Some of you may not know, unless you’re particularly up to speed on my Twitter bio, that aside from working for Tearfund I also have another hat – a wedding planner hat. (I’m picturing this hat with feathers.)
I’ve been planning weddings and events since I was at university, and in recent years I’ve put a great deal of effort into making this a profitable sideline career – an affordable wedding planner for the budget bride. Thing is, that kind of effort takes money and investment. So last month, I embraced the crowd.
I set myself up on a UK crowdfunding website called PleaseFund.Us – my page is still available to view – I set a price and a time limit and hit ‘go live’. I needed funds to get myself a logo, website design and a stand at a wedding fair, so I costed it at a modest £500 and gave myself 2 weeks to gather the troops. Not thinking I’d get more than a fiver. Mostly since it’s not as worthy as a charity run.
The two week period had its peaks and plateaus . The catch with this some crowdfunding sites is that if you don’t hit the target, you don’t get a penny, even if you raised £495 out of £500 – so I was marketing like crazy. But it paid off, literally. I hit the target on the last day due to the generosity of family, friends and some new people I didn’t even know, because they wanted to see me succeed.
But this kind of fundraising isn’t just for start ups, bands and filmmakers. Why couldn’t crowdfunding be used in the church?
If 23 lovely family, friends and randoms could come together to give me a leg up into a career just because they want to see me succeed, surely a community or a congregation of hundreds with a life in and around the church could do even more.
The church needs money, there’s no two ways about it. From new roofs to mission trips, it has to come from somewhere.
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
How many more mission trips could a church arrange with a crowdfunding page? How many more spaces would be created for single mums and toddler groups? How many skate parks could be built for the youth in our communities?
Promoting projects like these can present the church as practical, active and involved in the community to people who still think church is a cold, dark and condemning place you go to for an hour a week. The church can seen to be the place people can go to for community, regardless of their faith.
Crowdfunding gives energy, urgency and a ‘we can do this’ attitude to a project or campaign. Making people feel part of something instead of idly dropping coins into a velvet bag each week.
The great thing about crowdfunding sites is that because its digital, everyone is a campaigner and fundraiser. The shareability of a campaign could spread a small ‘fund our youth group’ page all over the country if not further, for any philanthropically minded individual to give if they feel called to.
With a digital tool like crowdfunding, I believe community really can spread beyond the walls of a church.
Have any churches tried this? What else could crowdfunding be used for in our churches?