Non-Profit and Faith-Based Marketing: performing miracles on a small budget

Non-Profit and Faith-Based Marketing: performing miracles on a small budget

By : Dalia E Paratore Harrison

Marketing is the art of telling a compelling story and that means speaking to your audience’s current reality and perceived needs. Churches as organizations are perhaps best suited to tell a story because of their inherent belief and mandate to share this story with others.

Churches in the United States know that to be successful they must reach multiple audiences. And any great storyteller knows that their story will have to be crafted differently in order to ‘speak to’ these diverse audiences: unchurched people, multilingual and multicultural groups, young mothers, recovery groups, teenagers, millennials, etc. Churches usually do not have large marketing budgets so they must be very strategic in their approach. There are several overall tactics that should be applied to any marketing and communications strategy whether this organization be a church or any other non-profit. Here are some of my favorites:

Let’s Get Personal: meaning that this story should feel customized or personalized to your target audience and should address their personal perceived needs. It should feel contextually relevant or in lay terms “it should speak to them.” According to a survey by Infosys, 86% of consumers say that personalization has some impact on what they purchase or consume; and one quarter admit personalization ‘significantly influences’ their decisions. In a church setting, this applies to whether or not this person chooses to attend one church over another.

Employ Multiple Touchpoints: meaning use various platforms to reach your audience. Target people based on demographics (if you want them to come to your brick and mortar location), language, culture, interests and behavior. This can be tricky because not only do you need to understand your various audience subgroups, but you need to reach them where they consume content and be consistent. According to, the average consumer requires seven touchpoints before making a decision, meaning your message must be contextually relevant, across the platforms these consumers use and often enough to build traction and credibility. In most cases, action will not be taken by your average person without this. So be sure to mix up the communications vehicles used: from traditional radio and flyers to flyers, to more modern MNRs and Social Media.  Don’t use a one size fits all when it comes to how you get your message out.

Use the Consultative Approach: Meaning be present when you are talking to your congregation or the audience you’re trying to do outreach to in your community. In addition to the face-to-face interaction that you can have on a regular basis with your ‘live’ audience, pay close attention to what’s said on social media. According to, 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Of those, 68% form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews. According to Adobe, 67% of customers want brands (and a church can be a brand) to automatically adjust content based on their current, real-time context.

Be Data-driven: organizations that leverage data average 30% more growth than the competition. Use data to study your target audience, to understand your current members and to predict where future growth will come from. According to, not only will data help you find new consumers but will also help you retain the ones you have. Use all the means at your disposal, surveys, meetings, conversations, social media and church database information (such as CCB) to glean what you can and build behavioral profiles. Be sure to use metrics consistently to ensure that your church’s goals are being accomplished. All of this can improve attendance, word-of-mouth, involvement, tithing, volunteerism, donations…and this makes a massive incremental difference.

Call to Action: When crafting your marketing strategy don’t forget what your ultimate goal is. Is it outreach to try to reach a new audience and grow your numbers? Is it to grow volunteerism? Is it to do research for new projects or initiatives that can help serve your congregation? Is it to raise funds for said project or initiative? Is it to create awareness of your events? For example, if you’re trying to build a fresh audience for either an old or new event: promote it via Social Media, use flyers, email blasts, radio and Meetup. These strategies will enable you to put church events out there in front of a fresh audience. The key to success is to achieve a balance between attracting these new members with social media and Meetup, and retain existing members using more traditional methods like email blasts.

Final Tip: Social Media and Multilingual approach: Multilingual churches have been around since the beginning of the Church. The church today has reached people from many nations around the world speaking a multitude of different languages. Facebook has functionality built-in for executing a multilingual approach. Facebook Pages have a feature that allows for publishing of one post in multiple languages, hence dispensing with the need for “double posting” or creating multiple business pages. The language displayed depends on the viewer’s default language and that’s the post they’ll see, no matter what other languages are available. This applies even when the post is shared and is being viewed from another page/timeline.

In sum, effective church marketing requires using multiple methods over a period of time to keep your church top of mind. With an enthusiastic and educated team, research, a strategic plan, and a great first impression, you can help keep your church relevant, inspiring and in growth mode…and all within your budget!

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