Not long ago, while updating a couple of my social media accounts, one of the services prompted me to get in touch with an old friend I haven’t seen in quite a long time.
Curious, I thought I’d look him up to see where ministry had taken him. It didn’t take long to learn where he was pastoring, so I browsed over to the church website to see what they were all about.
The website looked good. I’m always happy to see that, especially with small churches.
Then, I clicked on their About Us section and, well…I was kinda…I don’t know, shocked?
I mean, I’d never considered that a church would solicit corporate sponsorship as a means to generate revenue, let alone post an info page and proposal on their church website.
So, yeah, I guess it threw me for a loop!
Does it matter where the money comes from?
I was all set to write a post that included this idea along with a list of others that I thought were poor content ideas for church websites. I made some notes, created a rough a outline, and filed it away in my “Ideas” folder.
Then today, while researching a completely different topic, a Google search led me to SmartChurch.com.
As I was scrolling down the page, reading the article I’d found, another title in the sidebar caught my eye: How Your Church Website Is Breaking The Law.
The author, Raul Rivera, invites readers to ponder the question:
If the IRS were to review my (church) website, will it be 100% compliant?
Then, he takes a quick look at three areas where church websites may be in dutch:
- What your church is selling online
- The pastor’s blog
- Selling ads versus corporate sponsorship
Yeah. After blinking a few times, I had to read that last one again, too.
According to Mr. Rivera,
Many churches these days raise extra revenue by selling ads in their church bulletin, on their website, and in other materials. Any paid promotion of a private business is classified as advertising and an unrelated business activity. The good news is that the IRS has created a safe harbor for churches to raise advertising revenues by selling ads known as corporate sponsorships. There is a legal difference between selling ads and selling corporate sponsorships. The IRS allows tax-free corporate sponsorships so long as they meet certain criteria such as publishing their logo, or slogan, website address and their telephone number, and as long as they do not contain qualitative or comparative descriptions of the sponsors’ products or services. What you must not do is publish the sponsors’ prices, or other wording that promotes savings, value or endorsement.
Now, this article was written back in 2012, so I don’t know if the IRS has changed any of the rules.
Still, I had no idea.
When is corporate sponsorship appropriate?
I had a sense that there was more to this topic, so I did a little digging, and found this article by Kristina Krill on Church Marketing Sucks.
I’m sure there are many more voices discussing this topic around the blogosphere. But this is such a new idea to me, I just had to ask you guys…
Should churches solicit corporate sponsorships?
Is soliciting corporate sponsorships an appropriate activity for churches under any circumstances?
Can receiving corporate sponsorship cloud your church’s message?
Does it encourage consumerism?
What steps can be taken to keep that from happening?
Does the Bible contain similar examples we can study and consider?
Would your church consider soliciting corporate sponsorships?
Under what conditions?
Is adding a corporate sponsorship page a good church website idea?
Should churches use their main website to solicit corporate sponsorships?
If a church wanted to solicit sponsorships for an event, would they do well to create a separate event website?
If adding a corporate sponsorship page is a good church website idea, where should it be placed in the architecture?
So, corporate sponsorship pages a good church website idea: right or wrong? What’s appropriate? What isn’t? What matters most?