Your Parish Needs Better Graphics (And Here’s How To Help)

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Parish Designer

Michael Marchand knows parishes. He’s been a youth minister for ten years and he helps run ProjectYM.com, one of the largest youth ministry sites in the world.

During his years of experience he’s noticed a common problem. Friends and parish staff routinely ask the same question:

How do I get better graphics for my parish or ministry on a very limited budget?

When it comes to graphic design, most Catholic parishes are way behind the curve. They typically do one of two things:

1) Publish ugly, pixelated, and out-of-date graphics.

2) Rope their youth minister into designing all the graphics, posters, and fliers for the parish—even if he or she has no design experience.

In an ideal world, every parish would have a full-time graphic designer on staff making sure that everything they put out (both in print and online) is beautiful and well-designed. But very few parishes have that kind of budget.

So most parishes have been stuck. Until now.

This morning, Michael unveiled an exciting new service called ParishDesigner.com. Check it out:
 
 

 
 
I asked Michael if he would be willing to answer a few questions about ParishDesigner.com, and he kindly agreed:
 
 
BRANDON: You’ve worked in parishes for a long time. Why do so many of them have trouble designing beautiful graphics?

Michael MarchandMICHAEL MARCHAND: It’s true. I’ve been in full-time parish ministry for almost 10 years, in four different parishes, and not one of those parishes publishes consistently beautiful graphics. In fact, most of the “design work” that comes out of most Catholic parishes is embarrassing.

I think there are three key reasons that so many parishes have graphic design trouble:

First, it’s nobody’s job. There is no one on staff who is in charge of visual media, which means every staff member, every department, is cobbling together their own graphics—and chances are those staff members are not trained or skilled graphic designers. The end result is sloppy, inconsistent, and unprofessional graphics.

Think about this: more people see the graphics your parish puts out (bulletin, website, Facebook, signage, etc.) than hear the music at Mass on Sunday. Most parishes have at least one full-time person coordinating, organizing, and running the music at your parish. The end result (hopefully) is a consistent, polished, and professional sounding choir or band. What if you had at least one skilled and professional person handling all the graphic design needs for your parish? The end result would be consistent, polished, and professional graphics.

Second, we’re not willing to pay for it. Honestly, for some parishes it doesn’t matter if a graphic designer charged $50 or $5,000—they just don’t see design as something we should pay for. We’d rather have mediocre graphics created by a volunteer (or an overworked youth minister who made the mistake of telling someone he knew how to use Photoshop) than pay someone to do it well.

We think what we are doing is “good enough for ministry”.

However, both of the above problems are really a symptom of a third:

We don’t think design matters.

We just don’t. Our parishes have created this false idea—bordering on delusion—that people will automatically come to church, get involved in ministry, donate their time, and give their money. If that was really true, then we wouldn’t need good graphics or any kind of marketing, outreach, or evangelization. But you and I both know that’s not the case.

BRANDON: Why does good design matter?

MICHAEL: Because people are drawn to beautiful and expressive imagery.
Because images can quickly communicate complex messages.
Because images create instant engagement with your content.
Because people remember imagery far longer than text alone.

The fact is, we live in an increasingly visual world. Take a look at sites like Instagram, YouTube, and even Facebook: they’re all built around visual media.

Visual media is the language of the world we live in. Thus it’s the medium we must use to evangelize. Jesus spoke in parables, and we need to speak in videos, memes, Instagram photos, and websites.

Take a look at the images your parish is producing (print, digital, web). Are they beautiful and expressive? Do the communicate effectively? Are the engaging and memorable? Do they add value to your message or distract from it?

We have been entrusted to share the greatest news of all time, and we should be using every tool at our disposal to do so. We need to give up the mentality of “good enough for the Church”, and strive for excellence, beauty, and professionalism.

BRANDON: Today you announced ParishDesigner.com, a brilliant service for parishes who need great designs on a budget. How does it work?

MICHAEL: It’s build around the subscription model—something that has been popularized by companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon.

When your parish signs up for ParishDesigner.com, we assign you one of our full-time, professional graphic designers. He effectively joins your staff and is now part of your team.

