BIG Money Fundraisers
I’ve never been a huge fan of fundraisers. They always seem to be a lot of work, with little return. I remember as a youth pastor watching my students show up at the annual parking lot carwash — 40 would show up, however, only about 5 or 6 would work. The rest of the duties seemed to rest on the adult volunteers. It didn’t remain that way through the years, but you get the idea.
Here’s a few creative ideas, however, that have worked for us:
1. The Human Auction. Again, as a youth pastor, this always raised a good amount of money for the kids; however, I was recently at a church in Southern Ohio that had an aution where the adults were “sold”. Wow! The audience was allowed to bid on doctors, plumbers, office assistants, mechanics, builders, etc., for a fraction of their normal costs, with all of the proceeds going to the worship department. What a great idea! They raised thousands of dollars…in about 30 minutes. In return, each of the participants agreed to give 4-8 hours of their time to the winning bidder. It was so much fun for all involved, with a great return.
2. The Discount Card. I personally did this last year and it was a huge success. Every year our local high schools, dance teams, band clubs, and cheerleaders would sell little credit card-sized discount cards. The cards would offer a free drink at McDonalds, a free game of bowling at Shawnee Lanes…and a dozen or so other 10% discounts at local merchants.
Every year I would purchase the card just to get the free drink at McDonalds. With every purchase for an entire year, I would receive a free soft drink of my choice. With three kids, we received about 10,438 free drinks with one card (maybe a few less, maybe not). The following year, I purchased two cards, and received two free drinks every time.
Last year, I decided to do my own. I asked local restaurants to offer free drinks only — and I received many willing merchants. I sold them personally for our ministry, as well as offer them to churches for theirs. It was a win, win for all involved. With a quick announcement from the stage, we would sell them after church. Easy, quick, and a great profit at $10 a card. I had them printed online (www.gotprint.com) at about a dime per card, so I would profit $9.90. Great idea for us, as well as the buyer. And the local dentists probably loved the fact that we were all drinking more pop, as well. Not sure.
3. Plan A Night of Music and The Arts. A concert, a drama, a night of comedy, a mystery theatre…anything that would draw a crowd. This may take a little more work, but it is so much fun for all involved. You can sell tickets for the event, maybe with a small dinner included or just some appetizers; after the show, present your need, with an offering following. I have learned that people like to give to good causes, especially when their stomachs are full and their minds are engaged. This is probably not the time to ask money for the annual worship band beach trip, though.
Remember, however, that you must be creative. Your local audience will not purchase tickets to hear or see the same thing they enjoy every Sunday. Would you?
4. A Church Wide / Ministry Wide Yard Sale. If these are not regular events at your church, this would work well. Our church made over $23,000 at our first annual yard sale. People of the congregation brought in their personal items — we sold the normal nick-nacks, and saved the quality items for a silent auction. It was a lot of work, but it was also a great outreach to our community. Hundreds of people drove on to our property that had never been there before.
You can also add a concession stand for refreshments, a band stand for entertainment, and a place for the kiddos to play. Another great idea is to offer a “pre-sale”: at $5 a person, people could come the night before. You would be surprised at how many people will show up, even at a price, to get all the good stuff.
5. Pray and Ask God for Wisdom. James 1:5 says that if you “lack wisdom, ask God and He will give it to you, without finding any fault.” God is more concerned about your ministry than you are. He wants to give you creative ideas. Ask Him.
What are some other creative ideas that have worked for you or someone you know?