51+ Faith-Based Fundraising Ideas: Fundraisers for Churches, Communities, and Congregations

September 18, 2023
6 minutes

Whatever your beliefs, and whether you belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque (or worship at the altar of Mother Nature), we’re all united by our faith in the importance of doing good and giving back. Alas, good intentions alone won’t keep the lights on, and gone are the days when passing the collection plate once a week was enough to pay the bills. From funding mission trips to feeding the hungry, many faith organizations today further their cause through fundraising—which is why we’re gathered here today.

For faith communities, fundraising needs to balance fun and meaning. You want community members to get excited and get involved, but you also want your fundraising activities to resonate with your values. That’s a lot of pressure, but it can be done! So, sit back and put your faith in Funraise. It’s time for some miraculous faith-based fundraising ideas for churches, temples, mosques, and more—because here, everyone is welcome.

Benefits of faith-based fundraising

If you want to keep the faith and keep things running smoothly, fundraising is vital. At the same time, it’s a lot of work. So, it can be helpful to remember why you’re asking your community members to give. Here are just a few reasons.

Cultivate a broader community

You love your mosque, synagogue, water temple, or (and?) church community, but fundraising events allow you to connect with the wider community and welcome them into the fold. Regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, we’re all in this together, and spreading the love—while supporting your cause—is what it’s all about.

Honor member achievements

At any place of worship, there are members who put in that extra time and effort to do good. Fundraising campaigns and events are a wonderful opportunity to recognize their contributions in a meaningful and impactful way.

Hear from the people

As times change and patterns shift, it’s more important than ever for faith communities to listen to their members. What are they looking for in a place of worship? What are you doing right? What could be better? Fundraising events allow you to connect with your members person-to-person and plan for the future with their needs in mind.

Connect to the kiddos

Sometimes, young people aren’t as into church, synagogue, or any required weekend activity as we might like them to be. But fundraising events are a great way to get the younger generation involved and amped up.

Planning your next church fundraising event

Before we dive into our smorgasbord of fundraising ideas for churches et al, let's take a page from nonprofit organizations the world over and review some tips on planning a successful, fun event. 

1. Set a goal. Why are you holding this fundraiser? What do you hope to accomplish? How much do you want to raise?

2. Figure out who's handling what. Whether it's a planning committee, church leaders, or dedicated church congregants, you need to know who's in charge.

3. Get your financials in order. Create a detailed budget that outlines expected expenses and potential income. 

4. Choose the event type, date, and venue. Get all those details nailed down now.

5. Promote your fundraising campaign or event. If no one knows that you're raising funds, no one can contribute.

6. Engage your community. Ask congregants to lend a hand as needed. They can volunteer, donate items, secure sponsors, and spread the word.

7. Ensure everything's in order. if your fundraising involves speakers, performers, or a show, practice beforehand. Make sure you have a day-of point person to make sure everything goes smoothly.

8. Evaluate how it went. After, say thank you to everyone involved and gather feedback on how things went. Evaluate key metrics to understand key takeaways. And finally, share updates on how the funds will be used.

Fundraising ideas for congregations of all faiths

Our favorite fundraising ideas work for all religions, of all shapes and sizes. Here are some multicultural, truly inclusive fundraising ideas.

1. Faith community bake sale. Celebrate the values that unite us all (quick reminder: those include advancing equity and serving the greater good) by partnering with nearby places of worship for One Bake Sale to Rule Them All. Encourage congregation members to make tasty treats that speak to their heritage; then, print out each baked good’s backstory and include a copy with purchase. At the end of the event, divide up the profits equally. We sure do love a good community-centric fundraiser!

2. Babysitting. After services, offer your expert babysitting services for a few hours while your parent-members head out for Sunday brunch or Friday dinner. Trust us: guaranteed childcare will always pay off.

3. Mehndi (henna) party. Host a mehndi party at a local park and invite members of your temple and members of the general public. Donations can be based on the size and intricacy of the design. Take the opportunity to educate guests on the origins of mehndi and consider serving traditional street foods to really make it a celebration.

4. Candle-making workshop. At many churches, candles symbolize prayers, and a candle sale is a popular fundraiser. Make your candle fundraiser a bit more hands-on by hosting a candle-making workshop in exchange for donations.

