The following post was written by World Changers team member Lauryn Lane. Lauryn has an affinity for England, coffee and history.
Fundraising in the church has shifted. Busy lifestyles and hectic family schedules have made large-scale, labor-intensive fundraisers for your student trips no longer feasible. The good news is that, by utilizing technology and new resources available, groups have more freedom for a creative approach. Below are several issues to consider as well as a few creative fundraisers.
Issues to consider
The most successful fundraisers involve the whole church, not only because they raise the most financial support and distribute the workload, but because they raise the most awareness of your trip. Giving volunteers ownership in the planning process fosters a sense of buy-in to the goal. And remember, you’re raising a generation that you hope will actively participate in the church body at any age and with any age. As students realize they have the support of other generations in the church, they will learn to return the support throughout the year.
Make prayer support a primary focus of your fundraising goal. It is easy to look at the financial burden of a trip as the only problem you’re addressing, but remember that a trip will only happen with prayer support. Don’t let money overshadow the mission, but instead keep information about the trip, the culture, and the people you’re serving at the forefront of fundraising communication.
Know your audience. What works for one church might not necessarily bring the best results for another. Consider if your church is small vs. large, young in membership vs. aging, urban vs. rural, or new vs. established. Cater to the needs and interests of your church members or community. An aging church membership would benefit from a yard-service-for-hire campaign, while a church with young families might better appreciate childcare. Church plants will want to consider hosting an event at the local park or coffee shop, while an established church will have the facility and kitchen space to bring the community in. And for a small church, with few volunteers or donated resources, a massive church-wide rummage sale is not likely to bring a high yield for the effort required.
Utilize resources within your church. Do you have church members who own or work for local businesses that might be willing to exchange resources or event space for free publicity? Is there a chef, a computer teacher or a sports coach willing to donate time to a weekend class benefiting your group? What about businessmen and women with unused frequent flyer points they could donate for auction? Always look first for natural resources available and be creative in partnership.
Don’t overstretch your volunteers. When choosing fundraising events, make a realistic plan for how much time and energy each individual will be putting into the event and communicate it clearly. If you’re in a large church with active lay-leadership, have fun and go big! But if you are somewhat limited in the help you’ll receive, recognize that you might need to downsize or simplify to fit your context.
Ideas and resources
- Take a creative spin on a Car Wash, hosting during an existing church event (like weeknight Bible study). Have adult volunteers “valet” at the church entrance and drive cars to the back of the parking lot where students are ready wash them. Car owners pay when they pick up their clean vehicle in the parking lot after Bible study.
- Have your students who are in drill team or cheerleading host one-day dance or cheer camps for children in your church. This also works for athletes leading sports camps.
- Have students offer Christmas light decoration or removal, for hire by the hour.
- People love competition, so host a trivia night, bingo night, corn hole tournament or even a cardboard regatta. Charge an admission fee, have a student DJ, and offer a donated grand prize.
- Fundraising websites like GoFundMe.com and YouCaring.com are especially popular now and trusted sites are safe to use. Just be aware that online sites will keep a small percentage of what you raise.
- Phoenix Community Coffee fundraising doesn’t cost you anything and there is no obligation to sell a minimum. http://new.phoenixcommunitycoffee.com/coffee-fundraising/ (Plus, your donors get a great bag of coffee!)
- As a fellowship, have students play the game “Bigger and Better” in the community, then host a silent auction to sell the collected treasures.
- Host a fair-trade or craft sale night and advertise around the community. Not only does this involve all generations in the church, it brings community members through your church doors.
- Sell pies and desserts for the holidays (Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, Easter). You can even bake the goods as a group in the church kitchen for a multi generational time of fellowship and mentorship.
- Host cooking classes in the church kitchen or a member’s home. Admission includes dinner and can be themed (holiday, ethnic, gluten free) based on the teacher’s talent and background. Involve students as servers and cooking assistants.
- Advertise Youth for Hire for odd jobs like babysitting, lawn work, window cleaning, gutter cleaning, filing, painting and dog walking. Church members can even hire help for others in the congregation who wouldn’t be able to pay. (Word of caution: always have an adult act as “coordinator” for the assignments and never leave a student unattended in a person’s home.)
- Drive a Christmas lights tour bus (or church van). Pack hot chocolate and a Christmas playlist to help set the mood. As a ministry outreach, you could also offer free rides to home-bound church members.
- Offer photo-scanning service. This is especially good for older church members who don’t have access to scanners, but would like to preserve precious memories.
Do you have a creative fundraising idea? Post a comment to share with other ministries.