6 Church Fundraising Ideas That Work

Written by Founder Raul Rivera on Sep 19, 2017 in Pastoral Helps

It's no secret that churches rely heavily upon tithes and offerings in order to operate on a monthly, and sometimes even weekly, basis. No matter how faithful church members are, churches still experience a yo-yo type funding model: up one week, down the next. This has created an environment that makes it hard for many churches to succeed. 

In addition to standard operating costs, there are times when additional church funding is needed in order for the church to expand its reach within the community. Many ministers experience stress and loss of sleep wondering where these church funds are going to come from. 

As a result, many pastors and church leaders seek to implement additional church fundraisers. But are there any church fundraising ideas and models that actually work?

In this blog, I want to share some simple church fundraising ideas that will help raise financial support for your church and discuss a strategy that can help take your church to a new level. 

6 easy church fundraising ideas for pastors to consider

Here are six fundraising ideas to help reach your church goals.

1. Create multiple avenues for your church to receive donations. 

Perhaps the most common way for churches to receive donations is through receiving tithes and offerings during a worship service. 

This may be done through the passing of a collection plate or by having a designated area where members of a church can give their donation. In addition, many churches utilize today’s technology with online giving, giving kiosks, and “text to give” options. 

In general, the more options provided to your members, the more likely they are to give. One key factor we challenge churches to do is to teach their members about total stewardship of all the resources God has given them.

Most people would like to be more generous, but their personal finances are so under duress that they feel incapable of giving. Take a portion of your preaching calendar each year and spend time discipling your church on ways to handle the other 90% beyond the tithe. 

2. Start a thrift store that sells only donated items. 

According to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 513(a)(3), “[T]he selling of merchandise, substantially all of which has been received by the organization as gifts or contributions” is not subject to unrelated business income tax. 

Therefore, whatever the thrift store receives from the sale of donated items is tax-exempt income a church can receive. 

This is also a good fundraising option for outreach focused ministries because it allows you to serve the needs of the community while generating additional tax-exempt income.

3. Provide meals before or after service for convenience of members. 

With the busy schedules of families today, many churches provide meals before or after their services. These meals are usually offered as a convenience to the members and at an affordable price. 

The revenue made from selling these meals is tax-exempt income to the church. 

Take note, however, that because the members are receiving something (a meal) in return for the money given, they may not claim that amount as a charitable contribution.

4. Operating a bookstore or coffee shop before or after service. 

This is permissible because the sale of these items is related to the tax-exempt purpose of the church. The service provided is also for the benefit of church members.

5. Host the occasional Christian concert or dinner run by volunteer staff. 

Fundraisers that generate income from the sale of tickets are okay as long as these activities do not take place on a regular basis. 

IRC § 513(a)(3) also states that when activities are carried out by volunteer staff (those who do not financially benefit from the profits), the income is not taxable.

6. Start a for-profit arm

Sometimes fundraisers and general offerings may not cover all of the additional income your church or ministry needs in order to carry out its goals and projects. In such cases, there is a lesser known but very beneficial option called a for-profit arm.

Start Your Church Owned Business Today!

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Section 502 of the IRC allows tax-exempt organizations to own the majority interest in a for-profit business and receive nontaxable income from the shares held in that business

A church can start an event-planning business that, after taxes and business expenses are paid, transfers the profits to the church through the shares of stock it owns. 

As the majority shareholder, the nonprofit may control how the business operates. Remember, the business itself is responsible to comply with state and federal regulations regarding for-profit corporations.

Funding to move forward to a better tomorrow

We have discussed some key pieces to helping you keep your ministry going and growing. A for-profit arm just might be the strategic component your ministry needs to have a steady stream of income that relieves financial stress and allows you to focus on what really matters: ministering to and meeting the needs of your members and community at large.

If you are looking for more help in establishing some of the strategies discussed in this blog, our team is standing by to serve you in any possible way.

If you have not heard of some of these fundraising strategies, including the for-profit-arm, I invite you to attend one of our conferences. At our conferences, we discuss these strategies in more depth and share other information that will be extremely beneficial to your church.

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

And receive Book 1 of our Grow Trilogy FREE today! This series gives you the strategies you need to get started growing your church plant today!