From jumble sales to beetle races, sponsored runs to gala dinners, Strictly Come Dancing evenings to car washes, raising money through events should be part of every churches fundraising strategy. Raising money in this way has a range of additional benefits, it engages people, it should be FUN, everyone has a part to play and it is a great way to engage with your community.
However there are some things to consider before you rush ahead and start organising. Far too often, community events can lose money, or the time and energy they need to arrange them can end up being detrimental.
If you want a whole range of ideas and advice on how to carry out successful fundraising events in your church we recommend ‘Fun ways to Fundraise’ by Penny Hallett. Also, for every book sold, the money supports her church in Bristol with its capital fundraising campaign (which we think is great).
Some tips before you get started:
1. What is the money for?!
Sounds obvious, but be careful about this – depending on how the money will be spent will impact what type of events would be the most suitable and who your target audience to take part will be. Make sure you have agreed with your PCC/Incumbent what you are planning to raise money for through events. Different events can of course have a different focus. You must spend the money on what you say you will spend the money on and so you must ensure your communications about the fundraiser are clear.
2. Decide on the objective
Events fulfil a number of objectives for a church – one of which is fundraising, but also for building relationships in the community, building relationships within the Church, raising awareness of issues or of your activities. This is all important. Identify how many events you have the capacity and desire to do that are about fundraising. Then consider how much money you aim to raise and what your budget will be for these events to be a success.
3. Get a team together
This type of fundraising is much more fun with a team and indeed working together you can achieve a lot more. So why not set up an events and fundraising volunteer team and work together on considering which events will work best in your community to meet your objectives. Brainstorming might be a good place to start about what you could do. There are lots of cultural consideration to consider and we recommend you might look to buying this book which provides you with extensive advice on arranging nearly every type of community event that there is! Ask those who have already been involved in the past to bring their wisdom and expertise.
4. Consider carefully the costs and therefore what you will make from the event
It is important to do your maths and work out which events will raise the most money, but also to consider that some events might not make much in year one, but over two to five years can make your church increasing amounts of money as their reputation build in the community. Also sometimes you have to take risks and learn from mistakes, but when you are starting out it might be good to play it safe to build people’s confidence and ensure everyone has a good time. Nice gala dinners require some investment and careful management but can raise significant amounts of money if done well.
5. Where can you get support in kind?
Local businesses will often donate prizes and gifts in kind, as will your congregation and community. Will the café donate the food and drink or what can your congregation offer (one church gets free lighting for their events!). Others might sponsor your publicity costs if you feature their logo on your flyer. So don’t be afraid to get out there and start asking people. The lower your costs, the more you will raise.
6. Insurance, safeguarding and risk assessments
Be careful. Make sure that you have someone who is carrying out risk assessments, ensuring everything is above board and any photos that are taken don’t break safeguarding rules. Do you need to let the police know or will you need St John Ambulance to be present? Also be aware of providing alcohol and securing a license if you plan to sell it.
7. Choosing online donation sites
Different sites charge different levels of commission on online donations you receive. Stewardship’s Give.net isn’t bad – it passes on £12.15 of a £10 donation with gift aid but the social platform called Givey passes on £12.50 of a £10 donation with gift aid. The better known Virgin Money Giving passes on £12.15 of a donation with both JustGiving only passing on £11.47. It is worth thinking about when you set up your online giving pages, every little helps!
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