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How budget website and email solutions are costing your nonprofit more

How budget website and email solutions are costing your nonprofit more

I recently had a call with a nonprofit leader who had a challenge with their website and email. Things had stopped working and they were in need of a quick fix to get back online again.

The problem was, that they didn’t know what broke the system. And the guy who built it wasn’t available.

As I dove in to help, the issue became apparent. The website and email system were pieced together like a college student’s first car… with duck tape, baling wire, and bubble gum holding it together.

It included a combination of free and budget email and website solutions. Each with its own set of documented issues and problems. So when something stopped working… there was no telling where the root issue was.

With the right solution and setup, his website and email would have been back online in 15-20 minutes with little to no bill. Instead, at the 90-minute mark, we were still chasing bugs with no solution in sight.

As we tried to make sense of the mess, I was reminded of a truth I learned in my early years of nonprofit work…

Budget Solutions Cost More to Implement.

 

Before you throw rocks and mumble under your breath at me… I understand the tension.

Money is tight and every penny of your nonprofit marketing budget counts.

As a result, price is the deciding factor in the solutions you pick for your website, email, communications, and more.

But… these solutions are cheap for a reason.

They require more time, effort, troubleshooting, and management than moderately priced solutions. So they “cost” less upfront, but not in the end.

Look at it this way.

Solution 1 costs $100, takes 20 hours to set up, requires 3 hours a week to maintain, and will last 3 years.

Solution 2 costs $1000, takes 3 hours to set up, requires 1 hour a week to maintain, and will last 5 years.

Which solution do most nonprofits choose?

Solution 1.

Which solution will cost the nonprofit more?

Solution 1.

I get it… You need your email and website to be easy to use, last a long time, and convert people to donors. But the cost of keeping a budget solution running quickly outpaces the initial cost savings. Include the additional life expectancy of quality solutions, and the savings are even greater.

The crazy part is that…

Almost every tech-related call I receive comes down to a Solution 1 issue.

A panicked nonprofit leader is looking to “fix” a problem with their email system or website. They need a way to get the system back online so a fundraising campaign can be sent or a donation page can go live. They’re out of time and need a way to keep the system limping along, despite the challenges.

And then they get an invoice for the “fix” and suddenly recognize the challenge.

A Solution 2 option made more sense and would have helped them:

  • save tons of time
  • focus staff attention on what is communicated, instead of fighting technology
  • serve more people in need
  • cost the organization less money in the process

Instead, they have spent as much, or more, and are still stuck with a Solution 1 setup.

My best advice to you as a nonprofit leader is to…

Stop making price the #1 deciding factor in the email and website solutions you consider.

Look at the life expectancy, expected upkeep, and setup process.

If you’re unsure of which solution is best for your nonprofit then ask a coach or consultant in the space.

Get unbiased input into the best options for your unique set of challenges, and then act on it.

I promise you, even if you have to pay a consultant for an hour of their time, it will be some of the best investments you can make into your nonprofit and save you in the long run.

_______

Have a communication challenge on your website, email, or social media accounts and need input?

Get the help you need with a Communication Quick-Fix Session: https://rad-ideas.com/services/

 

Quick-Fix Communication Session

30-Minutes – $297 $197

Have a communication challenge on your website, email, or social media accounts?

Sometimes, all it takes is a quick fix and you’re on your way. So, don’t waste time trying to find DIY solutions online.

Get the help you need with a 1:1 quick fix session. In 30-minutes we’ll address your communication challenge and guide you to a solution.

How to Reach the Right Audience with Your Communciations

How to Reach the Right Audience with Your Communciations

The majority of ministries your church offers don’t apply to everyone present on a Sunday morning.

So what is the easiest way to make sure we communicate with the right audience every time?

3 Questions to Help you Reach the Right Audience

1) Who are you trying to reach?

List all the attributes that describe who you want to reach with this communication. Include items like: age, demographics, sex, groups they are associate with, etc.

2) Where do they spend time?

List where they spend time time on a regular basis. Think about things like physical locations as well as online.

3) How do they communicate?

List out the ways they use both to communicate and to receive communications.

Older congregation members get information primarily through newspapers, weekly bulletins, personal invitation, phone calls.

Younger generations gets information through email, text, social media, web.

Putting info about a youth event in the bulletin is only going to be seen by a couple teens, but sending details out through social media and text will get a high response.

At the same time, emailing your older congregation and expecting a high response rate isn’t going to work. Sure they might have email, but it’s not their preferred communication platform.

Don’t waste your time and resources creating promotions that will be ignored. Look over the lists you have and identify the areas you will focus on to reach that audience.

When in doubt,  remember to deliver communication to your audience, where they spend time, using channels they already use.

Have a Church Communication Question You Would Like Answered?

3 Communication Mistakes Most Churches Make

3 Communication Mistakes Most Churches Make

Have you ever gotten off the phone, thinking one thing about the conversation, only to realize later that the person you were speaking with understood the conversation differently?

You have both been talking about the same thing, but what was communicated was very different.

Unfortunately, church communications can be this way too.

It often goes something like this…

“We spent a bunch of money trying {insert great idea} but it didn’t work.”

“I can tell you what doesn’t work, but I have no idea what does.”

We’ve got great ministry ideas, and we’re working hard to connect people, but something isn’t working. We assume the issue is the event  or a lack of interest by the congregation.

