New UUA Congregations Reaching Out Toolkit

Friends, I’m excited to share the new UUA Congregations Reaching Out Toolkit with you!

I’m always sharing great UUA resources, but this one is special as worked with the UUA Outreach Team on its development. It represents a fantastic collaboration and synthesis of many best practices and recommended outreach strategies.  More on my contributions and link to the toolkit below.

I highly recommend sharing this resource with your leadership. Use it to help you realize your congregations growth and outreach potential.

About the Congregations Reaching Out Toolkit

The Congregations Reaching Out Toolkit is designed to help Unitarian Universalists congregations and groups accomplish the following:

  • Discern who you are and compellingly communicate a cohesive identity online and in person.
  • Use social media to identify, reach, and engage with specific target audiences.
  • Create and promote outreach events and opportunities based on the needs of these audiences.

UUA Congregations Reaching Out Cycle

The toolkit is presented in three guides:

  • Finding Your Target Audience
  • Social Media Strategy for Outreach
  • Planning and Promoting Great Outreach Events

“Together these present an outreach process of continually refining your public identity, sharing this through your online presence, identifying new audiences you want to reach, engaging with them via social media, and intentionally designing and promoting outreach-focused events. As the need for UU values has never been greater, we must turn up our efforts to turn our ministries outward to our communities, helping those values reach new groups of people inside and outside our congregations.”

My Role and Contributions

As for my contributions to the toolkit, first, I offered content feedback and strategy recommendations on an early version of the toolkit. Later, after the two principal authors on the resource changed staff positions — Carey McDonald moved from UUA Outreach Director to UUA Acting Chief Operating Officer and the Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh joined the congregational life staff of the Pacific Western Region of the UUA — I accepted the task of doing a major edit and re-write of the toolkit.

Because of these various roles:

  • I am directly quotedin the toolkit
  • Offered additional tips and strategies for inclusion
  • And re-wrote / edited large portions of the toolkit

If you recognize language from my training in parts of the resource that are not directly attributed to me, that’s because I wrote or edited that section. As I said, this resource represents a great collaboration.

I’m grateful to Carey McDonald, now Executive Vice President of the UUA, for the opportunity to work with the UUA Outreach Team on the development of this resource, and to the Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh for giving it a home with the Pacific Western Region of the UUA.  Thank you.

Get the Toolkit

That’s it! I hope you find this resource valuable.  You can download the strategy guides that make up the toolkit here:

Make the most of this great resources:  Share it.  Print it.  Discuss it.

Going to the UUA’s General Assembly conference?  Bring it with you.  It will make for great reading and conversation.  Once you check it out, I’d love to hear what you think.  Comment on this post, where I share this via Facebook and Twitter.

FALL 2014 UU Social Media and Membership Growth trainings

Friends, this Fall I’m leading two separate  day-long trainings on UU social media and membership growth.   I hope you’ll join us!

Peter BowdenHere’s the deal.  Today we need to be intentionally integrating our social media, visitor greeting and other membership development efforts.  If we don’t,  we’re in trouble.

Thanks to technology the path to membership is moving increasingly online.   How many people visit your website before visiting?  Around 100%.  And now people are wanting to explore your social media and check you out digitally for a while to judge you before they visit. That’s right, they’re judging you based on what you’re online presence and identity.

Potential members are  increasingly making a decision about your congregation based on their digital experience, and then and only then, if that’s good, they’ll visit in person to confirm you are what you’ve said you are online.  Increasingly you need to be helping people pre-qualify themselves for membership online if you want them to visit and join in person.  And your existing members?  They are bombarded with information via multiple communication channels.  How do you get them to hear you and to not drift away?  We’ll discuss all of this in more in one very full, exciting and useful day…

Think of  this training as a 2014-2015 upgrade for your communications and membership growth strategy.

Again, here the dates and registration links.  If you have questions, Email me.

What’s that you say?   Are these events being lives streamed?  No,  but I will be turning the content into text and video resources. Make sure you are subscribed to my Leading Congregations E-Newsletter to be updated as they become available.

In cooperation,
Peter

Registration & Event Details


COLORADO

Growing UU Membership Using Social Media and Visitor Integration Strategies

Day-long training with Peter Bowden
Saturday, October 4th, 2014
High Plains Church, UU (HPCUU)
1825 Dominion Way
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
Event Registration

RHODE ISLAND
UU Social Media & Membership Growth Intensive
Day-long training with Peter Bowden
First Unitarian Church of Providence, RI
November 8, 2014
Event Registration

Program Outline

The following program is close to final for these two events.  There may be some small changes in timing and titles, but the content is set.

8:30 Registration & Refreshments

9:00    Opening Worship & Welcome

9:15  Technology, Culture and the Challenge to Congregations
How is changing technology changing us?  We’ll look at the new technology norms for how people are connecting, learning and making decisions. Understanding these changes is critical to effective outreach, social media use, and membership development.

9:25 Social Media and the New Path to Membership
The path to becoming a member in a congregation has changed significantly in recent years.  Not in terms of what has to happen for people to connect with a congregation, but how, when and where these connections happen.  Today much of what happens in the course of “church shopping” happens online via congregational social media channels.

