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Get the Most from Your Church Directory Program
By: Karen Walters

For a long time now, a church directory has served the purpose of "putting a face with a name," which is quite an important purpose. However, don't stop there! Get the most from your directory program and seize the opportunities.

A partnership with a directory company gives you access to products and services that allow your congregation to stay connected, reach out to your community, grow your membership—and even raise funds for your ministries.

Connect. Reach Out. Grow. Raise Funds.
A church directory program can help your church grow by getting the word out, and the people in, shall we say? A program designed for your needs can help you connect with and reach out to your less active or completely inactive members.

Plus, it enables you to generate revenue for your church. What church would say "no" to that opportunity?

Today, directory companies are tailoring programs based upon the ministry needs of the church. A directory company can provide unique outreach materials designed to help grow your ministries and membership.

You can get professionally designed materials provided at no cost to promote your church and your ministries and advertise your events. These items include brochures, postcards, greeting cards and more, making it easy to inform current members and reach out to inactive members. 

You may even consider using a photography program as an effective outreach event. Many directory companies will encourage you to open up your program and invite members of the community to participate. Not a bad idea, right?

You might provide tours of your facility, give information about what you offer, and extend a personal invitation to attend a service or activity. The visitors receive a complimentary portrait, while the church receives the benefit of increased participation and, best of all, a unique opportunity to have people walk through your door that typically wouldn't have.

Fundraising programs are being offered today, as well. Partner with a directory company that provides a way for your church or a specific ministry to earn funds.  

Photography Is Key
There are more photographs taken today than ever before. And, truth be told, there is no comparing a snapshot on a cell phone to a professional family portrait. Using a directory company that provides professional photographers, exceptional service, a wide variety of products, and high-quality printing makes all the difference. 

Furthermore, photography takes place at your church with convenient times for your families. Families are encouraged to bring in their pets and favorite items to complete their portraits and tell their unique story.

As a bonus, on-site viewing, new products and no-pressure sales add to the experience. You will find that most directory companies, as they have for decades, provide a free portrait to all participating families. It's a great way to give all your families the gift of capturing a moment in time.

The Industry Is Changing
Change is often for the better. Directory companies now offer programs that not only enrich your church community, but also provide services that make it easy to run your event.  Plus, many companies have designed fundraising and give-back programs allowing you to do even more. 

With online scheduling, automated calling services, and faster turnaround times, directory companies are geared up to make your event hassle-free. It's a win/win for you! Fewer volunteers are needed to coordinate your event, and more families participate.

You will also find fundraising options that allow you to earn funds for your ministries. For example, some programs partner with you to raise funds and donate meals to your local community.

Embrace Technology
The future is now. So many directory companies have embraced technology, with everything from coordinating online communities to using the latest and greatest equipment and know-how to promote the event and create the printed directory. 

Interested in going paperless? Most companies these days will provide the family images to upload into your CMS system, or they'll provide you a free online directory complete with secure family profiles.

Additionally, with new design software and create-your-own options, the finished directories offer a new level of engagement. You'll enjoy pages that outline your church's ministries, activities and history, while showcasing your church to the community around you.

Thinking of Creating Your Own Directory?
In these economic times, directory companies often hear, "No thanks, we're doing our own directory."

 In other words, churches are taking it upon themselves to photograph, promote, organize, layout, proof, print, distribute and update a book on their own using internal or local resources to get the job done. It means using valuable church resources, spending unnecessary budget dollars, and ending up with a product that doesn't really tell your story or save any money. Also, it sometimes means not finishing the project at all. 

Consider the following option. Directory companies not only provide the directory for free, but they often include overruns of the book to use for new members and outreach activities.

Plus, they include outreach brochures, postcards and other printed pieces free of charge, as well. Why not select a company that will do all this and more?

Grab Hold of Opportunity
A directory program with a reputable partner provides your families with timeless portraits, a piece of history with your finished directory, and outreach materials to help you get your word out. It allows you to create an event that becomes a tradition for your families to look forward to year after year.

The Value of a Church Directory Program
* Puts a "name with a face"
* Creates a sense of community
* Serves as an outreach tool for new members and inactive members
* Tells your story, showcases your ministries
* Celebrates milestones and special events
* Provides a valuable service of professional photography for your families
* Provides images for your church management software
* Stays updated with an online directory
* Benefits for all church sizes; small, mega, multi-site churches
* No cost to the church…the directory is FREE

Karen Walters is a marketing manager for Lifetouch Church Directories and Portraits, www.lifetouch.com.

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