The interesting part is, the “great idea” is seldom the problem. Other churches are doing similar things and having good responses.

More often then not, the issue is actually a communication challenge. What we think we’re saying and what the listener is hearing are two different things.

Thankfully, there are simple fixes to these communication challenges.

Here are 3 Top Church Communication Mistakes and How to Fix Them

1) We say too much

Please understand me on this. I’m not talking about saying less about the gospel. I’m talking about the volume of information we throw at people each week.

Our congregation and guests have limited bandwidth. We spend all week thinking about our ministry plans, but they haven’t. When we throw everything at them at once nothing sticks. A typical listener can only take in so much information before they shut down and stop listening.

Solution:

Be intentional about what we share.

Pick the top 3-4 things in the life of your church and share about them well. This is best done with a calendar so you aren’t caught off guard as events approach.

A good rule is… a ministry opportunity needs to relate to 50% of those in attendance for you to share about it. If it doesn’t, you should find ways to share with just the people who need to hear it.

Example:

Women’s Retreat – relates to 50%+ of Sunday morning attenders = Share

Men’s Woodworking Class – doesn’t relate to 50%+ of Sunday morning attenders = Find other ways to share with interested people

2) We only talk to insiders

I recently found a “secret menu” for In-N-Out Burger (a California based fast food chain).

The menus includes creative ways to take their basic ingredients (burger, fries and drinks) and switch them up.

I’ve been going to In-N-Out for 20+ years and had no idea these options existed. I can get grilled onions on my burger and my wife can have a Lemon-Up (combo lemonade and 7-Up).

Why didn’t we know?

Because they haven’t printed the information on the menu board. The menu is so simple, you have to know what to ask for or they will serve it like they always have.

Unfortunately, we treat our church guests much the same. Assuming they have context and understanding about our church that they don’t have.

We announce events in ways insiders understand but guests don’t…

Join us for Bible Study on Wednesday in the MPR.

Guests need to know more.

Solution:

Answer the questions guests would be asking

  • Who is this event for for?
  • What time is it occuring?
  • What is the full name of the location?
  • Where would I find this room on campus?
  • Can my kids come too?

Example:

Life can be confusing! Join our adult Bible study as we talk through practical ways to gain wisdom and understanding. Wednesdays, 7pm, Main Office Lobby. Child-care is available by reservation.

3) We share details with no heart

The power of the Gospel is it’s ability to connect people to God. Broken people with real troubles, challenges, hopes and dreams. People who want something more from the life they are living and don’t want to waste time on trivial things.

Our guests come to church each week and we fill them in on all the “exciting ways to get involved.” But they don’t connect.

Why?

Because they approach every opportunity, subconsciously or not, with a mental question…

“What’s in it for me?”

They want to know what makes this opportunity something worth considering, and boring announcements with event details aren’t enough. Our guests are hungry for the solutions God offers. It’s our responsibility to show them.

Solution:

Highlight the benefit of attending and participating.

Go beyond the details and present examples of life change in your ministry. Look at: previous attenders, congregation members, your community. Share the way God has used the ministry in the past and the difference it can make for those in similar situations.

If your church is struggling with these church communication mistakes don’t worry. There is hope.

You can reverse the trend by doing one thing…

Say Less + With Greater Clarity + In Ways That Connect With People

Do it consistently and you will see growth in your congregation.

Neglect it and you will struggle to connect and retain new people.


What ways has your church wrestled with these or other communication mistakes?

What is your biggest communication challenge to keep at bay?

How can I help you increase your effectiveness?

Let me know in the comments below.
Church Communications Don’t Have to Be Difficult

Church Communications Don’t Have to Be Difficult

Do you remember your first car? The pride you felt in making payments because it belonged to you.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t perfect. Just that it was yours.

My first car was a red Toyota pickup. I bought it with 13,000 miles on it and drove it until the engine died.

It got me where I needed to go and was what I could afford.

It was a great truck… Until the day the speedometer went crazy.

One day I’m cruising down the road without a care and the next my speedometer is freaking out. The needle would jump back and forth from 25 – 45 miles per hour, when I wasn’t changing speed.

It was frustrating!

I had no idea how fast I was going. Or, how much it would cost to fix.

Something that had run on its own for so long needed attention.

I’ve found church communications to be similar.

They cruise along without any issues and then… BAM. One day things don’t work right.

What worked last time didn’t work this time.

People miss information and ask lots of questions.

Event attendance is low.

Frustration is high.

Something is broken and we aren’t sure what is is or where to start…

Thankfully, fixing my truck ended up being a simple project.

With a little direction and the right bottle of goo I had a working speedometer again.

The solution was within reach, I just needed to know where to start.

Getting your church communications on track doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as simple as getting a little coaching help to apply the right solution .

Providing solutions to church communication challenges is why I started RAD-Ideas.

If you’re experiencing challenges and want church proven solutions to stand out, increase influence and grow your ministry I can help.

I offer communications coaching where we…

[+] Assess where your church is currently

[+] Pick goals for where you want to be

[+] Implement a proven plan to get there

[+] Review and tweak the plan as needed

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until it is too late to find a solution. You need a solution in place that will increase your impact and help you be more effective.

Interested?

Contact me today for information.