Vacation Bible School is anywhere from 4-6 months away. Sometimes the annual events we could “do with our eyes closed” are the ones that we let slip off our radar when it comes to effective advertising. The best time to start advertising any event is as soon as you know your dates. Getting VBS dates out early is paramount because vacations and summer activities are already being planned by the families in your church and community. While a lot of your advertising efforts will be best done closer to your VBS dates, there are ways you can even begin advertising now. Here are 12 creative and innovative ways to advertise for Vacation Bible School.
- Add it to your church calendar. Once you know the date, post the date. The planners of your church will be incredibly thankful. This has the potential to serve you twofold. It will advertise to your families to make sure their kids are able to come, but it will also help with your leader recruitment. It is humbling each year to have volunteers who take their vacation to be able to work at VBS. The sooner they know the better. mm
- Advertise “Save the date for VBS” at your own Spring events (Spring Break events, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter, End of the School Year events, Mother’s Day). Strike while the iron is hot. When you have visiting families coming to your community events like an Easter Egg Hunt, they are likely looking for more events/activities for their children.
- Create excitement in your children’s department with a countdown to revealing this year’s theme. Kids will match any energy given to them. Create excitement and anticipation by revealing this year’s theme. Make it one big event and give clues each week leading up to it. Keep a visible countdown in front of the kids each week.
- Have an Invitation Competition. Have invitations for your kids to pass out. Make it a competition by having them keep track of how many invitations they pass out. The kid or class who has the most invites receives a prize/party.
- Research neighborhood/community groups on Facebook. Ask parents in your church if they are a part of any community/neighborhood groups where you can post save the dates. Be sure to include a link to your church website/Facebook page for more information.
- Use Your church social media. All of it. Facebook uses events, stories, and posts for communication. If your church has a Facebook or Instagram page, consider paying for advertising by “sponsoring” an event, a post, or story. The good thing is you can choose the amount you spend, which is great for any size budget. No two algorithms seem to be the same on how social media is viewed. Some people prefer Facebook over Instagram and vice-versa. Use it all.
- Contact your community events directory for a listing. Our town has a free family events directory that is published in booklets that you can find at doctors’ offices, stores, and schools. They also have an online searchable directory. Many homeschool families and co-ops utilize these kinds of free resources.
- Take note of community boards in your area. Begin now to keep your eyes open anywhere there is a community board. Doctor’s offices, dentist offices, McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, automotive repair, grocery stores, libraries, parks. Keep a note on your phone of all the locations where you can take posters. Make an afternoon of delivering posters 4-6 weeks out.
- Provide bottles of water for the end of the school year field day at your local elementary school and advertise on the label. Many school districts will not allow you to directly advertise to students. However, you can get creative in how you distribute information. Print 2”x4” water labels to place over the water bottles with a save the date. Donate them for their field day towards the end of the school year. Be up front with the principal on your intentions so there are no surprises on the day of drop off. (We have a great relationship with one of our local elementary schools. The principal is a believer, and this was an idea he gave us a few years ago.)
- Canvas the neighborhoods surrounding your church property. Print out maps of streets surrounding your church. Count how many houses there are and bundle that many flyers/invitations. Have teams of teenagers from your youth group place invitations on house doors. Or have a table set up in the lobby for families to take a street. This is one of the most fruitful ways we’ve seen for advertising. We have a “how did you hear about us” section on the registration and we’ve seen up to 50% of our first-time visitors come from a flyer left on their door.
- Have yard signs made for your church family to take to their neighborhoods. Even if your families do not have children of their own who will be attending, chances are families live on their street and will pass by. This is a great way for your seniors to feel involved while they might not be able to go door to door.
- Outdoor banners. Hang outdoor banners 4-6 weeks before your event. The more eye catching the better. This is another notably fruitful advertising approach. Many families check “drive by” on their registration.
Vacation Bible School is a powerful Gospel event. Every step you take to promoting VBS is one more effort toward reaching the lost children and families in your community.