In California, this week is fireworks selling time. Which means every church will have a wood box or tent full of explosives in their parking lot to raise money for playgrounds, youth groups and missions. It’s a busy time for churches but you can’t forget the opportunity you have when the community is coming to you. Community fundraisers are by their very nature a church marketing tool, but you can go beyond the typical promotions to get more out of your fundraiser.
1) Open up volunteer opportunities to those outside the church.
Last year one of our newer attendees invited her mom to help out in the fireworks booth. Wanting to support the church that had loved her daughter, the non-church-attending mom obliged. Now that mom is part of our women’s ministry team at our church and feels a calling to become a pastor. God worked in her through the conversations she had in the booth that day, which made her comfortable enough to start attending the church. And the rest is history.
By encouraging churchgoers to invite non-Christian friends and family to come keep them company or help out, you can create an opportunity for personal contact between the non-Christian and the church that you wouldn’t have by merely inviting that person to church.
2) Give special discounts for communities that you are trying to reach.
As a church, we are always trying to reach new people, and some demographics are harder to reach than others. By giving coupons or having special promotions that you only distribute to local businesses, area daycare centers or your immediate neighbors, you create an opportunity for your fundraiser volunteers to connect personally with people in that demographic.
3) Advertise the latest sermon series.
It can just be a 8.5 x 11 sheet with “This is what we are talking about this Sunday…” or a large poster of the sermon promotion posted on the booth or table. Giving people a preview of what the church is talking about and what is happening inside the church on Sunday may intrigue people, and at the very least could be a good discussion starter.
4) Always include the invite card and flier for next church event.
With every bag of fireworks, baked good you sell or receipt for your car wash, include a small invite card. It’s a reasonable concern to not want to be preachy or pushy when it comes to a community fundraiser; that’s why the subtle card in the bag is a good way to give them an opportunity to learn about your church without asking.
Also, giving each volunteer a small stack of invite cards is a good way to allow your volunteers to give people invitations and more information about the church when asked.
5) As always, don’t forget social media.
Don’t forget to promote the fundraiser on your social media accounts, but promote more than just the information dump. Discuss the cause, recruit volunteers from your entire friends list (not just those you see every Sunday), tap into other organizations in your area to let them know what you are doing, highlight the “rock star” volunteers, etc. Make your social media message more than just asking for money.
There is a fine line between being overly pushy and simply using opportunities to market the church to the customers at a community fundraiser. Utilize community fundraisers, like fireworks booths, in new and innovative ways.
What ways have you marketed your church through a community fundraiser? Did you get any surprising results?Photo by Amani Hasan