Seeing the big picture before selecting a site is very important. Right now your membership may not be as large as it will be in the future. Right now cremation rates may be low in your area. Right now your members may not even be considering pre-death planning. But all this can change very quickly. Membership growth strategists suggest including a columbarium on the campus of a church or organization. Family members stay committed to the church or organization because their loved one is there, other family members may attend a memorial service or visit the location more often. A columbarium program brings heritage to a church or organization. Cremation is on the rise across the United States. Cremation is less expensive, environmentally friendly, and columbariums do not take up much space. Having your church or organization offering a columbarium program to your members, pre-death planning becomes easier to do since they are already a part of the church or organization.
Choosing the correct design/build columbarium partner is important because they should help you with a long-term plan. They will help in the site selection. The design/build columbarium partner will see not only the best place of the columbarium for your current needs but will determine where the next phase of the project will need to be as awareness of the columbarium program increase demand. The design/build partner will understand about the movement and flow of pedestrians. They will understand the importance of the walking surface and how to provide access for the elderly and handicapped visitors. If the project is outside, experience in topographical plans will tell them what to do about water flow and drainage.
A conceptual design for the site chosen should be provided. This will help the members of your church or organization visualize the project and make it become real. The “master plan” design can be broken into phases, as the need for the organization grows, new phases can be developed. There are several different types of memorialization products that can be included in each phase for all members or the organization to participate in. Having a plan and a program for the entire congregation or organization insures success in your columbarium program. The committee will be guided and directed in making decisions and selections that are wise for the community. Research will be provided to make sure the retail pricing is correct to provide revenue for the church or organizations and a beneficial service to the member and their families.
A business plan to make the columbarium program a success is but one element that must be in place. There needs to be a well-structured organization within the church committee to manage the success of the program. Many times the committee does not know how to do this. Your design-build partner should be able to lead you through each and every step of the program. You will not be alone.
Getting to the point of taking reservations takes time. There is much to do. Plan, discuss, and plan some more, but once you are ready to take reservations, how are you going to keep track of the columbarium program records? Good record keeping is important to insure long-term success of the columbarium program. We suggest using our online “Trackit” system. All the necessary information is collected and stored online and is easy to access. If the record keeper changes hands, there isn’t any lost or misplaced information. Because the system is very user friendly, the new record keeper will be up-to-speed in no time.
Deciding to provide a columbarium program at your church or organization takes time. It is a commitment. There are many different facets to think through. It is also very rewarding.