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Fund Raisers: Pro and Con

Should we have a fund raiser, or should we rely only on the giving of the people?" Has that question ever been raised in your congregation? Like many other questions, it would be wonderful if there were a simple yes or no answer. There isn't.

The vast majority of the money a church raises for its mission and ministry comes from the donations of the people of the congregation. Exceptions are rare. The most common divergence from the pattern are African American congregations that raise significant funds at "Men's Day," "Women's Day," and other special celebrations.

Many congregations use a variety of supplemental fund-raising projects in addition to relying upon contributions by members and constituents. Some congregations have monthly dinners. Other churches have large annual fund-raising events that run the range from dinners, to rummage sales, to craft shows. Groups within a congregation (such as the youth organization, a preschool, Sunday School class, and choir) often have fund raisers. If someone has imagined it, some church has tried it.

The question still remains: "Should a church have fund raisers, or should the church depend upon the giving of the members?" We would like to suggest the following guidelines:

  1. Does the fund raiser divert from the church's mission, or does it focus on the church's mission? A congregation that has no consensus about its mission often has a de facto mission of meeting a budget. That is not a good reason for raising money. When all the energies go into fund raisers, it can detract from the mission of the church.
  2. Is the fund raiser a time of good fellowship among the people of the church, or is it drudgery? Some fund raisers start out as wonderful fellowship opportunities, but gradually become drudgery. If there is not joy in doing it, stop it.
  3. Does your fund raiser involve the same people year after year (or month after month), or is it a way for new people to get acquainted with church members and to have fun in the process? Fund raisers can be a way to include new people in the active life of the congregation. If fund raisers continue to involve the same handful of folks doing all the work, they should probably be stopped.
  4. Does the fund raiser acquaint outsiders with the ministry and mission of the congregation? For instance, if there is a church dinner, the congregation could set up booths to acquaint those who come with Bible study opportunities, mission projects, and community ministries of the church. Look upon every activity of the church as an opportunity to invite participation from others in the community.

Should we or shouldn't we? That is the question. There is no biblical "rule" that gives a definitive answer. However, the questions above may help your church determine a spiritually healthy answer for your congregation.

Herb Mather is retired from the Center of Stewardship Resourcing of the Discipleship Ministries.

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