Fundraising. It’s a thorn in the side of every youth worker. It always seems you can never fundraise enough, and yet at the same time it seems like you never stop fundraising for something. For me, I’m always looking for the best fundraising ideas. The ones that require the least amount of work and the most profit. If you can streamline fundraising it only improves your ministry.
There seems to be a million “fundraising ideas” if you do one google search and most of them have to do with selling something. Below are some fundraising ideas collected from several youth workers over the years. These aren’t “for sure” fundraisers – nothing is – but these have been tried and tested.
Before we get to the ideas here are some tips in making any fundraiser more effective:
- Don’t draw from the same well more than twice a year. One of the biggest mistakes as youth workers is we think our current church is the only well we draw from. If you draw from the same well too many times it does two things. First, it limits the amount of money you can raise. Second, it lowers interest or excitement within the church – both are not good.
- If you can find a parent to be your “fundraising coordinator.” This might seem like a tall task but the more help you can get in this area of ministry the better. Also having a parent that oversees fundraising for you also means they can help you with recruitment since they not just represent one family but are usually connected to other families.
- Write a policy page on all things fundraising. When dealing with money it’s always a sticky situation. Having clear policies, although a hassle to write, protects you and the ministry and diminishes conflict with parents. This page should share how money is collected and stored. How the money is divided out. What happens to the money once a family doesn’t have a child in the ministry anymore (they move away or graduate). How scholarships are given out. Plus anything else you can think of.
- Create a “fundraising account” for each family. Treat it as a saving account for the family. It’s better than keeping track of the individual students. That way younger siblings can benefit from previous fundraisers. It’s a document or program that keeps track of the funds each family raises. This helps if you have multiple fundraisers a year with multiple families. So when you do an event you can have them pay in cash/check, card, or fundraising account. Then after the last child a family has graduates they either designated the funds to another student or it goes into a general scholarship account.
- Promote, promote, and promote some more. Many fundraisers fail or don’t make enough because not enough people knew about it. Create a Facebook event, use social media to your advantage, create a web page, mail personal invites, do a calling tree, create handouts, and do whatever it takes. Make sure any event you need people there promotion starts about three weeks before the event or sign up deadline!
Here is our list of 101 Fundraising ideas but if you want some tried and test ones here you go.
Sell Something – We could give you lists of websites or ideas on what to sell (a quick google search can help). But this usually involves cookie dough, mugs, magazines, or anything else. Some of the more effective ones are things that are seasonal:
- Sub sandwiches or chili during the Super Bowl season
- Flowers for valentines days
- Cookies for the Christmas season
- Popcorn for the summer time
Positive: Individual who works hard get rewarded, and the not-so-hard working doesn’t drag the rest of the team down. It also encourages people to collect money from “outside the church.”
Negative: It’s never as profitable as it says it is. It’s risky. You most likely have to compete with the school system as they sell a lot of goods as well.
Baby Sitting for the church – Set up a night where parents can drop off their kids for babysitting while they go out on a date or do Christmas shopping. Charge extra if you provide a meal.
Positive: Super easy if you have more mature students to lead it.
Negative: If you don’t have a good sign up you might get overwhelmed. Limited profitability based on size of your church.
Souper Bowl Fundraiser – Have families from the church sign up to bring a crock pot of soup. Then on Super Bowl Sunday have lunch where a suggested donation is given. Provide crackers, cheese, and soup ladles.
Positive: It provides a community opportunity that most churches enjoy. Low cost since all the food is provided by families and then helps with advertising since they will invite others to come.
Negative: Profitability will be based on number of people who sign up and show up. Signups can be a hassle.
Church Wide Garage Sale – Have people drop off items to sell at your church during the summer months. Most sales work Thursday, Friday, and Saturday but can be anytime. You can individually price everything or leave it open for “offers”. Attached a bake sale with it too!
Positive: Little to no cost up front, it allow people to donate without even giving funds, and it helps families who want to get rid of stuff. You could make thousands of dollars based on the volume of stuff you get.
Negative: A lot of work in a concentrated dose. It needs a lot of space at the church, plus a lot of clean up, so get permission first.
Youth Work Weekend – Have people sign up for students to do various jobs (painting, raking, baby sitting, etc.) then choose a weekend to go from location to location doing jobs all for donations. You can charge by job or a general free will offering.
Positive: It helps people that might not be able to give (if someone sponsors their job), it is unlimited in profitability since you could do it multiple times.
Negative: You might be limited on the jobs you can do based on the age and maturity of your students.
Dinner Theatre or Talent Show – Have your students put on a show and provide a dinner with it! You can find a script at skitguys.com or write your own. Or maybe have students showcase their talents throughout the night. Then provide an easy meal to go with it. Sell tickets or a free will donation the night of.
Positive: Tons of potential for money if you advertise it right, it gets students to use their gifts they might normally do.
Negative: Limited on number of people who might be interested if you do a talent show. Meal cost is high up front.
Envelope Fundraiser – Label some envelopes 1 through 144 and display them on a wall. Whatever number is on the envelope is the amount that the person needs to bring back in check or cash. If all 144 envelopes come back you would raise $10,8000.
Positive: Easiest fundraiser there is!
Negative: Heavy promotion and a good looking display is required.
Flamingo Insurance — Sell flamingo insurance to church members in various amounts which guarantee that their homes will not be the flocking ground of pink flamingo lawn ornaments. Place as many lawn ornaments as you can on uninsured lawns, and charge a service fee for their removal. To add even more fun, one member can hire a flamingo hit on another member by paying more than what that person bought their insurance for. Provide the opportunity for the insured to increase their insurance amount (taken from studentministry.org).
Positive: This fundraiser advertises itself! Can get more than just the church involved.
Negative: If communicated poorly it could make the ministry or church look bad.
Support Letters – Oldie but goodie. Have students write up a letter on why they are going to this Convention or mission trip and send them to everyone they know. Provide a stamped return envelope for them to send it back.
Positive: Very easy and if done right one of the most profitable.
Negative: Without some direction, letters can be written poorly or families could receive more than one letter from the same team going.
Other Fundraising Ideas:
Provide a Meal:
Potato bar, pancake breakfast, spaghetti feed, sweetheart banquet, and more.
Car washes, phone book deliveries, run a booth at a fair, and more.
Free will offering, loose change, pledges from the church family, sponsor-a-student, and more.
Run a fireworks stand (a lot of work), T-shirt, fruit, cookie dough, bake sale, desserts, Christmas tree, donuts, flowers/plants, coupon books, and more.
Hold an Auction:
Silent auction, desserts, dinners, potatoes, babysitting, raffles, students for service, etc.
Bowl-a-thon (per pin), Trash-a-thon (per bag), corporate car wash, dime-a-dance, walk-a-thon (per mile), rake-a-thon (per yard)
Drive-in movie at the church, benefit concert, car smash, golf tournament, basketball or dodgeball tournament, talent show and more.
Bottle drive, aluminum/metal, paper or plastic, and more.
Create a gofundme page
Noodles & Doodles (Pasta Dinner & Art Auction)
Do you have another fundraiser idea? Leave a comment below!
Here is also a GALLERY of various logos we have used for fundraisers.