Type to search

Featured Opinion Uncategorized


MinistryWatch Readers are Generous, Curious, and Discerning

Avatar photo

OPINION–Twice each year, usually in April and October, MinistryWatch conducts a survey of its readers. We’ve been doing this survey for three years, and we have used it to understand you, our readers, and to make changes to the way we serve you.

But we have never shared the results with you. That changes today. Below are some of the results of our latest reader survey.

Before we begin, though: a few words about the survey itself. We received 286 responses to our survey. When you consider that we send our daily emails to about 170-thousand people each day, 286 responses is not a lot, but I have found that it is enough to give us a good idea of what you are thinking. I would also add that once the first 100 or so responses come in, the results remain surprisingly steady. More responses change the confidence level, the margin of error, but don’t have much impact on the results themselves.

So, with that preamble, let’s look at some of the results. I’ll also provide a bit of commentary along the way.

What Do You Like About MinistryWatch?

About 24 percent of you read MinistryWatch articles every day or multiple times a day. Another 47 percent of you say you read MinistryWatch “multiple times a week.”

You also have a strong preference for investigative journalism. About 46 percent of you say that’s the primary reason you read MinistryWatch. About 20 percent of you said you came to MinistryWatch for “breaking news,” which is interesting to us, since we do not consider ourselves primarily a breaking news organization. That said, we try to be first, or among the first, to report the stories we cover, and it’s gratifying to know that many of you consider that attribute important.

What Are You Divided About When It Comes To MinistryWatch?

We asked you if we sent you too many emails, and nearly 60 percent of you said that the number of emails we sent to you was “about right.” However, 33 percent of you said we sent you too many emails, and 5 percent said we sent you “far too many” emails.

We have been asking this question from the beginning of our survey efforts, and we are trending in the right direction on this question, though clearly we have some distance to go. A year ago, less than 50 percent of you said the number of emails we sent you was “about right.” More than 50 percent of you said we sent “too many” or “far too many” emails. We have significantly reduced the number of emails we send to you, and we have changed the format of our emails to make them more digestible. I hope to see the “about right” number rise in the year ahead.

Most Of You Have Never Heard Of Our Podcast

Only about 6 percent of you are avid MinistryWatch podcast listeners. Another 16 percent of you listen occasionally. That much is not surprising, and is reflected in our listenership numbers. We have about 3,000 listeners per week to the podcast.

What surprised me is that 39 percent of you had “no idea you even had a podcast.” That’s 4 points worse than a year ago. Since every daily email we send mentions our podcast, I found this result to be something of a head-scratcher. But the numbers don’t lie, and that tells me we need to do a better job of letting you know we have a podcast, and what is on it.

What Else Do You Read?

MinistryWatch is not the only thing you read. About 40 percent of you are also WORLD Magazine readers. That makes sense since many of you likely subscribed to WORLD as a result of our ongoing partnership with that magazine.

About a quarter of you read Christianity Today and The Colson Center’s BreakPoint commentaries.

I was surprised (and, to be candid, a bit disappointed) that 21 percent of you read The Epoch Times. This publication, run by the Falun Gong religious group, is staunchly anti-communist, which is likely why some conservatives find it of interest. But it is, in many ways, antithetical to a Christian worldview and should be read either with great caution, or as an exercise in opposition research.

Breaking Down The Demographics

Some of you are in your 20s, and some of you are in your 80s. No one age group represents a majority of our readers.

However about 40 percent of you are in your 60s, and 23 percent of you are in your 70s. That sounds old until you remember a few important realities. First, America is getting older. In 1970, the median age of an American was 28. Today the median age is 38. We are getting married later, as well. The median age for a man’s first marriage is now 31, up four years from a generation ago.

It’s important to remember, too, that MinistryWatch primarily serves Christian donors, and the “donor class” tends to skew significantly older than the population at large. Younger people are raising families and paying on homes and college funds. (I’ve written more about that here.)

Over the years, I’ve sat in a lot of conference rooms with a lot of Christian leaders who all wring their hands because they wish their audience was younger. To those leaders, I say this: Take a deep breath. Serve the people in front of you well. And remember that 18 percent of Rolling Stone Magazine’s audience is over the age of 60.

Becoming A Discerning Giver

One of the most gratifying findings of this survey has been one that has been consistent over time. That finding is this: you use MinistryWatch to help you make giving decisions.

A robust 63 percent of you say you have used MinistryWatch to help you make giving decisions, and more than 40 percent of you say you have changed your giving decisions based on the information you learned from MinistryWatch.

This is why we exist: to serve donors, to help you make more discerning giving decisions.

So, the bottom line is this: We’ve still got some work to do. Your responses to this survey will help us make changes strategically and efficiently. We thank you for that.

And we also can see, though, that our work is bearing fruit in your lives and in the lives of those you touch with your generosity. We thank God for that.

Avatar photo
Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Previous Article