Atheist Fundraising

As I’ve mentioned before, my club is trying to put on a conference in my city. As such, we need funding. We have a couple fundraising ideas: Send an Atheist to Church (people get to vote on which church, or other religious institution, an atheist or group of atheists will attend by donating money into said churches pile) and Stone an Atheist (people get to pay to throw water balloons at atheists). However, we don’t know what kind of reception these events will get, and we want to have other ideas just in case they don’t garner the success that we need.

For the atheists/agnostics/freethinkers out there, what kind of fundraising events have you tried and what have you found to be successful/unsuccessful?

For the religious people out there, how would you react to those two above events? What type of events would you be willing to participate in if you knew that it was run by a freethinker organization? What kind of events would you be willing to put on with the help of a freethinker organization.

At my university, we have a number of religious clubs, but none of them seem to be willing to collaborate with us. We have tried to put on events with them in the past, but they usually just reply with a “we’re not interested in that kind of event” or “we’ll pray for you.” We are looking for ways to encourage them to see a collaboration as worth while. We’d normally just try to get debates going with them, but I think we need to build up more of a relationship before that will happen, so I think a fundraising event where both parties benefit my be the best way to start. They can also be less “us vs. them,” which may be helpful.


24 responses to “Atheist Fundraising

  • pyjamaslug

    stirred up a bit of a wasp’s nest, didn’t you?
    My favourite is:
    They teach that God needs man. Essentially man is evolving to be gods- which exactly the same thing that Secular Humanists teach.

    To which my considered reply is; BOLLOCKS!
    (I’m pleased I got that out of the way)

    Getting people to join you in shared projects means identifying shared objectives. Do that, and you are 90% of the way there. There are some groups that will never share because of deeply held convictions (abhorrent though they may well be) but you should be able to find some common ground with some groups.
    If your objective is social justice, then make that the starting point and focus of your approach and also consider joining others in their efforts to that end. Which is more important? Social justice or that you lead the charge?


  • Arkenaten

    Smile … It seems you have touched a raw nerve using the term ”Freethinker”, and those of a religious bent do have point.

    Maybe the title should be changed to Criticalthinker.
    Now this would quickly separate the wheat from the chaff as those of a religious bent are not known to critical thinkers. Faith first, and all that nonsense.

    Those that demonstrate critical thinking skills pretty soon become non- religious and eventually atheist.

    I must be honest, I am baffled why you would want to initiate a fundraiser involving the religious?
    Unless, of course , your aim was to try to create Critical Thinkers out of them? 🙂


  • verrucavulgaris

    Equating Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers into one group while lumping all Christians into another is a bit simplistic and… ignorant. Culturally insensitive. Asserting that no one who is Christian can simultaneously a Freethinker seems elitist and… bigoted. I’m not offended. Just presenting a different perspective.

    One point… C.S. Lewis was Anglican. His writings are mostly Reformed Theologically, which means he believe primarily in God’s Sovereignty and Election- or predestination. Southern Baptists are Arminian and believe primarily in Free Will- man chooses God, not God chooses man. The modern Theologically Liberal groups such as the Church Growth Movement and Redemption Hermeneutics and Prosperity Gospel all are Hegelian and believe essentially in Darwinian Social Evolution that they call a trajectory. Essentially, it’s Hegelian dialectics with a patina of religiosity. But the bottom line- God is Sovereign is not how they see things. They teach that God needs man. Essentially man is evolving to be gods- which exactly the same thing that Secular Humanists teach.

    So… many modern church-goers who attend churches that follow liberal theology and place philosophers such as Dallas Willard above the Bible- who do not hold to Scriptural Inerrancy… well… the kindest thing I can say about them is that they are confused. If someone claiming to be a Christian does not believe that Scripture is Inerrant and don’t believe that God is Sovereign… then how can they believe that God had the power to save them? And if they don’t embrace Salvation… then they are nothing more than a fundamentally flawed philosophy that places a bunch of man-made rules on others needlessly restricting our desire. However, if God exists… and if he is everything he claims to be… THAT’S a different story. But some wimpy god… cannot really be God now, can he/she/it….

    I realize you are trying to be witty, but is mocking people for differences really ever anything other than bigotry? And… if you are doing it to make yourself feel better about your choices… feel superior…. Well…. You’re bright enough to chase that line of logic to its conclusion, now aren’t you…?

