This Marketing Matter (TM) comes from a project initiated by Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School in Connellsville, PA a number of years ago.  Pastors are always interested in seeing who is attending Christian or Catholic schools which their churches and parishes support, kids are always looking for service projects, and congregations and parishioners always need good reasons to choose to make the sacrifice to support local faith-based schools.  This school found a way to make the connection among all three (and good marketing is all about making connections) by developing the “Gators Lend a Hand” program.

The Gators (the team mascot of Geibel) made themselves available to provide service work for the parishioners of the parishes that support them.  Elderly parishioners need to have their lawns mowed, windows washed, gutters cleared, leaves raked, weeds pulled, screens taken down, etc. and may not be able to do it themselves or pay someone to provide this service to them.  Parishioners of supporting parishes can contact their pastors to request services, and a list is then submitted to the school so service projects can be scheduled.  A report is then provided back to the pastor when the job is complete.

Activities such as this are important to place a face on Christian and Catholic schools, going out into the community to give back to the congregations and parishioners who support their education via the church, parish, as well as individual contributions from community members.  It’s a way to engage people of the community, bringing the fruits of our schools to them, but also maintaining contact with the church or parish.  Churches and parishes can recommend neighbors and other infirm or elderly who are in need of such services, which is also a way for the elderly and infirm or shut in neighbors to maintain contact with each other.

Marketing that doesn’t cost anything, provides a service to those in need, and helps students with required service hours and strengthens both the community and the church and parish membership is certainly a worthwhile endeavor.  It creates a positive image of our students in the eyes of  pastors and their congregations, and brings students into the community, rather than trying to get the community to come to the school.

While it’s true that people came to see Jesus, Jesus went into the towns and visited people on their streets and in their homes.

Serving the community isn’t just marketing – it’s evangelization!

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2007-2022 (Original Publication Date: 20071015)