Religious Ministry Predictions for 2009

In the context of this struggling economy, let me go out on a limb and make a few predictions of things we’re going to see in religious and non-profit media over the next year:

1)  The “easy way out” will be big.  Prosperity and gimmick guys will do well.  It’s because too many people look for easy answers in a tough economy.  Get set for more Jesus Junk and con-artists.

2) The pool will shrink – religious organizations and non-profits are getting fewer in number.  If you can survive, there will be less choice for givers in the future, and you may actually emerge stronger than ever.  While that sounds a bit crude, I think it will be reality.

3)  Lot’s of re-organization (to no avail).  Too many people think “reorganizing” means “progress.”  So when times get tough, they have meetings and reorganize things instead of actually being productive.

4)  Panic will ruin a lot of good organizations.  In tough times, too many leaders make decisions they’ll regret later.

5)  Those without a long-term strategy will fail.  If you’ve been simply living from month to month then get set for a shock.  The organizations that survive this downturn will be organizations that have been strategically planning for the future.  At Cooke Media Group, strategy matters for our clients.  So start thinking long-term.

What am I missing?

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  1. We’re already seeing some of that. My church just had to slice out $500,000 from their budget. As a result, they let go 8 full-time staff members and trimmed down the hours of 15 other employees. A lot of frustration and anger ensued…

    On the flip side, they have a $14 million building loan, in which they’re spending $1 million per year in interest (not to mention another $1.3 million on the principal). They were doing fine before because of continuous growth. In fact, they were planning a multi-million dollar addition to the main building not too long ago. But now, the industry that supported this town has fallen apart, and contributions have dropped.

    Budgets that worked a year ago are now crashing and burning.

  2. Trim $500k? What different worlds we live in… My church made the
    prayerful decision to increase our budget by about $10k (3%) despite
    running a ~$10k deficit in 2008… this decision is, of course, subject
    to approval by the congregation later this month, but it is our general
    belief that our budget should reflect what we are called to do – not
    what our spreadsheets say is possible.

  3. This may sound self serving, but I think we’re also going to see many more churches turn to a ‘virtual creative team’…freelance, contract work, outside studios will fill the gap left by downsizing of creative staff in a way that fits new budgets.

  4. I think we’re going to see the days of "were never going to ask for money on television" end and hopefully see responsible fundraising programs prevail.

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