October 28, 2014

Ten-Minute Fundraiser

Okay, so I might be underestimating a tad, but here’s an idea for a quick-and-easy fundraiser.

Think about upcoming church-wide events. Hymn sing? Thanksgiving gathering? Wreath making? You want an event that will attract a significant proportion of your congregation—and maybe even one that people from outside of the church already attend. I also suggest an early evening event and one with time and space for people to meander. After you’ve picked the likely candidate, add in a Christmas boutique.

The idea is simple: Announce during church and in your newsletters (print and electronic) that you’re inviting vendors to exhibit during the selected event. There’s no charge (or you can charge—your call) but you invite the vendors to donate 10 percent of their sales to the church (or specified ministry). Your role is to do some basic coordination and promotion: How many tables needed, communicate date and times to the vendors, and advertise in different venues.
Other than setting up and tearing down the tables, the onus is on the vendors to prepare their space. If they don’t sell anything, no harm, no foul. If they do, then it’s a win-win. The small or home business vendor earns a little money, and the church receives a donation. And add a third win in there: church members have an opportunity to do some low-key holiday shopping while supporting local merchants/vendors. 

Our congregation hosts monthly spaghetti dinners. The proceeds for each dinner support designated ministries, both internal and external. The dinners attract between 100 to 175, and depending on the designated ministry for the month, some community members and neighbors as well as congregants. With a built-in audience and expectation, the dinner was the perfect candidate to add a simple Christmas boutique.  

(An important word of caution: Christmas boutiques can be huge events, raising tons of money and taking loads of time. Those events are valuable and important, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. Keep it easy and casual. No decorating. No flurry of cookie baking or crafting. Let others come to you). 

To make this even easier, here’s the language I used to promote this year’s boutique:   

“Do good. Eat well. And shop early! St. Andrew's is hosting a Christmas Boutique on November 12 during the Spaghetti Supper from 5 to 7 pm. We're extending an invitation to folks to come and sell their wares. We're hoping to have representatives from Thirty-One (cool handbags and storage solutions), Stella & Dot (jewelry!), Tastefully Simple (yummy food), and other similar companies. We also welcome crafters--if you have a particular craft niche (knitting, embroidery, baking, (local school) gear, etc.), sign up for a table. Each "vendor" handles the individual orders (payment, shipping, etc.) We invite vendors to contribute 10 percent of their net to the outreach ministry of St. Andrew's. If you - or someone you know - is interested in a table, please contact Richelle Thompson at (email address) or (phone). Invite friends and family to come for an evening of good food and early shopping. Proceeds from the Spaghetti Dinner and the Boutique support the outreach ministry of St. Andrew's!”

Good luck!