One of the more overlooked ways to support religious missions is by using the church bulletin for advertising. Advertising in the church bulletin might seem a bit odd to churches who have never done it before, but if you're intelligent with your space, you can make selling ads a natural part of the weekly bulletin.
If you're interested in learning how to sell church bulletin advertising, these tips can help you reach the right people who can connect with churchgoers and help you fund altruistic purposes.
Know Your Community
One of the most basic parts of how to sell church bulletin advertising is knowing your community and understanding what businesses might be most interested in partnering with you. Getting to know nearby businesses in your community is an excellent way to get started with advertising in the church bulletin. This is because you can work together to figure out a message that is likely to connect with churchgoers in a way that seems natural.
For instance, many families like to follow up Sunday services by going out for a family meal before returning home for the rest of the day. If you're located near a restaurant, an advertisement for their brunch specials might be an excellent way for them to attract potential customers as they're deciding where to eat after attending services. Or perhaps a nearby grocery store might want to run an advertisement for families to shop for items for their Sunday supper.
Whatever businesses are located near you, it's a good idea to get to know their decision-makers so you can decide if their message would be a good fit for selling ads. You know the people who attend Sunday services on a regular basis, so you'll have the best sense of whether they'd find an advertisement from a certain business natural or not. If the business has been a long-standing member of your community, or was started by a member of your religious community, your church bulletin readers are much more likely to accept seeing their name in the weekly bulletin.
Find the Right Partners
When you're selling advertising in the church bulletin, you need to make sure you're partnering with someone who shares similar ideals to your faith-based community. No matter what the medium is, accepting an advertisement is always a partnership between both the business advertising and the medium that's accepting their ad.
That means you want to make sure all of your advertising partners are people you would be proud to have associated with your church. That's why it's a great idea to consider selling ads to business owners who regularly attend your services whenever possible. If they're attending church on a regular basis, you know their faith is important to them, and they'll likely be proud of the fact that they're able to partner with their religious community through their work.
You can also seek out organizations nearby that you know perform regular work to make your community a better place for everyone. The local Goodwill or Salvation Army store is often an excellent example, because they're well-known charitable organizations that have a longstanding positive reputation to their name. Partnering with similar-minded organizations can be a great way to keep everyone on board with the overall mission of doing good work in the name of God.
Emphasize Your Mission
One reason finding the right partners is such an important part of learning how to sell church bulletin advertising is because churches are non-profit organizations and must follow strict rules as to how they bring in income and how they use it to fulfill their missions.
But there's another important reason to emphasize your mission: it helps advertising partners decide whether they want to help fulfill that mission statement. If you've got a specific mission in mind, such as raising money for a sizable donation to a nearby community center, you can emphasize that with your potential advertising partners and make it clear their advertising dollars will be going specifically to that purpose.
Selling ads in the church bulletin differs from other mediums in one important way: the people you partner with have more things on their mind than just profit. The type of business willing partner with a church usually has a community-based mission in mind for their money, and they want to advertise with you so they can help their business and help a cause they care about at the same time.
When you find a reliable business partner, one way you can make their advertising relationship into a long-term situation is by asking them what charitable causes matter most to them. You might find another worthwhile mission your church community can help with, leading to a positive outcome for everyone involved.
Craft Ads Carefully
Advertising in the church bulletin needs to be done in such a manner that it's emphasizing good works. This way readers don't get turned off by the positioning of a local business name next to the church's schedule of community events.
Work with businesses to create ads that emphasize community partnership. Position the business as a neighbor bringing people together or helping others with the services they offer. For example, a local restaurant might advertise bringing the entire family together after services with a brunch. A landscaping company could focus on how they help their neighbors keep their lawns looking pristine.
Whatever the business is, chances are they'll have a good idea of what they want their ad to say and how it might work in the church bulletin. Make sure you're listening to them and their ideas, so you can put it in a natural spot that works well with the information churchgoers need to know. If you're discussing the church's upcoming picnic to benefit a nearby homeless shelter, you might run an ad from a business emphasizing their concern for homelessness. You could also run an ad from a clothing store that's expressed a desire to provide the homeless with warm clothes for the winter.
Create Regular Events
Getting your church's name out there is one of the best ways to connect with your community, and hosting church events can help give businesses a reason to want to partner with you via sponsorships or advertising. If you've got an upcoming fall festival, you can use this time to attract sponsorships and possibly convert those relationships into regular advertising buys if you discover common ground with the business.
If you're like most churches, you already host regular events with a defined purpose of raising money for church operations or causes in the community. There's no reason your partnership with a sponsor has to end after one event; you can build a long-term relationship and direct their advertising dollars to the charitable cause that first got them to partner with you.
Follow All Tax Laws
The last thing you want to run into when you're trying to sell advertising in the church bulletin is an IRS bill. That can defeat the purpose entirely and put your charitable works at risk of failing to meet their financial goals. Before you consider selling advertising in the church bulletin, you need to make sure your ad revenue won't be considered unrelated to your mission statement. If the revenue is unrelated, it could be taxable income.
Consult with a professional to ensure you're not running afoul of any rules. Nonprofits, such as churches, are allowed to sell advertising in a way that's related to the work they do, but it must be made clear their money is going strictly to operating costs and charitable endeavors.