Fundraising ranks way low on my fun-o-meter. I have developed ways, therefore, for the events to be part of the yearlong discipleship of our students. Leadership development, parent involvement, and congregation support weigh in as prayer and planning all come together.
Our students do not sell candy, magazines, Tupperware, t-shirts or trinkets. Fundraisers focus on providing a service. We host a “Parent’s Night Out” babysitting evening. We serve up a take-home salad bar after the worship service. We provide entertainment through theater productions and variety shows. We make sub sandwiches for Super Bowl Sunday. We sell White House Christmas Ornaments (popular in our northern Virginia community) at the local Mall. While at the Mall, our students share about our church and our upcoming mission projects.
I meet with our mission team participants and parents in the Fall to determine our fundraising goal. Students cover most of their costs through support letters and personal financing. We work together, also, to raise about one-third of the cost of the project for the participants. All team members participate in all fundraisers. In addition, each family chooses to be on one fundraisers’ Planning Team. They work together to choose specifics for the event. Students learn about publicity, scheduling, event details, material gathering, and conflict resolution. All valuable tools for the mission field.
The Planning Teams include students and their parents. Together they are invested in the success of the fundraiser. Their creativity gives each fundraiser a unique expression. I offer guidance but give control of the event to the Planning Team. Students and parents share their ideas, work together to assemble a plan, then mobilize the mission team. Students often surprise their parents with their organizational and leadership abilities. More adults get to know more students…by name. Win-win. All students grow through their Planning Team experiences.
Church members know we need additional funds to help families with the costs. Supporting service-focused fundraisers is a pleasure for members bombarded by elementary-aged neighbors selling wrapping paper, citrus, and entertainment books. I received so many thank-you’s from parents at this weekend’s “Parent’s Night Out“. When they returned to pick up their children and put checks in our basket, they shared how they went to dinner and did a little shopping…knowing that their children were well taken care of and having a great time with the “cool” teenagers in our church family. Win-win.
Fundraising by student ministries evokes strong opinions from youth leaders and church leadership alike. Many policies and procedures regarding building use, net profits, and budget allocations emerge from efforts to raise the financial resources. Costs of mission projects, conferences, and retreats can definitely be debated. For now, however, we have a couple fundraisers during the year to help our students and their families.
Question: Does your ministry do fundraising? How are they incorporated into the overall discipleship plan for students?