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Church Fundraising - Online Guide

Fundraising

Church fundraising is like bungee jumping - you don't know how strong your support is until you take the plunge. However, planning your fundraising campaign in advance will stop it being quite such a terrifying leap into the unknown.

You might think that church fundraising is tougher than other kinds of fundraising. A limited congregation has limited funds, and nobody likes the feeling of asking the same people over and over again for money. However, you can make the limited size of your church congregation work for you by using the community nature of the church to enhance your fundraiser. At the same time, the fundraiser might even enhance the community nature of your church.

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Don't ask for money - ask for time

Our page on fundraising strategies contains a strategy that might have been tailor-made for churches. (See Strategy 2 on that page.) The network model of fundraising means relying on people to ask friends to join in, by donating money, time or both. Those friends in turn ask their own friends to help out. In a church community, this inevitably results in the same people being asked more than once. So how do you deal with it? Most people will get a little fed up of being asked for money once they have made the donation they feel they can best afford. So don't ask them for money. Ask them for their time. This can be even more valuable.

Imagine you're doing the scheme, mentioned on our fundraising strategies page, where people pledge to pay one dollar (or any other sum) and get four friends to do the same. What do you do if you're asked twice? Instead of paying up again and trying to find four different friends willing to join, how about agreeing to hold a small event, like a garage sale, with the help of the four friends you originally asked? Those four friends would then, instead of handing over their cash again, pledge to help you as well as pledging to find four friends each to come to the garage sale. In this way, ripples of goodwill can wash over your church again and again, as people find different and more creative ways to help.

Giving to the givers

Of course, many people can't think beyond the obvious methods of church fundraising - waiting outside the church with a collecting tin either directly before or directly after a service. This does take advantage of the "captive" nature of the congregation, but it shouldn't be used too often. People may feel pressurized into giving, when you want them to give freely. It may even put people off going to church, which is the last thing you want. However, there are creative slants on this tactic that work much better and are less bullying. If you want people to give, first give yourself. Hand out invitations to a fundraising event - a coffee morning, jumble sale or lunch - immediately after the service. Explain that entrance is completely free, but that the purpose of the event is to raise money. You may find people will spend more at a jumble sale than they would put into a collecting tin, particularly if they are surrounded by others who are giving their money and time. This tactic both uses and enhances the social side of churchgoing.

Think outside your church

Finally, think outside the box. Is it only your church congregation who care about your church? Does church fundraising have to be limited to the people who worship with you? The answer, a lot of the time, is no. Other Christians in your area might be only too willing to give money or time to help out fellow Christians. Don't be afraid to ask them. Even people who aren't Christians might be sympathetic to your project. If it's a project to preserve the church building, for example, perhaps there are architecture lovers in the community who value the building for its architectural value and will be prepared to help you. If it's a community education project, perhaps many people will share your aims, if not your faith. Keep your eyes and your heart open for unexpected sources of help, and never become discouraged. Faith and hope should always be with you in your quest for charity.