Fundraising and Faith Communities

May 22, 2018 | All Posts, Campaign Counsel, Fundraising Counsel, Team Updates

By Wes Brown.

Faith institutions require financial support for leadership, facilities, education, and mission outreach. Yet, many congregants insist that their giving is “between me and God,” and often the pastor or other spiritual leader does not know who gives how much—a very different situation from that of most nonprofits or educational institutions. Fundraising is necessary but often uncomfortable and difficult.

Most non-profits employ staff specifically to manage fundraising efforts, but this is generally not the case for faith communities. While faith leaders know and love their people well, they are seldom experienced in managing campaigns, addressing family financial matters or discussing planned giving options. Members enlisted as campaign volunteers are reluctant, without good training, to approach fellow congregants about generous giving for fear of crossing personal boundaries. And there can be incorrect or inflated assumptions about the charitable capacities of a few prominent members.

A congregation is held together by deep religious beliefs and traditions. It has a strong sense of purpose and mission. It is multigenerational, it meets regularly, it engages professional clergy and enables the ministries of lay persons in activities of worship, education, and service—caring for a parish reaching well beyond its formal membership. The gathering and use of financial resources is a spiritual matter. God’s perspective is abundance rather than scarcity. The Hebrew Bible emphasizes the giving of alms and the responsibilities of tzedakah (charitable giving) as a moral obligation for all. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks about money more frequently than any subject except the kingdom of God. The term “stewardship” describes the proper perspective about money and possessions for members of faith communities who are inclined to reflect the generous priorities of God.

Thus, when the need arises for financial resources beyond the annual budget—for new or growing programs, additional staff, building expansion or repair—congregations may benefit enormously from professional fundraising wisdom and guidance. The team at moss+ross understands that a congregational campaign must be grounded in theological perspectives with appropriate messaging to tie the vision for ministry with the financial goal. Experienced and consistent oversight, a thorough analysis of capacity and readiness, development of a compelling story, training of confident and committed leaders, and close counsel from the campaign launch through celebration are as essential to faith communities as they are to any other organization. Participation becomes a privilege and the result is joyfully transformative.