What they are and what they are used for
In business, ministry and non-profits
What Are they
If you are around marketing and copywriting at all you are bound to hear mention of a white paper. The image that these words suggest might be that of a long boring document full of unintelligible facts, figures and technical jargon, that most probably prefer not to read. At least that is the image I used to have when I saw them, though at the time I didn’t know what they were or what they were used for.
Sometimes called the cornerstone or center piece of marketing, these documents that are generally 5-12 pages long filled with information to solve various problems and issues that arise in many industries.
Originally these documents were termed white papers as a shorthand term for an official government report. Indicating the authoritive and informative nature of the document. These papers were typically used to argue a proposition or postion of a specific problem to be solved. Over time they became a popular marketing tool, used to introduce new or innovative products and services. Also, they are used to advocate that a particular product or service is the correct avenue to take when searching for a solution that best suits a particular problem.
These persuasive essay’s use facts and logic to promote a certain product, service or viewpoint. As well as helping key decision makers in companies make well-informed decisions. By presenting to them facts, in a well-researched, well-formatted persuasive manner.
Terms white papers have been called by are many which include
The last being the one I have personally heard the most over the years. There are of course others. In researching the internet on the topic one can find fairly literally tons of different names.
How they are used for religious and non-profit organizations.
At this point you might just be wondering why I would seem to change the tone and thread of this writing so fast. It's simple really, although there is almost more to say on any subject, I think we have demonstrated enough of the use of white papers in traditional business to be sufficient for the time being. Besides, the internet is full of blogs and articles covering the many facets of that particular topic.
I would however like to speak for a few moments about those facts that aren’t spoken of as often or at all. How are these specialized essays used in ministry and non-profit work. I will admit that sources were hard to come by but not completely unavailable if one is willing to research them.
I did however use one source that is not a non-profit or ministry to demonstrate that Christian business can benefit from white papers as well.
Brotherhood Mutual used a white paper entitled “Religious Freedom Protection, Shepherding Ministries in a Time of Change” Covering an array of topics ranging from general issues concerning religious freedom, to being sued and will insurance be enough.
Speaks of various reasons why ministries may need protection and steps to take to find adequate and additional protection.
Obviously, a Christian insurance company but this reflects one-way white papers can be used.
Another organization called the Samaritans Purse uses white papers. In a special report from 2020 (link is above) one will find it starts off tackling the issues brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic. One finds out how they helped in the pandemic, the problems we all faced and how they overcame them. Plus, you will find their mission and ministry activities during that time.
Another organization called Gospel for Asia, that minsters mainly to India and Southeast Asia has various special reports out, that cover a large variety of topics and ministry activities. These range from church planting to water wells; orphan care and the list goes on.
Osborn Ministries has used them for many, many years in both in short (newsletters) and longer forms as we would commonly understand them. Reporting facts, figures and conversions along with details of various outreaches.
Many nonprofits use the same format, along with more well-known uses of white papers, research, problem/solution, and various study finding.
What does this have to do with you or a Christian Ministry or Non-Profit
A lot actually
A well written white paper may just be the catalyst that your business, ministry or nonprofit needs to make a tremendous shift in impact. A good white paper is going to build trust and authority in your field. Helping to set you apart from the many others that are out there. It will help your people, in the business world, it's called target market, find you, learn what you are about, and your cause.
These are important forms of communication in helping your target areas to see where they can help, and how. Giving what most people want... a chance to help in a worthy cause. It also will show those who currently are supporting your organization financially, where their precious resources are going.
White papers are an important part of public relations... something that wasn’t always my strong suit. Yet now more than ever I see a need for it.
These papers in their various formats bring awareness to the public about your operations in a way they can see. Many topics covered in documents like this are not always as visible as they should be, and these are a great way to make the problem known and offer viable solutions. Again, making it possible for those readers who choose to take a proactive stance in helping.
Another area white papers are great for is helping to build relationships, by gaining an email list, that you can choose to email weekly updates to on topics related to the information found in the paper. Blog post topics can also be generated from white papers, helping to draw and inform online visitors to your sight. You can also use excerpts from this to use in your newsletter and social media posts if you have a nonprofit or ministry page, which will even further the benefits. That all can be generated out of one 5-12 page well written paper.
In essence, what all of this means for ministries and nonprofits, is you are more readily able to reach your target audience, with information drawn from this one paper. After all, reaching people is what ministries for a large part do. Reaching people and affecting change in lives and situations is what many of us are all about.
For more information, please contact me