When parishes began to see the value of having a website, for some reason someone decided that having an image of the physical building on the homepage was best practice. While it may have been that at the time (30 plus years ago!) today it is no longer the case.
If we want to attract people to our faith community, we need show them who makes up our congregation. Is it full of growing families, professional millennials, or active seniors looking to make a difference in society? Are people joyful and full of energy, or are things more contemplative and prayerful?
Whatever your parish is made of, it’s time to show people “who” you’re made of — here’s how.
When you use your website to feature the best of your community, you need to make sure that the photos you use are of high quality. High resolution images are a must if you want to ensure that they’ll come out clear, crisp, and ready for screens of all sizes. One of the best ways to make sure is to hire a photographer.
From professional photographers to volunteers, there are lots of options out there. Try connecting with a local college to see if a third- or fourth-year photography student is looking for experience and some cash. You could also inquire at your parish whether there is a parishioner who is professional or amateur and would be willing to help. Just remember that no matter what avenue you decide on, photography is one instance where you typically get what you pay for.
Ask for examples of their work, and inquire about their experience, especially when it comes to taking photos during Mass. Do they know where they can shoot, and where they need to refrain? Will they be requiring a flash, or can they rely on manual settings so as not to disturb the congregation?
There are so many ways you can photograph your congregation, you’ll want to include a shot list to ensure that all your needs are met, such as:
Choose a weekend Mass and advertise ahead of time that someone will be there to take photos of your growing congregation. If people do not wish to be photographed, encourage them to attend a different Mass, and assure them that you will get permission from first from the subjects in all the photos you’ll be using.
Finally, it’s time to capture your thriving congregation. Look for the beautiful moments, such as a parent teaching their child the Sign of the Cross, families giving each other the Sign of Peace, the pastor holding up the consecrated host for all to see and worship. Be sure to capture as parishioners leave Mass better than they arrived — joyful, encouraged, and ready to spread the message of Christ.
You took the time to get a photographer and have ended up some amazing photos of your faith community. Now is the time to splash it on your homepage for the world to see! When choosing the “hero image” for your homepage, you’ll want to find one that truly captures what your parish is all about. What people looking for a home parish should expect to see, hear, and feel when they walk through your doors.
Some great examples would be the congregation after Mass as they exit the doors, a crowd shot during Mass of the priest consecrating the Eucharist, and even a close-up of a family engaging with one another. Again, anything that shows people what to expect is most helpful.
Now that you’ve got photos for your website, it’s time to find additional ways to use them! Does your parish have an Instagram account? Check out “Instagram & Your Parish” for some inspiring ways to share your vibrant community with others.
Imagine that you’re on the hunt for an image to accompany the upcoming festival announcement, or you found a great prayer resource that you want to share with others on your church website. You notice the copyright watermark in the corner or see the bit of text in the bottom of the PDF stating that nothing is to be copied or shared without permission. But it’s just the perfect thing that you need, and you have such a small audience — “just this once,” you think. And then it happens: you get caught.
From large corporations like Disney or Amazon, to local creators selling content on Etsy shops, copying, sharing or utilizing without image or content permission can be a big deal. Depending on how it’s used, you could end up with a cease and desist letter or be sued in a court of law. Here is the lowdown on copyright violations, and why (and how!) you should avoid them.
The definition of copyright is “the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.” In simpler terms, copyright is the right to copy. This means that the original creators of products and anyone they give permission to are the only ones with the exclusive right to reproduce the work.
As a parish, there are many ways that you may find yourself in violation of a copyright without even realizing it, such as:
It can be a misconception that anything found on the Internet can be used freely. This is not true. The U.S. Copyright Office has a range of definitions and facts for people to understand what a copyright is, and how to avoid infringing on someone else’s work. According to Purdue University, copyright infringement penalties can range from actual dollar amount damages to paying attorney cost and fees, to even jail (in extreme cases).
It’s easier than you think to avoid getting caught with a copyright violation. Check out some of these websites for resources that are available for the taking (and sharing!).
WeCreate: If you’re an LPi bulletin customer, you already have access to Catholic images and content for anything you may need. With WeCreate, you’ll find the latest in stock photography, Church clip art, Catholic prayers, weekly Gospel reflections, and more. So, if you’re searching for an inspirational quote for this week’s social media content, or a nice Gospel reflection that you can share on your website, look no further!
Wikimedia Commons: You may be familiar with Wikipedia, a free content, online encyclopedia written and maintained by a community of volunteer contributors, but have you heard of Wikimedia Commons? A collection of 75,451,290 (and counting!) freely usable media files to which anyone can utilize.
You can find a ton of free images to use for whatever you need — just head on over to Unsplash, MorgueFile, and Pexels. Royalty-free and available for all uses (even commercial), you’re bound to find what you’re searching for with just a few keystrokes.
