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Principles of Church Fundraising

by Todd Nelson

The are different types of church fundraising ranging from tithing contributed during religious services to phone solicitations, direct mail campaigns, and specific types of church fundraising events like gala dinner events or bake sales. But despite the types of church fundraising chosen, there are a few guiding principles that must be followed.

In fundraising, the first principle is that successful fundraising requires careful forethought and planning. The second is that no church should depend so much on a single funding source that the group would be unable to operate without it. All types of church fundraising preparation needs to be guided by this second principle because a church that is totally dependent on a large contribution from one person is extremely vulnerable.

The organizations that put forth the effort to use diverse types of church fundraising such that the loss of any one source of donations would not have a significant impact is clearly in a better position. For example in 1869, the Metropolitan Museum of Art turned solely to the wealth citizens of New York City for support. More than a century later, it still receives support from prosperous citizens but it also receives contributions from local, state, and federal governments, and from corporations and foundations as well. Sure this is just an art museum and not a church but don't lose sight of the bigger idea here in terms of diversifying the source of contributions and not being overly dependent on any single source of contributions.

Today, diversification of monetary support is critical and no church can generally expect to fund its work repeatedly from any single source. Even if the church is successful in getting one huge grant, it cannot and should not be realistically expected that the grant will be renewed every year, and the future of the church is far from safe. Furthermore, funding sources prefer seeing that a nonprofit organization's funding is indeed well-diversified because this shows a consensus that the church is important and worth supporting.

By becoming associated with all types of church fundraising sources, fundraisers can select those most appropriate to their own church. Remember, it is not likely that every supporter will show interest in your efforts, and so, with limited fundraising resources, you will need to choose the battles you are most likely to win.

All philanthropy can be traced back to individual people rather than to businesses, foundations, or governments. The United States' founding philanthropists were individuals such as Benjamin Franklin whose generosity and vision led to the creation of several of Philadelphia's earliest nonprofit organizations.

During the Middle Ages, Europe's cathedrals were constructed not only through the largesses of kings, queens, and other nobility but also through the generosity of artisans and trade people. Many members of guild and merchant associations, including bakers, carpenters, weavers, shoemakers, butchers, masons, fishmongers, furriers, and other contributed to the building of the famed cathedral in Chartres, France; their funding underwrote the creation of many of its breathtaking stained glass windows. Church fundraising goes way back in time, as you can see.

This article was written by Todd Nelson, Marketing Director for Capital Merchant Solutions, Inc (HolyProcessing.com). CMS has been in the merchant account business for nearly 10 years, and offers free merchant accounts to both online and retail businesses. CMS also offers a unique program called "Refer a Congregation", which allows Churches and their members to earn money. This article may be republished as long as absolutely no changes are made, and the resource box is included. Copyright 2007 - Capital merchant Solutions, Inc. - All rights reserved.

Published June 18th, 2007

Filed in Business, Finance, Religion