How to Raise Transformational Gifts for Your Church


Raising transformational gifts such as endowment funds or Gifts of Assets among your church’s members isn’t always easy — but it doesn’t have to be hard, either. Here’s how you can organize your team to bolster your church’s finances for generations to come.

If you’re a pastor, more than likely you’ve watched other nonprofit organizations raise insanely large endowments for their causes and thought to yourself all the many things your church could do with those resources.

Now, of course, you don’t allow yourself to wallow in self-pity or covet your neighbor’s goods — but you know without a doubt that God wants to meet your church’s needs, too.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

The truth is that there is no reason your church cannot thrive by receiving transformational gifts, just like any other nonprofit organization.

Before I show you the best way we’ve found to raise transformational gifts, let me share with you the two big errors churches fall into when raising these types of gifts.

Transformational Gift Fundraising Errors

Error #1: Being overly endowed

Sadly, some churches are so well endowed that they don’t need to be a relevant, vibrant church anymore to stay alive. The churches that fall into this trap are typically a century old or so with so much in endowment funds that they can pay the light bill, the pastor, and maintain the building without a single person attending services.

Pretty soon, the church dies because there’s no vision required to bring in new people, or their giving. Now, you might wish you had this problem, but it’s a horrible situation I wouldn’t wish on any organization.

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” — Matthew 16:26 (ESV)

These churches have all the money in the world, but have lost their soul. Nothing’s worth that.

Error #2: Using poor fundraising tactics.

Quite often, I’ll see churches attempt to raise transformational gifts — even for really great visions that go beyond the walls of their church — but they’re using a failing tactic, like a banquet or seminar. And these tactics just don’t work well for raising transformational gifts.

The problem with tactics like banquets or seminars is that they are impersonal and ambiguous.

High net worth individual attending your events will hear your case for support and think, “That’s great, but it doesn’t apply to me. I’ve already got a trust fund set up with someone else.”

You might pull in some large gifts through an estate planning seminar or a fundraising banquet, but this is not where you’ll find the most success in securing legacy gifts or major gifts.

A Better Way

I’m glad to say there’s a much better way to raise transformational gifts for your church so that the Kingdom work you do has all the resources it needs to continue well into the future.

The method I’m about to describe to you is much better than events, seminars, or direct mail appeals — and with this strategy, you don’t have to get too technical.

Lots of pastors shy away from raising endowment funds, Gifts of Assets, or planned gifts because the details surrounding these gifts can be technical. While it’s true that there are complicated aspects of transformational gifts, these issues can be handled by legal and financial experts.

You don’t have to be the one to explain it all. And no one expects you to.

Another benefit with my method is that you won’t offend major givers.

It can be nerve-wracking to talk with someone about their net worth, estate plans, or giving. No need to worry! The way I’m about to show you minimizes the chance that you’ll ever offend someone.

Peer to Peer Endowment Fundraising for Churches

The best way to raise transformational gifts for churches is through a highly relational tactic that we’ve seen to produce tremendous results for little financial investment. It works like this…

Step 1: Engage Financial Leaders in Your Church

With peer-to-peer endowment fundraising, you and your pastoral staff engage first with these financial leaders.

One by one, you invite these people to a private conversation over dinner, coffee, or whatever format works best for you. Then, ask them about…

  • Their philanthropic goals,
  • The legacy they want to leave for the next generation,
  • The causes that stir their heart, and
  • The problems in the world that concern them the most.

After you’ve listened to them, if there’s any connection to the transformational gift options that you’ve created for your church  — and there’s almost always a connection — show them a transformational gift is the opportunity they’re looking for to leave their legacy through an estate gift, major gift, Gift of Assets, etc.

Then, see if they are willing to set up an appointment with an estate planning counselor, attorney, or with us at The Giving Crowd to find creative ways to optimize their estate plan by a gift to the church endowment.

Step 2: Recruit those Leaders to Talk to Their Peers

After several of your financial leaders have joined you, have them connect with other business leaders they know in your church and do the same thing you did with them.

As businessmen and women, the financial leaders you’ve recruited are very comfortable speaking to one of their peers about the process they’ve just gone through. More often than not, they’re also comfortable inviting their peers to join them in optimizing their estate plans and philanthropy.

Strategies that Work

It’s been said that “Relationships are the currency of heaven.” If this is true, and I think it is, then we must choose to implement fundraising strategies that honor and leverage the relationships we have with our people.

These highly relational fundraising tactics bring a larger yield into the Kingdom while blessing those who give.

If you need help cultivating transformational gifts in your church or talking with a potential donor, our team at The Giving Crowd is ready and able to help. Let’s talk!

No high-pressure sales. Just solid advice and real help.