Social Media for Ministries
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Are You Missing a Dial on the Dashboard?

car dashboardMailchimp has transformed the way I make decisions about people on my financial support team. Being able to specifically see who opens and clicks on links inside our monthly newsletter provides an additional dial to evaluate someone’s commitment.

Before that layer I relied on these things to discern commitment:

Special financial gifts given above the commitment

Notes mailed to us from supporters

Word of mouth: “Person X told me that they love getting your newsletters and following your ministry”

All these cases required the supporter to invest a significant amount of time/energy/money for me to discern their commitment.

Contrast that with the data Mailchimp provides:

mailchimp screenshot

Some corporate trends that I have seen from Mailchimp’s data:

People enjoy reading more about my family than my ministry

People click on pictures 2.5x more than links

Titles Matter: The titles that I spent the fewest time conceiving are the least opened.

There are lots of OPINIONS out there about ministry fundraising; how to ask people for financial support, what to write/say/speak, etc.

Don’t just listen to the most senior voice in the room. Gather data, test alternatives, and then decide on strategy and tactics.

photo courtesy of seenoevil


  1. Great post. Really interesting to see those trends. I’ve definitely found (anecdotally) that supporters feel that way – caring more about our family than our ministry. So what percentage of a typical letter do you talk about ministry vs family? And do you talk about family stuff (or include pictures) in every letter?

    How frequently do you send out emails? How often snail mail?

    As someone who raised support in the dark days before the internet, I’ve had a hard time gathering supporters e-mails (since I didn’t do it initially). Did you add your supporters to your list or did they initiate (adding themselves)?

    • i have been alternating btw family and ministry each month, but based on the data am thinking about going 2-1 or even 3-1 family vs ministry.

      so far i have been sending just one a month–i’m sure i could do 2x a month but want to be super sensitive to getting tuned out.

      one thought i had was that after 12 emails i would create a sub-database of highly committed email followers, and start sending 2x a month to them.

      i’m w you on not having emails for many supporters–our initial round of support raising was 9 years ago. in the last seven months we went through and tried to get as many emails as possible.

      facebook is the easiest way, since most people include that data. also casted the vision that the email is different content than our paper email (which it is), and complements our newsletter, not replaces it. that’s helped people hand over their email address.

  2. Brian, When you say “People click on pictures 2.5x more than links”, Are these smaller, embedded thumbnails (like icons), or are these larger pictures that people want to enlarge to fullscreen size? Are they pictures that obviously lead to another document, or do they enlarge the photo?

    • these were text links to photos compared to text links to another piece of text. we link to our ministry blog to drive traffic and engagement there, and alternate between photos and a blog post to link to.

      an example would be: “Click here to see family photos” vs “Click here to read about my recent trip to Manila”

      we use flickr to create short slideshows, then embed them in a page on our blog.

  3. Scott says

    Hey Brian, thanks for sharing this insight. Something I have always sensed but had little hard evidence to back-up. Shared it with my team.

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