5. Indulgence day. Whether you’re fasting for Ramadan or giving up sugar for Lent, an indulgence day is a great way to indulge in what you’ve sacrificed together. Post-Passover, we have a feeling that everyone would pay a small fortune to enjoy an all-you-care-to-eat leavened bread buffet.

6. Obon festival. In Japan, everyone looks forward to the Obon festival each July. If you ask us, this traditional festival honoring one’s ancestors needs to make its way stateside more often. Buddhist temples can host their own Obon festival, complete with taiko drumming, traditional dances, and bonfires. You can charge admission and also sell paper lanterns for guests to buy in remembrance of their ancestors.

7. Congregant concert. Sell tickets for anyone and everyone to listen to your church choir or join in on some bhajans. After all, music is the great uniter!

8. Sunday (or Saturday!) school crafts. Even your youngest members can lend a tiny hand to your fundraising efforts if you use childcare during services as crafting sessions. Have the kiddos make wall art, decorate picture frames, or paint tote bags. And no need for quality control with this art sale: we have a feeling parents will buy it no matter what.

9. Communal cookbook. Invite every member of your congregation to submit their favorite recipe. Then, invite the kids to illustrate each one. Sell the delicious and hilarious results in a communal cookbook. You could also consider an official launch party fundraiser: everyone cooks their featured recipe to share.

10. Ornament sale. Whether it’s Christmas ornaments or Festivus ornaments, everyone loves adding some new and meaningful adornments to their tree each holiday season. You can encourage members to donate lightly used ornaments or make their own to sell.

11. Appetizer picnic. Get outside and get fundraising by hosting an hors d’oeuvre picnic for the whole congregation. Everyone brings their favorite fancy finger food; you supply lots of blankets, lawn games, and festive beverages. You can also just give the people what they want and make it a BYO cheese party.

12. Diwali festival. Diwali is celebrated by over a billion people worldwide, so why not host a festival of lights for the whole town this year? Charge a small entrance fee, then invite the wider community to join your celebration. Serve sweet and savory traditional dishes, sell sparklers (just make sure it’s legal!), teach guests how to draw rangolis, and, at the end of the night, release lanterns into the sky.

13. Flower art. Whatever your belief system, we all have our own ways of appreciating nature’s beauty, and a flower art fundraiser is a perfect way to welcome spring with your community. Host a by-donation flower crown how-to, wreath-making crash course, or ikebana lesson. After, attendees can take home their works of art or donate them to brighten your space.

14. History month fundraiser. Throughout the year, we take the time to celebrate marginalized and underrepresented groups through various history months. This year, celebrate Black History Month, LGBT History Month, Arab American Heritage Month, or another history month by hosting a fundraising event that highlights that group's many contributions. This event could include a trivia night, panel discussion, or film screening. Collaborate with community organizations to foster partnerships and maximize attendance.

15. Holiday decoration help. Finding it hard to mount that giant inflatable menorah on the roof this year? Never fear–help is here! Get your strongest congregants to volunteer their time to help decorate members’ homes for the holidays. Then, get your most artistic congregants to make some super-snazzy custom decorations to really up the fundraising potential (and holiday spirit).

16. Children’s holidays. Many religions have special holidays for children—and we know from experience that parents will take any excuse to get the kids out of the house. Whether it’s the Shinto holiday Shichigosan or International Children’s Day, embrace holidays that celebrate our wee ones with a fundraiser for all the kids in your congregation. Be sure to include plenty of games and snacks while also honoring your traditions and beliefs.

Small church fundraising ideas

If you’re a small but mighty faith community, you'll want to focus on smaller fundraising events that don’t require as much time and resources. Additionally, you can encourage non-members to get involved in fundraising efforts by opening your fundraising events up to the community and conducting peer-to-peer fundraisers. Here are some church fundraising efforts that will yield rewards even for the tiniest of congregations.

17. Community yard sale. Sometimes, all you need in life is an antique clock shaped like a partridge, but you'd never know until you find one at a church yard sale. Even the smallest church can this popular event, turning one person's trash into treasure for your religious organization. Advertise widely and hold the sale after church services to maximize attendance and enthusiasm. 

18. Coffee shop. If services start early, sell coffee, hot cocoa, and treats to get the day started on the right foot. If someone knows how to make a latte, you’ll really be raking in the dough(nuts). For the Mormons out there, just make it decaf.

