8 creative outreach ideas for the new year

The new year brings new opportunities to connect with the community through meaningful outreach efforts. If you want fresh energy with events and activities that get noticed, consider thinking beyond the expected. These eight creative outreach efforts will showcase the spirit of your church, helping boost the positive impression of the organization within the community.

Thank community caregivers: Police, firemen and first responders work hard to keep our communities safe. Show them a little love with a surprise visit and a basket of goodies. Maybe it's a box of donuts in the morning or supplies for an afternoon nacho bar. Drop supplies off with a friendly smile and a note of gratitude from the church and you'll help brighten their day.

Community photography events: Your next church directory event can be transformed into an incredible outreach effort when you open photography to the community. Through the Lifetouch Community Outreach Program you'll get all the materials you need to reach out to the community and invite people for a free photography session and complimentary 8x10 family photograph. Members can invite friends, family, neighbors and more!

Care packages for teachers: The winter months in particular can be hard for teachers. Supplies from the start of the year have dwindled and it becomes the peak cold and flu season. Offer to sponsor a local school and provide care packages to teachers that include things like pencils, glue sticks, hand sanitizer and a few treats to make them smile. Make small packages for individual classrooms or a big basket that can be set in the teacher lounge and utilized as needed.

Car wash + car clinic: Everyone who has a vehicle knows they come with their share of maintenance requirements as well as the unexpected problems. Start by hosting a car care extravaganza where volunteers wash cars for a good will donation toward a local charity. Then have a few mechanics on hand who can diagnose and assess the clinks, bumps and grinds that cause average car owners to scratch their heads. Small fixes can happen onsite while others will have the information they need to go to a shop.

Give parents a break: Reaching out to families with some time off from parental duties is sure to grab their attention. Make arrangements for onsite childcare so people can drop off their kids for a few hours. This could be for a weekend date-night opportunity or afternoon off to get some errands done. Overly exhausted and time-strapped parents everywhere will thank you.

School's out celebration: When school is out for the summer, everyone is ready to celebrate! Give kids a reason to get together and honor their achievements with a year-end party at a park or on church grounds. You might have fun activities like water balloons, festival games, photo booths, and ice cream sundaes. This is also a great place to provide information about church-sponsored summer activities such as camps and vacation Bible school.

Community baby shower: New moms and moms-to-be will be delighted when they get to attend a community celebration honoring their little angels. Host a brunch or afternoon tea and invite new moms and a guest of their choice to attend for free. At the party provide food and treats, play fun games, mingle and be merry. Prior to the event host a diaper and baby supply drive so that you can hand out supplies to all moms who attend. You might even partner with a local doctor who can present and participate in a Q&A from attendees.

Wrapping stations: Exchanging gifts is a holiday tradition for many people, so what better way to spread some cheer and boost outreach during the holidays than to help people wrap their gifts? Set up a station at the mall so holiday shoppers can swing by. Organize a time at the local senior center to help people with gift-wrapping needs as well. Finally, set up something at the local community center or school to help children wrap small gifts they want to give loved ones.

While the traditional outreach efforts are wonder, 2020 is a year to think creatively and come up with new ways to engage your community, do some good and boost your church's brand.