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


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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

 

Questions re Accepting Credit Cards (part 5 of 5)

Churches which do not have online giving often have several questions which hinder them from proceeding. Here are some of the concerns I’ve run into over the past few years:

  • Commercialism
    • Some fear that by accepting credit cards, the church is becoming too commercial. It isn’t. It is using the mechanisms created by this world in order to do the work of the Kingdom. Jesus encouraged his followers to be as shrewd as the people of the world (Luke 16:8) and this is one way of doing just that.

 Online giving doesn’t solve all of a church’s financial woes. It does eliminate (or minimize) hurdles and excuses for people to give to their church. They can no longer claim they forgot their checkbook or don’t have cash in their wallet. I know they have their credit card in their wallet because they’re going to eat at a restaurant after church and that restaurant accepts credit cards. They can use that credit or debit card to be generous with their church – hopefully even more generous than what they’ll spend on lunch.

Make it easy for people to give to your church – give them the option of online giving.

Lead On!

Steve

Questions re Accepting Credit Cards (part 4 of 5)

Churches which do not have online giving often have several questions which hinder them from proceeding. Here are some of the concerns I’ve run into over the past few years:

  • Promotion
    • To be successful, there must be a promotion/awareness/visibility campaign to let members know they can now giving online. The best way to do this is as a teaching opportunity rather than crass marketing. Just as we let members know about different Bible study times and other events, we need to inform people about the different ways they can support their church. They want to give their money to their church – we’re simply providing information and ways for them to do that.
    • There are a variety of methods to get the word out using bulletins, pulpit announcements, website, giving cards in the pews, etc. All of these must be used to make this a success.
    • If we do not give easy ways to support their church, we’re putting hurdles in front of our donors. That is simply not wise or good.
  • Accounting and Reporting
    • The finance office will need to be diligent in ensuring that all online financial transactions are posted to the General Ledger so that the monthly bank reconciliation is accurate and the end of month financial reports are correct. That office also needs to ensure that any reporting provided to the church during the month contains the online gifts. This will require the staff to adopt new patterns and checklists.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Questions re Accepting Credit Cards (part 3 of 5)

Churches which do not have online giving often have several questions which hinder them from proceeding. Here are some of the concerns I’ve run into over the past few years:

  • We’ll Get That Money Anyway
    • Some people feel that money given by members via credit cards would have come to the church via cash or check if the church didn’t have online giving. Personally, I’ve put things back on the shelf when I realized the shop didn’t take a credit card and I didn’t have cash to pay for it.
    • I don’t believe all of that money would. Some would come in but not all. The convenience of credit cards eliminates hurdles to giving and allows for giving more.
  • Back office administration
    • The finance staff in the church has to get the donations posted to members giving records and to the church’s financial records. The worst way to do that is manually and the best way is to do it electronically with few or no human touches.
    • Digital donation providers are continually working to ensure their systems can seamlessly “talk” with church financial records systems. Also, the online giving platforms have a way for members to access their giving history and even download a document suitable for their tax purposes (which means less contact with the church’s finance office).

 Lead On!

Steve

 

Questions re Accepting Credit Cards (part 2 of 5)

Churches which do not have online giving often have several questions which hinder them from proceeding. Here are some of the concerns I’ve run into over the past few years:

  • Portal Fees
    • Digital donation providers themselves have a fee which usually depends on the size of the church (number of Sunday morning worshippers).
    • This is the fee paid to the provider their services
      • A portal that makes is easy and friendly to give
      • Back office assistance to post contributions
      • Help in creating categories for gifts
      • Continuing training to existing and new staff at the church
      • Ideas for successful marketing and implementation
    • This fee is to the digital donations provider just as we’d pay the plumber for their labor (that is, the portal fee) and we also pay for parts (that is, the credit card fees) – two different expenses paid to two different companies.
  • Debt by members
    • Some churches are concerned that members will get deeper in debt by using their credit cards to pay their tithe. There are two ways to address this within the church:
      • Encourage people to use a debit card or an ACH transfer (bank to bank). These are cheaper for the church and don’t create credit card debt.
      • Have a class teaching members wise money management using materials from Financial Peace University and/or from Crown Ministries. These classes can really help people get their financial house in order AND tithe.
    • But some people want to use their credit card to earn rewards points and they will pay off their credit card balance each month.

 Lead On!

Steve

 

Questions re Accepting Credit Cards (part 1 of 5)

Churches which do not have online giving often have several questions which hinder them from proceeding. Here are some of the concerns I’ve run into over the past few years:

  • Online Giving (itself)
    • Making financial transactions online has been normalized by society in the past 10 or 15 years. Amazon and other online businesses have made us comfortable with spending money online and using our credit cards on our computers and smartphones.
    • In 2016, our society spent more on restaurants than groceries; in 2015, we spent more electronically than we did using cash and checks. We have moved inexorably into the age of electronic transactions.
    • I predict that by the year 2025 (maybe 2030) we won’t even be using credit cards anymore – transactions will be made using Apple or Android pay or some other electronic financial exchange system which is being created even now.
  • Fees paid by the church
    • All credit cards have fees ranging from about 2.3% to 5% of the transaction. VISA and Mastercard have lower fees while American Express has the highest. Most VISA and Mastercard providers have fees in the 2% to 3% range.
    • Remember that banks have fees on every check and cash transaction they process, albeit about 25 to 30 cents for each one and that is lower than credit card fees.
    • Fees on credit cards is very much a “cost of doing business” in today’s world. Just as every church has a copy machine and air conditioning, fees on credit cards are just part of being “in business” for a church.
    • Frankly, the fees aren’t that much. If a church gets as little as $10,000 in online gifts during the year, the fee for that is about $250 which seems pretty small when weighed against the $10K that came in.

Lead On!

Steve

 

First Time Donors

Coming to a church for the first time is frequently celebrated. People are encouraged to introduce themselves, provide contact information, and are even given coupons for coffee or food. These are good steps whose goal is to encourage the people to return again and again.

Churches can take another step which is to send a thank you note to all first time donors. The first time someone gives to a church is a big deal. It is one thing to come but it is an even bigger step to pull out your wallet and financially support the church. That action should be acknowledged.

Every first time donor should get a thank you note from a church leader – the pastor, the treasurer, or the church administrator. This simple act will take about 3 minutes per card and cost a dollar or two including postage. But the benefits of that expense will be enormous – people will comment about that for a long time and they will be genuinely surprised and grateful.

Take the time to write a thank you note. It is a big deal.

 Lead On!

Steve