    Regarding fund-raising: a dunk tank is ALWAYS a good one. Dunk the Atheist should be a great hook, if you are light-hearted about it.

    Smashing up a junk vehicle if you can get one donated is also fun.

    Selling the members as slaves may make an impression. You have to set strict guidelines on what they are required to do. Also make sure that the times involved are regulated. Wouldn’t want one working for less than minimum hourly wage now, would we…?

    And there is always the raffle.

    Best of luck to you in your endeavor.


    • hessianwithteeth

      At what point did I say that all atheists/agnostics/freethinkers are the same? And when did I say that Christians can’t be freethinkers? I’m talking about groups at a university. What I’m listing is how the groups are generally broken up. There is the freethinkers group, which is 90% atheist/agnostic. Then there are the various religious groups, most of which are some denomination of Christian. At no point did I say these divides are necessary.
      Any nothing about my fundraising ideas are about mocking. They are about getting groups that normally don’t work together to work together. And they about getting people to realize that the non-religious aren’t inherently bad. I don’t get why anybody would think that sending an atheist to church is mocking. It’s challenging a deeply held cultural belief. And stone an atheist is a criticism of certain problematic practices in the Middle East. It’s activism, not mockery.
      As for some of your ideas, they depend on us already having funds, or having backers for things. We don’t have either, so we need to do things on the cheap.


      • verrucavulgaris

        You would benefit from a bit more thorough understanding of History, it seems. Historically, the Freethinkers were a group of English Intellectuals whose main idea seemed to be the unbridled pursuit of lust without the constraints of church or marriage… which was scandalous in Victorian England which covered the legs of tables. Bertrand Russell’s father was a Freethinker.

        Suggesting that people “reenact” historical scenes demonstrating the infamy of their predecessors is seen by the group being ridiculed or outed or however you wish to describe the action as mocking. The issue in society currently is merely who gets to apply their label and control the narrative. Blacks killed by Whites in authority is a hot topic. Blacks killed by Blacks or Whites killed by Blacks… even when the attacks are racially motivated… are dismissed. Such obvious hypocrisy is self-defeating if the end goal is actually equality and non-negotiable mutual respect. Of course, if one is simply following Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals… then being deceptive or even outright unethical or immoral is completely OK, because the object is winning power over the opposition so that one group can oppress their political opponents. That’s what is happening right now, but the harsh reality is being spun. If you haven’t read Alinsky and Marx Communist Manifesto, you should.

        Christians stoning atheists were not the only things happening in historically or currently in the Middle East. If you read the Acts of the Apostles, you will discover that Paul held the cloaks of the Jewish Zealots who stoned Stephen while the Jews and Romans were engaged in genocide to suppress and eliminate the newly emerging religion called Christianity. Most Romans were pagans. The Imperial Cult which worshiped the Emperor as the ultimate god- the pontifex superanus- arose with Caesar not long after he crossed the Rubicon. His adopted son and heir was Caesar Augustus, who called the world to go to their hometowns to be taxed… which was why Jesus was born in a stable. So… the two events- the establishment of the Roman Empire and the birth of Christianity are temporally related. Of course, although most of the Romans were pagans, and the oppression of Christians was initially orchestrated by Jews, other religions existed in Rome. The Epicurians and Hedonists… and even many Stoics… were essentially atheists. The current Satanic religious groups can be traced back to some of the Mystery Religions, many of which were Fertility Rites that consisted of drunken orgies. Maybe you can see the tie-in to Nietzsche… and Freud… and the Freethinkers…?

        Think about your cultural sensitivities. Realize that Christians also have feelings. So do Jews. So does everyone else. Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Liberal Progressive Elitist who populated and controlled the faculties of many university campuses used oppression of Jews as one of their strongest arguments for Universal Suffrage. However, recently, Jews are now being attacked by the same groups and called Baby-killers, and other names that were used to attack advocates for Abortion Rights and Pro-Choice and Women’s Rights, etc. Currently many groups appear to be Radicalized Fundamentalist with very narrowly defined and closed minds about their particular area of interest. If you read Alinsky- you will see that is precisely how he suggests the Conservative Power Structure be attacked. But remember- Alinsky freely admits that the goal is NOT equality nor is the goal to make the world a better place: the goal is simply to seize power for a different group, who will inevitably be corrupt and commit the same excesses as the group they are seeking to replace….

