You spend a lot of time planning great inclusion activities and outreaches especially focused to bless families with special-needs in your area. So how do you spread the word so families know they are welcome? Here are five ideas to get you started ...
- Your email list. At each event you do, you should be building an email list of guests. Your church probably uses an email list manager (like MailChimp), and sending an email to the families on the list is simple! At our events, we do registration on an iPad. You could also register families by doing a giveaway they enter by sharing their name and email address with you. Let them know they will be added to a list to receive updates about future events.
- Facebook. Even with their ever-changing algorithms, they are still the most effective way to reach families in your area. Consider doing a video "commercial" for your event. Videos are very popular right now. Or boost your post so it reaches a specific audience, like men and women between 20-50 years old who live within 15 miles of your church. From my experience, Facebook is the most popular social media platform for special-needs families because most don't have time to be on lots of different sites. It's worth the investment of time and advertising dollars.
- Therapy places. Most therapy places and pediatricians' offices have bulletin boards or message boards in their waiting rooms for local events. Ask if you can put up pamphlets or posters where families will easily see them. You could even print on them, "Take a picture of this poster with your phone so you don't forget!"
- Word of mouth. The families already involved in your church are a huge asset to helping reach new families. If they love your church and feel comfortable there, they will tell their friends. Remind them they have an important mission field every where they go—waiting rooms while their kids are doing therapy, Special Olympics, and community support groups. Make it easy for them to share by having pamphlets or business cards they can pass out to friends.
- Schools (if possible). In some areas, schools are receptive to sharing activities churches are doing with their students enrolled in special education, especially if it's a free event (like a sensory friendly movie or a respite night). They may be willing to send handouts home with students or even email parents. It doesn't hurt to ask!