Archives for July 2009

How to Be a Good Client for Your Professional Fundraiser

I know … I’ve been there … when you hire a professional fundraiser, your most prevalent thought has more to do with the skills, abilities and behavior of the professional fundraiser rather than how you can be a good client. But even the best professional fundraisers shine more brightly when they have good clients with whom to work. Also, the better client you are, the less likely it is that you will waste money.

So, here are some thoughts on how to be a good client.

Define what you’re looking for in writing. Whether it’s a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) or simply a one-page outline, writing down what you want to accomplish will help you communicate clearly and succinctly and stimulate discussion on what is realistic and what isn’t.

Be sure you have the authority. Get approvals from your management to hire a professional fundraiser. Understand the expectations they have (put it in writing). Make sure the people with the decision authority are in all meetings, unless they give that authority to you. And if they do, be decisive. Also beware that having too many decision makers can destroy a project.

Put it in writing. Contracts protect both you and the professional fundraiser. The contract can be as informal as an email, but it needs to communicate specifically what you are paying for along with the remuneration and time frame. Include what you will deliver to the professional fundraiser, along with what the fundraiser is expected to provide. Terms of payment are important, and so is an arbitration agreement and an “out clause,” which gives both of you a way to end the contract amicably should things not work out.

Give room for creativity. The vision you have in your head may not be what will best accomplish your goals, even if it worked well for a friend. When you consider your professional fundraiser a partner, and clearly communicate your goals and vision, you might be surprised how differently your vision gets expressed by someone who is trained to think in marketing terms.

Be responsive. If you’re going to achieve your goals within your budget and time frame, you’ll need to return calls, answer emails, provide the resources you agreed to provide, line up internal decision makers for approvals and do what’s necessary to avoid delays, scope creep and budget overages.

Promote trust. This is a partnership, and you need to be transparent and respectful.

This isn’t the whole list, of course, but following these guidelines will move you toward a successful outcome in any project with a professional fundraiser.

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Top 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet-eWelcome Series

7. Developing an Electronic Welcome Series for Your Church Visitors is our 7th of Ten Top Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet.

Whenever you welcome someone new to your church, it is likely that you have a team ready to make sure the new person feels welcome. They serve him coffee, exchange sincere pleasantries and ask for his contact details. Your church does this to make sure that the newcomer comes back to your church and becomes a regular attendee and active participant.

Using the same analogy, your church website can strategically welcome and interact with your first-time and returning visitors by offering them something “ministerial” in exchange for their basic contact information.

There are many ways to do this. For example, you can offer free Christian e-books, spiritual gifts tests, MP3 files of your best sermons, invite them to read your ministry blog, or install a prayer wall where they can leave their prayer request (like we mentioned in an earlier post). In exchange, the website visitor would simply have to provide basic contact information: First Name and Email Address.

Typically, once they have requested your special free offers, your system will have a triggered set of email messages that automatically go out at pre-established intervals: one week later, two weeks later, etc. Each email is designed to get those newcomers further acquainted with your church and encourage them to return, possible even get further involved.

Each auto-responder email message is designed to welcome the newcomer to a different aspect or your church or ministry, and of course, encourage them to get involved. Why not collect email and snail mail addresses on church visitors in exchange for a Welcome Kit about your church, then place those emails into your electronic welcome series?

Some good real-time examples of this practice can be found here:

Gregory Dickow Ministries (Or, see Sign up Now box upper right on Home Page)

Gregory Dickow Store

Jewish Voice Ministries

By developing an incentive-based e-welcome series, you can be assured that you will remain in contact with people who have shown in interest in your church outreach in person or on your website. This may not yield instant results in increased church membership, but you are establishing relationships with newcomers, who as long as they remain on your email list, are indicating that their interest remains. Plus, typical results show that for every 100 emails you acquire, 63% of those will also give you their full name and mailing address in exchange for a Welcome Kit from your ministry!

For a Free Demo on how this process works, contact Pathmaker at 623-322-3334.

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Top 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the WEB-elearning discipleship

6. Launch an E-learning Module to Conduct Online Discipleship is our 6th of Ten Top church Outreach Ideas for the Internet.

E-learning has often been considered the realm of the college and university marketplaces, but it’s becoming increasingly cost-effective to establish your own e-learning center for people to take teaching material online. A good example of this kind of emphasis is found at 12 Day Rehab.

You may not be able to access their materials online, without a purchase, but you can see how this website ministry to Christians with drug or alcohol addictions is designed to take people through a online learning process that they can master at their own pace and leisure.

For a free demo on e-learning modules, call Pathmaker at 623-322-3334.

