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If you’re here, you’re probably scratching your head and coming up short on effective and creative church fundraising ideas.
Church fundraising can often feel like a stressful obligation, often falling on just a few members of the church staff.
And more things add to this stress! For starters, it’s rare that the weekly tithes and offerings can cover a church’s basic expenses.
Furthermore, there are those other times when your church needs extra funds for a mission trip, a repair of the church building, or another special project or initiative.
This is why churches and other faith-based organizations need to ramp up their fundraising strategies and activities.
In our following list of the top 15 church fundraising ideas, you’ll find a variety of church fundraising ideas. There is something for everyone, from small congregations to big ones. Some of the fundraising ideas are virtual, and some are designed for an in-person organization -- for whenever that’s an option. 2021 anyone?
These are our top picks for the 15 most effective church fundraising ideas in 2021:
1. Set up Text-to-Give
Text-to-give is a highly effective fundraising tool, especially for churches and other faith-based organizations. It’s easy, simple, and fast. In just a few clicks your congregation members can text a keyword (such as “give”) to your church’s text-to-give number confirming their donation.
Text-to-give is also known as text-to-tithe or text-to-donate. Consider text-to-give as a digital offering basket or plate that gives your congregation members a different, modern way to tithe and support your church.
To use this fundraising method, make sure you find a text-to-give software platform that suits your unique needs and then ensure that you promote this giving method to your congregation.
Pro tip: Stay tuned with GiveForms updates. We’re releasing a text-to-give feature very soon!
2. Run a crowdfunding campaign
Crowdfunding is all about raising funds from a large number of people. It relies on a higher number of smaller donations, rather than several larger ones. The idea was born in the startup world but is nowadays successfully used by many nonprofit organizations. Crowdfunding raises funds through a collective effort of friends, family, community, donors, and other supporters.
So, what differentiates a crowdfunding campaign from general online fundraising?
A crowdfunding campaign, as the name suggests, is a campaign. Campaigns are projects that have a specific goal, a beginning, and an end. For example, you might run a crowdfunding campaign to repair your church roof.
To run a church crowdfunding campaign, a crowdfunding platform is a must. The platform will host your donation page and serve as a gateway to process the funds that you receive.
Design a beautiful, visually-appealing crowdfunding page that will contain the name and logo of your church, the goal of your crowdfunding campaign, an eye-catching call to action button, and a donation form to collect the basic information about the donor.
Promote your crowdfunding campaign online, such as via social media and emails. Get creative with images and videos.
Pro tip: In addition to promoting your cause online, it’s also important to keep your donors and supporters updated on the progress of the crowdfunding campaign.
3. Sell engraved bricks
Albeit traditional, engraved bricks are a very effective church fundraising idea.
In a nutshell, to run this fundraiser, you will sell bricks/pavers/tiles to donors who will purchase the bricks and choose the wording that will be engraved. These bricks can then be incorporated into a building, a sidewalk, a courtyard, a memorial wall, etc.
Start by choosing your installation area. Subsequently, the size of the area will determine how many bricks/tiles you need to sell and how to price them.
Find a company that will do the engraving for you, usually by using laser etching or sandblasting. When choosing among brick fundraising companies, you need to look at the total delivery cost, particularly the shipping costs.
Finally, start promoting your brick fundraiser. Include pricing and sample photos so that your donors can visualize what the finished product will look like.
4. Make use of peer-to-peer fundraising
You’ve probably seen some version of peer-to-peer fundraising on social media, even if you didn’t know it was called that.
A friend asking his friends and family, on his/her birthday, to donate towards a specific cause. Another friend is running a marathon and asking for donations to his favorite nonprofit.
This is known as peer-to-peer fundraising, a fundraising method that utilizes the power of the network by recruiting fundraisers to raise funds on behalf of the nonprofit.
