[This article on crowdfunding is the first in a series of three articles by Jeremy Smith on the topic of using online crowdfunding software to raise funds for everything from missions work to building needs. Stay tuned for parts two and three during August.]
Every church has some kind of new project in the works, it seems. And of course most projects only work if you have the money to execute and support them. Whether it is a youth group that is trying to raise money to go to camp, a new addition to the church building that would be used as an overflow room, or helping send a family as missionaries to another country, churches need creative ways to raise the money to send them.
This digital age offers new ways to meet these unique challenges. It’s called crowdfunding and has been made popular first by Kickstarter. The company has seen astronomical success with projects getting millions of dollars in a matter of days. It capitalizes on people funding your campaign at various giving levels, each with their own goodies, and suggest overall support of the whole project. With the major success of of Kickstarter, the question is, how can churches move beyond a congregation-supported project to a community and even digitally-supported event?
I will say upfront that many churches have tried to use Kickstarter and most fail terribly. It’s not made specifically for churches. And if you do not meet your goal, you do not get any of the money.
So what crowdfunding options are available for churches? I’m glad you asked!
5 Possible Crowdfunding Solutions for Churches
I want to tell you up front that several of these platforms are new. Some are just coming out of beta and only have a couple of initial projects started. They may not be fully proven to help you raise funds for your church. Most solutions require a bit of elbow grease to raise funds for your church. You must create and run a successful campaign to earn the money. That being said, I have personally talked with the creators of all but the last in our list and they want to see churches thrive. I am happy to stand by all of these options for your church, each with a bit of a different take on crowdfunding.
Friend to CTT, Matt McKee has started a new venture after being WIDELY successful with his company ROAR. This newest venture looks at utlizing individual fundraising while being managed by a specific organization. To join, your official non-profit organization can go in and setup individual initiatives that could be for anything. This creates a unique giiive page for each person on the project at your ministry. Now your youth group can raise funds together and individually at the same time. In the same situation, your church can raise money for your next service project or homeless shelter you sponsor. It’s all equipped with social media and sharing options to get the best reach possible as well as visual stats on how the project is going. Honestly, if I was still a missionary with Youth for Christ, I’d be using this!
This is a more niche online crowdfunding opportunity, specifically designed for individuals. I had the opportunity to create my own account a year ago as I was doing youth ministry and received several digital gifts to help me in ministry. The idea was to create something online for college age Christians who did not have more than $20 to give, but wanted to make a difference. The website takes the Kickstater approach, but caps what you are allowed to ask for in price and be very specific about what you are going to do with the money. Thus I was able to ask for $10 to buy a Bible for a teen or $15 to take a volunteer for coffee and training. Tangible returns. Perfect for your ministry’s leadership.
Of all of the Christian solutions you will see on here, this has the longest track record and hosts the most completed projects, several which were $10,000+. What is unique about this company comparied to any other solution I was able to find is that the project manager can ask for prayer requests, you can “give” your prayer donations to them, and they even have an ability to donate time as a volunteer if you cannot support them financially. This truly is a great Christian solution for your church’s needs.
This is definitely the most Kickstarter-like of the solutions so far. Started by a group that wants to see the church financially supported in this digital age, this has the best Kickerstarter feel to it and may be more familiar for your audience.
I included this option because it is becoming more and more widely known and closer to the success of Kickstarter, yet unlike Kickstarter, if you do not reach your goal, you still get all of the pleged money. Therefore, your church can do a side-by-side project of collecting tithes and offering on Sunday morning as well as your digital campaign and still meet your goal, even if it wasn’t all online.
These are the top five solutions out there, but it really is you doing the leg work to craft the best campaign possible for the mission of your ministry.
Would you be willing to take the plunge into crowdfunding? Do any of these services seem more ideal for your specific purpose?