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Top 10 Online Church Outreach Ideas-Facebook Bible Study

5. Enlarge Your Teaching Ministry with a Facebook Bible Study is our 5th of Ten Church Outreach Ideas for the internet.

The beauty of the social networks online, of which Facebook is the largest, is the capacity to reach new people with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the best examples of how this can happen is the Book of Romans Study Group. Get connected to that group just to see how a bible study leader can use a teaching curriculum to instruct a class of eager learners, comprised of part church attendees and part new comers from all around the world.

You can also enlarge your church outreach and teaching ministry online using the tools resident in your Facebook account. Following this study class, led by e-learning professor, Vickie Isaac, will give you some insights into how you can pull this off for your church. If you need further help, don’t hesitate to contact Pathmaker Marketing for assistance, and we’ll be happy to train you in the ins and outs.

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Top 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet: Tweet Away

4. Expand your Teaching Ministry via Twitter is our 4th of 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the internet.

After two weeks on Twitter, my friend´s personal account has had over 100 followers. This means 100 people (whom are both friends and strangers) have been receiving updates about her activities, beliefs, thoughts and anything that she wants to inform her followers about.

Having a church social media account in sites like Twitter is an efficient use of your resources to reach out to your target audience. People who have personal accounts in these social network sites usually visit them at least once a day — many have their “tweets” sent right to their cell phones. Instead of finding out whether their acquaintances have started dating or broken up, wouldn’t it be more spiritually constructive if you communicated the new spiritual insights you are having as a pastor?

The beauty of using social media marketing for church outreach is that it takes minimal effort on your part to use their built-in features meant for virally spreading information. However, before signing on to just any social network, you should develop a strategy on what would be the most useful content to provide and how to leverage these opportunities wisely.

Since Twitter opens up an international audience for you, of which most of your followers will not be able to visit your church, you need to develop an appropriate strategy to use this tool. One strategic way Pathmaker uses Twitter @PathmakerServes is that we autoflow our blog content into our Twitter networks. This way, since we are committed to creating fresh content on our blog, that content is also populated across the internet via Twitter every time we update our blog. The bulk of our content is developed on our blog, while Twitter posts allow us to drive interested traffic to our blog site for further reading.

Churches should have a members site on Twitter for generating news of interest to current churchgoers, while opening up a second site with is specifically geared to be more “evangelistic” in its outreach, dealing with subjects of general interest to everyone, anywhere in the world.

For help in this regard, reach Pathmaker Marketing online, or for more assistance, cal 1-623-322-3334.

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Top 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet: SEO Your Website

 3. Search Engine Optimizing (SEO) Your Website so Prospective Churchgoers Can Find You is our 3rd of Ten Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet.

I challenge you to open your web browser and type the following: churches in (name of your city).  Did you find your church website on the first page of results?  If not, ask yourself this question:  If you were a new family who recently move into the community, and you were Google searching for churches in your area, would you have the patience to browse through each and every page of the 800,000 results that showed up?  Most likely your answer would be no.

In order to maximize your church outreach, you must make sure that people know your church exists in the first place.  One of the best ways to do that is to SEO your website.  Having a website that is rarely visited by people outside your congregation is like owning a great book that you never got a chance to read just because you cannot find it.

An excellent way to ensure that your website shows up among the top results in web searches is by employing SEO techniques in your websites.  These steps include modifying your site content and code to be optimized for your targeted, relevant search terms (aka Keywords). It also includes link building to establish your website firmly within local searches on the internet.

Since SEO requires some technical expertise, it would be good stewardship to invest in hiring a search engine optimization agency like Pathmaker Marketing who can perform the necessary keyword research, copy and HTML code modifications, and submit your website to the search engines. The main takeaway here is if your website doesn’t show up in a Google search for: churches in (name of your city), then how is anyone going to find you online?

Rabbit Trail: if you Google search the name of your church and find you are listed at the top, don’t get too excited. Google would be remiss to NOT list you on a search for your name. It’s their entire job in life to deliver the most relevant results for the search that is performed.  The more important issue is when someone searches: church in (your city), or churches in (your city), or best churches in (your city), etc, etc, do you show up. If you don’t it’s time to SEO.

Get your church website search engine optimized so that you show up in the list of Top 10 results, where people can find you, and enjoy the visitors you receive as a result.