19. Family fun day. All families, big and small, love a day of organized fun, so treat your congregation to some minimal-effort games, activities, and delicious treats for the entire family. Start with some face painting and sack races, then add some tie dye and cupcake decorating. Charge a small admission fee and make sure everyone takes plenty of photos; there are bound to be some moments you'll want to post on the bulletin board!

20. Personal fundraising. Out of fundraising ideas? Turn to your brilliant, creative community! Encourage your members to dig deep and think up some personal fundraising initiatives that resonate with them. Maybe they'll want to keep it low-key and collect online donations through a crowdfunding campaign. Or maybe they'll go all out with an exotic pet fashion. By allowing folks to create their own fundraising campaigns, you not only diversify your fundraising efforts but provide an opportunity for personal connection.

Youth fundraising ideas for church (or any faith)

For any religious organization, the children are the future, so get 'em fundraising while they're still young. Here are a few fundraising ideas for church youth.

21. Read-a-thon. Get your younger members reading and learning by organizing a peer-to-peer fundraising challenge. You give the kiddos a list of books that resonate with your values, and they solicit pledges for every 10 pages they read. For every book they finish, there’s bound to be a bonus.

22. General pledge drive. Give the kiddos a crash course in fundraising by organizing a pledge drive. Charge a sliding-scale registration fee, then encourage them to reach out to family, friends, and community members to pledge a specific amount for each mile they walk, or Bible verse they read. Faith and funds in one tidy fundraising package? Yes, please.

23. Board game night. Kids love games, so a board game fundraising campaign is a surefire way to raise funds and raise (holy) spirits. Hand them the reins to host and organize the event, but coach them on the basics: Every kid brings their fav game, and in exchange for an entrance fee, the youth community spends an evening playing and connecting. Keep things organized with areas for elementary, middle, and high school students (though the young-at-heart are welcome to join in on the fun, too!).

24. Something-active-a-thon. Whether it's a bike-a-thon, walk-a-thon, or hop-a-thon, your youth groups can set distance goals and seek sponsorships for each mile they pedal or foot they skip. Plus, it'll get the younger generation flexing those online fundraising skills.

25. Family kits. Encourage some screen-free quality family time by inviting kids to put together and sell easy craft kits that the whole family can enjoy. Include materials to make natural inks, the pre-cut wood for a birdhouse, or all the fixings for easy homemade playdough. The options are endless!

Fundraising for church building project

Renovating or expanding your place of worship is a pricey and complex undertaking, making it an ideal fundraising opportunity. Before you do anything, set a financial goal, assemble a team, and determine your deadline. All that hard work will be worth it when you have a shiny, leak-free roof. 

26. Engraved brick fundraiser. Building a building takes supplies, making an old-fashioned brick fundraiser an ideal choice. Here's the DL: community members sponsor bricks, they get their names engraved on said bricks, and said bricks are then used for a wall, sidewalk, or other built structure. They leave a legacy; you get those much-needed funds.

27. Construction-themed fun run. Get in the construction spirit with a fun run where participants dress up as construction workers and run or walk a designated route. Maybe add a decorate-a-traffic cone station to up the fun and funds.

28. Naming opportunities. New things need new names, so offer your members unique naming opportunities within the new building in exchange for contributing a certain amount. They can name a room, a pew, or a church parking space. 

29. Virtual building showcase. Use your tech skillz to set up a virtual tour of the new building on your website or social media platforms. Highlight different areas of the building and showcase your progress through videos and photos so everyone can see their contributions in action.

30. Crowdfunding campaign. Like many a nonprofit organization before you, having such a big, tangible end goal is the perfect excuse for a congregation-wide crowdfunding campaign. On your favorite crowdfunding platform, use engaging visuals and videos to tell the story of your church building project and its impact on the community. Then, count down the dollars to your final goal with a fundraising thermometer. 

Synagogue fundraising ideas

Switching gears, here are some synagogue-specific fundraising ideas. But hey, if your mosque, temple, or church likes 'em, we always love a community-wide fundraiser.

31. Sukkot showcase. Work with local architects and architecture students in your town to build creative sukkahs (outdoor huts covered in plants and vegetables). Display them in a local park for the week following Sukkot as part of a charity auction, letting visitors bid on their favorites. It’s like getting an extra-awesome playhouse that the whole family can enjoy!

