Fundraising for Special Purposes
This policy is intended to provide a structure to ensure that:
- fundraisers are not so frequent that their impact and financial success is compromised by confusion or fatigue among the congregation members,
- each fundraiser is compatible with the mission of the church,
- the impact on other aspects of church funding is taken into consideration (for example, the annual campaign, a capital campaign, or the Sunday collection), and
- the tax exempt status of the church is not jeopardized.
Definition of a Fundraiser
- For the purposes of this policy, a fundraiser is defined as an activity that asks congregants to contribute money, or to buy and contribute some item, or to contribute a service that would be sold or auctioned. Also included is any activity that asks for such contributions from the public, if the activity is identified as function of First Parish or one of its groups or committees.
- Fundraisers may include stand-alone events, dedicating a collection at a church service (or a portion thereof) to a cause, special collections, or a series of collections over a defined period of time within a single church year.
- This policy does not apply to fundraising activities of a church group if only the group’s own members are being asked to contribute.
- This policy does not apply to activities where each participant is asked to contribute their share of the cost of the activity or supplies for the activity, such as pooling money to buy food for a group dinner.
- This policy does not apply to requests for contributions to the general operating budget of the church in the form of annual pledges or collections at church services.
Submission Process and Timing
Fundraisers are allowed at First Parish only after the approval of the Parish Committee. A request must be from a person designated by a recognized committee, group, or task force within the congregation. A completed application form must be submitted to the Assistant Treasurer. The request must also include a corresponding check request form or the application form must include a statement of justification for handling the proceeds outside of the church account. The Assistant Treasurer will assess the validity of the application. If the application is incomplete, the Assistant Treasurer will return it to the applicant with appropriate suggestions. If the request is complete, the Assistant Treasurer will forward it to the Chair of the Parish Committee to add to the agenda of an upcoming Parish Committee meeting. The request must be submitted no less than a week before a scheduled Parish Committee meeting (typically posted on the church calendar). It is to the benefit of the requestor to provide a longer lead time, because fundraisers will not be approved if the Parish Committee decides that discussion of the proposal needs to extend beyond the time available at the Parish Committee meeting(s) occurring between the receipt of the proposal and the scheduled beginning of fundraising activities.
In many circumstances, and especially for long-standing, annually recurring fundraisers, initial plans for fundraisers should be made the prior church year, in conjunction with the process of developing the church budget. Church groups should consider their fundraiser plans as they also prepare the funding request they will submit to the budget committee. That is the preferred time to submit applications for planned fundraisers. Before the end of the church year, the Parish Committee will act on any of these applications that were submitted by April 1. To facilitate this process, each year in February, the Parish Manager will distribute an announcement calling for applications for fundraisers to be held the following year. The announcement will remind the recipients of this connection between budgeting and fundraiser planning, the process for submitting applications, and the April 1 deadline for prior-year approvals. The announcement will be sent at least to the main point of contact for each church committee and group that has given the Parish Manager current contact information. Prior-year application and approval is not required, but is advantageous to the group sponsoring the fundraiser because it reduces the risk that Parish Committee will deny their application on the basis that the fundraising calendar is already full.
The Parish Committee may designate as exempt from the application process certain fundraisers whose proceeds go entirely to the church general operating budget or to a church trust fund. The list of exempt fundraisers will be maintained by the Parish Manager. In February of each year, the Parish Committee will review the list, decide whether to make changes, and consider the scheduling of the listed fundraisers for the following church year. The budget committee and the trustees will be consulted and informed of any changes that may affect their planning.
The Parish Committee will consider the application with regard to its compatibility with the mission of the church and how it fits with the other activities, priorities, financial needs, and scheduling of the church. Priority will be given to fundraising efforts that are aligned and engaged with children’s, youth, or adult religious education programs, social justice efforts that reflect the congregation’s commitment to Unitarian Universalist principles, otherwise lend themselves to the furthering of the congregation’s priorities regarding worship and other goals, and have a matching funds component. Ideally, a fundraiser should be directly connected with an existing program or group within the church. Any fundraising that requires use of the church facilities must provide its own sexton services or equivalent volunteer effort for set-up and clean-up. The applicant or other designees may choose to be at the meeting when Parish Committee considers the request.
Once the Parish Committee has voted on an application, the Assistant Treasurer (or another representative of the Parish Committee) will communicate to the person who submitted the application or a designee within 48 hours, if the applicant is not present at the meeting.
Monies raised by the event are to be given to the church’s Assistant Treasurer, unless an alternative was included in the approved proposal. After the fundraising event, the Assistant Treasurer will coordinate with the Treasurer to prepare the check and have it sent to the appropriate party as requested in the application.
At the end of each church fiscal year, the Assistant Treasurer will compile as list of special funds raised (for the fundraisers that were handled through the church account) to allow church members to evaluate the effectiveness of the church’s special fundraising activities. This list will be included in the Treasurer’s report for the Annual Meeting.
—Adopted by the Parish Committee June 8, 2009