Church fundraising isn’t easy—but it’s often necessary. Sometimes you need to raise money for things like mission trips, new equipment, service projects, or to break ground on a new church building.
Asking people to give above and beyond what they’re currently giving is hard, and fundraising is a fantastic way to get more people involved in the act of generosity and spread out the burden. We pulled together some church fundraising ideas to help get your creative juices flowing. Many of these ideas have come from America’s fastest-growing churches.
When many churches think about fundraising, they gravitate towards the same tried-and-true approaches. But it’s getting harder and harder to raise significant capital by putting together a bake sale—and in our low-carb, gluten-free world, a lot less fun.
Without further ado, here are 15 church fundraising ideas to help get your team’s creative juices flowing!
1. Use your church app as a fundraising tool
If you have a church app like Pushpay’s Total Engagement Package, you can raise funds with your app’s mobile giving solution.
Crowdfunding sites have taught us that sometimes all you need to do is ask. If everyone shares your app on social media and asks their friends and families to download it and make a donation (as well as share the update), you’d be surprised at how responsive people will be.
And the cost for this idea is negligible! Plus, it aligns with the research about giving in the modern day church. To learn more about why a church is one of the most important fundraising tools out there, download your free copy of 2018 Digital Giving Trends In The Church today!
2. Start a church fundraising GoFundMe
If you think about all the people in your church on social media and all the connections they have, you have a pretty large network of people who would be happy to give. GoFundMe is a crowdsourcing platform that allows you to put together a fundraising campaign and share it with others via social media.
The keys to getting an idea like this to work are:
- It should be a legitimate need. Scholarships for a big mission trip could be a good example, but I might reconsider using GoFundMe to buy an espresso machine that could be another means to fundraising.
- Everyone needs to be on board. The success of this fundraiser depends on everyone regularly sharing and promoting it.
3. Consider doing cleanup work for a large community event
Community events (like fairs, athletic competitions, etc.) are messy, but often the people organizing them don’t have the manpower or the time to manage cleanup efforts. If you have some large events like this in your community, talk to the organizers about your church handling the cleanup work. Some multi-day events will pay up to $5,000 for efforts like this and often look to nonprofits for the service.
4. Rent your church for outside events
Because your church must be prepared for worship services weekly, you have a meeting location that many groups in your community would love to use. For centuries church buildings were a central place for communities to come together. When you open up your building for outside events, you not only make some additional rental money to add to your church budget, but you introduce your facilities to people who wouldn’t dare walk through your doors for a worship service. It doesn’t need to be your sanctuary either. You could simply rent out classrooms for community events as well.
Just make sure before you do this that you’re charging an amount that takes into account the extra work your staff will need to do for cleaning and administration for this service. Not every event will be appropriate for your church sanctuary, but many of them will be. You may be able to include (for an extra fee) the support of some of your facilities staff as well.
5. Open a Christmas toy store as a church fundraiser
The key to this one will be in committing to go as big as possible with promotion. You’ll also need a charismatic person who is completely comfortable asking for donations. This will only work if you start in September, at the latest.
It’s fantastic if you can secure a donated mall or downtown storefront for a week (a donation that would need to be secured by real estate owners—which they can write off), but you can also use a large room in your church building. You’ll want some volunteers to help turn your location into a legitimate-looking Christmas store.
During the fall months leading up to Christmas, you’ll be doing a toy drive. People in the community will be investing in toys and dropping them off. It’s great if you can secure bins in major stores (stores are generally happy to do this because it guarantees sales for them).
The goal is to provide a toy store for families in the community that don’t have have much money, but still give them the dignity of purchasing their own gifts for their kids.
If it’s successful, this idea can be done every year. As this becomes an established service to the community, it will only grow in demand.
6. Raise funds by creating and selling t-shirts
If you can come up with really good ideas and designs, creating and selling your own t-shirts can be a wonderful idea. Many churches create t-shirts for various sermon series and sell them in the church store.
Really cool ideas can be sold in the community as well. One church in South Carolina created simple “I love my church” shirts. Church attendees sport these all over town, and the shirts are even popular with people who don’t attend it but still love their own churches.
The key is having a really creative team and vetting the ideas well. Let’s be honest, sometimes your great idea is a dud. It’s good to have some honest input before you commit to the expenditure of printing the t-shirts. (If you have any designers in your congregation, this can be a way for them to donate their talents, too.)
7. Partner with well-known companies for your church fundraiser
You can partner with companies like Sevenly, Threads of Hope, Pura Vida, and Noonday Collection to raise funds for various goods while raising money for developing countries around the world.
Reach out to these, or other companies, and see what kind of offers they have for fundraisers.
8. Auctions can be productive church fundraisers
Auctions can be wonderful ways to raise funds. The nice thing about them is that they’re only limited by the vision and moxie of the person in charge. If they’re fearless about calling businesses and getting donations, they can secure some pretty big-ticket items. I’ve seen cruises to the Bahamas donated to auctions.
Services of church attendees can be auctioned as well. Have a CPA in your congregation? Why not auction off an hour or two of their help. Have a gardener or a photographer? People will donate a lot for their services, too.
