Adapting to Digital Ministry with Doug Weiss

Last week on the Ministry at Scale Podcast, Chad Williams interviewed Doug Weiss, the founder of Ministry MarCom. Doug shared his best advice for developing a ministry “Action Plan”, measuring success, and trying new forms of content in the ever-changing nonprofit landscape.

Who is Doug Weiss?

Doug Weiss is the founder of the Ministry MarCom Podcast, where he shares his knowledge from over 20 years in the ministry marketing communications (hence the name “MarCom”) at ministries such as CRU, Jesus Film Project, and The Giving Company – where he currently works as a Digital Strategist.

Ministry MarCom’s most popular form of content is what Doug calls the nonprofit “Action Plans”: a simple list of action items to help nonprofits think through everything they might need to better leverage digital content (think: social media accounts, websites, or advertising).

Adapting to Digital Ministry in 2020

Every organization was impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, so Chad asked Doug how he had seen ministries respond digitally in 2020. Here are some highlights:

Video Content
Several ministries that Doug works with created and promoted Youtube-type content on a regular basis. One ministry saw incredible results with their audience’s engagement with video content and Youtube Live.

Adding Ministry Outlets
It may be tempting to view marketing communication as a way to promote ministry, but the reality is that it should be used as an outlet for ministry opportunities. Doug noted that in 2020, ministries started realizing that people around the world are in a place where they are re-evaluating their outlook on life. This trend can be seen in increased engagement with social media, email communications, chat boxes, and Google searches. Increased engagement opens the door for organizations to answer people’s questions and provide helpful resources, or “ministry outlets.”

Google Ads Grant
Another “outlet” ministries have taken advantage of is website traffic, specifically through the Google Ads Grant. Nonprofits who qualify for the Google Ads Grant receive $10,000 of free advertising through Google Search Ads, allowing ministries to drive traffic to relevant resources that people are searching for. For more information about the Ads Grant, and how to get started, check out our Google Ads Grant Guide.

Measuring Success

Oftentimes, ministries are measuring KPIs (key performance indicators) that don’t give helpful insights or grow ministry efforts – we call these “vanity metrics.”

Doug says that, instead, ministries should be measuring the success of desired user journeys; or in simpler terms, asking the question, “Are people coming to our website and taking the next step that we want them to take?”

These next steps might look like signing up for an email list or downloading a resource. In general, if someone only comes to your website once (and never comes back) there is a disconnect between that visitor and your ministry.

In order to measure this KPI of ‘next step taken,’ you need to collect data about a user’s journey on your website. There are plenty of tools that can make up your website’s “digital plumbing”: Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, Journity, etc. Having the proper digital plumbing in place ensures that there are no “leaks” when it comes to knowing your audience and their website behavior.

So how do you look at the data and know if your marketing content is working or not? The answer is testing. Doug recommends small-scale tests and A/B tests with variables such as pop-ups, small content changes, or links provided sooner in an email. He mentions that it might be helpful to look for test ideas outside of the nonprofit space. Maybe a bigger brand has already tested the thing you want to try and found great success!

Digital Trends in 2021

Looking forward to 2021, what are some digital trends Doug sees on the horizon?

Increased use of video content

Podcasting – check out our webinar, “Why Podcasting Might be Your Game Changing Strategy

Privacy restrictions

Doug was especially thoughtful about privacy restrictions. Given his recommended key metric of “Are people coming to our website and taking the next step that we want them to take?”, losing the ability to track users on your website will in turn take away the ability to measure this metric.

One signal of this growing trend is the release of iOS 14, which requires users to opt-in to being tracked by a website or app. In the long run, this can impact your ministry and ability to effectively give people content that is relevant to them.

Doug’s Recommended Resources:

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand
Niel Patel

For more information about Doug Weiss and Ministry MarCom, visit