20 online fundraising ideas for churches

April 20, 2021

Like most nonprofit organizations, churches rely on donors who partner with them financially to fulfill their mission. Whether you're looking for virtual fundraising ideas for your youth group, mission trips, building construction, or any other worthy cause, creating an online fundraising campaign for your church can be a fun, simple, and inexpensive way to reach your goals and get your community on board!

While the traditional approach to fundraising usually involves in-person events, virtual fundraising events are less expensive, easier to coordinate, and more effective at reaching a larger audience since they don't exclude anyone who can’t attend due to difficulty or distance.

Now more than ever, online fundraising is essential for churches to fulfill their mission and keep their donors engaged. With a virtual fundraiser, you can enable your community to donate anytime, anywhere.

Getting started

Before you start raising money for your church online, you’ll want to make sure you have three important elements in place: 

First, your church’s fundraising platform should allow you to receive donations, tithes, and other charitable gifts through your website and mobile app. The best giving platforms will have no monthly fees, along with special features such as text-to-give and recurring giving options. 

Designated funds and sub-funds are also essential features for your campaign (e.g., “Mission trip” or “New building project”), so people can easily specify what their donation is intended for. Learn more about what features to look for in a fundraising solution

Second, you’ll want to set up a dedicated page on your website and mobile app as the central locations to receive all donations for your campaign. Your church's mobile app can also send out push notifications with reminders about how to engage with your fundraiser. If you plan to have an ongoing or long-term campaign, consider creating a fundraising website for your church’s cause. 

Before communicating with your supporters, spend some time crafting the following:

  • A unique headline for the fundraising pages on your app and website. 
  • A clearly defined purpose for your campaign, including your goals. 
  • Videos, pictures, and stories that showcase the positive impact your charity event will have. 
  • A compelling call-to-action with clear steps to follow for making donations.

Lastly, sharing your virtual fundraiser on your church’s social media is a great way to connect with a wider audience. You can easily remind your online community how your church is making a difference in your area, and ask them to participate in your charity campaign. Be sure to post about your fundraising campaign regularly and ask your congregation to share your posts on their social media accounts as well in order to maximize your reach. 

Now that your digital giving, website, mobile app, and social media are ready to go, let’s dive into twenty effective and engaging fundraiser ideas for your church, missions, youth groups, and small groups!

Ideas for virtual church fundraisers

Peer-to-peer fundraisers

Most fundraisers require churches to communicate directly with their audience through the church’s communication channels. But what if your church could get your members to promote your campaign to their friends and families? Peer-to-peer fundraising does just that, making it one of the best fundraising ideas on social media to use. 

Asking your supporters to share your fundraiser on their social media pages is one of the best church fundraisers because it offers:

  • Emotional appeal—Each supporter can explain what your fundraiser means to them.
  • Amplified reach—Sharing your charity event on multiple social media channels reaches far more people,
  • Increased donations—When a friend or family member promotes a fundraiser, people are more likely to donate to that cause.

Provide your supporters with the following items in order for them to promote your fundraiser:

  • A brief description of your fundraiser with a compelling call-to-action 
  • Links to your fundraiser webpage
  • Shareable images, graphics, and videos

While peer-to-peer fundraising works great for specific campaigns, it’s also a practice that should be used to help promote every church fundraiser. The ability to reach more followers and have them advocate for your cause makes this peer-to-peer approach one of the most popular virtual fundraising ideas!

Live stream fundraisers

If your church is participating in a charitable event on the ground, turn it into a virtual fundraising event by live streaming the occasion! This engages your donors and allows them to see your team at work. By asking your supporters to donate while watching the live stream, you’re offering an opportunity for them to memorably engage with your event and feel part of something bigger.

Your supporters will enjoy asking questions and connecting just as they would if they were present in person. Using a powerful live streaming platform like Subsplash Live allows you to live stream your event simultaneously on your church’s website, mobile app, Facebook, and YouTube channels, reaching the largest audience possible.

Local business partnerships

Partnering with local businesses is another way to fundraise that benefits more than just your own cause. By teaming up with your campaign, your business partner can improve their public image, receive tax deductions, and increase their sales, while your fundraiser gains more exposure, expands its donor base, and receives more donations. 

Because businesses hear a lot of company fundraiser ideas, make yours unique and memorable. Start by creating a compelling story about your cause. Explain your church’s history and impact on the community. 

Next, decide if you want the business to support your fundraising efforts as a corporate sponsor or through “cause marketing.” Corporate sponsorship is simply receiving money directly from the business: Their donation is tax deductible, and the business primarily benefits from increased exposure and brand awareness. 

