For-profit marketers often face the daunting task of taking a product or service with little to no emotional connection to the consumer and then finding an angle that makes it relatable.
The NFL regularly appeals to the family dynamic. Coca-cola ties in cute, cuddly penguins and polar bears. Geico makes you laugh. This all takes place in an attempt to help you relate to their products and services in positive ways.
The good news for churches is that you don’t have to go fishing for random emotional associations in order to market to and connect with your audience.
You already have your sales pitch built right into the very reason that you exist.
I say all of this to make the point that you don’t need to be insecure about championing your church to all and sundry as you begin to build a community of fellow worshippers. Marketing a church is often seen as a taboo subject.
But I say if you’re not willing to market (ethically, of course) your church will never grow.
Just because you have a cause to propagate doesn’t mean everyone is automatically going to hear you, either. You need to come up with a strategy in order to cut through all of the white noise and be seen by those who might be interested in attending your church.
One of the most common ways to foster relationships with potential congregants these days is to set up your social media profiles.
Before you simply go out and make a Facebook group, though, it’s important to do some research into what social media accounts will benefit your church the most. Each social media outlet has its own strengths and weaknesses.
For instance, Pinterest and Instagram are heavy on the visual element, Facebook is community-focused, and Twitter is great for quick, short updates. YouTube is, of course, a cornerstone of most church live-streaming, too.
Take some time to consider which platforms will facilitate your efforts the most and then focus on those.
Social media outlets can be excellent ways to reach out to potential new members, spread awareness of your church plant, raise funds, and keep existing congregants up to date on your church’s efforts.
PRO TIP: As a word of warning, keep in mind that tending to your church’s social profiles, updating information, and creating an endless stream of content is a lot of work. In fact, many marketers spend their full-time jobs tending to social media concerns. So make sure to be thoughtful and strategic about how you get into the social media game.
Another option that can bear quite a bit of fruit is to find local organizations interested in forming relationships with your church.
These can be anything from nearby businesses to schools, other churches, and even local government entities.
The objective here should be to develop a network of fellow organizations that you can count on to support you and vice versa. As you begin to make contact, one of your key objectives should be both creating and then maintaining a rapport and level of trust that allows you to easily approach them in the future.
This establishes your church as a local nonprofit that is genuinely committed to impacting the community around you. It can also provide additional outlets to create awareness for fundraisers, various events, and your church’s mission in general.
Let me emphasize, though, it’s critical that you approach local entities with respect.
You all operate within the same geographic areas, and it’s important that you don’t just treat fellow companies and organizations as opportunities to exploit marketing. When it comes to local networking opportunities, make sure to also focus just as much on developing good relationships as you’ll hopefully be working side by side with these organizations through your church for years to come.
One of the cold hard truths about churches is that, even if you’re not out to make a buck, you still need money to stay operating. And, of course, the more money you have, the bigger an impact you’ll be able to make.
Naturally, then, one of the first things you’re going to want to start doing as a fledgling church plant is planning out ways to get that money flowing through your tax-exempt, nonprofit bank account.
Of course, the most obvious option when it comes to jumpstarting a new church’s cash flow is to start fundraising.
There are countless different ways to raise funds no matter what situation you find yourself in.
All you need to do is take stock of your manpower and existing funds, pick a fundraiser that fits the bill, and go to town. From Go Fund Me to Rock-a-thons and everything in between, fundraising is part and parcel of the nonprofit world.
Another option to jumpstart your financials is to consider pursuing grants.
I touched on this idea earlier and mentioned that we’d circle back around to it.
That’s because grants are certainly an option worth considering — even when you’re trying to fund a new church.
This doesn’t even have to be purely a monetary effort, either. Some grants provide incredible value without offering you a penny in actual dollars and cents. Google Ads, for instance, offers grants to approved nonprofits that can provide as much as $10,000 in free advertising.
The point is that there are many different grants that each nonprofit can typically go after. Some are provided by private trusts and foundations, while others come straight from the government itself.
With so many options, you’re going to want to research which ones are worth taking the time to go after. Often grants are specifically tailored towards topics, including churches, so you’ll want to look for ones that specifically apply to your situation.
Whatever grants you decide to pursue, though, before you start mailing off applications or sending emails, it can be helpful to do some research and come up with a grant writing strategy beforehand.
In fact, if possible, I suggest you assemble a crack team of grant writing experts that you can trust. (Okay, okay, maybe they’ll initially just be inexperienced members of your team, but over time and with practice they’ll become experts!)
Having a team that can work together to create and refine proposals will help provide solid, thoughtful, well-rounded arguments for why you should be considered for each grant. A team is better at properly fleshing out all of the reasons your organization is a good candidate. It’s also more likely to produce a structured, proofread, and clear application that will better attract attention.