During this Lenten season, Cranford UMC took advantage of a Rethink Church Digital Advertising Grant available through United Methodist Communications (UMCOM) which targeted area residents through ads on popular websites.
“From Feb 15 through Easter, UMCOM publicized our church’s Easter worship opportunities using our church logo and the Rethink Church branding in the ad space of major websites for users in our local area,” said Rev. Cameron Overbey, pastor of Cranford UMC. “For instance, someone in Cranford or Garwood might log onto weather.com or CNN.com and our ad would be likely to appear in the ad space.”
Overbey said the grant allowed Cranford UMC to show off their recently launched new website which was linked in the ads. “It helped to create a buzz and was a conversation starter, encouraging members to invite others to our Easter services,”
He said that while browsing local sites, he did see Cranford UMC’s ad several times; even managing to take a screen shot. “I’m not sure the increased advertising yielded any new Easter visitors, but having our name and logo out there can only help!”
UMCOM offers many resources for local churches through their Rethink Church program, especially each Lent and Advent season. This Lent churches could order up to 100 free door hangers and invitation cards printed with specific local church information. Churches could also edit a free 23 second customizable video to use online and in social media as part of their Easter advertising. In addition to the free resources, churches can also choose to participate in a low-cost direct mail program through UMCOM.
Cranford is one of two churches in Greater New Jersey that have received these grants. This past Advent season, First UMC in Wildwood Crest was awarded a Rethink Church Digital Advertising Grant as well.
The next opportunity to apply for a UMCOM digital advertising grant will come this August when applications become available for the 2016 Advent season.
To qualify for a digital advertising grant, applicants must have a working, welcoming church website that clearly indicates UMC affiliation. Applicants must also agree to use UMCOM’s pre-designed ads. Applications must be received at least two months prior to the target date preference. The church also must complete a follow-up evaluation after the completion of advertising gauging the success of the grant and if there was any increase in attendance during the campaign.
More information on Rethink Church Digital Advertising Grants is available at http://www.umcom.org/services-products/digital-advertising-grants.