When you marry an auction to a pay-for-plate dinner, you have the makings of a pretty good fundraiser!
9. Rent out your parking lot during the week
Most of your parking lot probably goes unused during the week. Your biggest need for the parking lot is during your weekend worship service or weekday evening activities. Most of the businesses near your church need your parking during the week. Consider renting a portion of your lot for businesses that need some extra space or for people who work in your area but must get parking on their own.
To figure out a good parking fee, check and see what other nearby parking locations charge. Consider polling some of the people in your church who work in the area about what they pay.
You may be able to provide shuttle services to the business (for a fee) as well. Just make sure you’re charging enough for the shuttle service that you can pay any personnel costs and still make a profit.
10. Fundraising with dinner and a movie
Many churches have state-of-the-art projectors and sound systems. It seems like a shame not to put them to good use! Why not turn part of the church into a restaurant for some easy-to-make fare, and then show a family movie?
If you can keep the overhead in line and do some thoughtful promotion, you can generate some good money with little effort. You can turn this idea into a summer series, and if you have the equipment to do the movies outside with a barbecue, all the better!
11. Host a community walk-a-thon
This idea not only helps you make some extra money, but it will encourage the people in your church to get some exercise! Have people in your church ask their friends and family to sponsor their walks at a certain amount per mile. You can also open up the fundraiser beyond your church family. You might have people in the community who are willing to walk for the fundraiser, particularly if you are specific about what the fundraiser is for.
Check with your local municipality to make sure you’ve filled out any proper paperwork for the event. Depending upon where you hold the walk-a-thon, you may need to have certain roads blocked off. You’ll want to start your planning early enough to make sure this is possible. To get the word out about the event (and your church), have t-shirts printed for the event. Give every participant a t-shirt.
Make sure you have an alternative in case the weather is bad on the planned day. Either have an alternative day for the event or try to secure an indoor location. (Consider asking your local high school to host the event in the gym.)
12. Want to raise church funds? Rent out your pastor!
This can be is a simple addition to an auction, or it can be run as its own church fundraiser. All you need is some promotion and a pastor who’s game. Just advertise two hours of the pastor’s time cleaning bathrooms, clearing brush, cooking meals, or anything the winner can think of. Your church will have a fun time with this.
Church Fundraising Business Ideas
For the entrepreneurial church, there are all kinds of opportunities to generate regular income. Here are a couple ideas:
13. A thrift store as a church fundraising idea
Pastor Jerry Harris of The Crossing in Quincy, IL, started a thrift store and staffed it with local workers from Celebrate Recovery programs. He began asking his church to donate their unused items to this thrift store. This helped raise community awareness of what The Crossing was doing for their community, and it brought much-needed income to those unemployed members.
This is the kind of entrepreneurial idea that can grow church revenue while solving other important challenges for local residents.
14. Open a daycare as an ongoing church fundraiser
Many churches are sitting vacant all week, but are still paying for heat or air conditioning. Other churches are already providing on-site childcare for employees. Why not open it up to the community at a discount? This is a great way to build a relationship with locals that can also raise funds a couple months a year—if not all year long!
15. Raise funds with workshare spaces
More and more companies are creating positions for remote workers or remote teams, but working from home is not always ideal for everyone. Lots of churches have the room to rent comfortable work or collaboration spaces to people who can’t afford to rent office space.
How to Vet a Church Fundraising Idea
As your church begins to pull together possible fundraising ideas, it’s important to have a method for weeding out the less-than-stellar ones. Here are some simple questions to ask as you choose the best strategy:
1. Has someone else recently used this church fundraising idea?
There is something to be said for novelty. While you don’t necessarily need to throw out a suggestion because a church or organization in your town has just used it (or plans to), it should give you pause. Did they already sell the same product or service? If so, it can diminish the freshness and value of the idea. This is something that needs to be considered.
2. How much will the church fundraising idea bring in?
I’ve sat through so many church fundraising discussions where the question of potential income was never brought up. Part of the reason this question is avoided is because there’s no way to know for sure how much an idea will bring in. But you still need to have an idea and set a goal.
The inability to make educated estimates often leads churches to choose poorly-performing fundraisers. Do some research. Find out how similar fundraisers have performed elsewhere, or how they’ve worked for you in the past. Make projections based on potential traffic and what you will charge for services or products.
3. How much will this church fundraising idea cost?
Once you have a guesstimate for how much a fundraiser might bring in, it’s time to think about the cost. How much will this cost you in money and time? The ideal fundraisers bring in the greatest return with the least amount of investment, but you knew that.
4. Can you combine multiple church fundraising ideas?
I wouldn’t necessarily suggest car washes, bake sales, or rummages, but you might change my mind if you were able to combine the three ideas. If your church had a yard sale where I could purchase a snack and see what kind of stuff you were selling while you washed my car, I might be interested.
Combining various ideas to make them more robust, interesting, and lucrative can really turn a couple so-so ideas into one fantastic event.
There’s a lot more to consider when identifying great fundraising ideas—like technology and how it changes generosity within the church. Learn how your church can best respond to the digital giving trends that are currently affecting the ways your community expresses generosity. Download your free copy of the popular resource, 2018 Digital Giving Trends in The Church today.