HELP! I have a limited budget, no staff and too many options to choose from. I’ve got news for you: You can do this!
You may be starting from scratch, volunteering or taking over a communications role at your church, but inevitably, you’re going to need some tools to help you communicate to people in your church and reach your community, and there are so many options so where do you start?
For most churches of just about any size, you can take your communications from good to great starting with this toolbox for only $100/month:
Whether you’re involved in your live production team and need backgrounds for lyrics, or you are creating videos for Facebook and Instagram, each month CMG’s graphics package is a must. Having an entire library of similarly-styled images and video to use creates consistency in your communications.
Drop a background behind a sermon graphic, use it as a title overlay in your video announcements, and integrate the stills in your Instagram stories for a unified look each month. Check out CMG here!
Sunday Social: $9/month
Sunday Social’s library is an incredible collection of pre-made graphics for your social media channels. They offer fresh designs with scriptures, lyrics, encouragement and engaging questions, all designed to create engagement on your channels. The library includes natively formatted graphics for Instagram and Facebook stories, twitter, Instagram and facebook timelines PLUS pre-made announcements slides that you can use in service.
Browse their library, choose a graphic that suits your audience and download the image that’s formatted for where you’re going to use it. Choose a month’s social images in an afternoon. Check out their 14-day free trial!
Text In Church: $37/month
It’s not enough to get new guests through the door. Following up with them is essential in our digital culture. If someone has come to church for the first time in their life, then they’ve created an event, not a lifestyle. Text in Church helps you follow up with new visitors through email and text messages that help your guest get the information they need to learn how to get connected with your church.
Aside from automated follow-ups with your guests, Text In Church is perfect for event registration during your service announcements, connection card sign-ups and facilitating giving online all during service while someone is holding their phone.
Don’t have an app? Use text messages instead of push notifications (without having to convince people to download an app).
There are plenty of task management apps available, so rather than getting caught up in comparing them all (most of which are really great products), I’m just going to make a recommendation that has worked best for me: trello.
I like trello because it’s the most visual for me. It’s a drag and drop to-do list that simple for everyone to understand from department leaders, volunteer designers, photographers and social media managers.
Imagine a digital version of a wall of sticky notes that you can move from a “to-do” column to assign it to someone to design, approve or clarify, and then move to a “completed” column so you can track your progress on the project or projects over a day, week or month.
Trello has a free version, but the upgrades to integrate with mailchimp, dropbox, Google drive, slack (and a whole list of others) make it well worth including in your monthly tool box.
Email newsletters are the new bulletin, and MailChimp is the easiest way to create great-looking emails that communicate effectively.
Each Saturday, send your church an update of what’s coming up this week, or a link to a big event registration or a graphic that they can share to invite their friends to church.
There are still great opportunities to use a print piece to draw attention to an event or opportunity, but email allows you to send information without the physical limits or cost of paper and it’s searchable in someone’s email inbox later in the week when their bulletin has long since hit the trash. While social media is great for conversations, we know that our posts rarely reach everyone who has liked our page. We can be sure that emails are being delivered to everyone on our list, and track the number of people choosing to open them.
If someone is sick or away this weekend, they can’t pick up the bulletin, but they can get your email and click to register for what’s coming up at your church.
Sign up for a few emails newsletters from brands you respect for inspiration, and click here to get started with MailChimp for free. (side note: you’ll want to pay the $10/month to remove the branding from your emails and use some of the bonus features to make your emails stand out.)
Whether it’s grabbing a logo on the fly using my iPhone app or backing up large files to send to another department to proof, Dropbox is my go-to for file sharing.
Sending a file to someone else is as easy as uploading through your file manager (right on your computer), grabbing a link and pasting the link in a text message or email.
If you’re in need of a free option, start by creating your dropbox file, then invite everyone on your team through the link Dropbox provides. As other people sign up, your dropbox storage space increases, but for $10/month you can go straight to 1TB which is plenty of space to share files from your laptop to a computer in the office, or sync between your photography and social media teams during your church service.
Coffee / Slurpees: $5/month
ok, I know. $5/month is an EXTREME understatement when it comes to coffee (and especially slurpees), but I’ve added this here as a reminder that your greatest assets are relationships. It doesn’t matter how you’re using the tools above if you aren’t connecting with people, both for your personal growth and theirs.
Our job is to get people one step closer to Jesus, whether those people are on staff, on your volunteer team, in your church or in your community.
You can’t do this alone. You need a team, so make sure that you’ve included in your budget and in your schedule opportunities to build relationships.
Take someone from your volunteer team, another department, your intern or your Pastor and just ask them what’s going on for them. Build it into your schedule and your budget.
The value you gain from building relationships will make the rest of your job much easier.
CMG = $19
Sunday Social = $9
Text In Church = $37
Trello = $10
MailChimp = $10
Dropbox = $10
Coffee = $5
This package of tools: $100/month
You don’t have to have a huge budget to make a huge impact. Take the time to evaluate every dollar and be sure it’s serving you, then use these tools to their fullest potential to impact your church and community.
Want to beef up your toolbox with some free resources as well? Here are some of my favorites!
Is there a tool that you love that I’ve missed? Add it in the comments below so we can all check it out!