It isn’t just for your kid’s baseball team or drama club.
Fundraising is a means to create a culture of generosity in your church, to teach your church about how to steward their money well, and to serve your community or the nations by financially contributing to unmet needs.
And we aren’t talking about “fundraising” your church’s offering plate. That’s a heart issue and can be a great teachable practice. We’re specifically speaking to those unmet needs in your church and community.
It can be intimidating to figure out how you are going to meet a larger financial goal, so we’ve highlighted four simple examples from other churches that are utilizing what they have and are making a difference in their community and in their churches.
1. Cross Point Church’s “Dollar Club”
Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN asks everyone church wide to give $1 a month to the “Dollar Club” fund. It acts as a “special offering.”
A pretty reasonable ask.
They then keep all of this money in a fund and each month they give it to someone in need either in their community or someone they have a relationship with outside of their community. The fund is given to anyone from single parents who are struggling to make ends meet to partnering churches.
Our favorite part of this fundraiser are the stories.
People give when they care. And stories are a great way to help people do just that. Not to fabricate emotions, but Cross Point shows their church exactly just what their $1 a month is doing. They don’t have to do this—I mean, it’s the amount you’d spend on a pack of gum—but they do. They go out of their way to make high quality videos to tell the stories of the lives changed because of the Dollar Club.
After watching these stories, I want to join this church just for their Dollar Club! Their $1 probably couldn’t do much at first, but God’s faithfulness allows them to now generously give and serve to those who need it. Don’t rule an idea like this out just because your church is smaller in number.
2. City Church's “The 99 Project”
In Luke 15, Jesus teaches the parable of the shepherd that leaves behind 99 of his sheep to seek and save the one that is lost.
This is the entire idea behind the 99 Project at City Church in Tallahassee, FL.
Being a newer church, City Church didn’t yet have a college ministry. They would just host events and they had many in attendance who were college students. But being located in the heart of a college city, they realized what a huge need their college ministry is. There are many who are lost across three different major college campuses.
So they began this project to be financially able to host weekly college services and host events on college campuses.
Once again, they tell this parable in Luke and apply it to the needs of their city. They provide testimonies and stories from former college students who have been impacted by their church and ask for a monthly giving commitment. There are asks for specific amounts and an option for a custom amount.
This is a great creative way to fundraise for a specific project.
3. The Village Church in Texas
This multi-site campus church does giving so well. We wanted to point out what we love about their regular giving plan that can be applied to your church fundraiser.
If you peruse through the Village Church’s giving page, you’ll find an unusual looking giving page that doesn’t look like most other churches.
To start, they have placed a “why we give” section front and center on their giving page to reiterate their core values and beliefs. They then go into ways you are able to give if that is a decision you decide to make.
But the unorthodox (and amazing) thing about this page is both the detailed budget and financial reports along the side of the page. We love that this is included here, not just because it is open and honest, but because it lets current givers know exactly how their money is being used and what the church is giving.
Our favorite part of this page are the resource links pointing church members to helpful resources and sermons on tithing and money. This church is not only asking their people to give, but teaching them how to steward their money well, which is a valuable thing that people want to know.
4. Christ Journey's “Feed Miami” Project
Who says fundraisers need to solely bring in money?
Christ Journey in Miami, FL takes donations every year around Thanksgiving time. There is a huge need in their area. So, they ask for bags filled with non-perishables and money if people don’t have time to fill bags themselves.
They put all the specifics on their website as well as making a direct ask of their church.
This is a simple but effective way to bring their church together in being generous to others and filling a need.
These are just four examples of some great fundraising ideas we’ve seen from other churches. Is your church doing any of these or something completely different? We’d love to hear what your church does to fundraise.
Take a Next Step
The #1 barrier to church growth starts with you.
If the senior pastor, or church leaders, are not intentionally taking the time to get better, no one else will follow suit.
We know it can be difficult to know where to begin or even where to go to grow personally. That's why we developed a FREE resource for you. The personal growth plan. All of us on staff at Church Fuel use it because it's that useful.
