Guest blogger Corinne Berkseth and members of her church, Good Shepherd Lutheran in Alexandria, Virginia, raised over $33,000 between December 2005 and April 2006 to rebuild a home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. With four other Good Shepherd “rebuilders,” Corinne recently joined volunteers rebuilding homes in the low-income area of East Biloxi, Mississippi and hopes their story will inspire others to help. Here are their tips for getting started with raising money or giving time.
When my church, Good Shepherd Lutheran, decided to raise the $25,000 needed to rebuild a home in East Biloxi, we did it to help one, specific family. But in the process, we became part of a broader effort to rebuild the community of East Biloxi. It has been, and continues to be, an amazing experience. Sound like something you or your organization would like to be a part of? If so, consider traveling to Biloxi to provide hands-on construction help, making an individual donation, or organizing an effort to raise $25,000 and sponsor the rebuilding of a home. You will rebuild much more than you can imagine. You will bless a family, a community and yourselves even more!
How to Raise Funds
Think raising $25,000 sounds like a daunting task? We did it, and YOU can, too! Maybe these ideas will kick off your own campaign.
• At Good Shepherd, we formed a committee of about 10 people and coined our house sponsorship effort Rebuild, Renew, Rejoice! We developed a logo and used it with the theme consistently to brand the effort.
• We kicked off our outreach in mid-December with a letter to congregation members and kept them abreast of progress (including heartfelt thank yous!) with announcements in the church bulletin and at services and through a follow-up letter. Individual member donations were a BIG part of our success.
• We encouraged people to be creative in supporting the effort—one member raised $525 (and a $500 company match) through a “pay to wear jeans to work” day at her office. Another asked for donations to Rebuild, Renew, Rejoice! in lieu of birthday gifts.
• The free will offering at a popular church event benefited Rebuild, Renew, Rejoice! and kids in a member’s neighborhood raised $130 by holding a car wash.
• We partnered with Crusader Lutheran in Rockville, Maryland, where we presented the effort during a Lenten dinner program. They collected donations over a couple of weeks and added nearly $500.
• We applied for matching funding through Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
• Our Sunday School leaders got the children involved and helped them learn about the rebuilding efforts by “building” banks. Their bank collections were then contributed to Rebuild, Renew, Rejoice!
• We held a very successful community silent auction in Old Town on April 1. It was a big effort, but well worth it!
• Although we did not know whose home we would rebuild until the very end of our campaign, we kept the focus on providing concrete help to one specific family. We also contrasted the time that had passed with the need that is still so great on the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans.
The response and generosity of our congregation and our community was more than we could have imagined. We surpassed our goal, raising over $33,000 by our target date of Easter Sunday. These activities worked for us but are just the beginning.
What will you do?