What Dave Ramsey Recommends for Church Fundraising
Dave Ramsey is a popular figure in the world of financial wellness and Christian living. He’s best known for authoring seven best-sellers, including “Financial Peace,” “More Than Enough,” “The Total Money Makeover,” and “Smart Money Smart Kids.” His books have sold more than 11 million copies around the world, and countless listeners tune into his podcast and videos each week. Additionally, Ramsey maintains an active blog, community, and budgeting apps.
With Ramsey’s focus on helping people get out of debt and live financially free, it’s always interesting to hear him offer guidance to church-goers and church leaders about tithing, fundraising, and collecting donations. Many people turn to him for guidance and his views are very much aligned with those of countless evangelical Christians. So, what does Dave Ramsey have to say about fundraising for your church?
Ramsey Gives to God, Not the Church
Ramsey openly talks about being an evangelical Christian and what that means for him financially. In one podcast, a caller spoke to Ramsey about her and her husband’s situation. They were living almost debt free and working to pay off their house in full, but their church launched a capital campaign. The couple called in because they felt guilty — should they give to the church or stay focused on their goal of defeating their final debt?
The RIGHT Answer
Ramsey’s answer was very detailed and qualified. He began his statement with, “I believe in tithing as an evangelical Christian. I’ve read and studied this for years.” Ramsey went on to explain that he has consistently given 10 percent of this income to God for years. However, he made sure to point out that he is giving it “unto the Lord and not the church. It’s God’s money.”
When Ramsey offers advice about whether or not a person should be donating, he asks them to consider whether the money is going to the church or if it’s going to God. He recognizes that, unfortunately, manipulation and misuses do occur in the world of church donations, and he advises every listener to think carefully about their church, its work, and its ultimate mission.
You Don’t Have to Owe the Church
“Sometimes in these capital campaigns, the arm-twisting can be pretty severe. You don’t owe the church. It’s not a country club. You have to ask yourself, is this God’s mission? And if you believe it’s God’s mission, do you believe you’re called to financially participate in this mission?” Ramsey told the caller.
He asked her to think about the situation and consider whether the building is being built by God, saying that’s how he and his wife, Sharon, routinely think about giving opportunities when they’re deciding whether or not to contribute to a capital campaign.
Donors Shouldn’t Fund Debt
If you’re familiar with Ramsey’s financial points of view, you would know that he doesn’t believe in keeping debt. As such, he applies those principles to the church as well.
“We would not give to a capital campaign that included debt because we’re not going to enable people doing God’s work to go into debt by our giving.”
This is an interesting perspective and one that your church should certainly consider if your church is thinking about running a capital campaign or another type of fundraiser. You want people to make a faith-based pledge, but is that pledge going to result in your church taking on debt? If so, you need to be transparent about that, and you also need to recognize that many followers — like those who follow Ramsey’s advice — will not donate because of the debt accumulation.
“If there’s debt involved, I for sure am not going to do it in my case because I don’t believe in debt. I’m not going to finance any ministry to assist them in going into debt. That would be oxymoronic for me. I spend my whole life getting people out of debt because I don’t believe in it. Those things come into play when we make our giving decisions,” Ramsey advised the caller.
The Messaging Matters Most
Whenever Ramsey speaks about church fundraising, he acknowledges that the people behind the program are running it with goals in mind. He routinely reminds listeners not to fall victim to manipulation and to see past the messaging. He encourages people to take an objective look at their church and ask themselves if the money is going to the church or if it’s going to God’s work.
“I’ve been involved in those things where I was made to feel like I was a substandard part of the community if I didn’t give a huge portion. That’s not a God thing. That’s just a manipulation thing. I don’t play well with that.”
Ramsey left this particular caller with a challenge. He asked her to decide if she feels that she’s giving to God or to something else, and he advised her to think about every giving opportunity in this manner. So, what does this mean for your church’s fundraising efforts? If you believe in Ramsey’s ways, or if you know your congregants do, these points of view will definitely change how you approach fundraising.
Following Ramsey’s Recommendations for Fundraising
Ramsey’s recommendations regarding church fundraising should lead your church to do the following.
- Keep God front and center. Ramsey tells people to give to God, not the church. Your messaging should reflect the fact that the money is going to God’s mission and not to your people or projects.
- Avoid manipulating messaging. Far too many charities pull on the heart strings and try to manipulate people into giving. Faith-based giving should be inspired by God and it shouldn’t rely on manipulation tactics.
- Consider the debt. If your church is considering taking on debt as part of the project, think twice. Like Ramsey, many people are against supporting debt.
With these things in mind, your church may want to reconsider its approach when working on a fundraising project. If you feel lost or overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Finances are tough for every church leader to consider. That’s why DonorWerx coaches leaders like you each and every day. Do you want help getting a handle on your church’s money? DonorWerx can help. Reach out to our team and schedule a free discovery call.