Every staff member and volunteer at some point has to look to some creative ways to raise funds outside of the normal intake of tithes and offerings. Typically, we look to fundraising events and campaigns for the immediate need, but there’s another tactic to consider adding to your arsenal. It’s more of a residual income based method and may not yield large returns for the immediate cause, but can prove useful to long term initiatives and help raise the overall yearly revenue of your church. And as we all know, every little bit helps.
Affiliate programs, while not new, are a great way to help build supplemental income for your church that requires very minimal oversight and no monetary investment; aside from promoting the initiative to those within your reach. Two example affiliate programs who I feel meet this goal well are AmazonSmile and Charity Motors.
AmazonSmile (a non-profit entity of Amazon.com) donates 0.5% of qualifying purchases to 501(c)(3) organizations with no special purchase(s) or commitment required, and there are no fees to participate. As Amazon continues to grow as a popular consumer’s destination, encouraging your members to select your charity, while they do their normal shopping on Amazon, is a win-win for both of you.
Charity Motors, local to Michigan, sells donated vehicles at reduced prices to low income families with the proceeds from the sale going to the charity of your choice. Not only are you helping people in need within your community, Charity Motors also offers the donor a tax deduction for the full Kelley Blue Book value at the time of donation. It’s also worth mentioning that donated vehicles do not have to be in running condition to qualify. Cars are big business for us in the Motor City and this is an easy ask of your congregation to consider designating your church to receive the proceeds from their donated vehicle.
- These affiliate giving programs and initiatives are a win-win for everyone: the church, the giver and the sponsoring organization.
- For many people, these may already be organizations that you would be doing business with or supporting any way. But now, you also get to support your church in the process.
- These initiatives can be promoted all year long, especially around the popular spending seasons.
- Virtually no overhead is required to maintain these kind of campaign initiatives for your church. Your part, would simply be to promote the cause to your congregation. It could be as easy as featuring it in your announcements, bulletins, website, etc. especially in peak spending seasons.
Things to Remember:
- The church is not a marketplace and that is NOT the goal of these initiatives, i.e. to market towards your members. Your participation in these type of fundraising initiatives should not require monetary investment (pay to play) or any quid pro quos by your church or members.
- Be prayerful about who you partner with. Although your church will simply be a recipient and does not have an active stake in the operation of the business—the reality is, you are also endorsing who and what you promote. Do some research and be mindful of which organizations that you partner with by considering whether or not their values and activities are in line with yours. Obviously, you don’t want to partner, affiliate or receive funds from an organization or company whose values and activities conflict with those that you support and promote.
- Avoid multilevel marketing, referral or commission based affiliate programs. These are not the same and often have a much bigger agenda than supporting charities and require more involvement, in terms of supporting the sponsoring business, than the church should really have it’s hand in.
- As with my two examples here, it’s best practice to partner with other non-profit organizations that have like minded initiatives and operations. These programs already give to charities. You’re simply asking your congregation to designate your church as a charity if and when they patronize there. No more, no less.
- Ask yourself and your team, what affiliate programs are good for our church? For example, it’s highly likely that AmazonSmile would gel well with a younger, internet savvy congregation.
- Determine from the beginning, how the funds will be used. Will this go into the general fund? Will it be a yearly fundraiser?
- Consider communicating to your congregation upfront how the funds will be used, i.e. building repairs, food pantry, missions, etc. Having a predefined and clearly communicated goal can really rally the support behind any giving initiative.
- Make it fun. Make it simple. Encourage your members to share this easy way of supporting your church within their circles.
- Be consistent and creative in promoting this to your church. If no one knows about it, it’s no benefit to you. Although there are varying perspectives on this, I personally feel it can be appropriate to share these other ways to give and support your church during offering time. Remember to emphasize that these are not in place of tithes and offerings, but optional supplements to it.
Although I’ve only given two examples of actual of programs here, the concept is that affiliate giving programs can provide supplemental income for your church all year around and with virtually no overhead to manage the campaign efforts. Doing some research can help you identify other similar programs by non-profit organizations that you can take advantage of. Check locally in your city and state to see what’s available as well. These are an even greater benefit because the support is staying in your community.
These are great opportunities for your members to increase their giving through where they’re already supporting and shopping. What are your thoughts? What other some other affiliate giving programs that would be worthy of consideration for churches?
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