On the other hand, the business can directly promote and collect funds for your campaign—this is cause marketing. For example, grocery stores engage in cause marketing when they ask customers at checkout if they want to donate a dollar to a charity. 

Whether you choose one or both of these church fundraising strategies, partnering with local businesses can be incredibly effective, and it’s a win-win for your church as well as your business partner!

Social media takeover

A social media takeover is simply asking a business, individual sponsor, or social media influencer to donate their social media “airtime” for a few hours, a day, or even up to a whole week. This allows your church to “take over” and post content championing your fundraiser, pointing people to your donation page. 

You can also ask the influencer or company to promote your fundraiser on their social media channels for you. Either way, you’ll reach a broader audience than you would just on your own! 

Sell merchandise online

People love to buy merchandise that supports a cause they believe in. Why not try raising money for your ministry by selling church-branded merchandise online? If you're using a top donations solution for churches—like Subsplash Giving—you'll be able to process payments for merchandise within the very same platform!

Start by getting your church’s logo, slogan, or fundraiser name printed on t-shirts, water bottles, coffee mugs, lanyards, tote bags, and other popular products. As an additional bonus, people who wear or use your church-branded merchandise also help promote your church, increasing name recognition and raising awareness for your fundraisers! 

Mission trip fundraising ideas

“Give it up” campaign

Because it is also a very inexpensive fundraising idea, it remains a favorite for churches and nonprofits alike. Here’s how it works: Ask your supporters if they’ll join your cause by giving up a small, recurring expense—like their daily cup of coffee, eating out at restaurants, going out to a movie, or any of their other favorite activities. Instead, they pledge to donate the money usually spent on these things to your fundraiser! Most of these campaigns last anywhere from one week to one month. 

When it comes to “Give it up” campaigns, it’s always a good idea to encourage participants to share the results of their efforts on social media! This gives them the opportunity to explain why they’re participating and challenge their friends to do the same. A lot of people making small sacrifices together can create a big impact!

Online donation forms

Many churches love telling stories about their mission trips on their websites, but it’s not always clear how to make a donation to support those trips. Adding a donation form to your missions page is a great way to raise funds for mission trips and special projects. 

Be sure to include the dates of upcoming trips, along with photos and videos of past trips. Share stories of the impact your mission teams have made on those communities. Don’t forget to set up a specific fund within your online giving for supporting upcoming missions!

Online garage sales

If you’re looking for a simple way to raise funds for your next mission trip, ask your missions team to collect items from their friends, neighbors, and family members to be donated and sold at a virtual garage sale fundraiser.

They can post the items for sale on their favorite social media sites and collect the money to fund their trip. If someone prefers to make a tax-deductible donation, they can do that on your church’s website. Either way, it’s a fun and easy way to collect funds for your next mission trip! 

Virtual dinner parties

Creating an online dinner party as a fundraiser is a great way to enjoy some good food while showcasing your mission trips and asking for donations. Line up your hosts, guest speakers (such as missionaries and previous mission trip participants), keynote speakers, worship teams, and any other entertainment. Be sure to do a practice run of your event, ensuring everyone knows when they’re presenting. 

When making your giving appeal, you can also use Subsplash Live to create a custom interaction to prompt the virtual dinner attendees to give right within your app or on your website in real time—all without having to leave your live streaming experience!

Video email fundraiser campaigns

Combining your church’s fundraising emails with videos will increase interaction with your donors. In fact, marketing experts have found that including a video thumbnail in an email can increase click-through rates by up to 40%!

Here are some tips to making a video email campaign for mission trips:

  • Get their attention: Use the word “video” in your subject line.
  • Be consistent: Plan on sending one email per week for four to seven weeks.
  • Personalize the content: Use the donor’s first name in your email greeting.
  • Keep it short and sweet: The longer a video is, the less people will watch it. So, try to keep your videos to under a couple of minutes. 
  • Be professional: Be sure that your email video looks and sounds good.
  • Share stories: People are more engaged when they relate to your mission on a personal or emotional level.
  • Embed your video: Most popular email services allow you to embed videos right within your emails. This is a great way to engage your readers!
  • Be clear: Let your readers know exactly what you expect them to do and how they can donate to support your cause.

Youth group fundraiser ideas

Virtual race

One action-packed idea for church fundraising is to host a walkathon, marathon, bikeathon, or race of any kind. These activities are highly engaging and simple to set up and coordinate online—people can participate individually or in small groups from their own homes, yards, schools, and neighborhoods, filming themselves if they want to share their progress. 

