Raising funds for community projects
From celebrating a marriage or blessing a new life, to saying goodbye to a loved one, churches bring friends and families together.
Communication is a key foundation stone in fundraising. Communicating the right message, in the right way, to the right person can pave the way to a donation now or in the future. Asking your wider community for support is no different.
A key first step is understanding who you are talking about when referring to the local community. Identify specific sections of the community and what might interest them about your church’s plans or project. Your community will depend on the place you live in and the sort of church you are – a Norman church in a small village may well have different communities to a Victorian church in the centre of a university city.
When defining your community, consider the following groups:
You can also think about other groups that might be relevant to your church and its local communities. These could include the local civic society, ramblers’ groups, trade unions, local county council, or a student volunteering group.
Engaging with your communities is key and you may wish to undertake a community consultation to demonstrate the need for your project before asking for any donations. Engaging in a consultation will help you to demonstrate the local need to funders and give people the opportunity to contribute to something good for their neighbourhood. This is an important part of developing your message and your story.
Having identified the specific audiences within your community who might be interested in supporting your project, the next step is to develop a clear message to communicate with them.
By telling a story, you are bringing people along on a journey and enabling them to feel emotionally and spiritually invested in your project. They can feel empowered to make a difference by donating and, if you demonstrate the impact of their support, the chances are that they will want to donate again in the future.
Having identified your communities and the messages to communicate to them, now you need to spread the word.
There are three main groups that can help you with this:
People are vital to the success of your campaign or project. Different people may belong to varied social groups beyond your traditional church networks and, if encouraged, they could spread your ask more widely. The personal approach can often be successful in generating support. Make sure you have a clear message that you can share with your supporters, ambassadors and volunteers, which in turn they can pass on.
Social media can be powerful for community fundraising. For example, Facebook Groups are communities within Facebook that users can join and participation is encouraged. Groups are built around common interests or goals, like cooking or running, or for people living in the local area. Members from within your network may be able to use these groups or other social media feeds (for example, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp groups) to help promote your ask to a wider audience – which in itself could be a mission.
This could create an opportunity to engage across the generations. Could your church utilise the expertise of social media-savvy youth groups and young people (if the necessary safeguarding considerations are put in place)?
With a clear ask and story resonating with the wider community, the local press can help promote your message. Write press releases at critical moments in your project and circulate them to all local media. It's much easier to get in the local paper than on the radio, and TV will usually only be interested in the biggest projects. Whatever your medium, ensure that anyone reading or listening can easily find out more information by including your church’s website or details of how to make contact. Don’t limit yourself to local print press – online newspapers and local interest sites are great places to promote your project.
Benefact Trust has some helpful tips on how to get your story in the media and how you can thank donors via social media.
Denominational authorities often have social media or communication officers who may be able to provide your church with support and advice.
Drawing new people to your church building or hall for non-spiritual reasons is positive for wider engagement. If you can increase the number of people seeing your church, the more people may be drawn to support your project.
You could reach: