If any organization can fundraise, it’s a church – most people have a hard time saying no to giving to God, and that’s great for upkeep and general expenses that a church has. Churches run almost solely on donations, and many require their members to give if they can, every Sunday, without fail.
However, this sometimes isn’t enough to fix the leaky roof or to install a new stained-glass window. Here’s where church fundraisers come into play – they generate the extra funds to ensure that the church stays a house of God and not a broken-down shack.
However, one of the biggest problems a church has is that people do give every Sunday and don’t see why they should have to give more. What a priest or minister has to do is convince the parishioners of the need for more money beyond what they already give. This is not part of their weekly tithes, and it is a voluntary donation, which may make people feel less coerced.
The tithes pay for things like the minister’s salary, the church mortgage, utilities and the general maintenance of the church. You need to make this distinction clear or you are going to have a lot of people wondering why they should have to give more than the Biblical “ten percent”.
Parishioners will normally give to charitable missions or to provide scholarships for the youth in the church – most are very generous people that want to make a difference in a less-fortunate person’s work. However, you may find that you have less appeal when it comes to more secular things like a new vestry carpet or choir stall repair.
You must be able to convince them that these things are just as important to the running of the church as providing for the less fortunate is. Explain to them the purpose and timeline of your fundraiser, and what they can get in return, whether it’s the satisfaction of donating or the knowledge that they’ve helped someone, especially in a charitable sense.
Best church fundraising ideas
Depending on your church’s religious sect, you can arrange fundraisers through your diocese or presbytery. Certain religious groups have missions and other charitable organizations set up that you can donate to.
If you’re looking to host a fundraiser for something more materialistic, you can hold bake sales, put on by your congregation or women’s group; host a yard sale or flea market where parishioners can buy donated goods and all proceeds go to the church; soup kitchen days where bowls of soup cost $1 and the proceeds go to the church or the charity of your choice.
Some churches host carnivals and water park days (normally self-made) to attract people with children and rake in the donations. This will require a lot of work and volunteers, but here’s where you can actually make use of your congregation. If they can’t afford an extra donation, they might be able to afford a few hours on a Saturday.
Stress to them that this is just as important as a donation, because they’re helping out the fundraiser by staffing a booth, or running a ride.
Provide a lunch or some sort of small reward for people who sell a lot of tickets or put in a lot of time. You’ll find that when you show your appreciation, they’ll be willing to help the next time your church puts on a fundraiser.
Stay away from fundraisers that require you to work with a fundraising company unless your church has the budget for it and the time to put it on. If you do want to go this route, there are several Christian and Catholic fundraising companies that will sell products that are church-themed, and will give you a fair bit of the proceeds to help your cause.
Drumming up interest in your church fundraiser
It can be hard to host a fundraiser in a setting where everyone donates all the time. The first thing to do is to clearly state your need, whatever it is. Don’t use guilt; just talk about the end result and how their donations will help. A hungry child fed is a hungry child fed, however they donate. If you can, use photos to communicate your need. If you can get someone who’s actually worked with the charities to come and speak one Sunday, do so.
They can convey the experience firsthand, which can help drive the point home to your congregation. Most people in the Western world have not had the experience of a young child begging for their leftover lunch. It’s going to touch them deeply.
Holiday fundraisers will, on average, bring in more donations/money than fundraisers just staged through the year. People get thinking about the meaning of Christmas or Easter and are more likely to give then. Try to stage your biggest fundraisers around that time, but once again – don’t use guilt. People will likely give because it feels good to do so.
If your need is materialistic, explain the fundraisers you’re going to put on and tell your parishioners that you would really appreciate their support in helping the church. You should stress that weekly collections don’t cover this need, because some people will be under the impression that they do.
You can also involve your community – some people will shy away from a religious group, but if it’s for a good charitable cause, others will donate. Plus, yard sales, flea markets, and sponsored dinners at the church will draw in people looking for something new to do on the evenings or weekends who don’t mind giving some of their money to your cause.
The main thing to do when hosting a fundraiser and trying to attract the community is to get your potential customers over any religious hang-ups that they may have. Some people won’t want to support you because of their personal beliefs, and really, it’s not about that when it comes to fundraising. It’s about helping someone else out, and that’s a moral idea, not a religious one.
Don’t forget – these ideas can also work for a synagogue, mosque or temple.