        Another thing to consider- Christians and other non-Muslim religions- are currently being attacked, forced to convert, raped, tortured and slaughtered in the most heinous and cruel fashions as we speak in order to oppress and suppress their right to practice their religion- in regions of the world where various faiths have lived in relative harmony for CENTURIES!!! The world… and even college campuses… have become hotbeds for Fundamentalist Radicalization leading to extremism. That goes for ALL religions including Atheism and Secular Humanism. Of course… one of the hallmarks of most Radical Fundamentalist is that they lack the insight to see their delusion. They consistently see any who oppose them as the deluded, confused, SCARY group… while they go blithely about their business of fear-mongering and intentionally mischaracterizing their opponents. Alexandra Pelosi’s political hit-piece on Maher attacking the belief and politics of Mississippi is a PRIME example. Most Liberal Progressives see that pathetic piece of rampant bigotry not even as sick humor, but as truth. If anyone other than Christians and Conservatives and Southerners- particularly Mississippian- had been so ridiculed, the media would have been in an uproar demonstrating and demanding that Justice Department investigate. If you are honest with yourself… and you are seeking equality and social justice… not simply jumping on the “payback” bandwagon… you will certainly see that.

        Many Christians- I would say even most Christians who consider themselves conservative such as myself- are VERY thin-skinned. A lot will be reflexively offended by anything they perceive as even a veiled attack on their religious beliefs… or what you and I both know can best be described as pompous religiosity! I am certainly not opposed to exposing the Emperor’s Wardrobe Dysfunction, but to be successful, you need flair and finesse. It HAS to be riotously funny. Then irreverence is OK.

        However, you also seem to be attempting to create an opportunity for education and cultural interchange. If that is indeed the case, you should be even-handed and attack ALL sides with equal vigor. Note whom I have ridiculed in my narratives.

        I would suggest red tempera paint if you are going with the water balloon idea. Come up with a catchy slogan. Get some SCA or other other period costumes. Stone a “Drag Queen” in full regalia. Make it a faire. But realize that when you try to be even-handed… you will likely be attacked from those on the left who want you to attack the right much more vigorously and vehemently than by any Christian who is offended. Most Christians won’t stand up for their beliefs.

        Good luck with your fundraising efforts. I appreciate your thoughtful response.


        • hessianwithteeth

          Withteeth here,

          I popped in and read the comments here in Hessian’s post and your post stands out.

          Let’s do this in a blow by blow fashion.

          “You would benefit from a bit more thorough understanding of History, it seems.”

          Now I’m sure we could all use a more through view into history, maybe some sort of time window would help, however I would say you be helped by having a more full view of the history of the term freethinker as well. You seem to have a very limited and oddly sex based view of Freethinker as a whole. Like certainly they did not agree with the church particularly in a literal read of the bible. But by out standards most freethinker of the time where still very conservative, and many where still Christian, other where deist.

          People are still being stoned for their beliefs, most of those are happening in the middle east, but it isn’t something from the distant past, as well your falsely assuming that Hessian is only talking about Christianity, yes at our university most of the religious club are Christian, but not all, or best relationship seem to be with one of the Muslim clubs. I have my theories why, but I’m not sure why.

          “Most Romans were pagans. The Imperial Cult which worshiped the Emperor as the ultimate god” uh I’m not a historian, but I do know some Classicists (those lovely people who study the classics and the cultures of ancient Rome and Greece) They though the emperors would ascend to join the gods after death, or were god like in political power. However, while some emperors thought they were God’s and Augustus Cesar tried to become a living God, the people did not think that overall.

          Also I don’t accept bible stories are accurate historical accounts.

          “The current Satanic religious groups can be traced back to some of the Mystery Religions, many of which were Fertility Rites that consisted of drunken orgies.” Which one’s followed which religion, and I doubt they’re mysteries. There tons of fertility gods, and historically there has been many (popular and mainstream) religions of those times which had large drunken orgies, though this does not link back to freethinkers, or just looking for loose associations, that’s not a good way of finding solid connections.

          “Maybe you can see the tie-in to Nietzsche… and Freud… and the Freethinkers…?” In relation to what you just said? No and I don’t see how it’s relevant. Again these loose associations’ are not proof, if you have something a bit more conclusive then, if I were you, I’d just use those, then these weak associations.

