Elizabeth McDonough

Church Fundraising Ideas

Coming up with new and exciting church fundraising ideas can be difficult. Churches have raised money in very traditional ways for a long time, and there isn’t a lot of pressure to change that. However, why not spice things up? There are tons of great church fundraising ideas that don’t just involve passing around the offering tray.

I started looking into some churches whose approach to fundraising really stood out and spoke with an expert in the faith field, Gina Calvert, who has close to 10 years of experience working with and writing about the faith community. What did I find out? Some of the best church fundraising ideas are really just variations on the classics.

Although events may seem like a tired and cliché way of raising money, they can still be a very fun and very effective way to raise money for your church. Because a congregation is a lot like a big community, an event is a perfect way to engage people outside of regular services. It is also an opportunity to promote an initiative or cause that the church as a whole is working towards funding.

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game!”

That’s the tagline the Rock Church is using to promote their upcoming fundraising event, Pervasive Hope Night. While the San Diego Padres take on the Braves, the Rock congregation will be there cheering for the home team and raising money for the Pervasive Hope Campaign.

Launched back in April 2012, Pervasive Hope is a three year $30 million dollar campaign aimed at extending the impact and reach of the Rock Church. Pervasive Hope Night is one example of an event the Rock is hosting to raise money for the overall campaign. Five dollars of every ticket purchased, will go towards the Rock’s downtown ministry – just one of the Pervasive Hope’s initiatives.

The Rock has also taken some steps to ensure that the game is a memorable night for its members that are attending. The national anthem will be performed by one of their very own, the first pitch will be thrown out by a Rock Pastor, and they will be honoring over 250 leaders from all Rock campuses on the field before the game. These little things are not only incentives that will encourage members to purchase tickets, they are things that will make the event memorable within the church community.

The Good Ol’ Offering Plate

I can vividly remember the offering plate being passed around our congregation when I was a little kid. My mom would either drop in a yellow envelope, which meant her donation was directly supporting the church, or she would drop in a blue envelope, which meant that her donation was supporting a cause or initiative the church was fundraising for.

Passing the offering plate on Sunday morning started in 1900 and has remained the primary way churches receive donations for over 100 years. Whether or not they have specific envelopes for different fundraising campaigns depends upon the church, but 10 years later I know that this is how my church at home continues to ask for donations.

On any given Sunday, it can be assumed that the entire congregation isn’t going to be present. So, how do you continue to encourage people to give when they aren’t physically present in church, when they aren’t being passed the offering plate?

A New Take on an Old Church Fundraising Idea: a Digital Offering Plate

Instead of passing the plate, give your congregation the option to donate online. The Saddleback Church in Orange County has dedicated an entire section of their website to online giving. Members can start “Tithing Online,” and sign up for online giving that actually allows them to see their giving history, print giving statements, and edit scheduled giving series.

They have also created a section titled, “Beyond the Tithe.” Here members can scroll through over 20 different campaigns that Saddleback is fundraising for and give to the campaign of their choice. This makes it easier for members to donate to the cause they most support and it is a little easier than remembering to bring in your colored envelope with your donation on Sunday morning.

Fundraising online will require some extra marketing efforts to get members accustomed to giving online, but over time it will be well worth it. Making regular announcements on Sundays and in newsletters are two things that would help promote a new online giving initiative. Launching an email campaign is another great way to start marketing online fundraising to your congregation.

Read Next: How to Revitalize Mission Trip Efforts Through Online Fundraising

A New Church Fundraising Idea: Giving Kiosks

As I briefly mentioned, I reached out to a veteran in the faith space who is well versed in the trends and research surrounding giving in churches. Gina recommended that I read a whitepaper that she wrote for ACTIVE Network Faith titled, “Digital Giving is Successful Giving.” Here she referenced a new trend in giving: Giving Kiosks, electronic systems similar to ATMs, but with the sole purpose of allowing people to give money back to the church. SecureGive, invented the giving kiosk with the belief that the kiosk would be easier than having a church congregation carry around their check books on Sunday mornings.

“People tend to donate 20 minutes before or 20 minutes after church services,” Dr. Marty Baker, Founder of SecureGive says. This makes a compelling argument for the potential success of the giving kiosks as a means of fundraising and it is something that churches can take advantage of. An announcement could be made to the congregation during the service encouraging those who didn’t bring their checkbooks to swing by the kiosk after the service. I personally think it’s a great new church fundraising idea!

I have no doubt that passing the offering plate will continue to be the most common form of fundraising in churches for some time. Even Gina attests that new forms of fundraising are slow to catch on in churches, despite the fact that there is proof that things like online fundraising result in higher donation volumes. In the meantime, these fundraising ideas are new things that churches can experiment with to supplement more traditional forms of giving.

Build a Strong Online Presence

pocket guide to online fundraising

Image Credit: Flickr User Decar66

  • Edna Smith

    There is a recycling place in New Jersey they help non profit organizations it is call Terracycle . Tis company recycles off the wall things. They pay the postage. They recycle the Entenmanns Little bites packages. You have to have at least 5 pounds per collection to send they also recycle Layes potato chip bags to make pellets for 3-D printers. They recycle the inside bags in cereal boxes. Also solo cups office supplies the inside of scotch tape sharpie pens. It is a great way to help with the environment.

    • Elizabeth Chung

      Edna, thanks for sharing this idea! Interesting way to help with the environment simultaneously.

  • rainbow cadet

    Some of the churches in my area have the newspaper collection bins in the parking lot. Folks can drop by whenever to put in their donations, the church building itself doesn’t have to be open. A few places also have the clothing collection bins for those lightly used, unwanted or outgrown clothing.

    • Elizabeth Chung

      Classic ideas, thank you for sharing!

  • Senor C O Jones

    Saddleback Church, where Rick Warren brought us Obama. Thanks, man. Thanks a lot

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