In a previous article, I said that creating your own website is an investment in both time and money. Like any investment, you want to know what kind of return you are getting. This is often difficult to do for printed media and commercials. Unless someone explicitly tells you they saw your ad, or walks through the door with a flier in hand, you do not know if your money was well spent. However the web gives us many more insights, since every click can be tracked and every contact archived.
One of the primary goals of your church website is to help you recruit new members. But how can you compare the cost of advertising to the value of a new member? First, determine the dollar value of the average church member. This is not a catalyst for a theological debate about the worth of a human soul. This is figuring out what the average member contributes financially. Using some simple math, you can determine what the average person gives to your church every year. This should give you a rough idea of what each new member will bring to the table. However, understand that many members of the church contribute more than just money.
How many members volunteer at your church? Do they participate in youth programs and Sunday School? Do people help with building maintenance, accounting and book work, or serve on committees? Consider what their worth would be if they were in the private industry. Granted those people are often a small percentage of your congregation, but they are part of the equation.
Look at your average weekly income as well as a list of volunteers and determine some rough values. Compare that to what you are investing in bringing new members through the door; including outreach programs, advertising, and website. This objective data (and lots of prayer) should lead to sound decisions for your overall web strategy and budget.
Photo courtesy of Krzysztof Szkurlatowski