Take some time this week to fill this out and make your personal growth plan.
Do you want to invite more people to visit your church service or church event? Are you looking for the most cost-effective ways to advertise your church?
Here are some ideas for how you can promote your church.
And these ideas won’t cost a lot of money. In fact, most of them are free.
Idea #1: Share local events or helpful information on Facebook.
Take a look at the content you share on social media.
Is it all about you?
Chances are, you’re doing a pretty good job getting the word out about your services and your events.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but the best way to promote your church is not to promote your church at all. Stop posting selfies, and flip the camera around. Use your promotional resources to talk about things already happening in your community.
In other words, make it about them—not you.
Gwinnett Church does a great job with this with the hashtag #ForGwinnett. Go ahead and search that hashtag.
Sure, you’ll see a few pictures of church services and church events. But you’ll see a lot more stuff about the community.
Here are a few examples illustrating how Gwinnett uses their social media to be about the community.
When you talk about local businesses, local schools, and local events, people notice (and often share). You remind people that you’re not just interested in the growth of the church but the good of the community.
Idea #2: Equip your people with tools to invite.
I’ve said this before, but churches do a great job asking their members to invite others.
“Don’t forget to invite your friends next week,” is a common encouragement at the end of many church services.
But we don’t just need to ask them to invite, we need to equip people to invite. We’ve got to give them the tools they need. Remember, the easier you make something, the more likely someone is to do it.
Simple invite tools are not expensive.
It could be a few creatively designed invite cards printed from Next Day Flyers.
It could be pre-written social media posts (with pictures) that people could cut, paste, and post.
It could be car stickers, flyers, or graphics people can easily share.
Most people in church have smartphones in their pockets. That’s not something to fear; that’s something to leverage.
Here's what we mean.
We’ve seen churches put creative signs on the floor, so people can take pictures of their feet and let people know they are at church.
I’ve seen churches encourage people to take out their phones during the welcome and let everyone know they are at church.
I’ve seen churches create sharable notes and quotes so church attenders can share a little about their experience.
The main idea here is to recognize the collective influence of your congregation and find ways to help them leverage those relationships.
Idea #4: Go old school.
Maybe most people in your church don’t use social media. That’s okay.
There are plenty of non-technological ways you can get the word out about your church or a church event.
In fact, in a digital age, it might even be easier for something counter-culture to get noticed. There are plenty of old school, grassroots methods that still work in addition to new methods.
Printing flyers and handing them out might seem outdated, but if that’s what you can do, go for it.
Printing road signs and putting them out on the weekend can help you get some positive attention.
You can hang door-hangers in neighborhoods.
Be creative and be fun. And promote relevant events. But you don’t have to abandon traditional methods just because someone says everything is going digital.
Idea #5: Join outside-of-church community groups.
This won’t cost you a lot of money, but there could be a significant long-term impact.
If your community has civic groups, join one.
If your church has more than one person on staff, divide and conquer.
Can you imagine how many relationships and opportunities would happen if every civic group in town had a representative from your church? Someone should be at every Chamber of Commerce meeting. Someone should join the Kiwanis club. Someone should show up at the Young Republicans meeting or the Young Democrats meeting.
Be present in your community and look for ways to help. Your church just might be a solution to a problem some group is trying to work through.
Those are five ideas for how you can promote your church on a tiny budget. Some of these don’t involve any money at all.
But we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment with what you’re doing and share what’s working in your church.
Whenever you combine those two subjects, it can get tense.
Pastors walk the line between avoiding the subject and using guilt to get people to give. Are we talking about it too much? Are we not teaching it enough?
Maybe that tension should never be resolved.
When you consider money and the church, and the larger principle of stewardship, here are three truths that might be hard to hear.
#1 –People don’t give just because something is important.
A lot of people are passionate about a lot of causes. And there are a lot of important causes in the world.
But just because something is important to you doesn’t mean it’s important to someone else. And just because you’re passionate about a project doesn’t mean anyone else will share that concern.
There are lots of important causes that go unfunded.
