For families with kids in school, there are five seasons every year: Fall, winter, spring, summer, and back-to-school. The back-to-school season is often hard for students as vacations wind down and they mourn the end of their carefree summer schedule. It’s also difficult for many families because of the rising cost of school supplies.
That’s why a back-to-school bash is such a great opportunity for your church to serve families in your community. Many churches use these end-of-summer events to provide a fun time for kids and lighten the load for parents.
But this isn’t something you can quickly throw together. It takes a lot of work to plan and launch a successful back-to-school bash. This is a chance to build relationships with your local schools, families, and businesses, but without planning and preparation, you’ll struggle to make the most of it.
Here are six steps to make sure your next back-to-school bash is a hit.
1. Secure a space
First things first: You need to decide if your parking lot, field, foyer, or other campus location is big enough to facilitate the kind of event you’re hoping to pull off. If you don’t have a spot that will work, you need to find one in your community. Maybe a local fairground, events center, or one of the local schools.
Your campus is ideal because it’s free and it brings people to your church. But depending on the scope of your event, you may simply have to use another venue. A non-church location may feel “more neutral” to non-Christian families as well, which gives you better access to unchurched members of your community.
2. Talk to your local schools
As much as you can, try to involve local schools in your back-to-school bash. This is a great way to build rapport with school administrators and to show them you support their students and believe in the work they’re doing.
While it’s easy to build a list of generic school supplies, the specific things kids need can still vary somewhat from school to school and even class to class. So it’s worth talking to the schools in your community to find out what would be most helpful. School staff will have a good sense of what parents struggle to provide, which will help you identify the biggest needs.
Schools also know which families need the most help. And while they aren’t going to hand over contact information, you can create invitations and ask school staff to give them to the families who would benefit the most from your help.
3. Partner with local businesses
A back-to-school bash shouldn’t just be about equipping kids and families with the resources they need for school. It should be a party to inaugurate the new school year. And while you’re facilitating it all, it will be a lot more fun if your community gets involved.
Local businesses may be interested in donating time and resources in exchange for the opportunity to promote themselves and connect with families. This is a chance for you to leverage the relationships you already have in the community as well as forge new ones. It’s also the best way to ensure your back-to-school bash is packed with activities and events, has plenty of giveaways and freebies, and provides everything families could want or expect—such as food, clothes, and even haircuts.
4. Assemble your volunteers
It will take a lot of help to make this event successful and to keep it from being too stressful. Be sure to start inviting people to volunteer early. It’s definitely worth spending some time casting the vision for your church and talking about the event during a service. But since this is about building relationships with your community, you might also want to look to other places for volunteers.
School employees already do so much for kids. But many are often eager to serve their students outside of school. In many cases, they’re most aware of what students need and they want families to feel supported. If you talk to schools about what you’re doing and how you plan to serve their students, some of the staff may be interested in helping out.
Be sure you use multiple channels to ask people for help. This is a perfect time to use your church app. You can create an event that people can sign up for right in the app, and you can even send a push notification inviting people to consider serving.
5. Host a backpack drive
Backpack drives are one of the most popular ways churches support families during the back-to-school season. It’s also easy for your congregation to contribute to them. They can buy supplies directly (you’ll want to create a supply list so you get what families actually need), or contribute to a backpack drive fund, which you can set up in your app.
At the event itself, you could give the backpacks away on a first-come, first-served basis, or alternatively, you could donate them to the schools so they can distribute them to the families with the greatest need.
6. Promote your back-to-school bash
Obviously, if you want people to show up, you have to tell them about it. Promotion is an important part of making sure your event is successful. For an event that’s intended to build relationships, one of the best promotion strategies you can use is creating personal invitations. You can give these to schools, hand them out to your congregation, or even go door to door to distribute them.
Make this your best bash yet
The back-to-school season is a crazy time for families. Hosting a back-to-school bash is the perfect way for you to show families you’re there for them. It’s also an important strategy to engage with local schools. So make the most of this opportunity, and start planning your back-to-school bash right now.
A big part of planning a back-to-school bash is communicating event information to your community. If your church has an app, push notifications are one of the best, most effective ways to communicate with the people you hope to reach. That’s why we created 211 notification templates and made them available to church leaders so they don’t have to spend any additional time writing them from scratch.
Click here to download 211 free push notifications today!