What Churches can Learn from Patreon

// Alex Briggs is a Contributing Author at Liberty Church


Churches provide much more than Sunday sermons to their congregations: they share the responsibility of raising children, create a haven for families and friends, and encourage people to grow closer to each other and to God.


The strength of a church is in those face-to-face interactions—and it often stands in contrast to the way most businesses operate.


Modern businesses boast everything from sophisticated marketing strategies to a robust social presence, nonstop email blasts, and more. The online world is a difficult place to stand out. Every business competes for attention, and many of the very people they’re trying to reach are weary of being the object of obsessive advertisement. When every company openly asks for money, it’s easy to understand why so many are jaded.


Churches count on the generous spirits of their congregations, but the side effects of incessant advertising doesn’t always match the hype. And that makes it more and more difficult to properly approach the giving conversation. Luckily, there’s one company that offers a clear blueprint for seeking monetary contributions in a respectful manner: Patreon.


Patreon is an online platform that allows content creators to discuss their projects with potential backers and gives those entrepreneurs an opportunity to build an audience. It’s not just small potatoes, either. There are a significant number of creators who make thousands a month from the platform.


It takes a lot of work to become successful on Patreon, but the methods to get there provide inspiration for churches too.


Others Freely Start the Conversation

People spend time on Patreon because they’re looking for things they might be interested in. They only contribute if they enjoy the content being produced. Because those people are initiating the conversation, they’re already open to paying for a service; they don’t need to be persuaded.


If a content creator wants to succeed, they must know what Patrons might be interested in and offer a service that meets them in that place.

If you’re a church, the equivalent means getting to know your congregation. What things can you do to meet your people throughout their daily lives? How can you enhance their experience and provide them a more comprehensive place to worship?


Many churches approach their people for gifts either during service or via the mail. Consider creating a place within the church that allows people to freely approach you and discuss their contributions. It’s much more inviting when the church provides an opportunity to discuss project plans in a dialogue, rather than always initiating a monologue.


People are Thanked for Their Generosity with Things That Matter to Them

The standard transaction on Patreon is no different than any business order: money is exchanged for a good or service. When it comes to those business transactions, that’s usually the end of the relationship; on Patreon, the first transaction is only the beginning.


Patreon creators openly dialogue with potential customers and offer incentives for their contributions. Many creators, for example, grant early access, consultations, personalized artwork, content, and much more. These incentives give a content creator the chance to meet and interact with Patrons, and through it, foster a charitable spirit founded upon respect and mutual appreciation.


In the church context, offering these sorts of incentives displays your own generosity and embodies the true spirit of Christ. What can you do to better serve your congregation? Do parents want events geared towards their children? Does your congregation desire personal stewardship classes to help them beat their debt? Through these interactions, you’ll form a stronger bond between your church and your people. People give to places that make them feel valued and loved.


Transparency Matters

Does your congregation know what their money is funding?


Many businesses get in trouble for ignoring stakeholders and simply using their funds for whatever they wish, but that’s never a problem on Patreon. If an artist on Patreon isn’t transparent, their ventures will never get off the ground.


In many churches, committees are formed to establish projects and budgets, but it’s easy for those discussions to exclude the people actually funding the vision.


Churches can benefit from allowing their congregations to share in the planning phase of projects, as well as celebrating with detailed reports and results when a project concludes. Be transparent with where your church’s money is going and what kind of impact it made.


Patreon reminds us of the importance of identifying, understanding, and earnestly serving an audience. As a church, identifying your audience is easy. What lengths will you go to truly serve those people?

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Alex Briggs
Alex Briggs
Contributing Author, Liberty Church
Alex is a Public Relations Specialist and contributing author for Liberty Church, a non-denominational church that serves multiple cities nationwide.