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How to Decide if Your Organization’s Ministry Needs Its Own Website

Does your organization focus on more than one area of ministry? Maybe you also run a faith-based conference with lots of name recognition. Or perhaps you have a service offering that’s a bit removed from everything else you do. You might even be in talks to add an entirely new initiative to complement your mission. 

Whatever the case may be, you need to consider how these different-but-related ministries affect your website and the strategy behind it. Namely, should you have sister sites for each? Or just one website that represents your entire brand—for example, conferences and services alike? 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer because selecting a single website or several comes down to the needs of your unique audience. The good news is that four universal factors help every ministry make the right choice. 

Why Effectively Organizing Your Ministries Matters

Your ministry serves many diverse audiences, each requiring multiple offerings to suit their needs. It’s crucial to invest time and real brainpower into understanding how to organize and present information to best reach these varied audiences—whether that means having one website or more. 

Why? Because when you make the right choices about your site(s), your content will resonate perfectly with both prospective and current constituents. They’ll be able to find the information they want and need easily because it’s organized sensically. And your mission will spread further as a result. 

The 4 A’s of Choosing Your Ministry’s Website Structure

As promised, four factors that can lead you down the right path when it comes to finding digital homes for your various ministries. Remember, making the right decision will better connect you with your ministry’s members. 

1. Audience 

Understanding the people you’re trying to reach assists you in deciding how to handle each ministry’s site. If the audience of your parent organization and your specific ministry are essentially one in the same, having a single website is probably your best bet. 

Just think about a standard church. Yes, a church tends to have many ministries and outreach programs—youth groups, social ministries, missions, and so on. Obviously, the target member of each of those groups varies. But it’s still one church. Having just one website makes it clear that the church itself is the linchpin of all of its ministries. And that the church has something to offer every current and discerning constituent. 

On the other hand, if the audiences of your parent organization and a specific ministry don’t have much in common, a separate website is likely the way to go. A dedicated website allows you to focus your messaging on an exact audience. 

Consider Cru and Athletes in Action. Cru, a nonprofit bringing ministries to college campuses worldwide, is the parent organization. Athletes in Action is a subsidiary of Cru that specifically targets collegiate athletes. Athletes in Action could live in the navigation on Cru’s main website, but their audience is niche enough to warrant their own site. After all, getting student athletes to follow Christ requires an approach distinct from how Cru might wish to reach their other audiences. 

We even broke out Agathon for Ministries from our parent brand. Having a separate site allows us to address the bespoke needs of ministries so that the people who require our help most can find us, understand our message, and feel confident in our ability to assist them.

2. Autonomy 

Look at your ministry’s team. Is there a clear divide between the people who work on projects for your parent organization and those who work on projects for your  specific ministry? If so, separate websites make the most sense. That’s because delegating a website to the people most closely involved with the ministry is usually more efficient for all parties involved. 

Say, for instance, your ministry hosts a well-known industry conference. The folks who put the conference together are largely an independent team. If they had to work within the parent organization’s website, they’d have to run every decision up the ladder of the larger organization. It takes time to finagle that kind of red tape. Giving them their own website avoids publishing bottlenecks and generally puts them in the best position to be as efficient as possible in manning the conference. 

3. Access

Analyzing how your website users access and arrive at the information they need can help you decide whether one or multiple sites is right for you. 

Let’s return to our conference example. If your conference has become a household name, some people will probably google the conference and not your parent organization. If most of your constituents are finding your conference via its own name, all the more reason to give it its own space on the web. Just be sure to cross-link between the parent site and the conference site. 

Conversely, if your parent organization is popular but your conference is new and therefore relatively unknown, housing the conference within your main site might lend credibility to the conference while it’s in its infancy. You could always reassess and create a separate website for the conference down the line. 

At the end of the day, you of course want people to get to the content most relevant to them regardless of how they get there. But understanding their path can be key in making website decisions. 

4. Administration

Now for a more practical consideration: website administration and maintenance. Having multiple ministry websites can potentially fragment and complicate the work of keeping each site up to date. 

That said, using the right technology/SaaS platform solves most maintenance issues—even if you do have more than one website. Your sites can and should all be hosted on the same platform (like WordPress) so you can manage them all in one place. 

One time SaaS platforms aren’t the answer is when technology is the point of your website, as is the case with ecommerce websites or learning management systems. Those generally have to be built from the ground up, requiring separate site administration. 

The long and the short of it? Be sure you grasp the upkeep needs of your website(s) before launching more. 

It All Comes Back to Your Ministry’s Audience  

If you only retain one ‘A’ from this article, make it “audience.” Your ministry’s audience members—your constituents—are the lifeblood of your organization. You know that better than anyone.  

If you keep your audience and their needs at the forefront of any website decisions you make for your organization and its different ministries you can’t go wrong.

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