32. Decorate a dreidel. Purchase enough plain wooden dreidels for a crowd and provide the supplies for the kids in your congregation (and the kids at heart!) to make ‘em shine! Encourage the artists in your congregation to make some, too. After, you can raffle the tiny masterpieces off to the highest bidders.

33. Hannukah gift drive. Eight nights of gifts is a lot of gifts, so a gift drive is the perfect festive fundraiser. You up the holiday spirit and make kids in need happy. Just remember: no socks allowed.

34. Bread-free bake sale. Eight whole days without bread is rough, but there are still many baked goods out there that are kosher and delectable. Host a bake sale that goes beyond the typical leavened borders, selling treats that are tasty and compliant.

Most profitable church fundraisers

All these ideas? Fabulous. But when you need funds fast, here are some ideas that really bring in the revenue.

35. Dedicate a seat. In the days of yore, churches used to sell pews to wealthy congregants to raise money. While giving your wealthier members the best seats in the house doesn’t come across as kosher these days, selling seat dedications is a great way to honor members of your community or church leaders while raising funds for your congregation. You can add small engraved, personalized plaques to the bottom of each seat.

36. Product fundraisers. From selling the tastiest treats to fun church merch, product fundraisers never go out of style. Everyone love indulging in tasty goodies or showing their support through branded products. And these fundraisers not only bring in funds but also spread the word about your church.

37. Faith-based festival. If you’ve got the resources, holding a big festival and inviting the whole town is a great way to raise money for your congregation. A Buddhist temple might have a calligrapher writing attendees’ names on rice paper, while a synagogue might teach guests how to dance the Hora. Have plenty of entertainment, lots of activities for every age, educational opportunities, and, of course, lots and lots of food.

38. Gift basket auction. Bring the whole church community together by having folks create their own themed gift baskets, then hold a silent auction. A couple of tips to take your fundraising to the most profitable level: sell raffle tickets for the biggest, bestest basket, and hold your event during the holiday season to really bring in the attendees.

39. Picnic basket auction. A fun spin on the above! Instead of gift baskets, host a picnic basket auction, with everyone bidding on delectable, food-filled baskets. Follow it up with a community picnic at the local park where everyone can share the wealth.

40. Days of giving campaign. Whether it’s eight days of giving for Hanukkah, 30 for Ramadan, or a whopping 40 days for Lent, run a social media campaign that coincides with a holiday or season that’s meaningful to you. Also, be sure to provide non-monetary options for those that can't afford to donate daily. Acts of kindness or time spent volunteering are others ways to keep the giving train choo-chooing.

Fun church fundraiser ideas

Whew, those were some rich ideas. How about a few fun events to break things up?

41. Heritage celebration. Everyone loves learning and everyone loves a festival, so organize a heritage celebration that honors your congregation's culture and history. Feature live music, dance performances, and traditional food. Encourage local businesses or organizations to sponsor different aspects of the event, sell tickets, and advertise it widely in the local paper.

42. Irish breakfast. This St. Patrick’s Day, host a full Irish breakfast fundraiser instead of the usual soda bread and corned beef dinner. Invite community members who don’t attend your church to sample some bubble and squeak and join in on the fun!

43. High tea in the garden. If you have a congregant with a gorgeous garden, ask them to host a high tea and sell event tickets. Dressing up, eating tiny sandwiches, and basking in the great outdoors? That's our idea of a fun church event.

44. Family photobooth. Encourage everyone to dress up and rent a photobooth for memorable family photos. This works especially well before the holidays, when many families have festive cards on their minds. Don’t forget to bring plenty of props!

Islam and Ramadan fundraising ideas

Most of the ideas above work for any house of worship. But for mosques specifically, here are a couple of ideas to build community and fundraise.

45. Iftar dinner. After a day of fasting, everyone looks forward to iftar, the breaking of the fast during Ramadan. Hosting a celebratory iftar dinner is a great way to raise money and bring the community together. You can also invite visitors of other faiths to join you, using it as an opportunity to raise more funds, teach about Ramadan and Islam, and showcase your most delectable dishes. Pass the qatayef asafiri, please!

46. Add a Zakat al-Mal calculator. Most Muslims make a charitable contribution at the end of Ramadan, so make it easy for them by adding a zakat al-mal calculator to your donation page. Sound complicated? Not with Funraise! In fact, you can read all about adding a simple Zakat calculator here.

