There are a lot of pieces involved in putting on a successful Trunk or Treat. First there are all the details involved in setting up a Trunk or Treat: getting the church members involved, decorating cars, food, music, games, bounce houses. Then there is promotion and publicity. After all if you don’t get the word out then no children from outside your church will show up. The list can seem endless.
All of these activities are necessary but from my experience most churches do a pretty good job managing these various tasks. Promotion probably could use the most help from the list above but the item I am thinking of is not even on that list.
The missing piece:
What? you may be thinking. How can that possibly be the most important? It is the most important thing that churches do not do and I’m going to show you why this one overlooked task is the most important task that is not done.
How are you going to stay in touch?
If you don’t collect email address how will you stay in touch with the visitors who attended your Trunk or Treat? The answer is you probably can’t but with email you suddenly have the ability to reach out after Halloween is over. There is a variety of information that you should be sending them: other children’s events (children’s choir, Christmas dramas and events, Thanksgiving events). Then there is information that might appeal to the parents. Each church is different but maybe an email about Sunday School classes for parents of elementary school, social opportunities, the pastors sermons, invitation to attend church. You don’t want to overwhelm them but one or two emails a week will begin to take them from an attendee at your Trunk-or-Treat to an active church member and follower of Jesus.
The good news is it does not take that long to put all of this information together. A good email service like MailChimp can make automating your emails easy. There are tutorials on their site so I won’t go into all the details but first you will set up an email list. Call it something like Trunk-or-treat kids. Now add the emails you collected. First name and email address is all you are going to need to collect.
Next set up your emails that you want to send out. On MailChimp it is called Automation. Others may call it something else, but they all do the same thing. You’ll decide when you want to send the email out. I recommend sending out a thank you for attending our Trunk or Treat within a couple days of the event. The others should be about upcoming events or programs at church both for parents and children. If your church is organized you may have enough information to write emails that cover all the way to January. Most churches though find creating emails for the next month work well. Just remember that you need to write the next set of emails the beginning of December. Make a commitment to stay in touch with them for one year. Set aside a couple hours every month to write the emails. If you keep a list of what you want to send them you’ll be able to cut the actual writing down to less than an hour.
By doing this you have turned a one time event into a outreach ministry that will have results. MailChimp is free until you get 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 emails per month so your cost is going to be your time. Once you start this outreach you’ll find other events where it makes sense to collect email addresses and start another outreach list. Don’t add them to the same list because they’ll receive the outdated emails.
If you found this helpful let me know and we’ll expand on it in other posts. You also might want to check out our post on how to promote Trunk or Treat in 2015.