Fundraising Policy

Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing
Fundraising Policy

[approved by the Board 10/26/11]

Fundraisers are an important part of active church life. They provide opportunities for congregants to build relationships and to strengthen their commitment to the church. They also provide funds for the church as well as for approved charitable causes.

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for approval of church fundraisers for any purpose, by any means, and at any location in order to ensure that our fundraising activities:

  • are consistent with the Mission and Vision of  the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing (UUCGL),
  • are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA),
  • are consistent with our not-for-profit status,
  • focus our resources on the church’s highest priorities and the approved church budget, and
  • avoid overburdening the congregation with requests for money.

All church fundraising activities must be reviewed and approved under this policy.  

A “church group” is a committee, club, group, task force, class, or other internal group of UUCGL.  

Any outside person/group requesting to raise funds at church or through church must have a church group as a sponsor for their fundraiser. The only exception is for children/youth enrolled in our Lifespan Faith Development (LFD) program selling items for scouts, school, or any other non-church activity (see Review Process below). All other outside fundraisers must have an internal UUCGL sponsor.

Political fundraisers for individual candidates or parties are not permitted, but support for causes (such as support to promote the Dream Act) may be considered.

Performers and guest speakers who wish to sell CDs and other merchandise are covered by this policy. 

Activities that request contributions intended only to cover the expenses associated with that event (e.g., food, supplies, honorarium for a speaker, equipment rental) are not considered fundraising events. Such break-even activities do not have to be reviewed under this policy. However, if contributions are being split (part for expenses and part for the church or for an outside group), then this fundraising policy does apply, and the fundraiser needs approval.

Ongoing and annual fundraisers (such as Coffee Sales, the Grove Street Bookstore, the Auction, and the Pledge Drive) are covered by this policy. Once approved, these fundraisers do not need to come back for approval each year.

Review Process
All fundraising activities must be approved in advance by the Program Council, Congregational Administrator, or Director of Lifespan Faith Development, as explained below.

A congregant must submit a request in writing on behalf of any group seeking to engage in fundraising activity. The request should be submitted well in advance of the fundraiser, and no later than the first of the month prior to the event, to allow time for Program Council approval as well as subsequent publicity. This request is sent to:

  • a Program Council cluster representative, or
  • the Senior Minister (who sets the Program Council agenda), or
  • the Congregational Administrator (if for less than $200), or
  • the Director of Lifespan Faith Development (if from children/youth for their non-church activities).

The request includes the following:

1.      Who is this fundraiser for? If it is for an outside group, is that group designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit? If it is for an outside group, are you asking Program Council to donate the entire amount (see Sharing Net Profits below)?
2.      What are you going to do to raise the money? 
3.      How much money to do you expect to raise?
4.      What are the fundraiser dates and times? 
5.      What rooms or other resources are needed?
6.      Have you checked the timing and logistics of the fundraiser with other scheduled activities at the church? Your Program Council cluster representative or the Congregational Administrator can help you with this.

The Congregational Administrator may approve without further review requests for fundraisers that are reasonably expected to raise less than $200 (net). The Administrator will provide a monthly report to the Program Council of all such requests.

The Administrator will pass on to the Program Council all requests that meet any of the following conditions:

  1. The fundraiser is expected to raise more than $200 (net);
  2. There will be a congregation-wide direct solicitation (as in the Pledge Drive or Capital Campaign);
  3. The activity takes place over more than one Sunday;
  4. The group organizing the activity has already conducted a fundraising activity during the past 12 months;
  5. The activity is done in combination with outside non-church groups; or
  6. The Congregational Administrator chooses to refer the request to the Program Council for any reason.

The Program Council will consider fundraiser requests in light of the following criteria:

  1. coordination with other events on the church calendar,
  2. consistency with our not-for-profit status,
  3. consistency with our Mission and Vision and UUA Principles and Purposes,
  4. consistency with the church’s priorities and approved church budget,
  5. for performers and guest speakers, whether the Celebrations Committee agrees to have CDs or other merchandise available during coffee hour for those interested,
  6. likelihood of success, and
  7. timeliness of the request.

Children/youth enrolled in our Lifespan Faith Development (LFD) program selling items for scouts, school, or any other non-church activity: These fundraising requests are often less formal (even verbal) and go to the Director of Lifespan Faith Development (DLFD). If approved by the DLFD, children/youth may reserve a table at coffee hour (space permitting) and allow people to approach them if interested. No monetary contribution to the church is required unless the DLFD determines otherwise. 

Sharing Net Proceeds
In recognition of our interdependence within broader church life, the following guidelines are to be used for sharing the net proceeds of fundraisers:

·        If less than $200 is raised (net), the group keeps the entire amount.
·        If more than $200 is raised (net), and the fundraiser is for a group within the church, the first $200 goes to the fundraising group, and the rest is split 50/50 between the fundraising group and the general operating fund.
·        If more than $200 is raised (net), and the fundraiser is for an outside group, then the 50/50 split may not be appropriate. The fundraising group can ask the Program Council to donate more (or all) of the proceeds.

Fundraisers are limited to the following beneficiaries: The church general operating fund or one of the church’s restricted funds, or non-profits that hold an IRS section 501(c)(3) certification. If an exception is made for an outside group that is not a 501(c)(3) but has a clearly humanitarian objective consistent with the church’s mission, the fundraising group is responsible for clearly communicating with donors that their donations may not be tax-deductible.

Acknowledgement: We give thanks to First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego for sharing their fundraising policy as a model.