Fundraising for ministry needs

Putting the "fun" in "fundraising" is what we do here; after all, we're Funraise! But sometimes, fundraising is vital to your ministry. On those occasions, here are some thoughtful fundraising ideas for churches.

47. Online auction. For a values-driven charity auction for your religious organization, make all the auction items meaningful experiences instead. Church congregants can bid on a handmade outfit, skateboarding lessons, dog walks, or homemade cookies for a month.

48. Planned giving. When it's for the ministry, it matters, which makes it a perfect opportunity to remind members that they can include your church in their estate plans. When you share your legacy gift program, emphasize the lasting impact and financial sense of planned giving.

49. Ministry newsletter. Share all the news that's fit to print with a subscription-based ministry newsletter or magazine. Use the subscription fees from your divine dispatch (or your heavenly highlights) to fund ministry initiatives.

Fundraising ideas for church mission trips

50. Bible-read-a-thon. There's no better way to prepare for an upcoming mission trip than knowing your Bible verses, so have your youth group members take turns reading the Bible aloud for 12 or 24 hours straight! Ask for sponsors to donate based on the number of hours or chapters read. Make sure you provide plenty of healthy snacks to keep everyone alert and engaged.

51. Text-to-give. Text to give for churches is extremely effective, and that makes it one of our top mission trip fundraising ideas. Before the next missions trip, launch a congregation-wide text engagement campaign, fundraising with a few taps on a mobile device. So easy, so effortless, and so worth it!

Tips for faith-based fundraising

A lot of faith-based organizations worry about appearing too money-centric when it comes to fundraising. Still, they have programs to run, outreach to do, and a community to support. Happily, you can both fundraise and uphold your mission. Here are some tips you can believe in.

  • Focus on the impact. Giving additional money to an organization for which you already pay dues or donate can feel like a big ask. Be sure to emphasize how these funds will benefit your organization, whether it’s updating a building or supporting a new program.
  • Emphasize your volunteer needs, too. Some folks don’t have any extra funds to spare, but they still have a lot to contribute. Ask for money, ask for ideas, ask for hours. Make sure everyone feels welcome and needed.
  • Bring in the whole community. Your congregation is a wonderful source of funds, but the giving doesn’t have to stop there. By hosting fun, welcoming events for all ages, you can bring in money from outside your congregation.
  • Be transparent about your fundraising and budget. Your members are more likely to donate if they know those funds are being wisely and carefully. Annual reports and regular updates can go a long way to building trust.
  • Consider committees. If you’re short-staffed, organizing members into committees who are then responsible for their own fundraising can save your staff many hours and many headaches.
  • Give back to other causes. Part of being a person of faith is supporting others in need. Don’t forget about other causes that need your help. For example, you could feature a different local nonprofit or family in need each week in your program.
  • Plan for the full year. With faith-based fundraising, a lot of events will coincide with holidays and holy days. Depending on your religion, that can lead to a squeeze during certain times of the year. Planning for the full calendar year can help you balance your budget, stay realistic, and stay accountable.

Common questions about raising money for your church

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a way to raise funds from a large number of people, usually through online platforms. By sharing a campaign's purpose and goal online, a fundraiser encourages people to make small contributions that add up to a larger total amount.

What is a text-to-tithe?

Text-to-tithe is a fundraising technology that allows church members to make donations by sending a text message from their mobile devices. It lets congregants make donations quickly and conveniently. 

Why write church donation requests?

Everyone needs a little help from their friends, er, congregants, and writing donation requests for your church helps communicate your needs to the congregation and community. Additionally, it provides transparency about where the funds will go and encourages support for specific projects, programs, or initiatives.

What are the most effective virtual church fundraising ideas?

Effective virtual church fundraising ideas include online auctions, virtual galas, livestreamed workshops or concerts, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, crowdfunding campaigns, and virtual challenges that engage participants online.

What are some easy fundraising ideas?

The easiest fundraisers require a minimal amount of planning and a lot of help from the community. Focus on crowdfunding and stay away from big parties—those can really suck up your resources.

What are some ways for my organization to raise money during COVID?

When another COVID surge strikes, take your fundraising online or outdoors. With a Zoom account and a social media strategy, you can share your efforts even farther and wider than you could IRL.

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