Peer-to-peer fundraising has great fundraising potential since it exponentially increases your reach, and therefore the chances of new donations coming in. Congregation members who become your fundraisers will reach out to their family, friends, and other members of their network to raise money for your church.
You can utilize peer-to-peer fundraising any time of the year but connecting it with birthdays or specific times of the year (e.g. Easter or Christmas) can make the fundraiser even more effective.
5. Set up online fundraising
Long gone are the days when your church or faith-based organization could skip on having a website or fundraising online.
Today, if you want to ensure the long-term sustainability of your church, online fundraising is essential.
To get started with online fundraising, you need two main things: a good website and great online fundraising software.
Online fundraising allows your church to accept donations in a variety of ways, specifically via web and mobile. This means that your church doesn’t have to rely exclusively on in-person fundraising. This was the big lesson of 2020 for many nonprofit organizations that had to quickly pivot their activities online. Fundraising online broadens your reach, helping you spread the word about your work and increasing your donations.
Pro tip: Set up your online giving software so that you can also receive weekly and monthly donations and offerings. The increased convenience of online giving, especially recurring giving, can greatly increase your donations.
6. Organize a cook-off or a bake-off
Cook-offs and bake-offs are a wonderful way to raise funds for your church while also bringing the congregation together for some fun and a good meal!
There are plenty of foods you can choose for your cook-off/bake-off: chili, apple pie, BBQ, and more. Choose anything you think your congregation will love, a meal/dessert that’s a local favorite.
To take it up a notch, you can try and get a local celebrity to come in and be one of the participants or judges. However, while celebrities can help draw crowds and generate buzz, having them present is not a necessity.
Make sure you promote your cook-off/bake-off. Hand out flyers, share on social media, and get everyone you know to talk about it. Market the event well beforehand to ensure a good turnout by both visitors and media.
You can have a panel of judges judging the contestants’ meals or you can have your visitors vote with their dollars on which meal they like the best.
The winner can receive a small prize or trophy (ideally have a local business donate an enticing prize), and your church will end up raising a lot of money!
7. Organize a family day and potluck
Especially if your congregation is small, this might be the right fundraiser for you. It’s approachable, uncomplicated, and you can go as “big” or “small” with it as you wish.
Organize a Family Day at your church, coming up with a variety of family-friendly activities that you know would appeal to your congregation. Think of face painting stations, inflatables, puppet shows for the kids, but also activities for the adults.
An ideal activity for a Family Day at your church is a potluck.
Your church can provide the main course and encourage congregants to bring side dishes, desserts, and drinks to complete your potluck. Every church has that one member who makes the best apple pie or the one family whose lasagna is outstanding.
To raise funds, charge an admission fee by individual or family at the door, or simply ask for donations.
To raise even more funds, sell concessions and drinks at the event and sell tickets for activities and games.
Bonus idea: Compile the best recipes from your congregants and put them together into a cookbook. Sell the book in-person and online. Bonus points for making the cookbook very diverse!
8. Gain interest with one-of-a-kind menu
The increased interest in exotic food, celebrity chefs, and sustainable sourcing makes food-related fundraisers a good choice for churches.
Partner with a local restaurant to organize a fundraising dinner. The dinner would ideally take place at the restaurant. To generate interest, have the restaurant come up with a “one-of-a-kind menu”, something unusual that will get attention.
Then, you’ll want to get very marketing savvy in order to get your audience signed up to participate:
- Make a few strategic phone calls to your top supporters, super volunteers, or beneficiaries.
- Share on social media.
- Some congregation members or supporters may not be able to donate but could spread the word for you. Ask them!
- Share the word through email so that your whole community gets involved.
To raise funds, you can organize a raffle (just make sure you follow the local laws) or simply charge each guest by selling tickets.
Pro tip: To make this church fundraising idea pandemic-friendly, have the restaurant deliver a top-notch meal to the participants’ houses.
