Types of Fundraising

By | April 13, 2017

You need to raise money for your ministry. How are you going to do it? Start by looking at what options you have available. Signs pointing in every direction

Several broad categories of fundraising exist. Take a look at these different types and read the articles if one catches your eye. Your best chance of raising the money you need is to find a strategy that fits your skills and resources.

Annual Fund Drive – The Annual Fund Drive is your yearly strategy to secure funding for your ministry. It will be made up of several distinct activities that seek to bring in new donors (donor acquisition), ask current donors to give again (donor cultivation), and reclaim lost donors (donor reactivation). Annual Fund Drives will look different at every organization, because each has different needs and different resources.

Annual Stewardship Campaign – An annual stewardship campaign is a large-scale effort to get parishioners to give their ‘Time, Talent, and Treasure’ to the parish. Months of planning and coordinating can be involved, leading to a month-long focus on stewardship commitments. Elements of the campaign can include homilies focused on stewardship, testimonials from parishioners about the importance of stewardship in their lives, pledge cards, phone calls, an ‘annual goal,’ and a celebration.

Capital Campaign – A Capital Campaign is a time limited fundraising campaign with a specific purpose, usually building something big like a new church, building, warehouse, or religious house. Capital Campaigns are often quite difficult and fundraising consultants can be brought in to aid staff with completing them off successfully.

Charitable Enterprise (sales based fundraising) – Bake sales, rosary sales, pancake suppers, raffles, silent auction… any method that uses the profit from selling items for a charitable purpose is a charitable enterprise. Essentially, you are setting up a little business and putting the profit to charitable use. A key weakness of this type of fundraising is that you focus is on selling a good or service rather than selling your mission.

Corporate Giving  – Many companies have ‘community relations’ departments that oversee charitable giving in the community. They follow many different models, from matching gifts and grant opportunities to employee giving drives and sponsorships.

Direct Mail – A direct mail campaign sends mail pieces that describe the need for funding and requests support from previous and potential donors. This is a very popular form of fundraising because it is relatively inexpensive and has a high rate of return when done well.

Email Fundraising – Email fundraising looks a lot like direct mail, except that you’ll be using email rather than paper mail. It doesn’t tend to raise as much money as Direct Mail because people are more likely to delete their email than throw out a mail piece. Email fundraising is even less expensive than direct mail, so it will continue to grow in popularity.

Event Fundraising – Fundraising events like dinners, runs, walks, golf tournaments etc. raise money by charging entry fees, selling auction items, incorporating team fundraising, requesting pledges, getting sponsorships, etc. Events take a lot of time and energy to plan, and have a low profit margin as compared with other fundraising types.

Food and Funds Drives – A food drive brings in food for a food pantry or a homeless shelter, and it can also help bring in necessary funds as well. Food and fund drives come in many flavors and can be effective for ministries of all sizes.

Grant Writing – In the US, private and corporate foundations are organizations that exist to give away money and get special tax benefits for doing so. To sort out the merits of the many requests for funding, they establish a grant process that solicits grant requests from many different organizations. They then score the grants based on the quality of the submission and give out money according to their priorities. Grant funders tend to be more sophisticated than individual donors, and your grant application is a written plan explaining the need for a ministry and how a grant will be used to meet that need. Churches with an attached parochial school or Cathedral are more likely to be eligible for these kinds of funding opportunities. Professional assistance for this kind of fundraising can make a big difference.

Major Gifts Fundraising – Major Gifts fundraising focuses on getting large one-time or multi-year gifts from individuals that are passionate about giving to support your ministry. One of the most rewarding types of fundraising in terms of monetary impact and relationship building, it is a fundraising opportunity that small churches and ministries frequently miss or are afraid to tackle.

Offertory – The offertory is the primary fundraising mechanism in many, if not most, churches. At its simplest, this is the basket that goes around at Mass during every service. Many churches are taking their offertory online by enabling members to make monthly recurring gifts. Others are adding kiosks that take credit cards to take gifts from members who rarely carry cash.

Online Fundraising – At its most basic, raising money on the internet requires is a donate button somewhere on your website. Strategies can get more sophisticated as you begin to use social media and email to request funding. Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and patron programs like Patreon provide platforms for you to raise money if your website is not sophisticated enough to do so. Online fundraising is an area of tremendous growth will bear good fruit if you invest the necessary time and resources.

Personal Ministry Fundraising – Personal ministry fundraising helps an individual to build the base of support needed for a particular mission or ministry. Personal ministry fundraising focuses on direct asks to friends, families, and associates who share a passion for the mission.

Phone based campaigns – Phone based campaigns rely on volunteers or professionals to call current and former donors to request donations. This can be a more time intensive form of campaign, but it provides a personal contact with many donors in a relatively short amount of time.

Planned Giving – Planned gifts are gifts of money, real estate, or other assets that are written into a person’s estate plan or will. These gifts take years to cultivate, but can be among the biggest gifts that a church or ministry will ever get. Having a plan and a strategy to cultivate planned gifts is essential!

Team Based Fundraising – Team based fundraising, or peer-to-peer fundraising, uses volunteers who tap into their networks of friends and associates to fundraise for your organization. This style of fundraising is often associated with online fundraisers as well as events like walks or golf tournaments.


Fundraising got your head spinning? Don’t know quite where to start? Check out Key Concepts and learn the basic ideas that will help you build and maintain a strong and growing donor base.

Image courtesy of Amanda Hirsch, via Creative Commons License, some rights reserved.

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