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Guiding Principles of Church Fundraising

by Todd Nelson

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

In fundraising, the first principle is that successful fundraising requires careful preparation and planning. The second is that no church should depend so much on a single funding source that the group would be unable to function 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 donation 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 contributions 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 prosperous people of New York City for contributions. More than a century later, it still receives support from prosperous citizens but it also receives aid from local, state, and federal governments, and from corporations and foundations as well. Sure this is an art museum and not a church but don't lose sight of the larger picture here in terms of diversifying the source of funds and not being overly dependent on any single source of contributions.

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

By becoming acquainted with all types of church fundraising sources, fundraisers can select those most appropriate to their own church. Remember, it is not very likely that every source will be interested 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 individuals rather than to foundations, governments, or businesses. The founding philanthropists of the United States were people such as Benjamin Franklin whose generosity and vision led to the creation of several of Philadelphia's earliest nonprofit institutions.

During the Middle Ages, Europe's cathedrals were built not only through the largesses of queens, kings, and other nobility but also through the support of trades people and artisans. Many members of merchant and guild 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 special programs for Churches and their members. One of these unique programs is 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