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Archive for the ‘ministry’ Category

arm wresting competition

Soggydan

When most businesses think about their competition, they often identify businesses that offer similar products and services.

For example: HP thinks about Dell. American Airlines thinks about United Airlines. In essence, their competition is defined as those other businesses that compete for the same market share.

In a recent blog post, Shaun King highlighted that while this trend is true in business, it is not true for churches and nonprofits. In his post, “The MAJOR Disadvantage (& ugliness) of Non-Profits & Churches Misunderstanding Who Their Competition Is,” Shaun highlights that other nonprofits and churches are not in competition with each other.  He argues, instead, that the real competition is the factors that cause the problems.

For example:

  • If you are trying to fight hunger, the competition is poverty and access to food.
  • If you are trying to fight slavery, the competition is slave traders
  • If you are trying to fight drug crime, the competition is drug dealers

Unlike businesses, churches or nonprofits don’t compete against each other. Instead, they offer each other a partner for mission and work.

I really appreciated Shaun’s post and I would encourage other leaders to give it a read and to share it with their leaders in their organization. After all, operating a church is about changing lives, not fighting with other people who have the same goal.

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If you have read the book Freakonomics, or listened to Marketplace on NPR, then you probably are familiar with Stephen J. Dubner’s use of statistics to explain common behaviors in economics and society.

As a stats junkie myself, I love their work, and on Tuesday’s Marketplace radio program- Dubner reported on some truths and myths about fundraising (to listen to the program, click the NPR link above). Dubner’s report included an interview with John List, who is a professor at the Univ of Chicago. Professor List studies the economics of charities

So here is a taste from the interview:

  • Seed Money helps– The more seed money that you have induces more people to give, and those people tend to give more money.
  • Matching Gifts– only work up to a 1-1 match.  People will not usually give more than the original match amount (this is contrary to most expert advice)
  • Raffles are a Big Deal– Research shows that by offering someone a prize will increase their gift by almost 100%
  • One & Done- This is new, but it gives control to the donor. Donors who are offered the “give us one gift and you can tell use never to contact you again” option, tend to give more money and more often. Few actually choose to not be contacted again.
  • Guilt Pleas Don’t Work– You may get a 1 time gift from guilt or shame tactics, but in the long run you are only burning bridges.

As you think about how to raise money for your organization and its operations, I would encourage you to consider this information. Take a moment to think about how you raise money for your annual fundraising, and take a second to listen to the full interview.

Blog Notes- the above bullets are paraphrases from the interview found in the Freakonomics & Marketplace Report for Nov. 29, 2011.

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Picture of Twitter Bird

some_communication

Last week I was interviewed by MSNBC for an article about how churches are using social media (read it here). As I prepped for the article, I created a list of reasons why churches should consider using Social Media (SM).

5 Reasons to Consider Using Social Media for Your Church:

  1. Local Context– Unlike most communication mediums, SM is grassroots based- meaning it provides a powerful way to reach out to people in your specific community.
  2. Be Present in the Conversation about You– People discuss all kinds of issues on SM- including their church. In order to be part of conversation, you need to be present. This is especially key when communicating about brand, major events, or in times of a crisis.
  3. Reach Gen X and Millenials– Younger generations are skeptical about institutional church- SM offers a way to engage with them, whereas they would be hesitant walk into a church building.
  4. Connect with People not Present– SM offers tools to connect with people who are unable to be physically present- traveling, hospital, shut-ins, etc. With SM they can participate live or by watching/engaging with an event later.
  5. Facilitate Conversation– more than just telling people about your church and its ministry, SM provides a place for a larger conversation where everyone has a voice- providing more transparency and accountability for organizations.

If you want to consider how Social Media can improve the operations and ministry of your church, I would also encourage you to follow Rev. Courtney Richards on facebook or twitter (@c_rev) – links are for her pages.

