How To Do a Parish Phone Census or Survey

A few years ago I was an intern adult faith formation coordinator in a parish. We wanted to launch some groups that would align with what our people were actually interested in, what spiritual needs they actually had. A co-worker and I set out to call as many people as possible from our parish phone book (we started with the As and made our way through the Cs before our focus shifted due to changes in pastoral priorities).

In short, it was a great experience. Why? Because it gave us a chance to talk to registered parishioners, many of whom don’t normally come to Mass or parish events. We asked them some basic questions–what brings you to our parish? what do you value most about our parish?–and were also able to give personal invites to our new adult faith formation offerings. Little did we know, we’d also be put in the position to help re-connect folks to ministries they had drifted away from, “I used to help with funeral luncheons but stopped getting calls about them. Do we still do that?” or new interests, “I’d like to bring communion to the home bound, but didn’t get a call back about training…”

But, my co-worker and I didn’t have a plan to systematically expand this to the whole parish in a short period of time. This article from unSeminary, “8 Lessons Learned from Making 2,005 Phone Calls” gives great, practical advice for how to train a team to execute a phone survey/census in a short period of time, with high quality, standardized results. I highly recommend this short article for any parish interested in reaching out via phone.  

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