The 8:1 Communications Rule

Aug 1, 2019

Catholic Social Media’s research shows that nonprofits should be striving for a good communications-to-request ratio, otherwise known as the 8:1 communications rule. To put it another way, your parish should be sharing eight items of good news for every single item requesting assistance. Ignoring this rule of thumb risks making the church a “needy friend” in the minds of parishioners. And no one wants to be close to an organization that only reaches out when it needs help!

Good news includes the following:
  • Catechetical resources
  • Tips on prayer
  • Links to homilies
  • Updates on programs or initiatives in progress
  • Pictures of parish and Catholic school life
Requests for assistance include the following:
  • Calls for volunteers
  • Fundraising notices
  • Any event (parish festival, Bible study, etc.)

This week, take a look back through the last six months of your parish communications. When and how are you sharing good news with your parishioners? Luckily, pulpit announcements, the weekly bulletin, your parish Facebook page, and website are all built-in vehicles for sharing good news.

If you aren’t at that 8:1 ratio, how could you improve? First, what ministries or outreach programs are your “best kept secrets,” and how could you shine a spotlight on these important initiatives? (The hard part is shining that spotlight and resisting the urge to ask people to join!) Next, are you sharing readings of the day, prayer and praise reports, and snippets from the Catechism? These are all “good news” items! Last, do older people know what’s going on with kids in religious education, and is there a kids corner of your bulletin? The list of potential good news items is pretty large, if you just look around at parish life. Just ask yourself, “How do people need to be fed?”

By keeping this 8:1 communications rule in mind, you can maintain a rhythm of ministry updates, good news, parishioner spotlights, and thank-yous so funds and volunteers will be ready when you need them. (You can also train your parishioners to see that good news more often, but more on that later!)