In a perfect world, church leaders would be able to dedicate all of their time to connecting with the local community and inspiring faith. The reality, however, is that churches need to raise money. After all, no organization can operate without funds. Before planning your fundraising efforts, it’s worthwhile to research some church giving statistics. These will help you make an informed decision about whether or not a certain church fundraising idea will be effective in raising support.
Research conducted by Indiana University’s School of Philanthropy found that 31% of charitable donations in 2018 went to religious organizations. And 70% of charitable donations were made by individuals.
Data collected from thousands of charitable organizations found that online giving has grown 17%, and average online gift amounts have continued to increase as well. The same research reveal that 24% of online giving was done on a mobile device.
These numbers tell us two things. Number one, congregants want to give money to their church. And number two, more and more people want to make these donations quickly and easily through their phones. With these two key points in mind, let’s talk about some church fundraising ideas.
It’s important to know that the foundation of any good fundraiser is a clear mission. People don’t want to give away money. They want to feel like they’re a part of something. So no matter what idea you go with, make it clear why you need funds and where each dollar will be going—whether it’s for a mission trip or a much-needed building renovation. Transparency goes a long way in building trust with supporters. Okay, with that, here’s the first fundraising idea your church should try:
Just because your church isn’t a business, doesn’t mean you should shy away from selling branded items. People are more likely to donate if they’ll get something in return. And with all of the online resources available, even small churches can create t-shirts. There’s no need to spend a ton of money buying large quantities. Websites like Teespring or Bonfire let you upload your design, set a price, and start selling. They’ll handle the printing and ship the shirts directly to your donors.
You likely have a talented designer in your congregation who is willing to donate some time, but if not, you can find affordable freelance designers on Fiverr.
Have some fun with this idea! Send out an SMS survey or post on social media to have people vote on a t-shirt design. Once your design is finalized, be sure to send out a link via text message so that people can make their purchase.
Why selling t-shirts works:
People feel pride when they contribute to a cause. A well-designed t-shirt is a way for people to show off their love for their church.
Supporting a worthy cause is great, but you know what’s even better? Finding a hidden treasure at a yard sale. Even church goers who don’t frequently attend service can’t resist the chance to snag some underpriced goods.
Ask your congregation to donate gently worn clothes, furniture, toys, collectibles and other home goods. Set up tables in your parking lot, or another outdoor space, and host a yard sale! If you happen to collect any really valuable items, like first-edition books or special collectors items, save them for a silent auction (our next idea on the list 😉).
Use text messages to send out photos of some of the best items the day before the event. This will generate buzz around the event and encourage attendance.
Why yard sales work:
Yard sales require almost no cost, and church members who can’t provide support financially still get the opportunity to contribute by donating items they don’t use anymore.
As we mentioned previously, everyone has some unique items in their homes that they don’t use or want anymore. The fun part of a silent auction is that you can offer more than just stuff. Guests can also bid on fun experiences or useful services! Your congregation is full of people with skills and talent. Ask people to donate guitar lessons, financial advising, yoga classes, or anything else they may be good at! Give yourself plenty of time to organize this type of event. With proper planning you can also ask businesses to contribute experiences as well. Because nearly everyone has a phone, texts are an easy way for guests to place bids on the day off.
Why silent auctions work:
Silent auctions tap into the time, treasure and talent that your church members already have. Unlike other fundraising ideas that rely on emotional appeals, silent auctions encourage donations by offering people things they really want!
This event can be as big or as intimate as you’d like! First, get your band together and pick a set list. Then decide on a venue. You can host the concert at your church, of course, or you can switch things up and get a permit to hold the show at a local park. You can also contact local restaurants in advance to see if they’ll sponsor the event by donating food or beverages.
Everyone should get the chance to hear great music, so instead of charging an entry fee like most concerts, make the event a pay-what-you-want show. An experiment with over 100,000 participants found that when people are given the option to pay what they want (including $0), and told the money will go to charity, they’ll pay significantly more than the traditional fixed price.
Why hosting a concert works:
Everyone loves music! While it can be a challenge for some people to find the time to attend service, it’s easier to make space in the agenda for going to a fun event. Plus, pay-what-you-want pricing has been demonstrated to be effective in raising money.
Ask your church members if they’d be willing to forgo gifts for their birthday and ask for donations made in their name instead. One of the pros of this tactic is the timeline. Because birthdays happen all year along, it can consistently bring in funds! There are a few ways of going about this kind of fundraiser. One is to create a Facebook fundraiser post. This makes the church fundraising campaign super easy to share and simplifies to process of collecting money.
A fun way to follow up with donors is to invite them to stay up-to-date using text messages. With our church texting service, you can set up text-for-info keywords. For example, if it’s Josh’s birthday, you can set up the keyword “BDAYJOSH.” After someone has donated, Josh can then share this keyword with them. When someone texts in the keyword, they’ll automatically receive be signed up for updates about the fundraising campaign.
Why peer-to-peer fundraising works:
This idea makes it possible to take your fundraiser beyond just your congregation. The further your reach, the more funds you can collect.
The key to successful online giving is a good user experience. Luckily, with this fundraiser idea, you don’t have to worry about technology. Choose one thing you need to raise money for, and start a GoFundMe page. Their platform is optimized for exactly this purpose. We briefly touched on the idea of making donors feel like they’re a part of something bigger. You can accomplish this by making your appeal very specific. Explain why you need to raise the money and how you plan to use it. Even when the campaign ends, be sure to post regular updates on your crowdfunding page. You can also use SMS to send out progress reports to donors.
Why crowdfunding campaigns work:
Crowdfunding campaigns are easy and free to set up. Most crowdfunding sites have a 0% platform fee, meaning the only cost is the credit card transaction fee. You get to keep all the money you raise.