Not all fundraising activities are created equal. All parish and school fundraising opportunities are unique and while your leaders likely have a firm grasp on how they differ, it’s important to let your parishioners and school families know the purpose and goal of each fundraising event. Consider the following as a general outline to separate out appeals, campaigns, and events:

  • Annual Appeals – This is the most consistent fundraiser at a parish or school. Families know they will annually see any combination of giving requests – in person, events, mail, email, social media, etc. Best-practice annual appeals raise funds for the same needs and programs year after year. Annual funds might support grounds and maintenance upkeep, specific charities or ministries or endowments.
  • Capital Campaigns – These occur less often and are a significant undertaking. Campaigns take months and sometimes years of planning before the actual fundraising process even begins. The purpose of a capital campaign is to fund an important capital project, endowment, or debt. These campaigns are asking people to consider giving above and beyond their typical yearly investment, usually over a multi-year pledge period.
  • Fund a Need – Although this supports a specific need, it differs from annual appeals and capital campaigns. This type of fundraiser occurs when a sudden need arises – i.e. HVAC stops working during extreme weather or severe weather damages a building. Asking for people to support an urgent need is understandable but stay away from consistently asking for funds for campus upkeep. If possible, use the annual appeal to tackle the normal upkeep and a capital campaign for major upgrades. The best fund a need initiative is the one that never happens because you’ve planned for those needs ahead of time!
  • Signature Event – You might call it a ball, an auction or a gala. Whatever you call it, it’s your signature fundraising event of the year that everyone marks on their calendar when the date is announced. These events are a great way to connect with parishioners and donors, while also supporting a specific ministry at your parish or school. Use this event to go beyond fundraising. Be sure to celebrate and explain how the funds are being used to improve your community through this special night.
  • Friendraisers – These typically take a lot of coordination, volunteers and time, and do not yield a high financial return. Friendraisers can include the Fall Festival, summer golf outing or bake sale. The limited funds your church and school raise during friendraisers are beneficial, in addition to the benefit of community-building through these events. However, make sure to avoid overuse of friendraisers when trying to make a significant fundraising impact.

Having some clear goals in mind when planning appeals, campaigns, and events will ensure a successful effort.