Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Father Shylock: Vicar

No, I am not a Mafia cash collector - but I am no less a pain to have on your Fundraising Committee. 

Actually, I am harder nosed than a Mafia cash collector.

Like or not, churches need cash like I need haemoglobin. I wish I didn't need it, but I would not get far without it and its benefits. Churches are, I am given to understand, temples of prayer and devotion to God who no more wish to have to chase shekels than I do to eat my greens and keep my red stuff red. 

"God will provide" will not keep a church open - sadly. 

In a number of parishes where I have been involved, I have found myself as the Shylock character. I am from a background in sales, and know how turn over cash. More often than not, it is no harder than simply making a case and asking. 

And here I am in a new place who have done remarkably well at raising no small amounts of wonga, and actually seemed to have been more successful by dint of a lack of Vicar. It is to the credit of a modest team of those who simply agreed to help. The reason why this is something of a revelation to me is that it is the first of the parishes that I have worked with for some time that have taken an even remotely commercial view to raising funds. That I will ask them to be greedier and altogether more demanding may come as a shock to some, maybe not.

There are probably two ways of fundraising. The first is to send an annual invoice for a thousand quid to the willing people of the congregation, shut the doors, and get a poor turnover. The other is to give value to that donation and spread it over a period of time. This is before you shake the tin at grant makers and the filthy rich. There is a danger, when in the mindset of purely fundraising (in times of major projects etc), that we under-sell the need to get hard cash. There can be a confusion with 'social event' and 'fundraiser' - both are vital in churches, and that you over price social activity or under price fundraising events. Equally, under selling the value of an event can easily undervalue the event, if you know what I mean. 

What I think I am saying, is that churches that don't have international nurture courses need to think creatively and greedily about filling the coffers. Euphemism, diffidence, coyness or simple blindness to need - they all hamper the bank-balance. 

Ask, and ye shall receive! 

1 comment:

  1. You can of course, deliberately mix social and fund-raising activities and get quite good results.
    First of all the venue needs to be free - a job for the silver-tongued cleric - and the event, cut-price. For instance, a fish and chip supper with the food heavily discounted and the event as expensive as you dare make it.
    This would make you, not a Shylock, more a sort of mendicant fryer!



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