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Short on website funds? Try one of these ideas.

Did you forget to include enough resources in your annual budget for a new or improved website? Don’t worry! Here are 5 simple ideas you could use to generate or find some funds while building congregational support for the new website at the same time.

Before you launch into one of these fundraising approaches, decide how much money you’ll need to raise. Consider the domain registration, hosting, software or the fees of a church website company, plugins, development fees, graphic design, images and photos, and any other special costs you anticipate.

Approach #1: The Daily Sponsor

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Suppose you need $1000 for the first year. Would your congregation members be willing to individually “own” or sponsor the website for one or more days at a cost of $2.74 per day?

Create twelve giant calendars, one for each month. Stick them up on a well-noticed wall. Each day should also have a small sponsorship card attached (sticky notes could work) with the sponsorship date, the daily cost, and how to pay for it. Allow individuals to claim one or more days by writing their name on the calendar, Ask them to take the card or sticky note as a reminder and to turn it in with their payment. People might choose to be anonymous, or they could sponsor a day in honor of or on behalf of a friend, relative, or business. The daily sponsor could be publicized each day on the website, in the church bulletin, or occasionally (bi-weekly or monthly) in your social media channels, perhaps with a photo, a link to their business, a few words about a church ministry they are involved in, and so on.

Approach #2: The Rummage Sale

If your website is desperately in need of recycling, perhaps it’s time to hold a “church and web garage sale.” Just as everyone sometimes needs to clear the clutter out of their homes, most churches could stand to do a good bit of spring cleaning in their digital environment, too.

Come up with a catchy title for the event, such as “Bucks for Bytes” or “God’s Good Giveaway.” Since your website content is free, make your rummage sale a giveaway event. Hand out small business cards to persons as they arrive at your church which state that everything is free, but donations will be accepted so that the church can create a new website.

Have a checkout area that everyone has to stop at on their way out. Ask everyone (politely!) if they’d like to receive information by email about the church as you offer them a clipboard and a sheet of paper where they can write down their first name and email address (don’t ask for anything more than that). Be sure to follow up with these people as soon as possible with a friendly series of 2-4 emails about the church.

There will be plenty of people who will take a few items, and you may decide you need to have an item limit to prevent someone from filling their truck or car up. But you’ll likely be surprised at how many individuals will “check out” by making a donation.

Approach #3: “You buy this anyway, so get it from us.”

What is something that over half of adults consume daily and 83 percent consume at some point in the year? Coffee! (You’ll learn about these and more surprising statistics at National Coffee Association. The Aboundant team has a love for Americanos.)

A number of companies offer Fair Trade coffee for resale for fundraising purposes, such as Grounds for Change and (my personal favorite) Cafe Campesino. Typically you place an order for as little as 20 lbs of coffee, then resell it for whatever your organization feels is a fair price. (You can even create your own custom labels with the church logo and website, by the way.) The profit is yours to use. Since almost everyone loves coffee–and most individuals from churches care about the people who pick the beans and the land on which they are grown–this can be a really fun and profitable community fundraiser.

You’ll obviously want to check to make sure you can do this without tax implications in your state, so talk with your finance committee before proceeding with such a church fund raiser.

By the way, when my own congregation did this fundraiser, we bought only whole beans. Then, one congregation member who owns a professional-quality coffee grinder custom-ground the beans for each buyer. Our “Gathering Space” smelled terrific each Sunday we had the coffee for sale (with samples, of course!)

Approach #4: This, Not That

Take your cue from the popular Eat This, Not That series of diet books, which encourage people to choose the healthier of two food options. Engage your ministry teams in a review of all of your ministries to see if the church’s priority to communicate effectively line up with your expenditures. Have them choose the most effective route forward. Here are some examples.

  • Have your church leadership, communications staff person, or a new team evaluate what it would take to move away from doing only print newsletters and instead to shift those costs to a mix of print and digital communications.
  • Ask your children’s ministry team to consider if there are parent handouts that could be provided via the web rather than in print form.
  • Encourage the music staff to ponder whether they can put off buying new sheet music until next year.

Essentially, you’re asking each group in the church to ask important questions about the effectiveness of their ministries and communications while pondering how they could shift to doing at least some communications digitally for one year. Then, the monetary “savings” get shifted into paying for your new website. You might really be surprised what suggestions will arise that could not only lead to a new website but also to a “healthier” church!

Approach 5: Throw a Party

Many congregations have had long-standing traditions of holding events like craft bazaars or cookie walks that bring in people from the community to the church. Could you throw a giant party of some sort for members of your community and nearby towns?

For example, consider something like a Family Fun Fest. You could offer a petting zoo (house pets are great!), carnival games, an obstacle course, arts and crafts, face painting, popcorn and cotton candy, old technology or classic car displays, a big screen movie, a bouncy house, and other kinds of fun on a Saturday this summer. Ticket prices should be affordable yet still bring in enough to cover your costs. A silent or regular auction during the event can bring in additional funds. Build your overall theme around technology and the future since the funds will help you develop your web ministry.

Ultimately, you have three goals:

  1. Engage as many people in your congregation as possible in planning, publicizing and organizing the event.
  2. Bring as many people as possible to your event so that they’ll come to know your church as a fun place that cares about them.
  3. Raise enough to cover the cost of your new church website.

The TL;DR Bottom Line

Church websites vary widely in cost, but it’s not necessarily true that you get more by paying more. Aboundant is able to offer very affordable yet full-featured websites for churches by tapping into the power of WordPress installed on our lightning-fast servers. However, if the cost is still an issue for your faith community, why not give one of these three fundraisers a try this year? If you’re really ambitious, some of these ideas could be combined into one mega-fundraiser!

 

An earlier version of this post appears here.

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