Each month, your designer can create up to three complete design packages for your parish. For example, if you’ve got a parish mission coming up, you send us the theme, dates, times, etc. . We’ll then create a poster for the narthex, a postcard to mail to your parishioners, and a Facebook graphic to promote it online&mdaash;and that’s all just ONE design package! For each package you’ll be able to choose from flyers, posters, social media graphics, tshirts, postcards, letterhead, business cards and more. We’ll send you the digital files, but we can also go ahead and get things printed and shipped to your door!

The beauty in the subscription model is that you always have a designer on call—and even better, you’ll have the same designer working on all of your graphics, so there’s consistent and professional branding.

BRANDON: How much does ParishDesigner.com cost, and how does that compare to hiring a freelance graphic designer?

MICHAEL: When we first dreamed up the idea of ParishDesigner.com, the primary goal was to give parishes the ability to have high quality, custom designed graphics at a price point that would fit any church’s budget.

But we also wanted to make sure we were able to hire a great team of professional designers so that parishes got the high quality graphics that every ministry deserves.

Finding the balance between those two goals is difficult…

If you went looking for a professional graphic designer to put together a design package for a major event at your parish, you’d easily spend $200, $400, $700, maybe over $1,000 depending on the designer. Good design can quickly add up.

Let’s say you found a great designer willing to do the work for $200. Chances are, no matter how happy you were with his work, you’d probably only use his services a handful of times a year (if that many). Not because you don’t want great graphics for everything your parish is doing, but because you don’t have an extra $2,000 or $3,000 in your budget.

So then how does ParishDesigner.com plan to offer THREE design packages a month “at a price point that would fit any church’s budget”? Even if we were able to cut that bargain designer’s rates in half, you’d still be looking at $300 a month or $3,600 a year, for three monthly design packages.

I’m guessing that’s not in your church’s budget. (I know it’s not in mine.)

But we’re hoping this is:

$75 per month.

That gets you a professional designer, cranking out three design packages each and every month for your parish. That’s only $25 per package!

I have some even better news:

Right now, we’re in our BETA launch phase. Basically that means we’re only taking on small number of parishes to test out this new model (and by small I mean only 25). If you sign up now as one of those BETA parishes, you’ll get an extra 30% discount! That’s three design packages a month for only $52.

So visit ParishDesigner.com and sign up today!

“Thérèse, Faustina, and Bernadette” Book Giveaway!

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“Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.” – St. Augustine

 
Since I’ve built up a large collection of extra books and resources, every week I give some away absolutely free, no strings attached.

Each giveaway lasts seven days with a new one beginning every Friday. You can enter any time during the week. Check out my past giveaways here.
 


 
ThereseBanner

Thanks to the good folks at Ave Maria Press, I’m giving away TEN copies of a beautiful new book, Thérèse, Faustina and Bernadette:
 

 

Thérèse, Faustina, and Bernadette: Three Saints Who Challenged My Faith, Gave Me Hope, and Taught Me How to Love

by Elizabeth Ficocelli

Ave Maria Press, 192 pages, paperback
Released on March 10, 2014

ThereseAuthor, speaker, and retreat leader Elizabeth Ficocelli introduces her readers to three remarkable women saints who became not only her role models, but also her life-changing friends. Thérèse, Faustina, and Bernadette taught Ficocelli about faith, hope, and love, and showed her what true Catholic womanhood looks like.

Some of the best saint stories are not about wonder-workers, but rather the everyday saints–friends who understand the challenges of marriage and motherhood and the banalities of day-to-day life. Bestselling author Elizabeth Ficocelli discovered three such friends in Thérèse of Lisieux, Faustina of the Divine Mercy, and Bernadette of Lourdes. The witness of their lives moved Ficocelli to cultivate the virtues of faith, hope, and love as she journeyed from a successful career as a marketing executive to what she found was a more authentic, even counter-cultural Catholic womanhood. Ficocelli offers women the wisdom of these saints for their own spiritual journeys.

 


 
I’m using Rafflecopter to help with the giveaway, which is cool because it allows you multiple entries for commenting, posting on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc. Click below to enter:


(If you’re reading this through email or RSS and don’t see the giveaway widget, click here.)

By entering this giveaway you agree to occasionally receive email updates from me—no spam, just updates about new blog posts, giveaways, and books.
 


 
The winner(s) will be randomly selected next Friday and the books will be sent out, free of charge, shortly thereafter.

