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Blog » 25 Fundraising Ideas for Churches: Unexpected Thank Yous

25 Fundraising Ideas for Churches: Unexpected Thank Yous


If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you’ve heard me say this in the past: churches tend to do a poor job of thanking donors. We often take them for granted, not recognizing the faithfulness and sacrifice our tithers and members make for our mission.

Churches usually lack a structured gift acknowledgment program. Most of our members may have never been thanked for their giving. Because of the Biblical and spiritual calling to support the church through tithes and offerings, church leaders too often view those gifts as something routine, something expected, something members are just supposed to do – and thus unworthy of attention and intentional thanks.

This is different among other charities and nonprofit organizations, who typically know they must have a donor recognition and thank you process in place to keep their givers contributing to their mission.

So if I’ve hit home at this point and you know there is a lack of a thank you process for your contributing members, that is the place to start. If you have a plan in place and your givers are hearing from you at least occasionally with a thank you, today’s blog will help you layer in some unexpected ways to show gratitude for their generosity.  

As part of our series on 25 fundraising ideas for churches, we’re exploring ways you can build generosity and philanthropy in your congregation. Today, we’re sharing creative thank yous that you can consider adding to your church calendar or communications schedule:

Recognition and Honor Lists

Taking a page from our colleagues in the nonprofit philanthropic arena, one proven way to thank donors is to establish a donor honor roll or donor societies. In a church setting, this could look like a “Sustainers Society,” listing all who have made a gift of any size year-over-year. This honors consistent givers each year (at all levels), enforcing how they sustain the church’s ministries. So this list would include the family who gave $50 last year and again this year and the family with a weekly $500 commitment. This kind of recognition list enforces the importance of continual and recurring giving… this is one single list not based on amount or wealth. 

Many churches or nonprofits also have a “Legacy Circle” listing those who have included the church ministry in their estate or bequest plans. Again, this is a way to thank those donors and also share the impact they have with the wider congregation. Some organizations offer special dinners or thank you events just for those Legacy givers.

Notes, Cards, and Calls

Whether it’s tied to your annual pledge drive, a church event, or a holiday like Thanksgiving, plan at least one unexpected thank you to your church’s givers. While this can certainly be a token (a magnet, a bookmark, a mug), a simple handwritten note from the pastor or a church leader can be deeply meaningful to those who faithfully give their time and treasure to your ministry each month. A thank-you-calling campaign or plan can have the same impact.

We hope these ideas will get you thinking about how your church can create a donor experience that keeps givers excited and feeling valued. If you’d like help in planning your stewardship processes, our partnership with ACST enables us to come alongside churches looking for development guidance.

Tim Smith

Tim has over 30 years of experience in Church, Non-Profit Administration, Management, and Fund Development.  Serving as an Executive Pastor and Chief Development Officer in growing Churches and Non-Profit Organizations. He has provided a wide range of expertise and resources. Tim serves as the Founder and CEO of  Non-Profit DNA. A boutique firm committed to helping nonprofits and churches. By building their capacity through fundraising, leadership, team building, staff recruiting, and coaching.

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