General Ministry | Serving
Tony Myles

Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, conference speaker, author, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

fundraisingI read a question today about fundraising for mission trips that echoes something you may be struggling with. Here it is, followed by my reply:

Q: I need advice.

We just wrapped our fall fundraiser with very disappointing results… again. My students will not commit to raise money. Every fundraiser we do I have 2 students and that’s it. We have a great parent ministry and our parents have said they would just rather pay for missions trips than fund-raise but we’ve tried that and when the rubber meets the road they decide they don’t have the money. I’ve done everything that I know to do to get the students psyched up about trying to get the money raised and I get no results. Any advice?

A: One approach – require them to participate in “x” fundraisers or events before the trip.

We did this for an annual youth convention – some kids would just go on the trip because it was exciting but wanted nothing to do with the church or youth group the rest of the year. It created a funk with community/relationships on the trip and beyond. So we said, “Want to go on the trip? You need to take part in at least three other things we do over this year.” Fundraising counted as “two things” – made it a lot easier and we saw the dynamic change in the trip itself.

everybodyFrom my vantage point, this offers a few principles that make the participation of fundraising successful before a big trip:

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  • It equalizes the playing field: Kids who don’t “need it” still do it alongside of kids who do “need it.” You’re creating the dynamic of community before the trip.

  • It creates shared memories together: Instead of kids coming into the big event without knowing each other, they’ve already invested into something with each other. That creates conversation right off the bat.
  • It locks kids into the trip that much more: When you’ve poured your sweat into something, you’re less likely to back out of it. If you’re tired of seeing students pull out at the last minute, offer them something do in the months before that last minute occurs.

What do you think? Have a different reply to the question? Or does what I shared make sense?

Chime in – let’s figure this out together.

P.S. Here are 5 creative fundraising ideas via Plywood People.

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  • Tim Van Dalen says:

    We do ZERO fundraising for our mission trips. We ask the students to instead raise support for the cost of the trip themselves. This includes encouraging them to make a sacrifice and commit to covering some portion of the cost themselves (not their parents). If they really want to go and serve this is never a problem. Then we ask them to send out support letters (we provide sample letters & tax forms). We want the people to know and love the student to support them in this opportunity rather than ask strangers to help them go on a trip. Our church is also generous and usually assists some through our annual missions offering. Then if they still have a gap to close we tell them that they can do their own fundraisers if they want (bake sale, yard sale, car wash, etc.). Also, if any student brings in extra money we tell them up front that it will be divided among the rest of the team…or those who have come up short. We took 14 students to Haiti this summer and the total cost for the trip was $1100 and they had not problem raising these funds this way.

  • Hattie Stahl says:

    I let families know about how much it will cost to take each youth on a mission trip. We require a percentage of that as a deposit to secure a spot on the trip (usually about 20% total cost) and then after that, if a youth participates in a fundraiser, they get a portion of the proceeds of that fundraiser toward the cost of their trip. If a youth does not participate at a fundraiser, they don’t get money toward the cost of their trip. It makes the process a little more work for me, keeping track of each youth “trip account,” but this offers the chance for students to take ownership over their trip, and it offers the ability for students who need to be able to fundraise the majority of their trip to do so. Since I implemented this system about 4 years ago, our youth participation in fundraisers has become visibly higher, and we find that adults in our congregation & community are more willing to support fundraisers for youth trips if they see the youth working hard at them! I love that this also means our mission team has spent time serving together before we even leave our church.

  • […] Corner: Apparently some parents would rather just write a check to pay for missions trips, and the kids don’t want to do fundraising, […]

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