          “not so long ago, the Liberal Progressive Elitist who populated and controlled the faculties of many university campuses used oppression of Jews as one of their strongest arguments for Universal Suffrage. However, recently, Jews are now being attacked by the same groups and called Baby-killers, etc. Currently many groups appear to be Radicalized Fundamentalist with very narrowly defined and closed minds about their particular area of interest.”

          What? Who? When? What?!? You’re not speaking meaningful sentences this string assertions naming non-existent group and movement (at least by that name)

          This does not convince me to read this Alinsky, though if fairness I’ll briefly look the person up. Okay well he seems interesting if I have a chance I’ll see what he has to say, but you haven’t done a good job explaining any of your prior positions, let alone back them up.

          “Another thing to consider- Christians and other non-Muslim religions – are currently being attacked, forced to convert, raped, tortured and slaughtered in the most heinous and cruel fashions as we speak in order to oppress and suppress their right to practice their religion- in regions of the world where various faiths have lived in relative harmony for CENTURIES!!!”

          Uh… /Sarcasm/ Because Muslims haven’t been and are not attacked and force to convert elsewhere and at different times. /EndSarcasm/

          Ya the middle east have see great times of peace and you know the crusades and millennia of tribal warfare. Ya, I don’t see your point, but I do think I’m seeing a Christian persecution complex spiced with some Islamophobia. To be fair there are quite a few fundamentalist Islamic group in the middle east doing awful things at the moment. Though this is not the majority of Muslims. The point I’m trying to make is that historically speaking. Basically every other religion and even culture has done similar things at one time or place.

          ” Stone a “Drag Queen” in full regalia.”

          Seriously? Now I’m guessing you find drag queens just hilarious, fine whatever, but I’m not going to appropriate, make fun of, and dismiss a group of people without at least one Drag Queen’s explicit consent and desire to participate. Especially when Drag queens are still actively discriminated against (to a far higher degree than atheists), and when the fund raiser in question would not go directly into funding even general LGBT events. Yuck.


          Liked by 1 person

  • sacredstruggler

    I agree with caelesti. To build a relationship first, serving together may be your only shot. As far as a fundraiser in tandem with service, you could do a serve-a-thon. People could sponsor you on how many parks you clean, hours you spend working, people you serve food to etc.
    The fundraisers you mention would seem condescending and mocking to serious Christians… I think they’re funny, but the ideas behind them are very, as you said, us vs. them.
    Also, why are you only seeking funds for your conference from Christians? I’m not sure I understand that. If you broadened the people you’re trying to attract you could normal stuff to raise the money.
    Good luck trying to dialogue. Liberal Christians might be up for it, but honestly it’s going to probably end up a conversion fest with no dialogue just arguing. You could also try to do a remake of family fued but for each other’s beliefs like in the movie “Lord, Save us from Your Followers” that went really well to create a dialogue. Anyways, I digress.


    • hessianwithteeth

      We’re not seeking funds from them. We’re looking to work with them to raise funds. They’d get some of the money too. The reason we want to work with them is because that is what would bring in the crowds. We want people interested in what we do. Regular fundraising isn’t very effective for us. We’ve tried book and bake sales. The amount we brought in was helpful, but not worth the time and effort put into them.
      A Serve-a-thon might be a good idea. It fits perfectly with the social justice theme of our conference. The family fued idea might be good too.


  • caelesti

    I responded to that in the wrong way. I meant instead of fundraising directly for the atheist club, fundraising or volunteering for other causes. For the atheist club itself, you need to be clear about what the goals of the club are and figure out why non-atheists would be interested in supporting them. Is it about promoting atheism, atheist visibility & acceptance? Promoting science, critical thinking, separation of church and state?
    For myself, I’m a Pagan/polytheist and Unitarian Universalist, and there are causes as I mentioned above that atheist groups promote that I’d be willing to support. But if it’s mostly promotion of atheism, I wouldn’t be interested, any more than promotion of Christianity.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that there many people who are non religious or “spiritual but not religious” and un-affiliated that don’t identify as atheist. If you didn’t use atheist as a label, and maybe tried humanist, you might have a broader appeal, and might have an easier time working with religious groups, (at least ones that are more open to interfaith stuff)

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnspenn

      Thanks for clearing that up! Also, good commentary and sound advice.