For a free consultation in this regard, visit this Pathmaker webpage:

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Strategic Non Profit Website Design & Communication Quiz

1. Identify three of our five principles of good non profit website design and communications: 

a. Consider banner advertising
b. Link relevant content to search-centric promotion
c. Search engine-optimize your site
d. Develop your email communication tools
e. Build Interactivity into your website

2. What are some incentive-based offers for your email signup page? (choose all that apply) 

a. Discount coupons
b. Topical e-newsletters
c. Free downloads
d. Cash rewards
e. Special premiums
f. All of the above

3. What is search-centric content? 

a. Website content that is relevant to web searches
b. Website content that conveys your needs and central passions
c. Website content that shows up in search engine results

4. Which ways below will NOT help you build interactivity on your non profit website? 

a. Prayer Walls
b. Wikis
c. Your best building photographs
d. Forums
e. Games
f. News reports and updates
g. All of the above

5. Which of the following will help you develop your email fundraising and communication tools? 

a. An incentive-based email offer page
b. Implementing an electronic welcome series
c. Developing effective transactional email
d. Learning to use surveys
e. Improving landing page conversion
f. A, B, and E
g. All of the above

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Top 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet: Prayer Walls

2. Installing an Interactive Prayer Wall to Expand Your Prayer Ministry is our 2nd of 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet.

A prayer wall is an interactive site where people can write down their prayer requests or praise reports. Installing a prayer wall is a good way to both expand your church outreach to the unchurched as well as to develop deeper fellowship among your members.

Good prayer walls are easy-to-use, interactive and have features which ensure that spam robots do not post unrelated matters. Through prayer walls, your church has the direct opportunity to reach out to those who are clearly seeking prayer support, guidance and direction.

A prayer wall can also be used to ask your members and followers all over the world to pray for specific requests. Examples of these specific intentions include praying for the church leadership, seeking guidance about planting new churches or praying for missionary families.

You and your church leaders can also use this wall to see what matters concern your church greatly at any given moment and that may even enable you to strategically choose your next sermon series or outreach emphasis.

Prayer walls have great outreach possibilities if planned and executed well. Good examples of prayer walls online include those of the following not for profit organizations:

Gregory Dickow Ministries
Presidential Prayer Team 
Jerusalem Prayer Team

For a free quote on a Prayer Wall installation for your church, call Pathmaker Marketing at 1-623-322-3334.

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Strategic Web Communication Principle #5: Integration

Integrating your online and offline communications is our strategic non profit marketing tip for today.

One important mistake that many ministries make is to consider online communication to be separate from offline communication. But these days, savvy marketers put their web addresses on all printed materials and even in their radio and television ads. Likewise, your website should contain toll-free phone numbers and mailing addresses. Cross promote as much as possible. You should also put your web address in your catalogs, on your brochures, business cards, in your radio or television program. You get the idea. 

Another good strategy is to cross-pollinate your monthly direct mail appeals with an online fund raising effort. Our typical email fundraising approach, when synergized to snail mail, is to start Split Testing 10 days AFTER the snail mail arrives in homes, then go to full blasting 3 days after that. The email will stand on its own results, plus give LIFT to your snail mail this way.  After re-blasting and remarketing for another week, you can have your email eFundraising efforts done in 10-13 days total, and be out about 1 week before the next fundraising snail maill effort arrives.

The combination of the two channels – direct mail and email fundraising — working in tandem with each other to promote the same initiative will raise the water table overall on your results. Combine telemarketing in this mix and you have a powerful one-two-three punch for your fundraising efforts.

This topic — maximizing your nonprofit fundraising efforts by combining traditional channels with online marketing tools — is quite detailed and I plan to expand on it in future blog entries. For now, I’ll wrap up this series by again leaving you with these words:

A strategic online communication plan will use integration to strengthen existing donor relationships while building new ones to enhance your ministry and expand its outreach.

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Strategic Web Communication Principle #4: Interactivity

Build interactivity into your website to improve your non profit marketing.

To keep people coming back to your site, you’ll need more than just good design. You need a hard-working site, and you must update it regularly. Many of today’s most successful websites are interactive, meaning they allow people to participate in the content in some way.  The best example is Wikipedia, where up to 7,000 volunteer contributors update and monitor the encyclopedia daily to ensure accuracy and prevent abuse.

Many other sites develop interactivity by providing games people can play. An extreme example of this is Second Life, where you participate in a virtual world online:

http://secondlife.com/

An example more relevant to not for profit organizations might be a Prayer Wall, such as the Prayer Walls at Presidential Prayer Team that we’ve discussed, or the Prayer Walls at Gregory Dickow Ministries. This online initiative provides effective internet marketing, a way to interact with your members, while also retaining relevance with your ministry site objectives. At GDM, each Prayer Wall is sent an email thanking them for their participation and welcoming them to the broader GDM ministry through their electronic Welcome Series.

Other interactivity vehicles such as chat rooms, forums, contests, blogs, libraries, photo sharing, and wikis can get people coming back to your site – building a community of people interested in your topics and endeavors.

If you’d like some help to establish a ministry Prayer Wall on your website, or improve your non profit marketing, contact Pathmaker Marketing today for assistance in getting started.

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