Marketing and religion

Authored by: Sandra Mottner

The Routledge Companion to Nonprofit Marketing

Print publication date:  November  2007
Online publication date:  November  2007

Print ISBN: 9780415417273
eBook ISBN: 9780203936023
Adobe ISBN: 9781134114917


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Marketing as a recognized practice and subject of study is a veritable infant when compared with the practice and study of religion. Since prehistoric times, humankind has been attempting to explain the world around it through religious beliefs and practices. Even with the advent of ‘organized religion’, the notion of marketing being used on behalf of a religion is a very modern concept (Moore 1994). Although many religious groups have been practising marketing, they have been calling the practices ‘tithing’ rather than fundraising, or ‘evangelism’ as opposed to recruitment. In fact, the very idea of marketing and religion used in the same phrase is considered sacrilegious to many individuals (Cutler 1991; Moncreif et al. 1986). However, leaving these judgements aside, there is ample evidence of marketing tactics and tools being strategically used to further the goals and objectives of religious organizations (Fielding 2006). In a world where many churches have experienced declining attendance, such as in the UK and the USA, the use of marketing tactics to reverse that trend is timely. In fact, as many US churches experience declining attendance, others have increasingly adopted marketing tactics and reversed the visitation trend (Wellner 2001). This chapter examines the use of marketing to further the goals and objectives of religious organizations in a nonprofit marketing framework and brings together the major literature extant in the field and identifies specific research needs. First, however, it is important to review the world of religion and put the concept of marketing activities of religious organizations into context.

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