In his “Monarchs and Mendicants” Dan Groat writes: “Surviving is about need. Living is about want.” A need is what we must have to thrive and without it we will suffer physically or mentally. A want is what comes from our desires, wishes, it’s our choice of something that we may or may not be able to get. And we’ll go on living even if we don’t get what we want. That’s what distinguishes between a need and a want.
Needs are common to all human beings and range from basic needs necessary for survival to social, cultural, and intellectual needs. American psychologist Abraham Maslow represents human needs as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom and “self actualization needs” at the top of the hierarchy. Basic needs include what we must have to live a safe and healthy life. These are our physical needs (air, water, food, warmth, rest, health), safety needs (shelter, security), self needs (confidence, independence, respect, education), social needs (friends, family, love, community), and self actualization needs (personal, mental, spiritual growth, self-esteem, etc.) And of course, these needs are not only essential, they are finite.
On the contrary, wants are unlimited, as they are what we desire or aspire to. They are individual and depend on people’s character, education, environment, the way they live. For example rest is a need, and it’s essential for every human being to restore energy and go on living and working. But choosing the way we rest (at home, lying on the sofa or taking a vacation to the Bahamas) depends on our want (and not only, of course). They say wants are unlimited, but resources are limited, that’s why we always look for affordable alternatives.
While wants may or may not be fulfilled or may be selective, “in the case of needs, a deficiency causes a clear adverse outcome: a dysfunction or death.” But the level of fulfillment of needs depends on the individual capabilities of a person (education, mental health, physical strength, etc.). The more capable we are, the more of our needs we can fulfill.
Needs are common not only to individuals, but also to organizations and institutions, including churches. These can include financial and technological needs, growth, professional and institutional competency, networks, etc. Of course, one of the most essential challenges for every institution is financial management.
How do churches get their money? The major source of congregational income is the contribution of individuals through their offerings, pledges, donations, dues, or bequests.
Another source is charges from weddings or funerals. Many churches save ‘money’ from voluntary labor, by employing a few people and having most of the roles unpaid. The tax exemptions are great help too. These are the traditional sources of church funds, and it’s also important to note that churches are non profits and any income they make should cover their needs.
What other sources can churches search for to raise funds rather than asking members to donate or charging for their wedding, funeral or baptism services.