Fundraising is such an important activity for churches. If your church is in need of a new building this year, don't start anything until you read our post. We're going to tell you why having a formal fundraising plan is always best and give some helpful advice to get your campaigns off the ground.
Why You Need a Church Building Campaign
A church building campaign can be one of the trickiest fundraisers to plan. The stakes are a bit higher since the outcome could literally change your church. Plenty of people are bursting with fun church building project fundraising ideas, but they aren't really sure how to bring everything together.
That's why we're firm advocates for making fundraising campaign plans for any big initiative a church wants to take on, and here's why:
Work Towards a Timeline
Do you need to have your new building built by a certain time? Are you trying to follow a strict timetable for getting together money so you can source building companies and contractors?
A fundraising campaign can help you meet timely goals. You'll be able to tell your congregation you have a solid end-date in mind for your campaign.
Adding a time table could also motivate your congregation to give more. They'll be able to understand the immediacy of your fundraiser and could be more willing to contribute.
It's rare for a building fund to be the only thing a church is fundraising for. There's still plenty of donations that need to be given to missionaries, local charities and even to members of the congregation.
People may be enthusiastic about the possibility of having a new building, but the true need for it can get lost in the shuffle of everything else you're doing. That's why putting together a genuine fundraising campaign can be so effective.
When you have a fundraising campaign, you aren't just raising money for a cause or goal. You're also getting people excited and passionate about your new building.
Simply announcing you're having a fundraiser can let people know the new building is very important to the church. They'll start focusing on all of the great things that could come from meeting your set financial goals. All of that excitement could easily lead to more donations.
Formalize Your Goals
Perhaps expansion has been a goal for your church for a while, but there was never any formal movement or plans around it. It has always been seen as a "someday" kind of aspiration, but now you need to start moving to make things happen.
Setting up a fundraiser doesn't just give your congregation goals, it also gives your internal team something to work towards.
Your trustees can spend time carefully creating a budget for your new building. Church volunteers can start planning fundraising activities and marketing collateral. Overall, everyone gets a much clearer idea of what they need to do to succeed.
Best Practices for Crowdfunding Church Buildings
As you can see, formally fundraising for a church building project is the right way to go. Now that you see all of the good that can come from having a formalized fundraising plan, let's talk about the right way to do it.
A lot can be said about church building project fundraising ideas. However, it's more important to have a solid foundation than anything else.
Regardless of if you're doing an old fashioned bake sale or want to try a fun new virtual event to raise money, here's what you need to do to ensure your plans go off without a hitch.
Define Your Community
We think of crowdfunding as a modern idea, but it's been around since biblical times.
When Nehemiah undertook the task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, he knew he couldn't accomplish it alone. That's why he mobilized the whole Jerusalem community, knowing that together, they could accomplish the unimaginable.
The first step in crowdfunding is figuring out what crowd you're talking to. Who are you inviting to contribute to your mission — your immediate church community, your whole city, or even the whole world?
Once you decide who your crowdfunding crowd will be, you can begin working on your strategy, including a projected timeline, fundraising events and communication.
Go Outside of Your Congregation
Members of your church are the first people you'll want to reach out to about your fundraiser, but they aren't the only people that can donate. If you truly want your fundraiser to be successful it's time to start reaching out to other people in your community.
There are plenty of other churches and faith-based organizations that would be happy to help you raise money for a new building. Reach out to some you have ties with to see if they'd be willing to spread the word about your latest fundraiser. There may even be some sites or e-newsletters you can advertise on for a small fee.
The local media can also be helpful when you're fundraising. Reach out to local reporters and news stations about the work you're doing. A blurb in the local paper or even a story on the nightly news can help motivate people to donate.
Get Donors' Attention
The most important secret to crowdfunding success is making your fundraiser memorable. In a world crowded with ads and pop-ups, your crowdfunding concept needs to be catchy and clickable.
In the area of church building, get inspired by scriptures and faith-based ideas, like:
- "Build the walls of Jerusalem" (Psalm 51:18).
- "A Day of Building" (Micah 7:11).
- "The Cornerstone" (Psalm 118:22, Matthew 21:24).
With the abundance of references to building, you'll be able to find one that suits your project. Adapt it into a catchy name like "The Cornerstone Project" or use the scripture verse as a tagline to anchor your fundraising.
You'll use this theme to keep your messaging consistent so that it sticks in your donors' minds.
Identify Your Allies
A fundraiser is going to take a lot of time and effort to put together. You'll need people that can help spread the word about your fundraiser as well as volunteers to help with events and initiatives. Before you start thinking about what you want to do for your fundraiser, spend a little time thinking about who could help you along the way.
Putting out a few general calls for volunteers can be helpful, but if you want to find the right people for the job, you're going to need to be a little more proactive. Take time to think about specific skills congregation members have that you could utilize.
A member of your deacon board may work in marketing and could be the best person to help promote your event. Parents that like to volunteer at school events could help you at your fundraising event. If you know someone that has a skill you could use, don't be afraid to reach out to them to ask them for help.
Set Goal Tiers
Your trustee board has already determined a set amount for what you need, but that doesn't mean it's time to stop thinking about money.
You didn't just meet your financial goals, you exceeded them! What would you do with the extra money?
