Although charitable giving overall in the United States is up, religious institutions are finding it much harder to raise their operating budgets each year, much less have enough left over to do actual ministry. Why is this? While there are many reasons, one significant reason is that churches face a culture shift. In the past, church giving was just something that you did. Churches could simply ask, and we gave.
Today’s donor, however, is different. Younger generations want to be a part of something making a difference in the world, and are global thinkers. Older generations want to leave a mark that has a lasting impact on people’s lives. They’re not that interested in paying to keep the lights on if they don’t see a reason for the lights to be on. And while the church has the potential to make that difference, we have not been very good at talking about it. Our culture of expectation has made us fairly bad at telling our story. But churches that want to not just survive, but thrive in the years to come must get better at marketing. Those organizations that can touch people’s hearts and make them feel like their participation has a significant impact are the ones who will receive the donations that enable us to fulfill our mission.
Fortunately, social media can help. The town square has moved. Today, if you want people to know something, you can’t rely on your church bulletin or paper newsletter. You have to share information where the people are, and where they are is social networks. Churches need a strategy that includes a great deal of storytelling. It’s an excellent platform, and it makes it very easy to share good news. A scroll through the daily Facebook news feed reveals plenty of feel-good stories of organizations and heroes making a difference.
And this is what inspires people to give more.
How can your church get started?
- Make a list of the ministries in your church that directly impact people’s lives. Be as specific as possible, detailing how that work impacts individual lives.
- Decide how you can tell those stories. It could be photo albums on the church Facebook Page, a blog post, a brief (3 mins or less) video of a family that has been helped.
- Try to highlight a different story each week, and share it in a variety of places: during worship services, in your newsletter, on your social networks, etc.
- During your annual fundraising campaign, point back to these stories. If you’ve been creating content all year, you have a library that you can use to tell the story of how the donations of your friends and members helps the world at large.
Today’s donor has changed, and churches and other nonprofit organizations need to realize this in order to remain relevant. Fortunately, tools like social networks allow us to better tell the story. And that helps us raise the funds that let us touch more lives, while also increasing membership.
How is your organization telling your story through social media? What advice would you give? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!
image source: http://rustylewis.net/2015/08/12/church-giving-rise/ (some great stats in this post)