Every church needs a Church Outreach Program.
Finding new parishioners becomes increasingly more difficult in today’s highly competitive market. But Churches, like any other businesses, have no choice but to prospect. Without replacing those members lost by attrition, church membership, attendance and donations will drop severely.
The spiraling costs of advertising have made it cost prohibitive for TV, radio, newspaper ads and inserts. Churches must conserve valuable dollars. They should spend their efforts reaching out only to those prospects who are most likely to join their congregation, attend school or camp or contribute to the organization.
In today’s tough economy, it’s more important than ever before to fine tune marketing outreach. This is key to reaching out to the Church’s key market segments in a cost-effective manner.
KEY MARKET GROUPS
- Newcomers – New Homeowners / New Movers
- Parents of New Babies
- Families with Children
- Ethnic or Religious Surname Groups
There are new families moving into your market each month. These are your churches your most important prospects. Often, they have moved from another state or county. Newcomers are looking for information about local establishments, whether it be a dentist, school or church. It’s up to you to contact them as soon as they move into your market. Every Church must have a Welcome Program that addresses this special group. You want to invite them to the Church and follow up in an organized, continuous fashion. Many churches subscribe to the monthly Dataman Group New Mover service. This allows Churches to keep up with area newcomers in a continuous, organized way.
The birth of a child offers the Church unique outreach opportunities. This is your chance to congratulate the new parents, provide an appropriate baby gift (consider a bib with the church name on it), and lay the groundwork for participation in the Church’s early childhood or camping programs. The birth of a child is an occasion that encourages self-examination. This becomes a perfect time for the Church to reach out! Dataman Group offers monthly New Parent lists that can be used for either direct mail or telephone outreach.
Churches can select Families with Children by the age or age range of the children in the home. You need to look at your programming, camp and religious school options and hone in on those families which will need those services. If a Church’s core profit center is preschool and camp, then target families with children under 10 and mail to them several times a year for each enrollment session.
ETHNIC OR RELIGIOUS SURNAME GROUPS
There are specific overlays which can help marketers hone in on certain religious or ethnic market segments. Buddhist organizations may want to target Asian households; Catholic churches may want to appeal to households with Italian surnames.
Age, income, presence of children are available selects on this file.
Sometimes Churches just “want to get the word out”, perhaps to let area residents know about a Holiday Service, bazaar or community service program. In this case, the most cost-effective way to go would be to utilize an Occupant/Resident list. These lists do not have the recipient’s name on it, rather they say Occupant or Resident and reach every mailbox in a given area, regardless of who lives there.
Regardless of which of these market segments is selected, a Church must have a vehicle for reaching out to these groups.
CREATE A WELCOME PROGRAM
A growing Church must place a priority on reaching new people. The Church must cultivate a warm, friendly relationship with people and the time to do this as soon as they move into the area.
Consider a standing Welcome Committee. This group follows up on area newcomers with a combination of personalized direct mail and telephone outreach.
Envelope & stationary should be pre-printed with Church name, address, phone # and website URL. The letterhead should contain an appropriate welcome line (we call this a tagline). This tagline should also appear on the envelope. Your readers will judge the Church by the quality of paper and appearance of this letter. This is your first introduction to your prospect, make sure you are putting your best foot forward. The letter should be signed by the chairperson of the Welcome Committee as well as the appropriate member of the clergy. Enclose a brochure or literature sharing the purpose, program, events and outreach of the Church.
USE INFORMED DELIVERY
The U.S.P.S. Informed Delivery program gives your church entree into your recipient’s email inbox. Each morning, millions of Americans who are signed up for this program get an email from the USPS with the images of the mail pieces they will be receiving that day. This costs your Church nothing. All you need to do is let the people at the Post Office know you want to be included in this.
