Magazine subscriptions. Chocolate sales. Caramel corn delivery services. We’ve all participated in these sorts of gimmicky fundraising schemes, hawked by companies that claim their particular product will raise tens of thousands of dollars for your Catholic parish. They tend to be some of the worst fundraising ideas ever. Here are four reasons to avoid them in favor of a comprehensive stewardship strategy:

  • They are deeply consumerist. Every single one of these approaches mixes cheap products with our Catholic faith. Who wants to equate the richness of Catholicism with a crummy chocolate bar? Eck.
  • They appear cowardly. Instead of the pastor, principal, or parish trustee making the appeal, it’s usually the kids in the parish or Catholic school, sent out to do the work. Most people are left wondering, “Why didn’t the adults approach me like…well, adults?”
  • They don’t deliver. No one in the world can sell enough caramel corn to fix your leaking roof, give your staff a raise, or subsidize the tuition of fifteen neighborhood kids. You may see a few thousand dollar return, but at what cost to your parish’s reputation?
  • There’s nothing distinctively Catholic about them. The local football team and the Girl Scouts are doing this too. What does the old song say? They will know we are Christians by our love. Not by the magazines we’re peddling.

What to do instead? Develop a comprehensive stewardship plan for your parish, stick to it and avoid these worst fundraising ideas ever. (And buy caramel corn on your own time!)