Because these fundraising races are virtual, participants can hold them indoors or outdoors, on a treadmill, bicycle, track, or even a trail. Start by selecting optional outdoor locations and dates for your race. Then schedule the event to last at least several days so that everyone has a chance to participate. 

To raise funds, ask participants to find sponsorships and collect donations based on their performances. Don’t forget to have them share your donation page and invite their friends to join! 

Movie nights

Watching movies online as a group can be a great way to connect with other people from the comfort of your own home, and many popular streaming platforms now offer online watch parties. It’s as simple as picking a movie, scheduling the event and inviting your friends! When it’s time for the movie to start, everyone can begin watching and chatting online. 

To raise funds for your cause, just ask your watch party supporters to donate beforehand what they would normally spend on movie tickets and refreshments through your digital donation solution on your app and website. 

Game night fundraisers

What youth group doesn’t love game nights? Your virtual game night fundraiser can feature any kind of board games, trivia, or video games, with the price of admission serving as a donation to your fundraiser. You can play for prizes, bragging rights, or just for fun! It’s an exciting, engaging, and inexpensive fundraiser for church youth groups. 

Online scavenger hunt

Similar to in-person scavenger hunts, for your online scavenger hunt, start by setting a date and creating a list of items for everyone to track down. Then set a suggested donation amount or sell tickets to raise funds for your youth group. For a fast-paced online scavenger hunt, use a short list of regular household items to find and ask everyone to upload selfies of themselves with the items. 

Another option is creating a week-long scavenger hunt that consists of unique, harder-to-find items and places around town that need to be found. These online scavenger hunts should give everyone ample time to get outdoors and find those local treasures. Either way, your youth group is bound to have fun! 

Virtual concert

Connect with your youth group’s favorite local musical artist or band to coordinate an online concert fundraiser! This is a great way to showcase local talent, promote your church, and raise money for your youth group ministry. Don’t forget to have your youth group and the musical performers promote the concert on social media!

Fundraiser ideas for small groups

Virtual book club

Virtual book clubs can be an excellent way to engage your church in a familiar setting while reaching your fundraising goals. How do they work?

Begin by choosing a book that relates to your current fundraiser or aligns with your church’s mission. Then create your reading schedule and add it to your event calendar on your website and app. Always be sure to include a link to your church’s donation page!

Finally, make sure you also create opportunities for your participants to discuss what they’re reading, perhaps through weekly video calls or a group communication tool like Subsplash Messaging.

Where does fundraising come into play? Simply ask book club members to donate an amount that they would usually spend on coffee or snacks for weekly in-person meetings. 

Online coffee break fundraiser

Small groups are all about building relationships, and one of the best ways to do this is by having conversations over a cup of coffee. Encourage your small group members to take a coffee break together online, talk, and create a connection.

Provide them with icebreaker topics and questions to get their conversations going. Lastly, ask them to donate the equivalent of the cost of a cup of their favorite drink to your small group fundraiser. 

Virtual webinar or lecture

What are your small group’s favorite topics to discuss—you know, the ones they get really excited about? Invite an expert on one of these topics to join your group for a webinar or online lecture. Have your small group share their excitement for the upcoming discussion on their social media and invite their friends to join. The registration fee for attending the event can be used as proceeds for your cause. 

Online talent show

Many people love watching talent competitions like “America’s Got Talent” to see contestants display their unique abilities. Odds are that your small group also has several people with their own talents and skills! Host a virtual talent show fundraiser that allows everyone to invite their friends as they show off their talents. Depending on how competitive everyone is, you can have a panel of judges and even offer prizes. Best of all, you may be surprised by what you discover about people!

Free gift with donation

Another creative fundraiser is offering a gift to people who donate to your cause. Check with your church for any businesses that are willing to make a tax-deductible donation to the church. 

These can be physical gifts like books, gift cards, coupons, and artwork; or they can give online gifts such as subscriptions, audiobooks, or anything else that people will be interested in receiving in return for their donation. Then set the tiers of suggested donation amounts to receive a specific gift.

Now it’s your turn

The question now is, which of these fundraising ideas will you try first? Whichever one you choose, these fresh approaches to how churches can raise money online are easier to coordinate and less time consuming than traditional in-person fundraisers.

Having a peer-to-peer mentality encourages people to get personally involved in sharing your charities with their friends and family. It also helps bring your community together for a common cause, showcase your church to a broader audience, and bring in more donations to benefit more people.

Online church fundraising can be simple, especially when you leverage The Ultimate Engagement Platform™. Our all-in-one solution includes the best online giving, church website, custom mobile app, live streaming, instant messaging, and more. 

To learn more about using Subsplash tools to increase donations and engage your community, connect with a ministry consultant today



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