Review: Monks’ Bread Fundraiser for Our Church

In a values-based organization like a church, your fundraisers should do more than bring in money! They should teach your values.

This is why last year, I chose to partner with Monks’ Bread for a fundraiser to pay for rolling shelves for our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level 1 atrium.

We bought this:

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To pay for these rolling shelves and carts:

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Here are some tips and lessons for meeting the “triple bottom line” with your Monks’ Bread fundraiser:

  1. People: Engage your community (in prayer!)
  2. Profit: Inspire generosity to meet your fundraising goals
  3. Planet: Use an ethical fundraising source

1. ENGAGE YOUR COMMUNITY IN PRAYER

One of the great reasons to buy from a monastery (or convent, hermitage, or abbeys) is that you are supporting a community committed to daily contemplative prayer.

But you don’t reap the rewards of prayer only by asking someone else to pray for you! Let it be a learning experience for your community as well.

This first year, I kicked off our fundraiser by:

  • Speaking at Mass about the fundraiser and its benefits for the kids,
  • Providing info in the bulletin about Monks’ Bread, and
  • Staying after Mass with samples for folks to try, since many had never tasted Monks’ Bread products before.

This coming year, I want to add videos and prayer to a more fleshed-out kick-off event, to turn it into a fuller learning experience. I also want to invite members of the greater community to attend (our village neighbors, and other Catholic parishes):

Instead of paying for shipping, I had a last-minute chance to fill a space on a silent retreat to the Abbey of the Genessee, and drove back the three hours with my heart full of song and my trunk full of boxes.

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Multiple folks asked me if they could come with me on retreat next year.

Our fundraiser is evolving into a pilgrimage!

Even sitting in the chapel for a half hour of prayer, doing no more than listening, can be a transformative and healing experience. As a calligrapher, I also spent my time between the scheduled prayers to copy letters out of the beautiful Abbey Psalter and make my own Bible bookmarks.

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2. INSPIRE GENEROSITY TO MEET YOUR FUNDRAISING GOALS

Our Financial Goal: Raise $750 for rolling shelves and carts for our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level 1 atrium.

Our setting is a small town Catholic church in Northeast Ohio. With only about 200 in attendance per weekend (which makes our sanctuary feel full), I didn’t depend on selling Monks’ Bread alone to make the full amount.

I distributed lots of PAPER to make this happen:

  • Kick off: Monks’ Bread order forms (in the bulletin one weekend, in the back of church, at the parish office, and our CCD/CGS/Sunday School program).
  • Towards the end: Items left on our IKEA registry to meet our goals. We also let folks just donate cash, which brought in the last $100.
  • Afterwards: Handwritten thank you cards, with help from our preschoolers and teen helpers.

Details on the finances: The Monks’ Bread fundraisers requires a minimum $200 of product at wholesale price, then you set your “retail mark up” (I used the prices on their website, about 40-50% for your org). You may have to add shipping on top of that.

I also set up an IKEA registry for the products in case someone wanted to purchase a product directly. I would not recommend this option, nor use IKEA registry again. The IKEA shelves are just what we wanted at a reasonable cost, BUT the registry itself was awful! The online ordering didn’t work, customer service literally hung up many, many times… no, thanks.

I would recommend creating a specific shopping list, and letting people choose which product they want their donation to buy.

This brought in about a third of our fundraising goal.

We also needed to set up a parish system for the Collection Counters and office staff to get me the order forms and final count of funds. I put a basket in the parish office for this purpose. One order form got lost, but we got the check listed as a donation.

I ended up sorting all the Monks’ Bread orders myself right before Mass, after driving 3 hours and having got up for prayer before dawn. A couple people got the wrong flavor of jam and had to switch. Next year I will make sure I am not the only one counting. We need quality control!

But…we met & exceeded our goals!

Fellow parishioner Phyllis came with me for a fun IKEA and ice cream day trip:

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When I finally went in person to IKEA to use the funds we had collected, there was only one register open with a line of about a dozen people. Basically, my impression was IKEA is profit through efficiency, without the people/labor to back it up. Not a value we share!

3. PLANET: USE A ETHICAL FUNDRAISING SOURCE

I don’t believe efficiency is evil. Organizations like IKEA and ALDI use efficiency to keep their prices low, and also avoid a lot of harmful waste in the environment. That’s a good thing!

The problem is when you lose the humanity in the process.

Wholesale purchasing as a fundraiser allows you to support living wages, faith-based communities, or artisan crafters to get them a family-supporting source of income, and gets you the funds you need for your congregation.

In addition to Monks’ Bread, you can try wholesale purchasing from a wide variety of abbeys, convents, monasteries, and hermitages. Monastery Greetings is a great place to find religious communities in the United States and Canada that offer high quality products. Some also may partner with you as a fundraiser.

Monks’ Bread was the best choice for us because they have an existing fundraising/wholesale program. They have delicious consumable products backed up with a really amazing staff who will respond to all your emails and phone calls. All while the monks raise you up in prayer!

We had such a good experience with Monks’ Bread that they reached out personally to ask me to write a review.

To stay honest, that is a perfect partnership for us because we can drive to take retreat there, and the bread was really fresh when distributed at Mass the next day after pick up! Due to your location, shipping might be prohibitive. Many miles mean more fuel as well as cost. Maybe you have a community closer to you where you could schedule a retreat while picking up your products. All of these are factors when choosing your fundraising source.

So I want to give you Monastery Greetings as well, to offer a list of potential religious communities that can help you meet all three of these goals: 1) People in Prayer, 2) Profit for your Congregation, and 3) Planet.

Would love to hear your stories with Monks’ Bread or other values-based fundraisers in the comments!

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