9. Run a church yard sale
Hosting a church yard sale is a really fun event that most of your congregation is sure to enjoy, but it can also be a very effective fundraiser if done right.
Your congregation members will have the opportunity to come together and connect, purchase items they like, and raise money for your church -- all at the same time.
To organize a church yard sale, start by recruiting volunteers. Volunteers will be there to help you prepare and promote the yard sale; they will be there on the day of the sale helping to manage the setup, the guests, and the logistics; and they will stay at the end to clean up.
You’ll also need a fairly large space for your church yard sale. For example, you can host your fundraiser in your churchyard or another large hall/space.
Designate a pickup day(s) and invite your congregants to donate items they no longer use, such as gently worn clothes, furniture, toys, or home goods. Have volunteers organize and sort through the items. On the day of the yard sale, make sure the setup is fully complete by the time your visitors arrive.
To raise funds, charge an entry fee to each visitor or each family. You’ll also be receiving all the funds generated from selling the goods.
Pro tip: Up your fundraising potential by selling coffee, tea, or other goods during your yard sale!
10. Organize a trivia quiz night
If you’re looking for a cost-effective approach to fundraising, this church fundraising idea is for you! It’s no accident that trivia nights have become so popular among nonprofits and fundraisers alike.
It doesn’t take a lot to put them together and they can bring in a lot of funds, which means the return on investment is great! Furthermore, they’re a lot of fun for the participants, so the word about them will spread fast -- meaning you can organize several events or even make it into a monthly or quarterly tradition.
For this fundraiser, you’ll need to create your own quiz or purchase a ready-made trivia night package. The second option is good if you’re short on time or if you’re unsure of how well you can create a quiz on your own.
Then, start thinking about what kind of venue would be best for your fundraiser. Take into consideration the number of participants you expect, what you need in terms of space and tech equipment, and the kind of atmosphere you’re going for. Prepare any loudspeakers, amplifiers, monitors, cables, handouts, and any other items you can think of that will ensure everything goes smoothly.
Make sure to run through the quiz before the event, so you can work out any issues and glitches that might arise.
If you’re running a virtual trivia night, you’ll need to choose which platform to use (Zoom works great).
Raise funds by charging a fee for participation.
Pro tip: Don’t pay for a venue! Tap into your own or your friends’ or family members’ networks to get a free hire.
11. Get started with a t-shirt fundraiser
Nonprofits too can sell branded items! Sometimes, fundraising works better if people get something in return for their donations.
A simple way to get started with selling branded items is by selling branded t-shirts.
There’s no need for producing large quantities of t-shirts that can potentially end up not being sold, resulting in a loss. There’s also no need for printing the t-shirts yourself and handling the complicated processes of shipping.
Nowadays, there are websites out there that do all of that for you. You can simply upload your design, set your price, and start selling. The websites handle the printing and shipping of the t-shirts.
For the t-shirt design, you might have a designer in your personal network or in your congregation who is willing to donate their design skills, but if not, you can find affordable designers on Upwork and Fiverr. Just make sure the design is something cool and wearable, not just your church’s logo!
For greater reach and impact, you can also post two to three designs on social media and have people vote for their favorite design.
Pro tip: Encourage those who purchase the t-shirts to share photos of themselves wearing them on social media, using a hashtag that you created specifically for this purpose. This will help create buzz and potentially bring in more funds to your church!
12. Put on a silent auction
Silent auctions, auctions without an auctioneer present where participants place their bids silently and anonymously on a bid sheet using a bidding number, can be a very effective fundraising strategy for churches of all sizes.
Silent auctions are a great fundraiser because, unlike many other fundraising ideas, silent auctions encourage donations by focusing on items people really want.
Do the research and see who within your congregation and your wider network has access to some unique and desirable items that they can donate to your silent auction.
You can also auction off interesting experiences or useful services, not just items. Ask your congregation members to donate piano lessons, art classes, design services, or anything else they may be good at! You can also ask businesses to contribute experiences as well.