MARKET ACCORDING TO PROGRAM DEADLINES
Be deadline sensitive. Is registration for Early Childhood programs are coming up? Make sure the newcomers know about it. If you are mailing before Easter, consider enclosing the Easter Service schedule. If the Church has a newsletter, make sure that newcomers receive at least four issues. Do you have a follow-up telephone call planned? Be sure to inform the reader that a Church volunteer will be calling in a few days.
The Direct Mail level of contact is a one-way communication method. Direct mail does not provide any feedback, but has a 90-95% guarantee for reaching your prospects with your information.
TELEPHONE OUTREACH – VERY VIABLE FOR A CHURCH
Even with the Do Not Call, telephone outreach remains a viable tool for reaching out to new prospects. A warm phone call enables the Church to share a greeting from it’s lay volunteers. The call can identify the prospect’s background and affiliation and clarify information communicated in the letter. This is a great opportunity to answer questions and qualify the interest in the Church for further contact. A warm, friendly call from the local Church will do wonders to help the newcomer feel welcomed in their new neighborhood! This is a great tactic for a winning a Church Outreach Program.
Volunteers on the Welcome Committee are the best group to make the calls. By dividing up the list between committee members, no-one should be overburdened. Allow the committee 2 weeks to complete their calls from their monthly Newcomer List. The caller will seek to talk to an adult member of the household and introduce his/herself. The Committee, along with staff, should prepare a script to be used by the caller. A training session should be held for all involved. Invite the prospect to visit the Church and take a tour of the facility. Set up an appointment to meet the clergy. Consider offering a welcome gift as an incentive.
CHURCHES & THE FEDERAL DO NOT CALL LIST
As a non-profit organization, Churches are exempt from the Telemarketing Sales Rules. However, each Church needs to make an informed decision if they want to contact those households on the Federal Do Not Call registry. Generally, calls from a local Church will be warmly accepted, however there are many people who are adamant about not receiving calls. The law does require that all telephone marketers register with the Federal Trade Commission. If an outbound calling campaign is part of your church outreach program, make sure your church registers for an exempt Subscription Account
PERSONAL HOME VISITS
This level of involvement builds on both the direct mail and telephone survey. Personal home contact affords the most visible results and should be seriously considered. Community captains may be assigned to make a brief get-acquainted visit. A welcome gift should be brought to the newcomer, whether it be a cake, tickets to an upcoming concert or a welcome gift purchased specifically for that purpose.
This is your opportunity to extend the hand of friendship in your community!
Don’t discount the power of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In within your Church Outreach Program. These are wonderful ways for your Church to reach out to new congregants, especially in the younger age ranges. Electronic marketing is a fabulous way to keep in touch with your congregation – not a great prospecting mechanism, but a wonderful retention tool. Make sure your social media is always current. Let it be fun. For example, show great photos of your congregants in action. Photos of Easter egg hunts, potluck dinners, or community service activities get lots of likes!
RULES OF THUMB…CHURCHES ARE NO DIFFERENT
- You need to contact your prospects more than once for them to remember you! Change your offer so they don’t get bored, but a solid Church Outreach Program keeps you in touch with your prime prospects
- The more you know about your prospects the better. Target your marketing technique and offer to the specific group you’re looking to reach. Seniors respond best to well-written direct mail letters. Younger singles respond best to e-mail. Families with new babies response best to offers made with baby gifts.
- Cross sell within our own membership. Often early childhood parents may have interests in cultural arts.
- Never assume that your members are aware of registration deadlines or that they know what time services are held.
- Be sure to drop off information about your Church at the local Chamber of Commerce, library and with local realtors.
- The combination of direct mail, followed up by a telephone call by a Welcome Committee member will be your most responsive marketing technique.
At Dataman Group, we pride ourselves on working closely with Churches across the country to help provide them with the right lists for their needs. We understand that marketing is not the main focus of your business. It’s our job to make this easy and cost-effective so your Church can go on to do the important work it does in the community.
If you call our office at (800) 771-3282, one of us will be happy to provide you with counts for any of the prospect groups in your market. Or, feel free to e-mail us for additional information!