When we think about small and medium size businesses that are bogged down with paper intensive work processes, we think of establishments in healthcare, education and law. In fact, we’ve addressed all three in recent posts. But churches?

Most people think of their church as an extension of their family, so it’s easy to forget that they have the same needs as other businesses. That includes communicating with their customers – in this case, their congregants. Just like any other SMB, churches are always looking to grow. They’re also paper driven, and as such, face the same challenges as their for profit counterparts.

A 2013 Gallup research poll1 showed that approximately 40% of Americans say they belong to a church or a house of worship. That’s around 118 million people. With church services and events as the lifeblood of any house of worship, maintaining effective communication is the key to an active and engaged congregation – and to building or growing one.

Building a Base with Paper

Communicating with an audience as demographically varied as that of a church presents a unique challenge. Young and old, families, single people and retirees, churches and religious communities need to be able to reach each one. That requires a variety of mediums. Here are the 9 methods they’re using, according to Church Today.

  1. Verbal announcements and church bulletins. Perhaps the most ubiquitous ‘take away’ still in use, the church bulletin is as important to many worshipers as the service itself.
  2. Social Media. Surprised? In an age where social media dominates our interactions, it makes sense that churches are climbing on board to reach their congregants – especially millennials, teens and tweens.
  3. Email. Churches are increasingly using services like Constant Contact to                                                         reach and track their target demographics.
  4. Announcements. Printed announcements are the number one way churches spread the news about special events and fundraisers, making them among the most important and frequently used mediums.
  5. Flyers. For promoting rummage sales and bible study classes as examples, the church flyer is almost as ubiquitous as the church bulletin.
  6. Video Announcements. This is a recent change, one that less than 40% of churches have adopted, likely owing to the inequalities in cost vs. return.
  7. Phone calls. While not the most modern or efficient way to get the word out, many churches still activate the phone tree to alert congregants to events, changes in programming, or other important news. In many cases this medium is selected simply for its cost efficiency.
  8. Print newsletters. Newsletters complement the weekly bulletin, coordinating a range of information all in one central location.
  9. Text messages. Recent research has noted that larger churches are borrowing from the playbook of schools and using group texts to communicate messages such as event reminders or cancellations.

The Surprising Challenge They Face

While churches face many of the same challenges as their other SMB counterparts, they also face one big challenge unique to them: language barriers.

According to the US Census, more than 17% of Americans speak a language other than English at home. Churches are increasingly offering services in multiple languages in order to better meet the needs of their congregants – and reach new ones. Finding religious leaders who speak multiple languages, or translating services might seem like the whole story, but in fact, it’s just the first step. Adjusting communications to their non-English speaking audience across the wide variety of mediums listed above can be the greatest challenge of all.

One Machine, Multiple Solutions

Help has arrived from Xerox in the form of Easy Translator, a comprehensive suite of cloud translation services that is ideal for mid-sized office environments that have the need to translate documents. Available only as a special feature on ConnectKey-enabled Xerox MFPs, its key features include instant machine language translations. This offering enables you to easily translate and localize over 35 languages, including Spanish, French, German, Lithuanian, Japanese, and Hmong Daw from your MFP, phone or PC, and more languages will soon be available. You can also output to more than 20 file formats, including paper, JPG, MS Office, and PDF.

Smart multifunction printers built on ConnectKey Technology™ can do much more than just print, scan, fax and copy. They make it possible for you to turn your multifunction printer into the center of a complete productivity ecosystem, right out of the box. While options like Easy Translator open up possibilities you’d never imagined, the real benefits of ConnectKey Technology™ are found in your day to day routine.

With Easy Translator on your ConnectKey™ enabled MFPS, now churches can translate everything from the weekly bulletin and rummage sale flyer to their group emails with just a few taps. It’s really that easy. Take a look at this video to see how Easy Translator is making it easier for SMBs all over the world to communicate with their customers. Ready to open up new customer opportunities by translating your product information into multiple languages in just minutes? Click here to get started.

ConnectKey also saves you money with tools to help your staff and volunteers work more efficiently. Custom default settings help you save money on toner and ink and reduce wasteful printing – a major game changer when printed communications are your go-to medium. You can also enable custom permissions that distinguish between routine users like your staff, and walk-up users, like your many volunteers. And its intuitive interface and large touch points make it easy for anyone to use.

In an age where even the clergy are relying on their smart phones and tablets, churches will be glad to find that MFPs built on the ConnectKey™ platform were designed with the mobile workforce in mind. Get work done anywhere, from any device, with a wide suite of apps that work with any mobile platform. ConnectKey Technology™ also makes your dream (or perhaps, your employees dream) of a paperless office a reality. Eliminate all those boxes and filing cabinets and go paperless with easy to use scanning features that make a paperless office a reality for anyone, at any level of experience.

The Saving Grace: Managing Costs – and a little something extra

Translating all those communications may be a vital step, but perhaps the most vital consideration is cost. Churches are typically not-for-profit, making cost management a weighty concern. So much more than just a large office printer, the dynamic Xerox C60/C70 does much of the same work you’d expect from a Production printer. That means it can be used to print not only regular office documents but also documents that require special finishing like stapled booklets (bulletins, religious study materials), poster signs up to 13×19.2, invitations, promotion and fund raising items in addition to their scanning/copying and faxing capabilities too. Churches who outsource printing as little as 1,000 pages will find they can afford a C60/C70 by bringing all their printing in-house.

Not everything a church prints and distributes is about news and events. Funerals and wedding services require a special touch. Many families find they have to handle those touches themselves, often turning to print shops to get the job done. Imagine the convenience of entrusting those products right to the people intimately involved in the service? The incredible image quality of the C60/C70 makes it possible.

But the advantages of Xerox don’t end there. Products like the Xerox ColorQube 8580 make it possible for churches to print in color for the same price as black and white, adding extra impact to everything from the Sunday bulletin to wedding programs, all while helping churches manage their costs. This compact, efficient machine is also easy to use and delivers outstanding print quality.

Churches across the country count on the wide range of Xerox MFP’s to help them bring their congregants together. These cost effective machines offer a wide range of options that everyone from Pastors to church office staff can use. Find out more about what makes them special, and see why so many houses of worship are relying on Xerox to help them spread the Word.

1. 2013 Gallup Poll

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