You can organize an online church auction, as well as a live silent auction.
An online silent auction usually takes place on a custom website created for your church or using an online catalog. Each item in the online catalog usually includes product images, starting bids, detailed product descriptions, and item values.
If you’re doing a live silent auction, you'll need to think of a physical location that will work well for the auction. You will also want to display the items in an eye-catching and interesting way.
Set out the items and place bid cards next to each item on the table.
If you want, you can monitor bids as they come in and keep displaying the current highest offer — this can help foster friendly competition between different bidders.
Pro tip: A silent auction can be an excellent addition to other fundraisers. Try pairing it with a concert, a gala dinner, or a barbecue to raise even more funds for your church.
13. Organize a holiday breakfast
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one holiday fundraiser. Holiday meals always go over really well, and they’re inexpensive and easy to put together!
For example, in the winter, host a Christmas-themed breakfast or brunch. Make sure there are Christmas cookies and hot chocolate!
Spring is the perfect time for an Easter Bunny breakfast or picnic. The children will rejoice at the chance to spend time with the Easter Bunny, and the adults will be excited about freshly baked pastries and joining a basket decorating party. Serve iced tea, lemonade, watermelon, and any other seasonal snacks.
These holiday-themed events can be paired with plenty of other activities to boost their fundraising potential. For example, the Easter breakfast can be paired with an Easter Egg Hunt and the Christmas-themed breakfast can be paired with a chocolate-making workshop.
To raise funds, sell tickets for the event(s).
14. Partner with local businesses
While most of the church fundraising ideas on this list focus on fundraising from individual donors, partnerships with businesses hold a lot of fundraising potential too.
Begin by brainstorming and looking through your list of contacts. Start from who you know. Then, think about your wider network. Could your congregants put you in touch with their contacts?
Once you’ve exhausted the “warm leads”, you can also try cold calling or cold-emailing new people.
Such partnerships where a business sponsors a nonprofit are mutually beneficial. You receive funding, and businesses benefit from tax breaks. Many businesses are also looking for more ways to be involved in their community, especially if they’re based locally.
Pro tip: Have kids and youth from your church write up ‘thank you’ letters to your sponsors, sharing how the donations helped them.
15. Plug into Giving Tuesday
In response to consumerism and to help boost donations to charities, Giving Tuesday started in 2012.
Every year, Giving Tuesday reaches many new givers and the amount of money donated continues to climb year-over-year.
Giving Tuesday takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which falls after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, #GivingTuesday takes place on November 30.
Plugging into Giving Tuesday is a fantastic way to bring in more donations for your church. First, take a moment to create a simple timeline. When are you going to start sharing about Giving Tuesday? How many times per week? How are you going to accept donations?
What’s great about plugging into an existing campaign is that you already have access to many resources (e.g. visuals, messaging, etc.)
Feature Giving Tuesday messaging and logos on your website or in your weekly newsletter making sure to include calls to action that prompt people to give.
Over to You
Churches, like many other nonprofit organizations, are largely dependent on their members for financing their day-to-day activities.
From paying utilities to maintaining and renovating the church buildings, churches resort to funds raised from their own community. However, these funds often fail to sustain the financial requirements.
Use these ideas to craft a highly engaging and respectful fundraising plan for your church.
Fundraising is definitely not a one-size-fits-all undertaking, but by combining several of these ideas, you will find those that will make your church fundraising efforts a success.
GiveForms can help you raise funds by helping you seamlessly accept donations online. Your website visitors can donate using a credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, or bank transfers. With a focus on intuitive, human-centered design, GiveForms goal is to help you increase your online donations.
When you use GiveForms, you gain access to a plethora of nonprofit-specific benefits:
- A customizable donation page optimized for mobile
- Embeddable donation forms directly on your website
- Donor dashboard to help you search, view and export your donations
- Monthly recurring donations and social sharing options
- And more!