How to Optimize Your Church’s Virtual Marketing and Giving Strategies
COVID-19 has forced communities to rapidly move away from in-person group worship to virtual worship. Although many changes are being experienced across the country in terms of congregations, there’s another pressing issue that threatens churches themselves — a lack of funding. This has left many ministry leaders wondering how to optimize their church’s virtual marketing strategies.
If they can succeed in this area, giving from the congregation usually follows. Churches rely on the generosity of their community members in order to maintain day-to-day operations. The longer churches remain closed, the more their financial uncertainty grows. If your church is in need of funding during these unprecedented times, it’s important to get creative.
Church virtual marketing and giving strategies can make a world of difference — not just now, but for years to come.
Feeling the Pinch Amid COVID-19? You’re Not Alone
The current coronavirus has impacted religion in many ways, particularly in relation to social distancing measures. Worship services, Sunday schools, and all other associated events have been canceled, significantly impacting in-person donations. Places of worship, including churches, mosques, and temples, play a vital role in our society.
Since religious services have been shutdown for the time being, churches are feeling the immense financial strain. Although many churches do receive monthly givings, weekly offerings are a major source of giving — especially among older congregants.
A cash crunch not only means that places of worship will not likely be able to make payroll or pay bills, but their level of community support will also be negatively impacted. For example, many churches help organize local food banks or soup kitchens, all of which require funding.
As reported by the National Post, research by Cardus shows that for each dollar in a religious congregation’s annual budget, a city gets an estimated $4.77 worth of common good services in return.” If you provide support in or near vulnerable communities, you understand how devastating a lack of services can be — especially following an economic downturn, which is anticipated.
If you are currently concerned about the survival of your church, know that you’re not alone/ According to a survey from Barna Group, 6% to 9% of pastors are unsure whether or not their church will remain open following the current pandemic. The majority of churches also reported that financial giving is significantly down.
Many Have Already Taken Action — But Sadly, It’s Not Enough
Churches across the country have received continuous support and many are still receiving some level of funding. However, for small churches and organizations, as well as congregations in low-income communities, the current situation is rather bleak.
There are many people stepping up to provide their support, which is encouraging — but is it enough? Benjamin Watson and the AND Campaign recently started an initiative that would help churches who are at risk of closing keep their doors open.
To date, this initiative has already raised over $250,000, supporting more than 50 churches. These churches have been selected to receive grants from the COVID-19 Church Relief Fund. You can find more information about the application at Churches Helping Churches.
While the generosity of others is encouraging and provides hope, there are steps you can personally take to better protect your church during the coronavirus, implementing virtual giving strategies that will support your ability to thrive for years to come.
Optimize Your Church Virtual Marketing and Giving Plan
COVID-19 has, of course, caused a number of undesirable outcomes, especially in terms of public health and the economy. However, when it comes to your church, there may be a silver lining here. Just as COVID-19 has pushed the mental health community online in order to support rising rates of anxiety, stress, and depression, this pandemic may act as a motivator to expand your giving channels.
Read more: Planning Giving — The Ultimate Guide
It’s time to move out of crisis mode, coming up with innovative strategies that will support the longevity and growth of your church. Here are some suggestions to help you start this journey.
1. Kickstart an email marketing campaign
Email marketing is the perfect method to grow your congregation, increase giving, and strengthen the bond between you and your members. During this time, your community likely has a good measure of fear and needs answers. It is important to be a leader during this time, providing them with hope and insight. You should also link these emails to your social media, which we will discuss shortly. Churches that include at least one social media link experience an average click-through-rate that is 115% higheri
2. Make Sunday morning extra special online
If you haven’t already started an online ministry, now is the perfect time to do so. After all, the church isn’t about the physical building itself — it’s a group of people joining together to worship and support one another. Although creating an online church platform will certainly benefit your members now, it could also benefit those who cannot make select Sundays in the future. For example, if a member is sick, they could still tune-in to service.
ChurchStreaming.TV is currently offering 60 days free due to COVID-19. However, there are many options available, including Facebook. If you need assistance, the Church Communications Facebook Group is the official channel for communication between churches and Facebook. After all, nearly 85% of church members use Facebook. While using Facebook, you can also organize a fundraiser!
3. Optimize social media accounts
Social media is an incredible growth tool, helping you connect with your members on a daily basis. Although more than 60% of churches use social networking to connect with members outside of their congregation, only around 15% are using Twitter and Instagram, leaving an immense gap in marketing strategies. As of June 2018, there were one billion active users on Instagram — which provides you with an opportunity to significantly expand your audience.
You can leverage your social media accounts to advertise online meetings or in the future, community events. During the COVID-19 pandemic, if you still have staff at your church or volunteers who are practicing social distancing measures, you could always organize a safe drop-off to help families in your community who are in need of food and supplies. When members drop off goods, they will have the option to donate at that time.
Ready to take your church’s virtual marketing and giving plan to new heights? If so, DonorWerx can assist your short- and long-term efforts, helping you reach your financial goals during COVID-19 and beyond.
Please contact us to learn more and for more information, please check out the following resources:
- 11 Virtual Fundraising Ideas to Attract and Engage Donors
- How Your Marketing Impacts Donor Experience
- 5 Ways Churches Can Maintain Funding During Coronavirus