Revenue Streams and Church Strategies

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Revenue Streams and Church StrategiesYears ago I remember reading a book by Lyle Schaller. He talked about how the future of funding in the church would be to develop numerous revenue streams. I’ve kept coming back to that idea, and finally, I’m beginning to see it play out in our congregations. Here are some thoughts, comments, and ideas that I’ve observed from assisting churches over the years.

Annual Stewardship Campaigns

Strength: This is the basic standard that funds most mission and ministry in the church. The process may have changed a bit over the years, but mostly this remains static.
Weakness: The biggest weakness has been in messaging, but this is starting to change. A key practice for success is to consider multiple messages for multiple audiences.

Gifts and Memorials

Strength: This has been a minor revenue stream over the years.
Weakness: Few churches seem to be proactive in developing a plan for legacy gifts to memorialize a former member. Are you being proactive?

Capital Campaigns

Strength: The most effective means of raising major funds for retirement of debt, building deferred maintenance and new construction, and major funding for mission.
Weakness: The biggest weakness churches have is they are not using this as a means to increasing overall congregation generosity. A vital congregation could easily support a major campaign every seven years.

Endowment Funds

Strength: While everyone seems to have an endowment fund, few have a true strategy for creating the opportunity for members to leave a large and impacting legacy gift to their church.
Weakness: Without a “champion” to drive this effort, a culture of leaving endowed gifts will just not happen. Find a champion, or be the champion.

Revenue or Expense Reduction through Partnerships

Strength: There are often opportunities to create revenue or reduce expense from outside sources, and most congregations can find a way to make this happen.
Weakness: Hardly any weaknesses exist, “Just do it.”

Partnership examples from across the country:

  • Sharing worship space with another community of faith.
  • Pre-school space utilization with the school maintaining a separate budget and remaining mostly independent.
  • Early Childhood Development operating as an independent 501C-3. (Allows for grant funding by being separated from the church.)
  • Symphony Orchestra or similar partner on an annual basis.
  • Facility Usage Fees for weddings and similar events.

Ministry Fees
These range from members/teachers buying their own materials, teachers donating materials and text, and member support of mission offsite.

Strength: Ministry fees can effectively reduce costs.
Weakness: Members question why such fees are not funded through the church budget, especially if they create a burden for teachers.

Income from Invested Funds

Strength: A “free” opportunity for non-designated funds.
Weakness: Congregations with large endowments tend to become reliant on them for funding, with members becoming less generous over time.

This is clearly not an all-inclusive list, but we’d love to have you interact with us and share your experiences or strategies. Comment on this post or send us an email.