Churches have become places where you go – not places where you belong. Crowdfunding is about to take us back to that time when community and neighborhoods were more important than the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
In Equity Crowdfunding: Transforming Customers into Loyal Owners, I wrote about how crowdfunding can be transformative for a community. Neighbors can rally around each other, in order to invest in deteriorating Main Street districts to ensure that they have the local businesses that they need.
But it isn’t just up to local neighborhoods to organize on their own. Religious (and other community-based groups) can sponsor and promote projects that involve their members. For example, how powerful is it for a church to have five of its local business projects supported by members of the church? The beauty of this is that it enhances the business leaders’ stature within the church community, while at the same time providing an avenue for congregants to get involved in investing at the local level. All the while, this helps increase revenue for a church that is often struggling with financial issues.
After all, churches rely on the generosity of parishioners in order to operate. So instead of simply relying on passing the plate, this is a way in which a church can actively promote the community. How? Simply by taking a small percentage of the overall community raise in the form of stock as a “tithe”. So in this approach, a church may receive, say 10% of the completed raise – but not as cash. Better yet, the church receives shares of stock in the local business. The church receives the same benefits as every other investor (and would obviously need to be fully disclosed as part of the offering).
Now you have added an extra element of persuasion; people may sponsor a local community business because they know part of the benefit is going to their own church. The beauty of the whole thing is that congregants who are now frustrated by churches that are not responsive to their day-to-day lives, all the sudden see a direct involvement by those churches. I suspect that the first group of adopters will be exactly those types of churches are already extensively involved in their community. Crowdfunding will let more people see their church as an interval part of people’s lives, not simply a place where people come to pray. But over time, there really is no better way for churches to become places that promote “belonging”. They can do it by participating in crowdfunding campaigns within their own flock.
Jonathan Frutkin is CEO of Cricca Funding, LLC. He’s the author of “Equity Crowdfunding: Transforming Customers into Loyal Owners” which is available in paperback, Kindle and audio book formats.