Generosity comes up a lot this time of year. It’s part of the fabric of the traditions of this season. You give gifts as you learn about the baby in the manger who grew up to willingly give His life for our salvation. And from the love you’ve been shown, you think of others before yourself. We know that many churches struggle financially and that many pastors wish they had the funds to purchase helpful items. Congregation members are likely thinking about what they plan to give at the end of this year as well as in the upcoming year.
This is where the idea of crowdfunding comes in. Crowdfunding is defined as “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet” (Oxford Languages). Here are some things you might consider when trying to fund your church’s next project or when you are pulling together a gift for your pastor.
One big benefit of crowdfunding is that it allows you to pool from more than just your own congregation members’ pockets. Depending on the year, unique circumstances of where you are located, and other factors, your congregation may find it difficult to fundraise for your current or next project. And that’s okay.
Another perk is that it allows there to be celebration in giving. Once a goal is achieved, you can rejoice together in whatever benefit the fundraiser brings. It allows your everyday congregation members to get a glimpse at the finance side of ministry and gain a greater understanding of the struggle.
Where and for what?
By far, the most popular crowdfunding website is GoFundMe. They even have a version of the site that is specific to nonprofit organizations. Take a look through their site before you decide to host your fundraiser there to make sure it is the right fit for your church. If it is the right choice for your church, read through their blogs, guides, and tips that can help you to create a successful crowdfunded campaign.
What makes a good crowdfunded project? Something that is beneficial for the church body as a whole. Things like updating the church library, distributing Christ-centered materials to families in and outside of your congregation, equipment for livestreaming, pew Bibles, and a building enhancement or repair are all great examples of what crowdfunding can accomplish. Look ahead on your church’s calendar to help determine what you might like to do, and start crowdfunding for a Lenten or Easter project now!
Ideas for successful crowdfunding
For any crowdfunding project, you’re going to want to be specific about what the funds will be used for. When pitching why an individual or family should support this project, make sure to specify exactly what you will be purchasing with donated money. That way, a person can think in concrete terms: “If I give $25, they will be able to purchase three children’s books for the new church library” or “Wow! I’ll give to this fund so that they can upgrade our church’s livestreaming capabilities.” Being specific doesn’t guarantee people will be able to fund your whole project, so make sure to apply for grants or other community-based funding as well.
Create additional content.
I know, I know—the last thing anyone has time for is to do even more these days. But putting a little extra writing, video, or photo work into a crowdfunding project can make a big difference. Start by telling the story of why you’re looking to fund the project or how this project will benefit the community at large. You can also promise exciting content for when you hit specified goals (25 percent funded, 50 new books, etc.). This could be a video of your staff doing something slightly crazy such as a new hairstyle or a thank-you video featuring members of your congregation. Just a little something that incentivizes sharing the donation link with others.
Make a wish list.
This isn’t necessarily an idea for crowdfunding, but it’s a great tip to acknowledge that parishioners love to give specifically. They love to know that what they give will be useful and have an impact—that it won’t sit unused but will benefit the pastor and the congregation. Pastors, here’s where you get to make a book wish list. Maybe you really could benefit from more literature on the Minor Prophets or you’d like to review a new confirmation curriculum. Put it on a list and let your congregation know these are items you’d like so that they can bless you through their giving.
If your congregation has been blessed by others, promote other churches’ crowdfunding efforts as you can. Maybe a church nearby or one across the country is having a crowdfunding effort. Share the link with your congregation.
A quick message posted to your social media accounts or in a church newsletter will suffice. Something like, “Hey, our friends down the road/across the state/in our church body at large at __________ Church are looking to purchase new chairs for their sanctuary/books for their church library/video equipment to enhance their livestream. We hope you prayerfully consider donating so they can continue to spread the Gospel.”
Joining together with other churches on the same mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a beautiful way to bless others and serve Christ.
I sincerely pray that you have success and hope these ideas were helpful for creating your next crowdfunded project.
Being a part of the local church ministry matters.