If you’re looking for a perfect image for a flyer to about your upcoming festival, avoid the search on Google and go right to image websites that offer attractive, high resolution images for a price. They can range in cost from as little as $5 to up to $45, but it’s cheaper than the alternative. Try Adobe Stock and Shutterstock and Lightstock for some great images that you can purchase for whatever you need.
Looking for more ways to keep your parish safe? Check out “The Importance of Password Management” and “5 Reasons Why Staff Shouldn’t Share the Same Email Address.”
People have a choice in parishes they attend and causes they support. And with the bombardment of “asks” we’re faced with every day — from UNICEF to GoFundMe — they need to be strategic when it comes to where they give their time, talent, and treasure. Today, it isn’t enough to give parishioners a “what” — we need to make sure we supply them with a “why.” Read on for five things you need to create an effective marketing campaign for your next big (or small!) parish initiative.
Gone are the days where our parishes were fully funded because it was expected of parishioners to offer that financial support. Today, there are so many other worthy causes out there that people need to be strategic with their giving when it comes to choosing what to support. It’s time to give them a reason to give.
COVID-19 has changed our world in many ways, with how we give being one of them. From rounding up everyday purchases to asking parishioners to match a major gift dollar for dollar, here are some tangible ideas you can bring back to the planning committee for your next capital campaign.
There are three phases you typically go through in a successful capital campaign: the planning phase, the quiet phase, and the public phase. During the quiet phase, you should aim to raise 50-70% of your fundraising goal through major gifts. Think supportive businesses with connections to your parish, long-term parishioners and other people with ties to your faith community that have the financial means to give bigger.
While talking about money can be uncomfortable for many, it is necessary to keep your church financially viable. That is why, in addition to pledge cards and donation envelopes, it’s important that you ask people for these major gifts. A phone call from the pastor or an announcement from the pulpit is sometimes all that’s needed to move the needle in the right direction.
Once you get the major asking out of the way, you need to concentrate on soliciting smaller gifts from your larger pool of supporters. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how comfortable you are with technology, the days of simply passing the basket down the pews is over. Our culture and how we give has changed, and our churches need to follow suite — here are some ideas to consider.
It can be hard to get people to commit to hundreds of dollars for a good cause, but when you split it into manageable chunks, people may not even notice it leaving their bank account! RoundUp is a great way to get people to commit to supporting your parish without feeling any financial pain.
The way it works is simple: the user finds your parish, signs up and connects their debt card to the app. They spend as normal, but their purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the “spare change” is then donated to the church. It’s an effortless way for members to support their parish without having to really think about it.
If your parish optimizes online giving but doesn’t have a way to allow recurring donations, now is the time to add it. Not only does it allow people to give whether they’re in the pews or not, but it also helps your parish project what financial support you can expect 3-, 6-, even 9-months down the road.
If you do have a recurring giving function but you find that parishioners are rarely using it, make sure that they know it’s there. From a simple call-out from the pulpit to an email with a direct link to sign up, it can make a huge difference.
Remember a few paragraphs back, we mentioned connecting with major donors for most of your funding? Consider using one of those major funders for a gift matching competition.
Say one of your biggest contributors will match donations up to a total of $10,000 given by other members within the next two weeks. Then use that momentum to light a spark and get people excited to give. Send emails, text messages, make phone calls and more. For this type of fundraiser, it’s more about the amount of people who donate, as opposed to the amount they choose to give. For a parish with 500 families, all it takes is $20 per household to meet the goal — totally doable if everyone is on board.
A lot of businesses today offer to match their employees gift giving. Ask your parishioners if their places of work have such a program, and then make it easy for them by offering to print out their financial support record which they can submit for a matching donation. From $250 to $2,500, it’s free money that can easily be obtained by employees — if they only ask for it!
Pro-Tip: Charity Navigator has a list of major corporations that have an employee match program. While this is in no way an exhaustive list, it’ll give you a better idea of just how common these types of programs are, and how often employees forget about them!
As a parish, you know what you need to make your faith community grow. Read on for ways to get the word out by checking out “What a Communication Specialist Can Do for Your Parish.”
From creating your church website from scratch to adding the right features to manage your community, we’ll help you build a website you can manage with ease. Customizable templates, drag and drop builder, event scheduler, forms, and photo galleries — begin growing your parish today with a WeConnect website!
Invite your parishioners to prepare for and consecrate themselves to the loving embrace and gentle guidance of St. Joseph. We invite you to give your parishioners a tangible keepsake to hold on to with this beautifully designed prayer card. Available in English and Spanish.
It’s more than just fonts and images. A good brand invites parishioners and seekers into the mission of your church, helping everyone to grow in faith, live in hope, and reach out in the love of Jesus Christ. From logo, letterhead, bulletin design, and more, we’ll create an authentic identity that will grow your faith community.
With WeCreate, you’ll find the latest in stock photography, clip art, prayers, Gospel reflections, children’s art and activities, and more! And whether you’re looking to customize an attractive flyer for the upcoming bake sale, or seasonal clip art for the weekly bulletin, our templates make it easy for you to make it your own.