We’ve been wondering what would happen if a church thought like a nonprofit. Our team has had several conversations about how much churches could learn from the great, strategic nonprofits in terms of communicating with their…(dare I say it?) Yep: “Donors.”
LifeWay Research recently released a study reporting that “79% of the churches surveyed are experiencing a negative effect from economic conditions.” The specific details of the report aren’t really important for my purposes. My take is that it isn’t a surprise to me that more churches are experiencing a decline in giving than last year. What I’m wondering is if it really is the “economy” at the root cause (as the report indicates).
I wonder this because many faith-based nonprofits’ income is doing great. Many are up year over year. It’s interesting to consider that a church could fit within the definition of a “faith-based nonprofit.” If you’re an Executive Director or Development leader in a nonprofit, I suspect you’d love (I nearly wrote “kill” but since I’m going to get in enough trouble over this post I thought I’d avoid that one) to have the undivided attention of your donors on at least a weekly basis.
Let’s jump in with both feet. Imagine what would happen if a church thought like a sharp nonprofit. (See the disclaimer section before getting too bugged by what I’m saying).
Here are some of my thoughts:
- Giving wouldn’t be assumed because you “have” to give.
- Reporting would be less about the budget and more about changed lives.
- Financial communications would focus on the difference my “gift” makes.
- Social Media would knit the congregation together.
- Social Media would allow the leaders to communicate with the groups (segments) specifically.
- Communications would be targeted and specific.
- Social Media would tell the story of the life of the congregation.
- Communications would be designed to grab the donor’s attention and woo them, not assume attention.
- Connections wouldn’t be based solely on Sunday attendance.
- Data would inform decisions and messaging.
- Donors would hear from other donors how giving changes the heart of the one who gives.
- There’d be less “you have to” talk about giving and more “you get to” language.
OK, that’s probably enough to get your dander up or your juices flowing.
Let’s go to the disclaimers.
DISCLAIMERS: I’m not wanting to meddle in theology or change anyone’s church. I understand there could be terrible abuses from thinking this way. I wouldn’t want church leaders to be fundraising on every Sunday (not like that ever happens now). I’m not trying to change worship or sermons or your beliefs. Your church probably does these things well and more. I’m not talking about any one particular church or congregation or denomination or pastor…I’m just wondering, “what if…?”
What if a church thought like a faith-based nonprofit in terms of communication, teaching, connections and cultivation? I think that particular church would experience growth in every way they cared to measure “growth.” What do you think? And remember all comments this week make you eligible for this week’s 8-in-8 book giveaway, featuring the “whole Seth Godin enchilada!”
I’d love to hear what you think.
(photo credit: au_tiger01)