A few weeks ago we had a conference call on fundraising and I wanted to write right away but it just didn’t happen. Now I think I know why. I had a fundraising dinner this weekend and we put all we could into it and our attendance was 60% of what we had planned and that kind of matched with the funds we had hoped to raise.

Man….fundraising is hard work….Especially in today’s economy when everyone is saving as best they can and making frugal decisions. So what do we do? I don’t have all the answers but I want to share with you some of the ideas that were exchanged during our call a few weeks ago. There were many good ideas named. After that I’ll name some of the struggles and issues related to this topic as well.

Ideas that have worked

  • –  Building prepackaged kits of baked good for resale can cost you $1-2 and be resold for $5-10.
  • –  Some folks spoke very positively of flocking or storking people’s yards. That’s your judgment call.
  • –  Some restaurants like the Pizza Ranch allow you to bus tables for tips on a set day.
  • –  Host a fundraising dinner at your church.
  • –  Sell prepaid gas cards (the return is small but it’s something people are already buying. One YW sells $1000 a month at his church and nets $50 but it’s money they would have already spent).
  • –  Work concession stands at event arenas. The plus is that it’s earned money though it can be a process to get into an arena. I am currently doing this in my setting. Watch out for potentially being asked to sell alcohol. As well, there is often a minimum age.
  • –  Host a coffee house night at your church.
  • –  Sell goods and services that students will do for people.
  • –  Host a valentine’s dinner.
  • –  Sell prepaid discount cards. I made one for my community and I’ll share two pictures of it. 

    When I asked our callers what mattered to them or what issues that they have worked with, here is what they had to say

    • –  STAY AWAY from car washes. They didn’t find them profitable and I’ll agree that they scare me too. For me it’s a matter of I don’t want any car getting scratched on my watch.
    • –  Do a fundraiser that is different from others in your community. Don’t compete with others.
    • –  Keep good records or find a bookkeeper.
  • –  Consider setting aside a percentage of dollars raised for scholarships or chaperones.
  • –  You will need to work way in advance and you will want to use as much hype as you can.
  • –  View asking your church to support your event as an opportunity for them to invest in the future or to give to a ministry that benefitted their kids in the past or will in the future.
  • –  Consider how you compensate students. Does everyone get an equal cut or does the cut they earn vary based on their success or time?
  • –  Set a realistic goal for the year. For some it was to raise $250 per student and for others it was upwards of $500 per student.
  • –  Decide how many events are too many for your church. One person said 1 event per year is good.
  • –  Consider if your events at your church are redundant. What I mean is, are the people giving the money the same people that had they not given money, would have been paying for the kids to go on the event anyway.
  • –  Consider if it is beneficial to fundraise outside of your church in the community. In one community where one of our youth workers lives, their church has made it policy not to fundraise outside of their church because another church in their town is notorious for asking for money and almost pushing people to give more and more and they don’t want that reputation.Raising monies is almost a necessary work of youth ministry these days. As we go after these projects, let’s be encouraged to view them as ministry and not something that fuels our ministry.


Rev. Mark Johannesen is pastor at Word of Life Lutheran Brethren Church in LeSueur, Minnesota.

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