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How to Organize a Religious Fundraiser
By: Bob Robertson

Earning money for your church is not always easy, but challenges keep us grounded and observant of our true needs. Raising money is something all self-sustaining groups have to do to continue to support their communities. With some enthusiasm, dedication, and careful planning, we can help your religious fundraiser be a resounding success!

Set a Goal!
You probably have a fund goal you'd like to reach. If you don't, this is your first step! How much money would you like to raise for your religious group?

Once you've got your goal, how are you going to reach it? In part, this decision will be based upon your volunteers. How many people are willing to donate their time? Are they friendly and motivated? Who will your volunteers be selling to? Schools and places of business can be excellent for products like jewelry and candy, while social groups and neighborhoods are often better for things like flowers and magazines.

Do your volunteers have sales experience, or would it be helpful for them to have a brochure or a standard sales pitch direct from your supplier? As much as possible, make sure your volunteers are going to be confident and comfortable in what they're selling.

Plan Ahead!
Plan your fundraiser well in advance. Take your time in deciding how you'd like to you raise your moneys. Instead of rushing your project, make sure it's centered around four things:

* Your church!
* Your community!
* Your season!
* Your message!

This is where your church's personality comes in! Which programs and groups are most attended in your church? If you have a large women's circle, think about their hobbies and interests when planning.

Look at the people who are making the most of their involvement and ask, "What would they enjoy selling to their neighbors and co-workers?" You may find that your community is really outgoing and would greatly benefit from discount cards and books that keep them out on the town, saving money (thanks to you)!

'Tis the Season
Season is also very important when choosing your fundraiser. Be aware of the seasons and how they're changing. If you live in Minnesota and are raising money in January, for example, you probably don't want to run a carwash. Likewise, if you're approaching Lent, candy and sweets are out of the question for many churches. If you live in a rural area, on the other hand, flower and garden products are perfect in the right seasons. Imagine gardens across your community springing up with small signs that say: "This Garden Grown in God's Light - Holy Baptist Church."

Selecting the right product, event, or letter-writing campaign for your needs is one of the most important steps to making sure your fundraiser is a wonderful success! With so many choices, it might take time to find the perfect one. Be patient and plan carefully to meet your goals.

Next, let's learn more about working with a fundraising team to raise the needed funds for your church.

With all of the options available for modern fundraising, it's easy to feel a little overwhelmed. Although it's possible to pull off a successful fundraising campaign on your own, sometimes lightening the load through cooperation can be a huge benefit. Perhaps you already have a fundraising committee set up -- if so, great! If not, we highly recommend forming a fundraising team, even if it's only with one or two other people in your church.

Often, the number of people you work with will be determined by your goals -- larger goals bring with them the need for a larger team. With the right volunteers on board, responsibilities can be shared, fostering cooperation (and an easier life for you) and a greater sense of "this whole thing being ours" within your congregation.

Who's the Boss?
Are you going to be in charge of your fundraiser? If not, who is? We recommend a team leader who's enthusiastic about the drive, the cause, and what you'll be selling. Someone who can motivate and draw in other members of your congregation is indispensable for a successful project.

Dealing with Money
Be sure that you've got a least two people on your team who are comfortable and reliable with money matters. One of these should be your fundraising leader, while the other can serve as treasurer for your project. Both should be present when counting any moneys collected, and both should sign all requests for money using a numbered receipt book for all cash disbursements. Accurate records of all money collected are necessary for a well-run fundraiser.

Deposit money collected promptly - preferably daily. In between bank deposits, make arrangements to keep collected moneys under lock and key.

Before Your First Meeting
Get advice from people who have run fundraisers in the past. What has worked for them? What hasn't? What advice do they have to give you? Talk with various members of your congregation to see what people are interested in selling or what they're excited about volunteering for.

Find a few people whose opinions you value and approach them about getting involved with helping to plan your fundraising drive. If they're interested, try to provide them with fundraising resources to read before a potential meeting, so that they'll have a good idea of what the options are and be able to make useful and informed suggestions.

Find a time when all of you can talk together for a few minutes, whether it's Sunday after your morning service or a weeknight when everyone can get together.

Choosing people from different parts of your congregation will be helpful, as well - some younger, some older, some men, some women. Making sure that everyone has a voice will make for greater participation and a good spirit of community for your drive.

Your first meeting can be an informal brainstorming activity, with lots of different ideas being discussed. Small baked goods and coffee can be great facilitators for comfortable conversation.

Putting together a team will help to spread the responsibility and the sense of ownership of the drive throughout your entire religious group, helping to foster a sense of community.

This article is courtesy of Bob Robertson of Sharefaith.com, a website whose mission is to help Christian leaders achieve excellence in communication. 









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