I am a full time youth pastor. So much of the leadership lessons I learn come from real life experiences. I aim for my content to apply to a broad range, but today I am going to take a slightly different approach and narrow my audience.
Over the last 15 years in paid ministry, I have picked up a few tips along the way to help with fundraising. I have only served in churches where the youth ministry was expected to fundraise to help offset camp and mission trip fees. Here are some tips gleaned along the way.
- Context is King – Every church where I have served has had different responses to different events. Some of my favorite fundraisers early on were Ice Cream “Freeze-Offs”, where recently the response hasn’t been so great. Ultimately, find what works in your context. Just because someone had a good experience with it at a different church or town, does not guarantee it will work everywhere.
- Offset Costs Where Possible – Recently, I have found having kids sign up to bring the different supplies helps to save a significant amount of money. For example, we will do a “Taco Pile-On” fundraiser lunch in a few weeks. Early on, I would have bought the necessary toppings out of the youth budget. Starting a few years ago, however, I realized if I had kids bring the toppings, then our out of pocket expense would be zero, which meant every dollar received was profit.
- Balance On-Site with Off-Site – Depending on the church policies, if you’re able to fund raise off site, try to find a good balance between fundraisers held at church and fundraisers held elsewhere. Make the most of town events. In my current context, our town hosts a city wide garage sale day. In the past we have held our own garage sale (with donated items), sold breakfast burritos, and sold burger deals.
Ultimately, fundraising is something you get better at as you go along, especially with evaluation. What are some things you’ve learned along the way?
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