One of the problems that always confronts smaller churches, of any denomination or faith is that they just don’t have the attendance of larger churches. The impact this has on budget is huge because a great portion of operating money comes from weekly collections. If you are a board member or a pastor of a small community church, here are 10 awesome fundraising ideas that might help put you back in the positive again when trying to balance your books.
With a little bit of foresight, the cooperation of church members and the creative use of several of these ideas, you may even find you have money left over for that community center you were always meaning to build. They are listed in no particular order, so pick and choose as you can. Just remember, you will get out of them what you put in, so keep in mind that it will take a good deal of organization and a ton of dedication.
1) Ethnic Dinners
Many churches have pot luck lunches on Sundays after their midday services. Why not get the ladies (and gentlemen) together to sponsor ethnic dinners to which you can sell tickets? One month it might be Italian and the next month Greek. Host them on Friday or Saturday night and open the dinners up to the community. You will be surprised at how many people not in your congregation will show up. (Savvy ministers can use this time to witness as well! Grow your bank account, but grow your membership at the same time!) Did you know that ethnic foods are always in high demand and quite trendy?
Here is another exciting idea used effectively in churches around the country. Host a bake off and open it up to members of the community. Local shops can donate the prizes and people will love walking from booth to booth. This is not a typical bake sale in that the baked goods for sale are separate from those that will be voted on.
3) White Elephant Booth
Some churches sponsor rummage sales, often called white elephant booths in churches. Have your members save those goods they generally donate to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. You would be surprised at just how much you can make at a rummage sale!
4) Church Sponsored Carnival
Have you ever driven by those huge churches that have annual carnivals? Most often they are an annual event but it is almost impossible to get carnivals to come to smaller churches because the money just isn’t there. Actually, you can sponsor your own smaller-scale carnival with zip lines and thrill rides from companies like Fun Crew that operate out of Central Florida.
5) Car Wash
Some churches have their youth group hold car washes at the local service stations several times throughout the spring and summer months. Of course in some climates such as the Deep South, you could actually hold them in the fall and winter as well. Kids earn ‘service’ points and the church earns money. After the event, have a pizza party or ice cream fest for the youth who diligently worked to bring in the bucks.
6) Craft Fair
Do you have ‘crafty’ members in your congregation? Have them make anything from bird houses to sweaters and host a craft fair. Advertising is key if you want to open it up to the community at large, and advance planning is a must, but people love to buy handmade goods. There are too few of them in today’s hi-tech world, so this is really a big hit.
7) Candy Sale
Most schools have a drive like this each year, typically around Christmas. But if schools in your area have a magazine drive or Christmas wrap drive, you may opt to host a candy drive. Let everyone participate, not just the kids and you will be amazed by how much people really like sweets!
8) Bible & Religious Goods Store
Do you have room somewhere on your church grounds to have a small Bible and religious gifts store? Sometimes you can get these products on consignment from smaller manufacturers and other times you can get invoiced. Most often you will not have to pay up front and also, as a non-profit organization you don’t need to pay most taxes either.
Here is one that is loads of fun. Local merchants offer items to raffle off, free of charge, whilst others give gift certificates. Sell raffle tickets and host a Sunday afternoon affair. Perhaps as part of your carnival or if you prefer, at one of your ethnic dinners on a weekend evening. Church members can sell tickets to their family and friends who will often come to the event to see if and what they won. Again, a great way to get newcomers in the door for a bit of witnessing.
10) Talent Shows and Holiday Programs
Talent shows are fun any time of the year but what about a Christmas or Easter pageant? Do you have a choir? Ask them to work out routines for the show and the youth group usually loves to get involved in something like this. Sell tickets throughout the community and invite them to participate as well. Again, local merchants will often donate items for the prizes which means that very little comes out of your coffers.
Try one or all of these and before long you will be actually paying your bills on time. Your church members will have fun and also love doing God’s work. At the very least, what can you lose but a few hours of your time? Good luck with your fundraising!