11 small church fundraising ideas your community will love

Written by
Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

11 small church fundraising ideas your community will love

If your congregants are already tithing on a regular basis, it may be intimidating to ask for more funds. Perhaps your small church always has multiple fundraising projects running, and you don’t want to overwhelm your community members with requests. 

We’re here to help! We’ve rounded up 11 small church fundraising ideas that will excite, inspire, and encourage your members to contribute to your cause.

11 amazing small church fundraising ideas

Ready to switch things up from the usual Easter egg hunt fundraiser? Check out the ideas below!

1. Coffee and treat stand

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Baked goods and coffee is a match made in heaven. If you need an easy church fundraising idea, you can’t go wrong with a pop-up coffee shop. It’s perfect for congregants who are still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes before the early service, and a yummy pick-me-up in the afternoon, too. 

Set up an ongoing Sunday morning coffee stand and bake sale. You can charge specific prices or create a sign with suggested donation amounts to raise more money. Get the word out by adding it to your church’s announcement rotation and posting snapshots of your tasty beverage-and-treat combos on social media. Finally, accept any payment type and keep the line moving with free fundraising software like Givebutter.

2. Engraved bricks

Is your church renovating or expanding its building? Allowing your congregants to buy an engraved brick could raise a lot of money for your construction project.

Engraved bricks create lasting memories for your church members that literally become part of the church. 

Let your congregants purchase bricks via your fundraising page. Be sure to specify how many characters or words can fit on each brick. They can add personal messages, dedicate them to loved ones and role models, or use them to honor people they’ve lost. 

You’ll need to consult with the building’s contractor to determine where you can place the bricks. They may have recommendations for vendors to engrave the bricks, too. Another pro tip? Recognize major donors by dedicating other parts of the new building, like archways, plaques, or pews.

3. Speed dating

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A speed dating event is a fun way to connect your single congregants and raise money at the same time. You may be able to pull this off with just your small church congregation, but it could be even more successful if you partner with other local churches. That way, everyone gets to see some new faces in the dating pool. 

Try out an outdoor picnic-style event, an elegant catered evening, or an energetic mixer. Local restaurants may even be willing to donate food and drink for the night. (If you go this route, be sure to read our guide to requesting donations first.) Sell tickets ahead of time and offer higher-cost tickets at the door. Don’t forget the icebreaker cards and nametags! 

4. Pie-baking contest and potluck 

The pie-baking contest and potluck is one of our favorite church fundraising ideas because you can host it any time of year.

Pumpkin pies in the fall, pecan pies in the winter, blueberry pies in the summer — your congregants won’t want to miss this event.

And when you add on a potluck, there’s a way for everyone to contribute and enjoy. 

Decide which flavor of pie to feature, and then create a sign-up list for different potluck dishes. Then, charge an entry fee for contestants and guests at the big competition. It may help set up in a large space like your main worship center or the parking lot. Have people cast their votes by donating a small amount, like $1-$5, to their favorite pie. After a winner is crowned, everyone can sit down to a delicious lunch or dinner. 

To raise even more funds, you can assemble the best recipes into a cookbook. If your congregants aren’t pie-lovers, you can hold another kind of cook-off, like a BBQ rib throwdown or chili competition. 

5. Raise the roof!

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Go to great heights for your fundraising project! Rooftop fundraisers — in which someone sleeps on the church roof to raise money — are one of the small church fundraising ideas that have really taken off. There are two ways you can do it: 

  • Your pastor or ministry leader sleeps on the church rooftop until you meet your fundraising goal.
  • Your pastor or ministry leader sleeps on the church rooftop as a reward for meeting your fundraising goal. 

In one recent example, a Boston pastor slept in the steeple of her church after her congregation beat their $8,500 goal by several thousand dollars. 

So how can you make this happen? Set a realistic fundraising goal for your project and offer this as a “reward” for crossing the finish line. Alternatively, you can auction off this event for a quick fundraising boost. Your pastor will agree to sleep on the roof for one night if they receive one large donation, such as $500 or $1,000. 

This is definitely a church fundraising event your congregants will talk about for a long time. Alert the local news team to see if they’ll cover it and help you get the word out about your campaign. 

6. Expert lecture series 

Let an expert tag in for your fundraising efforts! Not only are lecture series informative, but they’re great for attracting wide audiences and bringing in donations quickly.

