The budget is tight for your ministry internship program, but enrollment needs to go up. So what do you do? Having worked with Christian ministries and churches for over twenty years, we’ve learned some simple steps that you can take to raise enrollment without raising expenditures. Here’s what we’ve learned through the decades.
Tell Great Stories
Whether your marketing budget is big or small, every dollar you spend to promote your ministry internship program matters. But don’t be tricked into thinking that expensive videos or websites are where you always need to spend your money. Often the most cost effective upgrade to your marketing is your storytelling.
People don’t buy products or services. They buy the story of the lives impacted by those products and services. This is true whether they are buying a t-shirt or a discipleship program. When a potential ministry intern sees your advertisement or social media post, they are not asking, “Is that an awesome video?” Instead, they are asking, “Will my life be better if I enroll?”
So tell them the story of their life with your training program. Counterintuitively, this often means talking less about you and more about them in your marketing. You’ll be surprised how much strong storytelling can impact your recruitment.
Publicly Recognize Your Ministry Internship Program Graduates
The most successful recruitment tool is always the referral. When a graduate from your ministry internship program tells someone else how great their experience was, that “advertisement” is worth more than anything you can pay a marketing firm to produce. And the best part is, referrals are free! But sometimes your graduates need help in finding an opportunity to talk about their experiences. A graduation ceremony or official announcement can be just the opportunity your graduates are looking for.
Depending on the nature and situation of your ministry, you have many options for how you do this. You can plan a separate, stand-alone graduation ceremony with caps and gowns and the works. But there are also many no-cost or low-cost ways to do this, as well.
A candid video testimonial can be shot with an iPhone on a low cost tripod, and a cheap bluetooth lav mic. Set up a stool in an iconic spot on your property, ask some pointed questions, and record. Don’t overproduce. Gen Z is drawn to real. Drop testimonials into your YouTube channel and your social feeds. Also link them in your outreach efforts.
If your ministry internship program is a part of a church or has a strong church partnership, see if you can take 15 or 20 minutes during a Sunday morning service to announce your graduates and talk about your program. This is usually a win-win for all parties involved. The church gets some extra visitors (those coming to see your graduates) and your graduates have a crowd of people wanting to talk with them about their experiences in your program.
Offer Ministry Interns Credit Towards a Degree
Offering credit to students who complete your program can bring a lot of benefits both to the student and to the program itself (read more on that here). Ministry leaders shy away from this because they think it is either too hard or too expensive (see why its not here). This is the whole reason we began Eleven:6. We know the value that offering credit can bring to your immersive training program and can help you get there without the cost and hassle it would otherwise bring you.
We have a proven and effective process that helps you convert your current ministry internship program, church residency, or Christian gap year program, into one that offers credit for students wanting to complete a degree. And because of the tuition sharing agreements we have with partner schools, we do not even need to charge you for any of our services. So without any additional cost to you, your program can begin offering credit to your students. This increases the value and reputation of your program, which in turn can increase your enrollment.
Raising your enrollment does not have to cost you more money. There are steps you can take today that can increase the number of students enrolling with your program, even without spending more.
For over twenty years, Eleven:6 has been helping ministry leaders launch immersive training programs that can also earn students credit towards a degree. If you are working to make this transition, then schedule a call with us, today.