Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic wife, mom, writer, editor, marketing professional, and coffee drinker. You’re just as likely to find her hiding out back with a book as you are to discover her playing in the yard with a few farm animals (or wait — are those her kids?) She is the author of many books, the most recent of which she co-edited with Lisa Hendey: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections. She blogs at SnoringScholar.com and writes online regularly at CatholicMom.com. Reinhard holds a master’s degree in marketing and communications and has worked for many years in corporate and nonprofit organizations. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and children.
This week, Flocknote and eCatholic announced an exciting partnership with the Archdiocese of New York. The Archdiocese is going to be equipping each of their 350+ parishes with both Flocknote and eCatholic.
The partnership hopes to accomplish a few goals. According to Matthew Warner, founder of Flocknote, “In working with thousands of parishes across the country, we've learned that one of the biggest hurdles for a parish is not just *having* technology, but it's having technology that they'll actually use and benefit from – which are two very different things! Both Flocknote and eCatholic have created simple approaches to solving key challenges at the parish, all in a way that a parish will actually use it. It's easy to implement and fun to keep using it, mostly because it immediately makes a parish or ministry leader's job easier.”
Using Flocknote, the Archdiocese will be able to connect and mobilize parishioners through text messages and email newsletters. In addition to building up an impressive parishioner contact database, the plan is to connect parishioners with not only ministry leaders and pastors, but also directly to their bishop.
Says Warner, “The truth is that the simple ability for a parish to email or text message all or some subset of their parishioners at any time is HUGE! In an age of endless new technologies and apps, it's easy to get distracted with novelty and gimmicks. But your parishioner's email address and mobile phone number are still the most important ways to connect with parishioners. And when used well, they are the most effective at both getting a message out and getting easy feedback captured in one easy place. Flocknote not only facilitates that in a way that works for a team of parish leaders, but it also helps you quickly gather all that important, up-to-date parishioner contact info in the first place (which is an important prerequisite, of course!)”
Thanks to eCatholic, parishes will be equipped with beautiful, mobile-responsive websites to both inform and inspire. The Archdiocese will also have the ability to cross-promote, automatically pushing Archdiocesan content to parishes and aggregating parish content on the Archdiocesan website.
“The parish website is usually the first impression that someone will have of a parish,” according to Josh Simmons, founder of eCatholic. “It’s also the anchor and home base for all other forms of communication in the parish. Whether we’re communicating through social media, email, flyers, or the bulletin, everything ultimately points back to our website. When done right, the website provides an effective and efficient way to streamline and simplify all communication.”
Simmons continues, “With eCatholic, the parishes of New York will have a simple way to create and maintain a beautiful, mobile-responsive website that will not only inform, but also inspire to action the people they serve. This will lead to more active, flourishing parishes throughout New York.”
Warner hopes that this partnership will help parishes do a better job of communicating the work they’re doing. “The Church has the greatest story to tell. Every parish has a great story to tell, an ongoing story that every parishioner would love to be a part of...if only they knew how they could be. Parishes are doing amazing, inspiring things every day. But they do a bad job of communicating that to their parishioners, inspiring them to get more involved. And even from an administrative standpoint, we do a poor job of simply letting people know about the wonderful opportunities at their parish.”
Simmons points out, “Lack of engagement and participation are often simply a result of poor communication. How can someone be involved if they are unaware of the opportunities? Why would they want to be engaged if they’re not inspired to do so?”
That’s where Flocknote and eCatholic come into play.
“Honestly, as a Church, we can’t afford to not invest in improving our communication,” says Simmons. “Communication is a cornerstone of effective evangelization and catechesis. Plus, the financial investment is not as much as you might think. We are able to provide eCatholic and Flocknote to every parish in the Archdiocese of New York for less per-parish than the monthly price of one smartphone.”