Some people would have you believe that a great fundraiser is solely determined by the amount of money you raise. I am not one of those folks, although I do believe that “bang for your buck” is one of the Rules of Good Fundraising. Every youth ministry’s fundraising needs are different, so I have provided a list of fundraisers that meet a variety of financial needs but that all can be great fundraisers.

Top Money Producers

If you need to raise a lot of money, developing one of these fundraisers is the way to go. Each takes a lot of work, but has the potential to have a high return.

1. Auction

Have a silent or live auction that offers participants the opportunity to support the ministry while also bidding on wonderful donated items. An acquisitions team gathers as many items as they can from vacation home usages and gift certificates to pieces of artwork or dental services. The items that sell best are those that people need anyway, like gift certificates to their favorite restaurants, or things that they can’t buy, like an autographed football jersey. Auctions are usually centered around an event like a dinner that also raises money. Make the auction fun by having youth showcase the items. Youth can be involved in acquisitions and in serving the meals. If you want to have an auction, find another church that does one well and get a copy of their manual so you can tailor the event to your church. Go learn from them: attend their auction so you can see it in action.

2. Golf Tournament

Good golf tournaments take nearly as much time as auctions do. You need a team (youth can help with this) to help recruit players and prizes, and provide hospitality at the course. If your church or community has a lot of golfers, then this can be a great way to raise money. We had a youth at every tee box with a small display of some part of the ministry that the money would support. They would share about it while the players waited their turn. Again, learn from those who have done it before. You can find expert help on hosting a golf tournament. Just be aware that a company that puts on the tournament will take a high percentage of your profit, but it might be a good way to learn the first year.

3. Rummage Sale

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. You can use this to your advantage as you invite the church to give you their stuff they don’t want anymore. They can receive a tax deduction for their gift in addition to supporting the ministry. If advertised well, folks will come from miles around to buy their stuff. At the end of the day, make arrangements for Goodwill or a local ministry to come pick up the leftovers. Again, find someone who has a rummage sale and learn from them. It is harder than it sounds, but of the big three is the easiest to do the first year.

Low Work, High Return

If you need fundraisers that take little effort beyond publicity, then this one is for you.

4. Club 52

Invite church members (or extended family members of youth) to join Club 52. To join Club 52 they make a pledge to give $1 a week to support the youth ministry. It doesn’t get any easier than that. The key is to continuously publicize well and have an annual Club 52 push. You should develop a Club 52 newsletter that you send monthly or quarterly to let folks know about the wonderful things happening in the lives of the youth. Just 20 participants will provide over $1000.
Check out Jason Sansbury’s suggestions of “low investment, high return” fundraisers that have worked well.

Most Fun

Churches can have fun raising money, too. Auctions and golf tournaments can be fun for those who participate. Happy people are more generous givers. One of the gifts youth can give to the church is the gift of youthfulness (fun). How can you raise money and help the church have fun together at the same time? If you can answer that question well, you will have supported your ministry, energized your congregation, and brought joy to people’s lives. One good fun event could be just the trick. Here are some ideas:

5. Homemade Ice Cream Social

6. Barbecue Contest

7. Talent/Un-talent Show

8. Festival

9. Concert

You know how much church folk like to eat. So provide some homemade entertainment and have them pay for their food and you can have a great time making money. Each of these things has the opportunity to be an “event” that folks don’t want to miss. If you can create that type of atmosphere, then ask them to give $5-$10 to the youth ministry to get in or pay for their food and let’s have FUN raising support for the youth ministry. These types of events tend to provide great social capital for the youth ministry as well.
Please share any other fundraisers that you believe fit these categories, especially if you would be willing to share your secrets to help others.