7 Ways to Raise Money For Your Church
Financial realities hit everyone and every organization. The church is not exempt from this. So what can you do if you find your church struggling to make ends meet? Here are some suggestions:
At first, this may seem like an obvious answer, but tithing is a biblical principle that, if followed, should provide more than enough funding for any church. The problem is that only an estimated 4% of those who identify as "born again" donate 10% or more to the church. This does not mean that the other 96% aren't giving anything, or that this statistic is true across every denomination. It simply means that, on average, the average Christian is not following through on the biblical principle of tithing, which creates financial problems for the church.
What can church leaders do about this negative statistic? In order to encourage more individuals to follow the biblical principle of the tithe, pastors must not avoid preaching on this subject from the pulpit. In addition, church leaders must set the example by tithing from their own resources, and stewarding the other 90% well. The average lay person will not see tithing as worthwhile if the leadership of the church does not follow through in their tithing. This is an important means of raising funds, but it is by no means the only one.
2. Special Fundraisers
This may seem like another obvious answer, but it is a means of raising a considerable amount of resources in a short amount of time. If you want to send the youth to a conference, but don't have the resources to pay for it out of the general budget, a special fundraiser, such as a church dinner, would be a good option. Just remember that the money that is raised should go to the cause for which it was raised. That is, if the money raised is supposed to help send youth to a conference, money from this source should not be used to pay the electric bill, as tempting as it may be, especially when funds are short. On a positive note, I have personally seen the effectiveness of a church spaghetti dinner or a car wash during the Summer to raise funds for various small projects in the church. Be creative in planning your fundraiser. The possibilities are endless.
3. Capital Campaigns
One method of raising a large amount of cash in a short amount of time is called a capital campaign. Suppose you are looking to build a youth building for your church. A capital campaign is a process in which you ask your congregation to give generously toward that goal. Some churches use outside consultants when conducting capital campaigns. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this. One advantage is that the right consultant can be experienced in helping raise large sums of money, and will likely have more success than the pastor who tries to go it alone. On the downside, a consultant will want to be paid for his services, and this detracts from the amount that you receive in the end. In the end, it is important to weigh the benefits and risks associated with hiring a consultant before you begin your capital campaign.
4. Donated Investments
Perhaps you have a very generous member of your congregation that has made some investments over the years. He or she can donate these investments to the church, and gain a decent tax benefit from doing so. If an individual owns stocks or CD's, these can be donated to the church, as well. You know your congregation better than I do. Is there someone in your congregation who may be willing to do this?
5. Legacy Gifts
Sometimes, individuals will want to include the church in their will. In doing so, they can leave what is called a "Legacy Gift." This is a gift willed to the church that outlives the individual who wills it to the church. Perhaps an individual has a large life insurance policy, and wants to list the church as the beneficiary of this policy. This would be considered a legacy gift. Or perhaps this individual has a large savings to be dispersed after he or she passes. Perhaps he or she would want to include the church as a beneficiary of this.
6. Faith Promise
Faith promise is a method of raising money toward a particular project of the church. Here is how it works. You simply ask the congregation to pledge an amount toward this project in addition to what they already give to the church. This is the important part. What you are asking people to do is to step out in faith and give to the church above and beyond what they normally give. I have seen this used to fund missionary projects and other projects of the church with considerable success.
7. Sell Bonds
Take caution when selling bonds! This should be the last resort for a church. The way a bond program works is this: You go to a bond agent, and receive bonds. You then sell the bonds to individuals. It sounds easy enough, until you realize that each bond draws interest as time goes on. It is sort of like taking out a loan, but instead of taking a loan from one institution, such as a bank, you are taking out dozens or more of mini-loans from individuals. This should not be considered except as a last resort, because, like borrowing from a bank, the bonds will come due at some point in the future. Unless you know for sure that the funds will be there to pay the bondholder back, this option should not be on the table.
As with any financial considerations, it is important to weigh your options and consider any benefits and/or drawbacks from each of these methods of raising money for your congregation. It is also wise to consider the project you are taking on before you decide on a method of raising money. In the end, certain methods work well in certain situations, and others will not work so well in the same situation. Give careful consideration to what fundraising choice you make.
Recommended Resource: Church Finances for Missional Leaders: Best Practices for Faithful Stewardship