I attend a Catholic Church with many ministries. My idea is to open a nonprofit account with Amazon to sell used books. Donors from the church would bring used books and I would put them up for sale on Amazon. All profits from the sales would go to support ministries of the church. Is this a good idea? Not so good idea? Would appreciate your thoughts.
Dear Enterprising Parishioner,
I’m so glad that you’re thinking about ways to help your church develop more resources in order to serve!
What you’re describing is setting up a kind of online thrift book shop on Amazon. You get a free product through donations and then sell it through an online platform.
The thing to ask yourself with this approach is, “Do I want to start this business?” It’s really not a fundraiser, it’s a small business. The success of the small business will be a function of the effort that you want to put into it and the quantity and quality of books that you get as donations.
Thrift stores are decent businesses, but they are a lot of work. You have to solicit donations, screen the donations, somehow market and sell the items, manage inventory, shipping, and staffing. In this case, I think that it’s a lot of work for a relatively modest return.
It might help to put wrap some real numbers around this to give you a picture of what I mean. Let’s say you’re able to sell the books that are donated for $2-3 a piece plus shipping, which is about market rates. If you want to raise $5,000 for your parish, that means you have to collect, inventory, put online, sell, and ship somewhere between 2000-3000 books. Think about how much work that would be for a $5,000 return.
So here’s a different idea.
Ask for what you want.
What if you run a monthly giving campaign in your parish with the goal of signing up 10 new people who will commit to giving $50 a month to the parish? If your parish has online giving, you can set up in the narthex after Mass with an IPad and sign people up as they walk out of Church.
If you get 10 people to sign up at $50 a month, you’ve just raised $6,000 a year for the parish. Which of these two options sounds like more work? Which do you think would be a better time investment?
There’s one additional plus on the second option. Asking people directly to give to the church is a way of inviting them to participate in the church’s ministry. It’s good for them to give. You’re inviting them to live the Gospel more fully. On top of that, God Himself will reward them for giving. That’s something that selling used books doesn’t do.
Looking for more articles on the weekly offertory? Try these:
- What is the Tithe and why is it important?
- How will online giving increase our offertory?
- Can I get new offertory donors?
- How do I increase offertory giving?
- What is ‘Almsgiving’ all about?
Check out The Fundraiser’s Playbook for a full list of fundraising articles.
Would you like to learn more about raising money for Church and Ministry? Check out Letters From The Almoner, now available on Amazon.com.