It's important to think about different money tiers for your fundraising work before things get started. This can give people more insight into how your church handles money. It could also help motivate people to give a little more if they know what could happen if they meet certain goals.
Let people know that if you exceed the fundraising goal you could add even more great features to your building. An extra thousand dollars could give you a keyless entry system or could allow you to add on an extra room.
Having a backup plan in case you don't meet your goals can be helpful too. Let the congregation know that if you're 20% short, you'll put 60% towards your building goal, donate 20% to a charity the church supports and get ready for another fundraiser to make up the difference.
Show the Benefits
Your congregation knows that your church wants to add a new building, but do they know why?
If people don't understand how having a new building could benefit them, they may not feel motivated to give. Take time to lay out why your church needs a new building and clearly outline how they can benefit from it.
A new building may mean you can add new members or branch out into different ministries like outreach to the elderly or the homeless. A bigger sanctuary could make attending services a bit more comfortable for everyone. Some churches even use their new spaces as rental halls.
Remember to weave those benefits into any messaging you're putting out around the fundraiser. When you keep benefits top of mind, people can be more willing to give.
Find Your Leaders
You could get an outpouring of volunteers when you first start looking for them. It's great to have a lot of help from different people, but you'll want to make sure everyone has clearly defined rules as soon as they start.
Too many churches fall into the trap of not having a designated leader for fundraising events. They want everyone to have the chance to help out, but not having a formal leader can cause a lack of direction and make it harder for things to get done.
It's okay to have a committee help put things together, but someone on it should be the key decision-maker. Tell different teams to feel free to pick a representative that can report to you or the trustee board, or feel free to pick someone on your own.
Invite, Don't Sell
The number one barrier to church-based fundraising is discomfort with asking others for money. After all, most pastors and ministers have a heart for people, not dollars. Asking for donations can feel salesy and inauthentic.
Turning to scripture, we see that the earliest disciples relied on the goodwill of others to cover their financial costs. A few wealthy Roman converts supplied the funds that apostles like Peter and Paul couldn't earn while they were devoting all their time to the Gospel.
We don't have to be afraid of inviting others to contribute to our mission. Not everyone can travel to Africa to lay the bricks of your new church, or donate their Saturday morning to painting the walls of your new worship space. But those who can't build the church with their hands may be able to build it with their funds, so why not extend the wonderful opportunity?
Design your outreach approach around an attitude of invitation. You'll be amazed at the enthusiastic response.
Communicate Early and Often
Picture it. You've made your Sunday morning pitch, given a moving appeal and invited donors to contribute. You're sure your fundraising campaign is off to a booming start. Then you check your online crowdfunding platform and...
Does that mean your church community doesn't care about your amazing new project?
No! It means that hearing something once isn't enough. Marketers have concluded that we need to hear a message between 6 and 20 times before we are willing to take action in response.
What does that mean for your fundraising strategy?
It means repetition is a priority. Your crowd will need to hear the message many times before it sinks in, and even more times before they feel motivated to give.
Communicate on All Fronts
Churches have more communication options than ever in 2021. Instead of trying to pick one platform for your campaign, think about the best way to utilize them all.
We've already talked about the power of a well-written fundraising letter. There may be a lot of digital communication platforms you can use for fundraising, but nothing beats a nice letter.
Letters can appeal to some of the older members of your congregation who may not be very tech-savvy. They also allow you to easily reach out to members of the community that you may not have an established relationship with.
Email campaigns can be an effective way to keep people informed about fundraising progress. You can make a special section in your weekly email newsletter or can create an entirely separate campaign.
Don't forget to use social media for timely reminders about fundraising goals. Someone could see you pop up on their newsfeed then feel compelled to give. Think about creating branded images or even videos to help promote your fundraiser.
Make Giving Easy
Cash and checks are how most churches are used to collecting donations and offerings. There's nothing wrong with traditional giving efforts. However, if you want your fundraiser to have the most impact, you should branch out and offer different payment methods.
A lot of people don't carry cash or checks anymore, but they do have debit and credit cards. Set up a way to receive card payments to make it easier for people to give.
There's also a lot to be said about digital payment methods. Members appreciate being able to pay digitally.
Donors want to know they're more than a number. They want to feel like a valued part of the process.
Keep them engaged with regular updates. If you can, talk about your building project milestones on Sunday mornings. Reach online donors with email updates about how the project is moving ahead.
Most importantly, show images. Take pictures of the building site and the people who are looking forward to using it.
Don't forget to share other personal touches when you can as well. For instance, interview the people who will use the new church and send out their grateful comments throughout your campaign.
Last of all, don't forget to formally thank each giver for their contributions. The best method is a phone call or a message from the pastor. However, a good thank you note will do the trick as well. If you're looking for tips and even templates for creating a thank you note, read our free Church Thank You Note Guide to get started
These personal touches will reinforce that your members are a crucial contributor to this wonderful work.
Plan For the Future
One of the biggest fundraising mistakes a church can make is to assume everything is a one-and-done deal. They put all of their time and energy into one effort, then feel discouraged if it doesn't meet all of their goals.
Fundraising can be a lengthy process. Something as costly as an entirely new building or addition to the church may require several fundraisers over a period of time.
Today's bake sale may not bring in what you were hoping for, but a charity auction a few months in the future could help you close the gap. Focus on the work you're doing today, but keep yourself and your congregation open to new fundraisers in the future.