How do religious communities raise money

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monks fudge
Monks make fudge to raise money
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How do religious communities raise money is an interesting business question

Religious communities where monks or nuns reside are self-supporting and self-sufficient. To raise money for their various daily needs, these communities participate in various undertakings, such as making and selling premium fudge or “monk grown” coffee. Some of the members of the community are artists or writers and they sell their creations.

Even though monks take a vow of poverty and eschew worldly goods they still need to maintain the monastery. The monks must pay for their health-care costs so this is something that has to be taken into consideration.

The monks follow a philosophy of “pray and work” or, in Latin, ora et labora. The monastery inhabitants are no more immune to the bad economy than the rest of the world. They have to struggle to make ends meet.

Those living in a religious community must be creative and think up profitable ways to make a living so they can continue their self-sufficiency.

Some monks run gift shops (bricks and mortar and online) as well as grow plants, vegetables, create works of art, write books, give speaking engagements. Many monasteries bake and sell their products, including fudge and fruit cake and cheese. Monks sometimes raise livestock, including dairy cows, chickens, rabbits, emus and ostriches.

One obstacle that members of a religious community face, particularly if they are cloistered, is how to market their wares. The monks may not be familiar with computers and the Internet but they’ve had to become so in order to promote their products online.

One area that some religious communities have ventured into is tourism. By creating a visitors’ center and gathering space on their grounds they can generate income.

Some religious communities have taken to selling face cream online, which isn’t as odd as it may sound. Nuns and monks have long made and sold health care products.

Monks also brew beer, which is of high quality. According to history, the monks nourished themselves through the 46 day Lent season in Germany by drinking a type of beer called doppelbock during the 17th century. The beer was filled with vitamins, calories and carbohydrates and was considered unfiltered liquid bread.

Monks wanted a nutritional and good tasting beverage to go along with their meals that are frugal and also during those times when they deliberately went without eating, which is called “afflicting the soul.” Drinking a beverage is not considered food so the monks could drink even when they couldn’t eat.

Legend has it that in some monasteries monks were allowed to drink five liters of beer per day. This is where the expression “He drinks like a Templar” comes from. The monasteries eventually began marketing their brew and became topnotch brewmeisters. This was considered a much respected trade.

Breweries and distilleries were the water treatment plants of days gone by. Many people succumbed to water-borne pathogens; however, the germs couldn’t survive the alcohol so this was a way of producing something safe for people to drink.

Trappist monasteries produce Trappist beer. The logo on Trappist beer shows that there has been compliance with the rules of the International Trappist Association. The rules include that the beer must be brewed within the abbey and by or under the control of the monks. The brewery, the commercial orientations and the methods of brewing depend on the particular monastic community in questions and the purpose of brewing beers has to be directed toward assistance and not toward financial profit.

Monastery brew houses have been in existence throughout Europe since the Middle Ages. The beer is sold to help raise money for the religious community.

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