No matter how good your church budget might be, there are always needs that fall outside it. You’ll have mission projects, equipment needs, and even benevolence opportunities that come along from time to time. Just because your church didn’t anticipate these needs (or they simply didn’t make sense as part of a standard budget), doesn’t mean they aren’t important. It doesn’t mean they aren’t priorities.
Here are 15 ideas to scramble together funds for those unanticipated needs. Some are certainly easier than others. Most of them allow for slight variances that will streamline the effort if it appears too daunting:
1. Create a social campaign
Tell your congregation ahead of time that you’re going to host a social-media fundraising blitz on a specific day so they can participate by sharing your posts. Create a special landing page on your website that describes your need (and offers an opportunity to give). Prepare ahead of time intriguing posts that describe your need, accompanied with images and videos for illustration. Consider giving incentives for your congregants to share the posts.
2. Host an auction
Ask people within your congregation to donate items for the auction. Consider asking businesses to provide services or products to use in the auction. Promote the event well.
3. Have a car wash
This works particularly well if teenagers are involved in whatever you’re raising money for. Advertise it within your church and in your community. Make sure participants dress appropriately (something they can get wet, but isn’t particularly provocative).
4. Allow the community to “rent out” church members for various odd jobs
Pick a day (probably a Saturday) and invite members of the congregation to offer up their skills to the community for a specific price. These skills can be anything from manual labor to carpentry to artistic skills—whatever skill a person is willing to donate. Pick one standard price to “rent” a person for an hour. Provide a simple document that describes the different “services” offered and canvas the neighborhood a week before the scheduled date to find interested prospects.
5. Sponsor a family game night
This is a great family activity that can not only make you some money but potentially introduce some local families to your church. Ask everyone in the congregation to bring as many board games as possible to the church. Charge every family $1 per participant, per board game. Consider limiting each game to 30 minutes to encourage families to try different games.
6. Try a GoFundMe campaign
GoFundMe is a crowdfunding site that allows you to raise money for a specific cause. Just remember that the site takes a portion of the proceeds.
7. Develop a family fun day
This can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Create simple games that children can do for small prizes. Sell tickets that enable participants to play the games. Consider renting an inflatable or two. Sell snacks or even simple meals.
8. Host a community yard sale
Ask congregants to donate items they own but no longer want (e.g. clothing, furniture, toys, etc.). Sell the items at a reasonable rate on a designated yard sale day. You can also sell congregants (or even others in the community potentially) a “table” where they can sell their goods and keep their profits.
9. Offer holiday gift wrapping
Obviously, this only works during the Christmas season, but simply ask a few of your church’s “expert” gift wrappers to donate their time to the cause. Put up fliers around the neighborhood and promote it on social media. Consider whether you want to establish some kind of limit on the number of gifts that you’ll wrap.
10. Have a bake sale
This doesn’t have to be the same old boring fundraiser. Depending upon the skill level of the bakers in your congregation, consider trying an international-themed sale. (This works particularly well if you’re raising money for a mission trip.)
11. Fast as a church
Ask congregants to fast for a day (or one meal a day) for a week. Suggest that participants donate the money they’d normally spend on that meal to the cause. Make sure you explain some of the biblical teaching on fasting. Don’t let this be just about raising money.
12. Hold a walk-a-thon
Ask your congregants to agree to walk a specified number of miles (or laps on a track) on a specific day (either on your campus or at another public place) together. Have them solicit donations based upon the number of laps or miles walked by the participant. Make sure you have plenty of water available for your walkers! Don’t assume you can’t do this in the winter either. A “polar bear walk” can be a fun event as well during the cold season.
13. Hold a mom’s day out
Offer childcare at the church for a specified amount of money per hour. Provide a discount for families with multiple children. Ask parents to provide meals if the event overlaps mealtime hours. Have snacks available and plenty of activities planned to keep the children entertained. Ensure all the volunteers who participate have been properly vetted by your church and have passed a background check.
14. Allow mobile giving
Make sure your mobile app can accept gifts for specific projects. Let your congregants know they can give to the project via their mobile app. If you’d like to learn more about providing mobile engagement opportunities (including mobile giving) for your congregation, check out echurch.
15. Create an Amazon Smile account
Amazon allows customers to donate a portion of their purchases to the nonprofit of their choice. Make sure you go through the setup process with Amazon to make this available for your congregation. Let your congregants know how to set this up through their Amazon account. Particularly ensure that this is available before the holiday shopping season.