Hopefully, you already have most of these things figured out -- this will narrow the focus of your search significantly. In the sections below, we'll outline the pros and cons of products, events, and letter-writing campaigns for your fundraising drive.
There are literally thousands of products available for fundraisers of all kinds. Many of them are sold specifically by fundraising companies, who have complete systems set up to help you sell to meet your goal. Prizes are often offered as motivation for top sellers. Though they generally take a percentage of the money you collect, they can be valuable allies in your church's efforts.
Companies will often help you to personalize items, sometimes at no extra cost. Things like candy and sweets, cookie dough, pizza, jewelry, cookbooks, magazines, coffees, teas, and flower seeds fall into this category. A product is a good choice if you have many volunteers who are friendly, motivated, and ready to sell, in which case you may turn a profit of thousands of dollars with a few weeks of effort. However, be prepared to plan extensively, and to work closely with your volunteers to monitor their efforts during the drive.
Learn more about Product Fundraising!
Fundraising with Events
Events are a staple of many church fundraising efforts. Saturday morning rummage sales are a common springtime sight in cities and towns across the United States and the Christian world at large. However, there are a number of innovative event ideas out there as well, like a "Stay At Home Ticket", which people in a busy community buy from you to allow themselves a relaxing night with their families, or a "Rubber Duck Race", in which people buy or sponsor rubber ducks for a few dollars and race them in a stream or river on a sunny afternoon.
By and large, events work because of donations made by your community and congregation, greatly reducing costs. If you've got a strong congregation and community, an event may work well for you, and allow you to avoid having to give up a percentage of your profit, as with products. Events typically require a little less planning than other types of fundraising, but you can expect a slightly lower profit, as well. A bake sale or a carwash may bring in a few hundred dollars, but they are generally one-day affairs, and it can be difficult to raise a significant amount of money in such a short period of time.
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Letter Writing Campaigns
This is an option often overlooked by smaller churches. A direct mail campaign can be an excellent way to raise funds for your church in general, and is highly effective for earmarked causes like youth group funding or disaster relief. Letter-writing often requires fewer volunteers than the product or event varieties of fundraising, but also a bit more research. On the downside, they are not always as community-oriented as product or event fundraising. You'll need contact lists and people with good writing and phone skills in order to carry of a successful campaign.
Additionally, there are a number of grants available from both the public and private sector for FBCOs (Faith Based Community Organizations). If your church provides a community-based service you may be eligible to apply for this type of funding.
Learn more about Letter Writing Campaigns!