church. Here are some cheap ways for church members to interact with their neighbors and hopefully draw them in.

  1. Post Cards:create attractive post cards which members can hand out at work and to neighbors
  2. Elections: set up a table at the polling places at or around the church. Have a volunteer staff the table giving out post cards and drinks of water or hot chocolate, depending on the weather. On the water bottle or cup, put labels with info about the church. If there is a line to vote, the volunteers can interact with the voters. By definition, polling places are where your neighbors are – leverage that!
  3. Free coffee: hand out $5 Starbucks cards to people at various local events or at Starbucks itself. $250 will get you 50 cards which is 50 families. Include a card inviting people to your church.
  4. Free cookies: give away boxes of Girl Scout cookies with a label on them about the church
  5. Kids’ Events: give post cards and water and snacks at sporting events for kids. Set up a tent and distribute sports drinks and/or water to kids and post cards to their parents.
  6. Magnets: put church info on magnets and distribute those at some of the above functions. People tend to not throw away fridge magnets. You can create your own fridge magnets pretty cheaply or have them made professionally.
  7. Pens: get pens with your church info and distribute them to nearby restaurants. Waitstaff always need pens.
  8. Windows: give volunteers rolls of paper towels and window cleaner. Then, descend on a shopping center in your neighborhood (not a mall) and ask if you can clean the windows of the local businesses. Tell them you just want to be a good neighbor and you appreciate them being in the neighborhood.

​A negative experience is re-told a dozen times; positive experiences are re-told five times. By giving things away ​you’ll be creating positive stories about your church which will have a ripple effect.

These are cheap ways to get your church’s name in front of people in the community in a positive, wholesome way. There are no downsides to these strategies (well, except #4 if you eat too many). And the super-duper secret is to do them in waves, not continuously. Use the church and social seasons as to when to be active: November & December for Christmas; February and March for Easter; July and August for back to school.

Lead On!

Steve