Your church has been given a Church Fundraising Handbook, but is it gathering dust on a shelf? Naomi Buckler, Giving and Resources Advisor, has penned this article to help you to get the most out of the book without having to sit down and read the whole thing.
While most people won’t read this book cover to cover, I just did - and I can tell you, it’s possible to read it in less than a day. What’s great about this book is that all the ideas are very practical, and the book is written by Maggie Durran, who understands the challenges, opportunities and limitations of church finance, having worked alongside them for many years. One of the best features of the book are all the real-life examples, including a comprehensive appendix. Budgets, business plans, statements of need – they are all in the appendix.
In summary, if your church is struggling financially, read the first four chapters to start with, and take it from there. If you are about to do a big project, I would read through the first seven chapters, skim quickly through the sources of funds, and head for Chapter 20 on “Preparing a business plan”. Then read the middle chapters as and when you need them.
Below I’ve laid these all out for you at a glance:
Chapters 1 to 4: These lay the foundations, starting from your church’s mission, a review of church finances, and making the most of what you've got. The outline for creating a mission statement is useful but brief, but may be enough for a smaller church.
The review of church finances (Chapter Three) has a wealth of practical information. The recommendations for a church finance handbook are comprehensive and are well worth spending time on, as this will be invaluable if one treasurer needs to pass on to another, and will help to provide good team working. The review of church finances is essential if a church does not already have a good overall picture of what money is coming in and out.
Chapters 5 to 7: Once you have done your preparation and research, this section helps you to decide on your church's unique fundraising strategy. Chapter 6 has lots of diagrams designed to be photocopied and scribbled all over, to help you work out as a church who you should be targeting. There is also a useful example of a “SWOT analysis” to identify your Strengths & Weaknesses and identify Opportunities and Threats to your project. I also particularly liked the example of ‘Values’ on page 56.
Chapters 8 to 16: These chapters deal with all the different sources of funds, whether that is the congregation, legacies, trusts, local community, etc. While some of the weblinks and information about heritage lottery funding are now out of date, the principles and advice still remains very relevant. These chapters are full of questions you need to ask, actions you need to do, and advice about how to get people working together. The chapter on internet fundraising is quite short and this is an area where you probably want to do more work than the book suggests.
Chapters 17 to 20: The final chapters deal with some of the practicalities of fundraising, like producing newsletters and a business plan. Again, examples are provided. For any church undertaking a major project, a business plan is essential, and this chapter gives a really good overview as to what it needs to include. Completing a business plan according to this format will put you in a very good position to convince a funder that you have considered the project from beginning to end, including monitoring and evaluation.
If you find your handbook useful, please do let us know, and we can pass on your appreciation to the person who donated them – they would be delighted to hear any feedback.
More information on church stewardship and fundraising is available here: