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December 16, 2019
If you're not texting your congregation, most of them aren't reading your messages. Use this 10-point checklist to implement text marketing into your church communication plan.
July 22, 2019
Your church communications plan might look like it’s from the 90’s if you still rely on the following things to communicate critical information to your church:
This information is easily forgotten, lost, and thrown into the garbage.
One of the best ways to communicate information is through text messages, since they have a 97% open rate.
However, the idea of “text marketing” is rather new, because people are often more disposed to give out their emails than their cell phone numbers.
Churches, unlike most businesses, already have peoples’ cell phone numbers.
And, if you are using a church management software like Tithe.ly ChMS, then you are able to track and use those phone numbers to communicate important information.
Your elder board or executive team may not be disposed to include text marketing in your church communication strategy, but if you follow this 10-point strategy, your chances of persuading them to implement this superior technology into your communications philosophy will drastically increase.
So buckle up, and get ready to add one of the most successful marketing tools to your church communications plan: text marketing.
Every church communications plan has pain points.
Sometimes the hardest thing about change is looking in the mirror.
It’s time to take a look at your church communications plan and be honest: What’s ugly? What hurts? What isn’t working? What needs to be improved?
Make as exhaustive a list as you can.
This should include everything from mega mistakes to micro errors.
The point is that when you create a system to solve these problems, you will want to build something with a big enough net, and with adaptable enough features, to capture and solve all of these problems.
If you can do this, you will be ready to improve your church communications plan with relevant technology.
Text messaging is one of the best communications tools, but it is also the most sensitive to misuse.
So, make sure that as you conceive ways text marketing can alleviate church communication pain points, you don’t become overzealous in your plan and rely too heavily on a medium which can easily kill your members’ trust in your communication philosophy.
And yet, because text messages are relevant, direct, short, and action-oriented, you should be able to strategize ways to sparingly use mass text messaging to solve major communication problems in your church.
The cost of not alleviating your communications pain points is very real, and very serious.
People don’t get the prayer they are asking for.
Small groups don’t meet at the right time, and people miss out on Christian fellowship for the week.
Volunteers feel overlooked and forgotten.
Generous givers feel that they are not being communicated with clearly, and so they stop giving.
VBS parents don’t know what’s going on, and opt for a church that more clearly communicates and markets the details of its VBS sign-up, drop-off, and pick-up.
If you fail to alleviate your communications pain points, both your members and your church growth strategy will feel the hurt in both the short-term and the long-term.
Put the pain points, text-solutions, and costs of ignoring paint points into a very brief PowerPoint presentation.
This will clearly present to those who need to approve text marketing in your communications plan why you should implement this new tool and why they are ignoring serious problems if they fail to utilize this tool.
This presentation will also prove to those who may be a bit skeptical that this isn’t some new fad that’s caught your eye.
Putting the information into PowerPoint form will show the executive team that you have thought deeply enough about this issue to exposit the relevant data and present it in a digestible form, which means you understand the problems, options, and potential solutions deeply.
Before you can market anything to your church well, you need to market the idea of good marketing to your executive team.
You won’t always get immediate buy-in from everyone. Every good marketer knows this. Practice this principle in your communication with your church executive team as you attempt to implement text marketing into your church communications plan.
In this presentation, make sure that you have specific text marketing services in mind to use at your church.
Don’t just sell them on the idea of text marketing.
Sell them on a specific service.
Briefly—very briefly—show the pros, cons, pricing, value-add, and features of relevant text marketing options, but only enough to illustrate that your chosen software solution is the correct solution, and that it ought to be chosen as the specific tool which solves the communication pain points most effectively and efficiently.
In your presentation to your executive team, list ways that text marketing can be used to actually pastor your people.
Here are a few examples of pastoral tasks you can perform through text message marketing:
Encouragement: Pastors should encourage church members with spiritual exhortation, reminder for church volunteer opportunities, and general spiritual truths that will uplift believers in Christ. The ability to do this through text message is often welcome (as long as it is somewhat strategically sparing).
Information: Update church members on information about the church and their duties in it that is relevant to them. Build more follow-through with text message marketing, reminding people to attend, give, send, and participate in opportunities available to them.
Visitor on-boarding: Ask new visitors to download your church app in order to get a free gift after the service. This app will collect their number, which the church can use to let visitors know about opportunities to get involved, as well as integrate them into the collective spiritual culture of the church.
When you provide text message templates for the executive team, you show them that the tool is not merely an idea—there is content on which you could press “Send” immediately if you just insert the right information.
For example: “[CHURCH NAME] — Download the latest sermon here: [LINK]. It’s on [TOPIC] and studies [VERSE].”
Or: “[CHURCH NAME] — Sunday Service is [DATE] at [TIME]. Reply with ‘Bringing X,’ replacing X with your number of guests, to RSVP. Be sure to bring an [OBJECT] if you signed up!”
Use these templates to show your executive committee how easy it is to use text marketing once you have the tools and templates in place.
When you send text messages, and you can’t fit all information in a text, it is better to send a brief text with a link to more comprehensive information or capabilities.
For example: “[CHURCH NAME] — For the latest news at [CHURCH NAME], sign up for our email newsletter here: [LINK].”
Start using text marketing tools with your executive team and staff to test its features.
If anything needs to change, then you can gather feedback at leadership meetings and implement them before the technology is launched member-wide.
This beta testing phase is crucial to making sure the text tool works well.
The last thing you want to do is implement communications technology you don’t understand on a church-wide level, and having hundreds of people complaining to each other about how they’re getting weird text messages that they don’t want from the church.
With text messages, you want all experiences to be good experiences.
It’s easy to pull this off as long as you have a beta stage and adjust to optimize for maximum functionality.
This launch will take tact and a soft touch.
Remember that people do want to be texted, but they are very sensitive to their phone number being abused as a communications tool.
Because you want your church members to have a positive experience of receiving text messages from your church, you should have a very strategic plan for when and why you send every single text message.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to limit your text message communication to 3 church-wide text messages per week at the maximum.
Then, you can send more text messages to involved members or sub-groups as you segment your church based on small group demographic, volunteer roles, and need.
The launch can be subtle, and you can mention it one Sunday from the stage. But it doesn’t take more than that.
You have a proven 10-step strategy to sell your church executive team on the text marketing tool and start implementing it effectively in your church.
The rest is up to you. Use this great 10-step strategy to implement an extremely effective marketing tool into your church communications plan as soon as possible. Your church leadership and membership will thank you.
In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.
Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.
Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:
A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.
Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.
With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.
To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.
The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.
Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving. So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.
Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.
Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.
Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.
Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.
Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:
There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.
Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?
And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.
Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.
How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.