Effective Fall Festival Follow-Up

Whew….you breathe a sigh of relief.  The Fall Festival is over!  That was a lot of work.  It took many hours of planning, organizing, recruiting, and advertising to pull it off.  Now you’re ready to relax.

Hang on.  Before you close the books on the event…don’t miss one of the most important elements.  Follow-up.

You probably had lots of new families on your church property for the event.  The big question…”How do I get them to come back for regular services?” 

Here’s some tips for effective Fall Festival follow-up.

Make sure they have a good experience at the event.  If people are rude to them, if their kids don’t get much candy, or if the festival doesn’t match what was advertised…it doesn’t matter how much you follow up.  They won’t come back. 

Get their contact information.  You can’t follow up without it.  Just ask for basic info.  Keep it simple and quick.  People hate filling out long forms.  You’ll see ways to get contact information in the follow-up ideas below.

Have a box they can check to receive more info. about the ministry.  It’s polite to ask people’s permission to send them information.  If you don’t, it will feel like a bait and switch. 

Have a table or booth set up with church information, brochures, etc.  Staff it with friendly volunteers who can answer questions.

Have a drawing for some large prizes like a bike, family meal certificate to a local restaurant, movie tickets, etc.  Ask people to register for the drawing. 

Pick the winners for the prize drawing the day after the festival and then notify them.  Have them pick up their prize after a church service.  Tell people when they sign up when the winners will be notified and where they will pick up their prizes.

Have a free photo spot with a professional photographer.  Offer to email them the picture.  

Have people register for a free gift that they receive right on the spot.  It might be something as simple as a full-size candy bar for their kids.  With all the mini-candy bars being passed out, you’d be surprised how many people will give you their contact info. just to get a large candy bar for their child. 

Follow up as quickly as possible. If you follow up within 48 hours, the likelihood of them returning goes up.

Send them an email thanking them for coming.  Include information about weekend services or other upcoming events.  Keep it short and simple.  If they had their picture taken per above, you can attach it to this email.

Send them a handwritten note on church stationary.  Include a coupon that they can redeem for a free gift the next time they attend the church.  It might be a drink for the parents and a small toy for the kids.

Put them on a mailing list of people you invite to special church events, programs, etc.  (with their permission)

Let them know up front that you are not going to show up on their door step the next week.  People will be hesitant to give you their information if they think you are going to show up at their house unannounced. 

How do you know if your follow-up was effective?  A good measuring stick is how many of those families are part of your church a year later?  Can you write any names down?  The ultimate purpose is to see families reached and discipled.

What are some other ideas you have used to follow up after a festival?
What has worked?  What has not worked?

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Dale Hudson
Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 28 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)

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