That’s why leaders must not solely rely on passion or vision to raise money. More inspirational sermons filled with a bigger vision of the future might not be enough to encourage someone to cross the line of generosity.
People generally won’t give to something they believe is unimportant, but they don’t necessarily support everything they believe to be important either.
#2 – People spend their money in unwise ways.
Every year, Americans spend $350 million on Halloween costumes.
For their pets.
That’s a lot of money for what I think is a pretty silly thing. But apparently, there are a lot of people who don’t see it like I see it.
Chances are, if you looked at my spending, you’d label a few things as waste.
That’s because we all have different financial priorities.
You can teach people about money. You can show people what God’s Word says about stewardship (see Romans 13:8, Proverbs 13:11, Exodus 22:25, Deuteronomy 15:7). You can challenge people to give generously.
But you don’t really have a say in how people spend their money or what they feel is important.
This is why laying on guilt or encouraging people to skip the cup of coffee won’t usually motivate someone to give.
#3 –The church is not people’s only source of charitable giving.
In 2019, Americans gave $390 billion to charitable causes.
Only 32% of that went to religious causes.
In fact, people are generally reducing the amount of money they give to churches, even as charitable giving is on the rise.
As church leaders, we know giving to the church has a tremendous ripple effect throughout the community. But individuals in your community are dividing their donations among several causes they deem equally worthy.
For a family, they may decide to give a set amount of money.
Then, they will divide that between the church, the Humane Society, and the national faith-based non-profit. In their minds, it’s all coming from the same place and going to good causes.
Talking about money in church doesn't have to be awkward.
We've created a guide that helps pastors and church leaders with finances and discuss them in the church without feeling like you're guilt tripping people. The Senior Pastor's Guide to Stewardship is an insanely practical eBook that will help you navigate why people aren't giving, ways to increase giving, and more.
Just like a personal thank you can go a long way, no show of thanks or gratitude is a recipe for disaster.
Everyone who is giving to your church in some shape or form needs regular communication, sharing stories of success and letting them know where the money goes. You should be thanking first-time givers when they give for the very first time and regular givers who are supporting the ministry year-round.
It’s also appropriate to say a special thank you to those who have funded the ministry in a big way. Today, I want to challenge you to personally thank some of your key donors.
Here are some ideas.
#1 – Send a personal note.
When you want to thank a key donor, do NOT send an e-mail and don’t send a formal letter.
Hand write a thank you note and make it personal. Put it in an old fashioned envelope, use an old fashioned pen to hand write the address, and use an old fashioned stamp to send it in the old fashioned mail.
Hand written note cards work great because they stand out in the mailbox. They don’t go in the trashcan with the other junk mail and they don’t go on the desk with the other bills. They are usually opened right away and sometimes kept out for days.
In other words, personal note cards are meaningful.
Thanking your donors also goes a long way towards keeping them engaged throughout the year and will help you create a culture of generosity.
#2 – Send a small gift.
Once a year, consider sending a small gift to your donors.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, but a small token of appreciation goes a long way when it comes to donor development.
A good book that was meaningful to you last year. Let people know why it was special and how you think it could encourage them. One book I’ve sent to others is Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.
A custom moleskin notebook embossed with your church logo. You can find those here.
A box of the hot, cheesy gooey stuff. Pizza!! You can order a pizza from Lou Malniti’s, one of the best pizzas in Chicago, and they will ship it to whatever address is provided. This will definitely make a positive impression.
#3 – Share inside information.
If people know what’s coming or know the results of what happened, they sometimes feel special.
Information is a form of appreciation.
The people funding your ministry should get a slightly different look at things than everyone else. They should know how their contributions are making a difference.
Once a quarter, or maybe even once a month, send a donor update email. You can share a few statistics or an image or two.
This isn’t a church wide email – it’s just an update to your donors.
It won’t cost you any money and it will just take a little bit of time but sharing information with your donors is a great way to say thanks.
Thank Your Donors
When people give to your church, particularly for the first time or in an unusual way, make sure you say thanks. It’s always appropriate and it’s nearly impossible to overdo.
