June 24, 2016
It is ideal for all parishes to reach out and welcome new people who just recently moved to the community. This gives the “new movers” a sense of belongingness to the parish community, and at the same time this helps the parish grow. The folks at St. Benedict Parish in Holmdel, New Jersey came up with a great idea to track down and welcome these new movers.
I had the opportunity to chat with Mrs. Lori Ulrich, the Minister of Evangelization and Marketing at St. Benedict Parish. Lori handles school and church communications, reaching out to parishioners through various print, digital and social media vehicles. The parish office keeps a mailing list for sending weekly church bulletins and letters to families in the community, and realtor statistics has helped them track the parishioners and add new ones in their mailing list.
As Lori described, they started this strategy by subscribing to a new movers list, where they had to pay $80 a month for the subscription. However, they felt that this was a bit expensive, and then an idea came up; out of all parishioners, there has to be at least one realtor among them. They identified some of the realtors in their parish and they volunteered to help the parish by sending a “New Movers” mailing list for free! Since then, they haven’t paid a single cent to know and track who the new movers are in the area.
The realtor parishioners at St. Benedict Parish send the New Movers mailing list to the parish office on a monthly basis, with the names and addresses of the new residents within a targeted area. These, by definition, are new movers who have closed in the past 30 days. The realtors use zip code filters to get the addresses of the new residents that are within the parish’s target area (zip code based). The realtors are also able to identify new households with children of ages 0 to 15, with the goal of inviting these families to take a look and enroll their kids at St. Benedict Parish School. They can also sort and filter households according various demographics, such as household income, household size, among the rest.
A welcome letter is sent to the new movers, as well as weekly church bulletins. The weekly church bulletins include letters from St. Benedict’s Pastor, Father Garry Koch. Through these bulletins, the parish is able to communicate to both current and new members of the community what they have to offer. Some of these include information about the Parish School, elder care, and about the small groups in the Parish which work in rediscovering one’s relationship with God and with Jesus Christ. Lori and her staff also use Liturgical Publications Inc. (LPi: www.4lpi.com) in making and sending these Church bulletins.
Has it been successful so far? Lori mentions that as of the moment, they have no way of determining whether the regular addition of new parishioners can be attributed to these letters and their current strategy. She mentions though that they are talking about response mechanisms to the letters that they are sending. They are still constantly trying to refine their strategy, but for Lori, their strategy of obtaining the “New Movers” mailing list something that every Parish should do. They can identify a parishioner who is also a realtor to volunteer and help the parish, and they can ask the realtor’s help in targeting the new residents using their own filters or search criteria that meets their needs. This is definitely a great idea to help Parishes reach out and welcome new people into their Parish family.
By: Harvey Baldovino