In the future I’ll be giving away more books and resources, sometimes multiple items per giveaway! So subscribe via feed reader or email to ensure you never miss your chance to win.

(Since I’m covering the shipping costs, only residents within the continental United States are eligible to win.)

St. Lawrence and the True Treasures of the Church

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St. Lawrence

Today marks the feast day of St. Lawrence of Rome, whose courage and commitment to the poor inspired me to choose him for my confirmation saint.

Persecution was a daily reality for St. Lawrence and other third-century Christians. And in 258, the Emperor Valerian began another massive round. He issued an edict commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should be put to death, and he gave the Imperial treasury power to confiscate all money and possessions from Christians.

In light of the news, Pope Sixtus II quickly ordained a young Spanish theologian, Lawrence, to become archdeacon of Rome. The important position put Lawrence in charge of the Church’s riches, and it gave him responsibility for the Church’s outreach to the poor. The pope sensed his own days were numbered and therefore commissioned Lawrence to protect the Church’s treasure.

On August 6, 258, Valerian captured Pope Sixtus while he celebrated the liturgy, and had him beheaded. Afterwards, he set his sights on the pope’s young protégé, Lawrence. But before killing him, the Emperor demanded the archdeacon turn over all the riches of the Church. And he gave Lawrence three days to round it up.

Lawrence worked swiftly. He sold the Church’s vessels and gave the money to widows and the sick. He distributed all the Church’s property to the poor. On the third day, the Emperor summoned Lawrence to his palace and asked for the treasure. With great aplomb, Lawrence entered the palace, stopped, and then gestured back to the door where, streaming in behind him, poured crowds of poor, crippled, blind, and suffering people. “These are the true treasures of the Church,” he boldly proclaimed. One early account even has him adding, “The Church is truly rich, far richer than the Emperor.”

Unsurprisingly, Lawrence’s act of defiance angered the Emperor. Valerian ordered his death that same day. Hundreds of year later, Lawrence is still remembered for his final jest: while being barbecued alive, he quipped to his executioners, “I’m well done. Turn me over!” But we should also hail Lawrence for his keen insight regarding the Church’s real treasure.

“Saints and Social Justice” Giveaway!

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“Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.” – St. Augustine

 
Since I’ve built up a large collection of extra books and resources, every week I give some away absolutely free, no strings attached.

Each giveaway lasts seven days with a new one beginning every Friday. You can enter any time during the week. Check out my past giveaways here.
 


 
SSJBanner

Thanks to the good folks at Our Sunday Visitor, I’m giving away TEN copies of my just-released book, Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World:
 

 

Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World

by Brandon Vogt

Our Sunday Visitor, 192 pages, paperback
Released on June 20, 2014

Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the WorldCatholic social teaching has explosive power for changing not just individuals, but whole societies. And it’s the saints who light the fuse.

The value of human life. The call to family and community. Serving the poor. The rights of workers. Care for creation.

The church has always taught certain undeniable truths that can and should affect our society. But over the years, these teachings have been distorted, misunderstood, and forgotten.

With the help of fourteen saints, it’s time we reclaim Catholic social teaching and rediscover it through the lives of those who best lived it out. Follow in the saints’ footsteps, learn from their example, and become the spark of authentic social justice that sets the world on fire.

Learn from heroes like:

- Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
- St. Peter Claver
- St. Frances of Rome
- St. Roque Gonzalez
- Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
- St. Damien of Molokai
- St. John Paul II

100% of the royalties from this book will be donated to Catholic Charities USA to feed and clothe those in need.
 


 
I’m using Rafflecopter to help with the giveaway, which is cool because it allows you multiple entries for commenting, posting on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc. Click below to enter:


(If you’re reading this through email or RSS and don’t see the giveaway widget, click here.)

By entering this giveaway you agree to occasionally receive email updates from me—no spam, just updates about new blog posts, giveaways, and books.
 


 
The winner(s) will be randomly selected next Friday and the books will be sent out, free of charge, shortly thereafter.

In the future I’ll be giving away more books and resources, sometimes multiple items per giveaway! So subscribe via feed reader or email to ensure you never miss your chance to win.

(Since I’m covering the shipping costs, only residents within the continental United States are eligible to win.)

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  • "There is only one tragedy in the end, not to have been a saint." - Léon Bloy