    • hessianwithteeth

      Well for one, we aren’t an atheist club. We’re freethinkers. The events would only have “atheist” in the title for appeal. And the money needs to go towards our conference, which is on social justice. If the religious clubs were willing to work with us in exchange for us volunteering somewhere (other than a religious organization) we’d be all for it. Most of us are big into volunteering and social justice any way (hense the conference theme). However, it would need to be something that would bring in funding for our club.
      Also, in Canada we don’t have the seperaion of church and state. We’re a social club, mostly. We like to discuss things in a friendly enviroment.


      • caelesti

        Thanks for the explanation- definitely sounds like a worthy goal. Ah right – I knew you were Canadian but I’m just so used to talking about civil liberties in an American context that I was a bit sloppy. Heck, it’s somewhat debatable that we have separation of church & state here in the States! Anyway, if I was going to your school I’d totally join your club! Which university? I’d be happy to pass the word along, perhaps I have folks who follow my blog who are more local to you.


  • caelesti

    Maybe if you suggested service projects (soup kitchens, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, tutoring school kids, visiting prisoners) or looked to see if the religious groups are already doing such projects that you could participate in?
    (So long as the focus is mainly helping people for its own sake rather than converting people)


  • johnspenn

    What are you trying to accomplish with your conference? What’s the point behind it?

    I obviously can’t speak for most churches but I wouldn’t think that they would want to partner with you to further your goals, whatever those may be. The church was instituted by Christ and His goals are (or should be) the goals the church endeavors to promote (yes I know this is not always the case). You may find more cooperation among some of the more liberal churches.

    I would however hope that any church would welcome you and be willing to openly dialogue with you. Sadly I realize this is not always the case either.


    • hessianwithteeth

      These aren’t churches, they’re clubs on my campus. The conference is meant to be about social justice, so I’d hope it would be something that anybody could get behind.
      At my university, we get very little funding from the school. About $100, which doesn’t go very far. Some clubs, including about 90% of the religious clubs, get outside funding. This means that they can afford to put up nice signs and give away free things, and generally hold any event that they want. My club doesn’t have this opportunity, so we rely on our own fundraising abilities. It’s easier to bring in money if you have other clubs willing to help you out. That’s why we’re looking to work with the religious clubs: anything we do together is sure to draw attention. And this is as good for them as it is for us.


      • johnspenn

        “Social justice” can mean very different things for people with differing worldviews, such as Christians and “Freethinkers.” For instance, you are most likely (forgive me for assuming) pro-choice, and consider this an example of social justice, while Christians are typically pro-life, and they consider their position to be just as well. Ditto on the argument for and against SSM and a myriad of other issues.

        I understand you’re not working with churches specifically, but I imagine the clubs on your campus are funded by local churches, and their goals are most likely the same as the churches, so the same caveats would still most likely apply.


        • hessianwithteeth

          You know that Freethinker is an actual title, right? And freethinkers don’t need to be pro-choice. In fact, none of our speakers will be speaking on choice in any likelihood. LGBTQ issues are more likely. As for social justice among Christians, not all Christians hold to the same beliefs. Here in Canada, most people are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage regardless of their religion. Some of the more evangelical groups on campus may be against both, but I doubt most of the groups are against either. Heck, even our chaplains are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.


      • johnspenn

        Yes I understand Freethinker is an actual title. It does get under my skin though. It’s as if those who call themselves freethinkers (and those people seem to be atheists by and large) are saying that by comparison those who do not agree are not thinking freely but are enslaved to some system of thinking of another. Bone. Picked.

        If your views and goals are the same, I can’t see why they wouldn’t partner with you to further those views and goals.


        • hessianwithteeth

          Freethinker isn’t synonymous with atheist. People just assume it is, so non-atheists avoid the title. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really: people think that only atheists are freethinkers, so only atheists call themselves freethinkers. Definitionally speaking, a freethinker is someone who rejects accepted beliefs, namely those pertaining to religion. By that definition, anyone can be a freethinker. We just ask that the members of our group be willing to accept that their beliefs aren’t above criticism. That seems to be too much to ask of most people though.
          And that leads me to the next point. The reason why they won’t work with us is because we’re the “atheist club.” That’s why I’m trying to find ways to convince them that we’re worth working with.


  • mamta chakravorty

    Come to my part of the world. My husband and I do not emphasis on religious symbolism and so there is no big religious celebrations, fast and rituals done at home. But our poor little son gets bullied at school for not visiting temples and his mother not making sweets on religious festivals. 😦


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