“Where two or three are gathered in my name…” there will probably be food.

Cooking. Potluck dinners. Sharing. These are all basic elements of church community. They work together to bond, to nurture, and to instill a spirit of fun.

They can also help move your church forward with fundraising!

For every great pot luck dish sitting on the table, there’s a recipe (often an old family recipe) that can be shared. And every one of those recipes can be used for fundraising. Church cookbooks have been used for decades (if not longer) for sharing and fundraising in church groups. But the days of mimeo printing have gone. So how do we use recipes and cookbooks for fundraising in the digital age? We’ve got you covered in some basic steps below.

For all aspects of this project we’ll be using the Plus Plan version of GiveWP.com.

Crowdsourcing a Cookbook

The first step is to collect recipes. For this, create a donation form using GiveWP with the Form Field Manager add-on. (You’ll need this to upload photos and create form fields to input the recipes.)

The idea behind this form is to encourage church members to contribute intentionally, and with the knowledge that the project is a fundraiser at every step. You will receive a nominal donation for each recipe submitted and collect all the information necessary for each recipe entry at the same time.

  • Create a Donation Form: Contribute to Our Church Cookbook. (Make sure you’re connected to a payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe.)
  • Set up your form for just one donation amount to contribute. ($10 is a great level for this.)
  • Using the Form Field Manager, add the following fields:
    • Recipe Title
    • Recipe Type (entrée, dessert, side, casserole, etc.)
    • Number Served
    • Prep and Cook Times
    • Ingredients
    • Directions/Steps
    • Recipe History (i.e. is it a family recipe? something you whipped up and your family loves?)
    • Enable file upload and encourage each entry to include a photo of the completed dish
    • Ask for a short bio for each church “chef”
  • Consider adding the Fee Recovery add-on to encourage your contributors to cover your credit card or PayPal transaction fees.
  • Change the “donate now” button text to “Send Your Recipe.”

Determine the deadline by which to submit recipes, and share the form and deadline throughout your congregation in your newsletter, from the pulpit, and in your social media and any online groups. Ask specific members to contribute your favorite recipes that they’ve made before. Make sure everyone feels welcomed and included and wanted.

Coordinate the Cookbook

Choose how you will create the cookbook. Many organizations simply use a document generator (Word, Google Docs, etc.) and create a page for each entry. Others make recipe card stacks that can go in a recipe file box. Others make a new website (or subsite) to organize the recipes. Whether you go with a pdf, printed copy, or online recipe collection, make sure it looks amazing, gives credit to each chef, and follows the same basic pattern. Organize your recipes by category, then alphabetically within each category either by recipe name or chef’s name. Have fun with it!

Sell the Cookbook

Set up a new donation form to sell the cookbook. This time anyone who donates will receive your completed cookbook, so the form will be much shorter. Here are the steps:

  • Create a form with an interesting title like “Cooking with Our Church Cookbook”
  • Set up your form for just one donation amount to buy the book. ($20 is a great level for this.)
  • Consider adding the Fee Recovery add-on to encourage your contributors to cover your credit card or PayPal transaction fees.
  • Change the “donate now” button text to “Get the Cookbook.”
  • Use the free “Donation Receipts Attachments for GiveWP” add-on, if you’d like to send the pdf version of the cookbook with their paid receipt.
  • Add a link to the email receipt if you’d like them to download the pdf from your site.
  • Add a link to the email receipt if you’re pointing them to an online, interactive cookbook.

Every time someone donates to purchase a cookbook, they will either receive a digital copy or be directed to where they can download a copy!

Why Fundraise Like This?

Crowdsourcing a cookbook works a lot like a potluck dinner. Everyone has an opportunity to participate and share. Others are encouraged to try new things. It’s a group collaborative that can be fun and educational all at the same time!

Additional Ideas

  • At the next potluck, have people sign up to bring someone else’s recipe.
  • Hold in-person or virtual cooking classes to learn to make some of the recipes.
  • Sell the cookbook outside of your church arena to other groups in the area.
  • Encourage people to submit multiple recipes.
  • At every potluck, have one or two contributors talk about their recipe and why it’s important to them.