Courtney is a minister at Geist Christian Church in Indianapolis (facebook link), and when I asked her about SM, she said, “I use SM all the time to keep us with members and with what is going on in the community. It has been great way to reach out to people and to offer either a word of support or to give someone a shout out for their hard work.”

If you are considering using Social Media, feel free to read a number of blogs that I have posted here, and to also find someone in your local community who can assist you. You can begin by just listening and observing first, and then jump in as you feel ready.

Blog Notes: Special thanks to Courtney Richards for the quote and letting me share her online twitter profile.

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White Chapel

photo: edgeplot

Unlike most commercial businesses, which have a common standard by which to rate their financial operations and health, churches struggle to identify healthy financial norms.

Part of the reason for this struggle has to do with the following reasons:

  • Churches are faith based organizations
  • Church are contextual
  • Churches are organized by mixed polity (denomination or independent)
  • Churches are exempt from many IRS and government reporting requirements
  • Churches vary in size, financial support, and ministry
  • Churches don’t usually follow GAAP (General Accepted Accounting Principles)
  • Churches are run by volunteers

However, while all of these factors cause incongruity, there are a number of common ratios and principles that many churches share related to income, expense, debt, membership and worship attendance. I have highlighted a few of these in some of my earlier posts (please see: Financial Rules: Ministry Distribution), but another resource is a new financial database that was created by Capin and Crouse, CPA. (more…)

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On Monday I was interviewed by Alex Johnson, a reporter for MSNBC.com about how churches are using social media.

In the interview I really tried to stress that churches really have a great opportunity to connect with their local communities (via social media), and that the conversation was taking place, with or without their official presence.  Here is the link to the full article: “For Some Churches, The Internet Clicks; for Others It Doesn’t”

social media

some_communication

Much of article focuses on how different denominations and local churches have adapted to using social media.  But, the article also helps to spell out that congregations need to think through how they plan to use it.  It is not enough just to create a facebook page or to have a static website.  Instead, churches really need to think about their ‘brand’ and what messages they hope to convey to their potential audience.

As you read the article, here are some helpful questions to ask about your church’s use of Social Media:

  1. Who are we trying to target?
  2. What is our overall goal for using Social Media
  3. What messages should we try to communicate?
  4. How can we participate in the conversation, rather than just push out information? (more…)

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Worship Bulletin

Paulo Brabo

Over the past three weeks, I have been a visitor to three different churches, and at each, I was struck by what their worship bulletin (program) told me about the congregation and its overall ministry.

Here are some questions to consider as you review your bulletin:

  • Does your bulletin look historic or modern?– Visiting a traditional and historic church, it was no surprise that their bulletin looked out of date. It looked like the church had not updated their bulletin design since the 1980’s. In contrast one church’s bulletin had a more recent design, with colors, that conveyed a sense of life in the church.
  • Does your bulletin have pictures and colors?– similar question, but a good one to consider as we increasingly live in a world defined by visual images.
  • Is your bulletin easy to read?-This is more than just the size of your font. Hopefully the layout and flow of your bulletin is easy to read by visitors who will not be familiar with the rituals of your worship.
  • Does your bulletin welcome visitors?- Certainly a welcome note is helpful, but does it help give instructions for people who are unfamiliar with when to stand, sit, sing, take communion, pray out loud, etc?
  • Is more than half of your bulletin about the news of the church?- Some news and announcements can be good, but often (more…)

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Graph showing giving in December

Network for Good

Most churches know that December is a big month for income, and overall online giving for nonprofits mirrors this trend.

In a recent report by Network for Good, research found that 33% of all online giving happens in the month of December.  This is an important statistic to help organizations plan for their operating cash flow, but it also highlights the need to keep websites active and easy to navigate.

Further research shows that many people will make a final blitz of giving on Dec. 31,  in order to beat the tax deadline, a date when many nonprofits are closed.

If you have or are considering online giving, I hope this information will encourage you to review your online giving plans before Dec. 1.

Blog Notes: Special thanks to Network for Good for sharing this information.

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