Whether you’re a pastor in charge of the process or a layperson who assists a pastor or staff member with financial requests, at least once a year your complete attention is consumed with line items and spreadsheets. The good news is (for the most part) once the budget is approved, the process is over until next year. Now you can breathe that sigh of relief—or not—because what’s even more difficult than coming up with a budget is staying within it. And that’s a process that happens over and over again throughout the year, and usually requires raising money from time to time.
“It is always a challenge to raise money,” says Rita Kuntz, former missions director at The River Church in Liberty Township, Ohio. She and her husband, David, began a nonprofit organization, Beyond Relief International Ministries, Inc. five years ago and she continues as the organization’s executive director. They are currently building a new trade school in Haiti and are consistently trying to raise funds for the project.
“There are so many good charities and people are constantly being asked to donate for one thing or another,” Kuntz says. “It does become a big challenge to do something that they don’t just tune you out in the noise of all the ‘asks’ they receive. At The River, there was always pressure as to how we were going to raise money. The fundraisers were about six months apart so as we finished with one, we were starting to think about the next one,” she explains.
Creatively Cashing In
Jo Thornley Cox is the volunteer coordinator and catechist at Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Therese Parish North in Kansas City. Having worked at a Catholic parish and/or school for over twenty years, she’s faced fiscal challenges time and again. Although extra ministry expenses primarily come out of her pocket, she thought of some creative ways to find needed funds.
“Because I was a teacher, I’d ask that people would give to a particular project, like getting a color printer for our classroom, in lieu of Christmas gifts to me,” she says. “I ask parents to donate supplies so I don’t have to ask the church for money. I also requested that they consider contributing toward some classroom decor, curtains and rugs. I’ve gone to the Knights of Columbus to request funds for materials for the children’s work,” she says.
At one school where Thornley Cox worked, they offered “fair-share” tuition. “Families made a financial commitment they could afford and a volunteer commitment to compensate for the balance. Often that would entail running a particular fund-raiser, such as a ‘Workathon,’ where children got ‘sponsors’ and cleaned up the neighborhood, or sold giftwrap or candy bars.”
“The only thing I have that regularly provides funds is a snack machine that helps support small mission projects for our ’tweens,” says Pam Snider, Director of Children’s Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Other than that, I am limited to my budget, which has sadly been cut in half for the coming year,” she notes. Even so, Snider plans to provide everything her ministry has always provided—and she seems to kind of like the idea. “I am fortunate to be able to do so very much with so little, and I actually love the challenge. I cannot think of a time we did not have what we needed.”
Even though her ministry’s funds were significantly reduced, she has faith that the money for various programs will appear. “I am working on it, and have no doubt God will provide,” she smiles. “Somewhere a surprise gift always arrives.”
Judy Bumgarner is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee. She also works at Brentwood United Methodist Church in the church’s Caring Ministry.