Here’s a short story recently shared by a lay leader. Sound familiar?

“We used to have a lot of fundraisers to help balance our annual budget. Most notably, we ran a fall at-your-service auction and a spring yard sale. After a  while, people got worn out from all the hard work and the excruciating pressure of needing to raise a certain amount of money each time. It got harder and harder to recruit volunteers to run these events.
Then, someone had an epiphany: ‘Not only is this really hard work, but, for the most part, we are just exchanging money among ourselves.’ And then someone estimated the amount of time required to run each fundraiser. It was easy to see that conducting fundraisers to balance an operating budget was not at all cost effective.”

Fundraisers to build community are great. Fundraisers to support external ministries are also great. Using fundraisers to balance an operating budget . . .not so much.

Congregations are much better off if they raise the bulk of their annual operating budget (around 75 to 85 percent) from financial commitments (pledges) during their annual budget drive and then, creating some fundraising guidelines. Here are a few for starters.

  • No fundraisers may be scheduled during the annual budget drive
  • All fundraisers must be approved, in writing, by the governing body or some other delegated group
  • There is one, and only one, complete calendar of fundraising events
  • All fundraising event must have a designated chair
  • All events must keep a written account of income and expenses
  • All income must be submitted to the treasurer (or some other delegate) for safekeeping

How many more can you suggest?

About the Author
Wayne Clark


  1. Jim Sanders

    A dream of abundance for my own congregation. Imagine the possibilities.


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