Reach out to local experts, professors, speakers, and community leaders, and ask them to host a series of talks. They donate their expertise, and you charge your supporters a small fee to attend. 

The topic can be related to your mission or project, or it can be completely unrelated. If you aren’t sure what will interest your congregation, just ask. You can hold a poll at the end of each service, find out which special sermons have been most popular in the past, or see what your church members are talking about online. 

Another pro tip? Live stream the series! That way, anyone can tune in via your website, Facebook Live, Zoom, YouTube, and more. 

7. Postcard blitz 

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Sometimes the best church fundraising ideas are the easiest. Take it old school and have your supporters create and send personalized postcards to raise funds for your project. 

This works particularly well for church youth groups and Sunday school classes. You can have your teens and young children draw, paint, and color interesting original postcard art, and then include your fundraising appeal on the back. 

A postcard fundraising campaign is doubly effective because there’s no envelope to open — your request is sure to stand out in the mail stack. One way to approach this is to have each church member send at least five to 10 postcards to their friends, family, co-workers, and schoolmates.

In a smaller church community, everyone tends to know each other. So these direct, heartfelt requests will resonate much more than a 1,000-person email blast or car wash downtown. 

8. Class or workshop 

Who doesn’t love to get crafty and learn something new? A class or workshop is an excellent way to get your church members and supporters engaged in your campaign. It can also provide much-needed entertainment for adults and kids of all ages. 

The possibilities are endless. You could have home cooks, carpenters, gardeners, Zumba instructors, hair stylists, and software developers already sitting in your church pews! All you need to do is ask them to lead a workshop and assemble supplies for the class. 

For example, if you have someone with sewing skills in your congregation, they could teach people how to hem their own pants or personalize T-shirts. Create an event page where people can register, pay, and even invite their friends. Then, share supply lists with the attendees, or include supplies in the cost of the class. 

To keep costs low, you can see if any local craft shops or department stores will donate supplies for your church activities. You can also live stream the event with an online fundraising tool. For inspiration, see how Mirror Ministries turned their annual breakfast fundraiser into a live streamed virtual event and raised over $50,000.

9. Donation matching

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People are even more motivated to donate when they know the impact of their dollar is doubled. So, reach out to local and national chains to see if they’ll match a percentage of your donations. This works well if you have strong relationships with businesses in your area, but a powerful fundraising letter can start the conversation if you don’t. 

You can also ask members of your congregation to donate to your campaign, and then have them ask their employers to match their gifts. Many businesses already have 1:1 matching gift programs in place. 

If you can’t secure a donation match, we’ve got another simple idea. Try offering something free with each donation. That “something” could be body care products, art, books, coupons, or T-shirts. While businesses may not be able to match dollar amounts, they often have products and discount cards they can give away for free. 

10. Themed auctions

Here’s a creative way to beat your campaign goal and fund your project. Host a themed auction with a variety of attractive packages. Similar to our last idea, you’ll partner with local businesses to collect cool products and exciting getaways. Then, you’ll hold a silent auction. Display your auction items, set out bidding sheets, or let attendees place their bids via online comments. 

Get inspired with these theme ideas:  

  • Arts and crafts: Auction off paintings, sculptures, rugs, glassware, knitwear, and handcrafted jewelry. You can also include tickets to things like pottery classes and glassblowing classes. 
  • Experiences: Auction off tickets and all-inclusive stays at local destinations, like hotels, museums, aquariums, or even vacation homes. 
  • Food and drink: Auction off gourmet food, coffee, jams, and cookbooks. Add in tickets and passes for cooking classes or meal subscription boxes.

If you charge a fee to attend the auction, make sure you include a raffle ticket with each admission. That way, everyone has a chance to walk away with something. 

11. Parents’ night off

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Our final fundraising ideas for churches is a night off for all the parents and caretakers in your congregation. Offer babysitting services at your church for a small donation or hourly rate per child. To keep things manageable, you could charge $5 per hour and offer up to six hours total. 

Ask for volunteers from your teen and adult ministries. Best of all, you can host this event throughout the year. Give your parents and caretakers a break for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, date night, and more. 

Before you run this event, it’s a good idea to have all your volunteers complete a CPR training course and go over church safety policies. 

Need more small church fundraising ideas? 

We’ve got plenty more fundraising tips, tricks, and ideas for churches like yours! Keep reading to find more unique ways to raise money for your next project: 

Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.