Did you know that gifts that come to churches online or through digital means tend to be larger than gifts that come in the form or cash or checks?
Did you know the younger the person, the more likely they will ONLY give when presented with digital options?
Did you know recurring, automated contributions can significantly mitigate the risk from weather-related cancellations?
There’s a whole lot that goes into a healthy stewardship system, but if there was a secret sauce, the closest thing to it would be emphasizing online, recurring giving.
It’s worth the transaction fees.
It’s worth figuring out the technology.
It’s worth the announcements.
First, online gifts tend to be larger. The average online gift is over $120 while in-person giving is about half of that. In other words, when people give online, they tend to give more.
Second, when people give online, they give throughout the week. The Sunday offering can still be an important time in your church, but churches using online giving properly see about 40% of their contributions happen on days other than Sunday. That's a big deal when you’re forced to cancel services due to weather.
Finally, churches that properly emphasize giving see overall giving increase by 15-20%. If you want to increase overall giving, focusing on online efforts might be a wise first step.
Here are three ways you can encourage more people to give online, and specifically, turn their donations into recurring ones.
#1 – Make online giving faster.
In 1999, Amazon patented one-click ordering. This allowed a customer to view a product and purchase it with just one click. They didn’t need to add it to a shopping cart and then go through a big checkout process.
This technology is used on a lot of websites today (and a lot of times, it’s licensed from Amazon!).
But the idea here is really powerful. The faster and simpler you make something, the more people will do it. Giving via your church website is the same way. If you make it faster, more people will do it.
A few years ago, I made donations to more than 100 church websites. I put them on the clock to see how long it took. The results…it took WAY too long.
How long does it take you to make a donation on your website? The best way to know is to turn on your phone timer and pull up your church website and make a donation. If it takes more than 2 minutes, you’ve got work to do.
If you’re looking for a fast, secure, and affordable online giving option, check out Hopeware. There are no monthly service fees, and you can even give donors the option to add the small transaction costs to their donation with the click of a button.
#2 – Emphasize digital options at least once a year.
It’s great to offer online giving.
It’s even better to offer recurring giving.
Mobile and text giving are important, too.
But all of this is not enough.
You need to emphasize these tools. You must create an intentional communication plan to highlight this option. You can’t just have it; you have to bring it front and center.
I recommend churches take the month of May and talk about recurring giving.
May is just before the summer months, when people do a little more travel and church attendance becomes more sporadic. Take 2-3 weeks and use all the communion means at your disposal to ask people to make a switch to recurring giving.
During this 2-3 week “mini-campaign,” you can…
Record screencasts and short videos showing how easy and fast it is.
Use a communication card to ask if people would like more information, then use and automated email sequence to share next steps.
Be honest with your church about why it’s better for the church.
Share stories and testimonies about generosity and giving.
#3 – Say thank you for online donations offline.
Whenever you talk about giving in church, make sure to thank people who give online. And say an extra word of thanks to those who automate their giving and make it a regular part of their life.
When you use this kind of language, you define normal. You remind people that these other tools exist, remind everyone they are in use, and create a culture of generosity.
Take a Next Step
If you want to work on your financial and stewardship process, check out The Systems Course. It’s full of insanely practical coaching as well as ready-to-use documents and templates. We’ll guide you through how to implement or improve key systems like…
The course and all of the resources will help you get your entire church organized. And one enrollment is good for every leader (staff or volunteers) in your church. Enroll and go through it with as many people as you like.
There are few topics that scare pastors like raising money. After all, you were neither called nor trained to be a professional fundraiser. It can, understandably, be intimidating.
But Jesus said people’s money and people’s hearts were connected.
That makes money a spiritual issue, not just a financial one.
That puts money right at the heart of how a pastor should help people.
You can't make disciples without getting into financial stewardship. And you can't lead a healthy and growing church without leading people into generosity. These two things go hand in hand. In more ways than one, the stakes are high.
Don’t abdicate spiritual leadership by refusing to talk about money in a healthy way.