10:45 Break

11:00   Increasing Engagement, Understanding Social Media Today
For congregations to maximize engagement with newcomers, members and friends, we need to understand what communication platforms people are using, what they are using them for, and the new norms for institutional communication. We’ll identify the top social media platforms today, look at their use by demographic, and identify key ways congregations need to shift their approach in order to communicate effectively today.

11:30   Break Out Session
What have you tried? What works? What doesn’t? We’ll take some time to learn from each other, share successes and challenges. This will also prime our lunch time conversation.

12:00      Lunch
We’ll take a nice full hour lunch to allow for conversations to continue, connections to be made, and to let our brains cool down as needed!

1:00 Report Back
When we gather after lunch, we will take some time to hear some of our success stories and insights from our lunch conversations.

1:20   Social Media Storytelling, Relationship and Membership Growth
We’ll go deeper into the strategy of communicating with newcomers, members and friends via social media with the goal of building relationships, increasing participation in congregational life, and growing your membership. To be successful at this, we need to master the art and science of telling the many stories of congregational life in ways that are interesting, meaningful, and invite participation.

2:00 Best Practices for Keeping Members Engaged and Coming Back
If we’re successful in brining newcomers into our communities, soon we will have new members. Which raises the question, how do we keep members coming back in today’s world with so many competing demands for people’s attention and time.

2:20   Developing Social Media Plans, a Small Group Exercise
We’ll break into small groups and go through the process of developing a social media plan for one primary event or happening within the life of your congregation using strategies detailed earlier in the day. This may be for a large fundraiser, your monthly newcomer class, or a special holiday event.

2:45   Discussion on Small Group Exercise

3:00     Q & A Time

3:30   Closing

Testimonials

“Peter provided our team with an opportunity to learn together about social media giving us a common understanding of the benefits and costs of utilizing it. His enthusiasm for social media is infectious, making us feel not only that implementing it is possible and perhaps inevitable as our world continues to evolve.” — Sara Deshler, Church Administrator, Cedar Lane U U Church.

“Peter’s passion for social media communications and Unitarian Universalism is contagious. His vision for our future is something we need to learn and embrace.” – Don Southworth, UUMA Executive Director

Peter’s training on Social Media was clear, instructive, and interactive. He is dynamic, engaging and brings an enthusiasm to his sessions that is contagious. I recommend him highly.” — Mark Bernstein, Regional Growth Development Consultant, Central East Region of the UUA

UU Gotta Tweet at #UUAGA video Crash Course

Update:  If you’re watching this in 2016, remember this year’s GA is in Columbus, OH.

Friends, I told people using the UUA’s mobile General Assembly event app that I’d make a quick tutorial on how to get started on Twitter.  Here it is!

In this video I walk you through the process of setting up a Twitter account,  connecting with UUs on Twitter, and a few basics on hashtags.   This is not a comprehensive training, it is just intended to help you set up a Twitter account before General Assembly.  You can learn during GA and in the #UUsGetSocial workshop series.

I look forward to seeing you in Providence, RI next week and on Twitter.  Once you’ve created your account, make sure to follow me at @UUPLANET.  I will also be announcing new UU social media events for the Fall shortly, ranging from Colorado Springs, CO to Providence, RI.

In cooperation,
Peter

#UUsGetSocial workshop schedule and recording

UPDATE:  You may access resources and recordings here.

I’m excited to announce that the four-part #UUsGetSocial workshop series at the UUA’s General Assembly conference is going to be video taped. It will not be live streamed.

If you’re going to General Assembly, I hope you’ll join us. You may find the full program book online here. If you’re going to be at GA and have a smart phone or tablet, make sure to get the official UUA GA event app.

Workshop Schedule

204 #UUsGetSocial: How Congregations Can Deepen Engagement Online
Thursday 10:15 am EST
RICC Ballroom BC

260 #UUsGetSocial: Updating Your Web Presence: Tools and Tips
Thursday 4:00pm EST
RICC Ballroom BC

306 #UUsGetSocial: Reaching “Nones,” Activists, and Spiritual Seekers
Friday 10:15 am EST
RICC Ballroom BC

408 #UUsGetSocial: Digging Into Facebook, Twitter and Video-Making/Sharing
Saturday 10:15 am EST
RICC Ballroom BC

The Hashtag

If you are on Facebook or Twitter, you can search for the tag #UUAGA to pull up all associated tagged posts and Tweets.  Search for #UUsGetSocial, click these links to give it a try:

#UUsGetSocial on Facebook
#UUsGetSocial on Twitter

Connect at GA!

I’ll be at General Assembly all week, including during ministry days, so make sure to connect.   Besides helping to lead this series, I’m going to be talking with clergy colleagues about a new series of social media learning opportunities specifically for parish ministers on making your public ministry more public.  Yes, if you are a professional minister being paid to do public ministry,  I think it is critical that you have a strong online identity — YOU, not just your congregation.  Oh yes, I’m talking about using clergy personal branding as a catalyst for Unitarian Universalist growth.

Look for our Leading Congregations ad in the program book. It shares contact information for contacting  me and Amy at General Assembly, plus an invitation to subscribe to our newsletter.  I’ll be sharing new social media educational offerings and resources via the newsletter following GA.  Don’t miss out!  Some offerings are going to have limited participation, and I’m going to share invitations with subscribers of our newsletter first.

Hope to see you at GA!
Peter Bowden