MegamodelBy Kim S. Nash | Posted 2005-12-07 Email Print
Megachurches like the 25,000-member World Changers of Atlanta can teach corporations the true meaning of customer relationship management. How? They can look at their data and identify members, determine who could be volunteering more, contribute how much
The "megachurch" designation is bestowed on ministries that host at least 2,000 people at weekly services. But World Changers flies beyond mega status with its artful, aggressive use of technology to manage its congregant-customers. A full-time technology chief and a marketing director, together with their staffs, have created a customer-care system that any for-profit company would be foolish to ignore.
While secular companies across industries struggle to hold onto customers—and pan for nuggets of personal information to understand their habits—big evangelical ministries have done just that, says John Vaughan, founder of Church Growth Today, a megachurch consulting firm in Bolivar, Mo.
How these churches analyze data on member behavior, as well as operate call centers and develop product extensions, bears impressive fruit.
Megachurches can look at their data and identify members who could be volunteering more, who are likely to spend money on products and contribute donations—and how much—and who are becoming discontent and may abandon the church. Visalia First Assembly of God, an evangelical congregation in California's San Joaquin Valley, improved visitor retention to 59 percent simply by changing the way church officials interact with first-time attendees—at the suggestion of new analytical software.
They know who's related to whom, which church member is battling illness or is seeking a mate—and how best to reach out to people in each circumstance. A bright "we haven't heard from you in a while, come on back" letter is inappropriate for a longtime church volunteer dealing with chemotherapy. But it's effective when a 23-year-old single man begins to skip his midweek prayer group.
Through a combination of software and staff tuned in to individual customers, sophisticated churches, World Changers among them, can track data detailed enough to make those judgments. In short, Vaughan says, "megachurches do what corporations would love to be able to do with their customer bases."
- The Principle and Practice of Prosperity:Pastor Creflo A. Dollar Jr. built a congregation on a message of prosperity and conservatism; he built an organization on the practical application of those principles.
- Megamodel:The size of megachurches seems impersonal, but the customer-relationship model is as high-touch as you get.
- Pastor's Proposition:Give to the church and you'll prosper; buy a CD and you'll learn.
- Using Technology to Minister:Live Webcasts of sermons, Bibles on handhelds, daily e-mail blasts, online donations, and—everywhere—collect data to know who your congregants are and what they need from you.
- Keep Attendees Involved:Getting them to services and into volunteering is only the start of an effective member-loyalty program.
- Quick Member Integration:Right after first contact, the church reaches out to potential members with packets of prayers and information tailored to their interests and even their proximity to the church.
- Meet Customer Needs:Give 'em what they want and they'll keep coming back for more.
- Keeping Customer Contacts In-House:Running call centers and other contact mechanisms is tough, but World Changers keeps the core contacts in-house to keep the services focused.
- Preventing Churn:Spotting the members who might be ready to decamp and bring them back to into the fold.
- Mixed Blessings:The Rev. Dollar's methods and success—not to mention his last name—raise hackles.
- Base Case:Snapshot of World Changers' business, size and growth.
- Evangelicals' Lead in Technology
- Software that Binds, and Converts, and Retains Members
- Creating Touch Points to Keep Members Involved
- Megachurch Player Roster
- Blackbaud: Nonprofit Fundraising Out of the Box
- Building your own customer relationship management software is fraught with pitfalls
- Megachurch Player Roster