In addition to being a spiritual entrepreneur, teacher, counselor, and outreach specialist, you are also a fundraiser. Many pastors shy away from this reality, deciding to delegate financial responsibility to a group of people.
But this cannot be delegated. This is something to be learned by example. You must lead well in this area, and in order to do so, you must talk about money.
Here are the three ways to talk about money in church.
1. Talk about money consistently.
Every week when you receive an offering, you have the opportunity to cast vision for your church.
Before you receive an offering, take one or two minutes and explain the “why behind the what.” Use Scripture, testimonies, video, and creativity to connect the dots for people. Here are some ideas of what you might say during this time:
“In just a few minutes, we’re going to receive an offering. It’s something we do every week here at Cross Church, and here’s why…”
“Every week, we receive an offering and it helps make all of this possible. Today, I just wanted to let you know what we do with the money you give. 42 cents of every dollar goes to…”
“Do you know there are actually four other services happening right now? All over this building, children are learning about Jesus. Your gifts make this possible…”
“Before our ushers pass the plate and we receive an offering, I just wanted to share this verse with you…”
“In just a minute, ushers are going to pass the plate and people from all walks of life are going to make donations to the church. Before we do that, I wanted to show you this video of the impact this church is having in one family…”
I bet if you spent one hour brainstorming, you could think of 15-20 more creative, inspiring, and effective ways to “set up” the offering time in your church. You’re already receiving an offering; why not make it more meaningful to those who give and more effective at the same time?
A healthy approach to talking about money in church is not built around preaching tougher sermons after a few weeks of low offerings. Instead, be intentional and plan your communication throughout the year, carefully deploying your key messages at strategic times.
Your communication calendar might look something like this:
Every week – a short giving emphasis in the service just before receiving the offering.
Every week – thank you notes to those who give for the first time.
Every quarter – extended time in a sermon talking about money or a stand alone message on Biblical stewardship.
Every quarter – email or printed updates to the donor base, sharing stories and results.
Every year – a stewardship series on giving, saving and spending.
Every year – an emphasis on digital giving and recurring contributions.
Every year – a “thank you” event for all donors and volunteers to cast vision for the future.
2. Talk about money with purpose.
Non-profits around the world know the power of communicating with their donor base, but local churches leave so many opportunities on the table. The people who contribute to your church need to hear from you more than the annual contribution statement required by the IRS.
Your donors are a part of a larger story. They aren’t giving to pay the bills or repair the roof, they are giving to advance the gospel around the world. They are giving so the world may know Christ and so their neighbors might experience grace. They are giving so children can learn about Jesus and the community will know the church is for them.
Make sure you let every donor know what they have given and what’s happening with their donations. Make sure they hear stories.
Here are some ideas:
Send a video recap of ministry highlights along with a PDF of a donor’s giving statement.
Let children in your children’s ministry write thank you notes to those who help make ministry happen.
Turn a baptism picture into a refrigerator magnet and send it to all of your donors with a thank you note.
Send a letter encouraging donors to set up automated, reoccurring contributions.
Pull your staff or key volunteers together and write personalized thank you notes to accompany a giving statement.
Make sure you’re connecting their contributions to a greater story. These stories are not just opportunities to say thanks; pepper them throughout your church service and mix them into your member communication.
Paint a bigger picture and tell a greater story.
3. Talk about money with hope.
Jesus had a lot to say on the subject of money, so it should frequently show up in your preaching.
But your stewardship series should not just be about giving money to the church. When you talk about money, be sure to talk about more than just giving.
There are a lot of people in your church who feel generous, but don’t yet act generously. They have a generous spirit and they want to give. But for whatever reason, they believe they are not in a position to make a significant contribution.
As a pastor, bring people along—don’t beat them up.
Help people with their finances. Talk about spending, savings, and debt. Preach on the broader issue of stewardship. Offer people help and hope.
Talking about money is so much more than talking about giving. You want to talk about whole-life stewardship. You want to help people with 100% of their money, not just ask for 10%.