Fundraisers for Youth Events


Fundraisers have two purposes:
  • To make money in an effective and efficient manner
  • To build unity among the participants and interested people around a specific goal


All fundraisers need to have a balance between these two purposes and do it in a fun way (that’s the “fun” in fundraising). Too often, the group putting on the fundraiser focuses on one purpose to the neglect or even exclusion of the other purpose. That is not good and will harm future efforts. For instance, if you put on a concert and ask a bunch of people to work really hard in all the areas of the concert but then receive only $350 after all that effort, the volunteers will probably come away disillusioned about the results (but have good memories of the event). They achieved one purpose but nearly killed themselves without achieving the other purpose. On the flip side, if you put on an event and raise lots of money with little vested support, people may not feel as committed to the cause but feel incredibly proud of how much money they raised. Balance is good. Balance is key.

Another key to fundraising is to spread out the “ask” over a period of time such as several months. Some organizations do a “blitz ask” but they’ve done months of preparation (and received gifts during the prep time, too). Success is always, always a factor of how much effort you put into it. Every good fundraiser will require lots of effort on everyone’s part – make sure that you get enough “return on your investment” to have made all that effort worthwhile.
Some fundraising ideas for youth events:
Penny War
  • Boys versus girls. Every penny placed in the girls or boys jar is one point towards them. Every dollar added to a boys’ or girls’ jar is a negative 100 points towards them. After a month of war, the winners will be decided by who has the most points. The loser will then have to prepare dinner for the winners.
  • This is easy to do and raises a few hundred dollars without a lot of effort. This is a good balanced way to raise money in that every week you can promote it and even have a running total. Frankly, I do suggest that the money jars are emptied each week for two reasons: to announce the weekly running totals to egg on each side and to not have money sitting around in a jar which can walk off.

 Spirit Nights

  •  I know that both Chik-Fil-A and Tropical Smoothie have spirit nights we can tap into where during a certain time period, receipts taken will yield a percentage (normally 10 to 15 percent) to the student ministry. TS will even let us host a plinko game which raises a lot of funds.
  • The secret to working with local vendors (and some companies will sponsor car washes) is volume. The kids are going to have fun at the store and that will build unity – that is certain. How much money is raised is entirely dependent on getting people to come and/or buy tickets ahead of time. Kids need to be “in my face” about buying tickets. This a good idea and it can be held multiple times between now and when you need the funds without getting old and stale.

Yard Sale

  • The church rents out parking spots in the parking lot where people can host their own yard sale on the church’s property (the church makes money off the rent of parking spots). In another part of the parking lot, the church sells items that people donated for the yard sale (the church makes money off the sale of items). The church can sell concessions and make some money. There is always a fear of someone selling something offensive, but that can be addressed with the individual and you can let them know what we won’t let them sell (like porn magazines or offensive t-shirts).
  • This requires a LOT of effort and extreme coordination. Advertising is the key, too – get the word out that there is a community yard sale and people will buy reasonably priced parking spots ($10 is suggested) if they know there will be crowds coming. This can be a huge unity event for the youth as they work ahead of time and spend the entire day helping. It will raise at least a couple of thousand dollars.


  • This is my favorite way to raise money for youth functions. People bring in items that are of good value – other items should go to the yard sale! In one evening, there is a silent auction followed by a live auction (with a real, live auctioneer). Every year I’ve seen this done, the church raises over $12,000. The youth sell tickets beforehand and they drum up interest; the youth spend the Sunday and Wednesday before moving items; a team of volunteers helps coordinate the event; the youth work the auction by serving food and telling their story from the stage while people mill around.


  • Asking people to sponsor a kid or part of a kid for a trip always works. By this I mean informing people how much it will cost and then flat out asking them to fund ¼, ½, or the whole cost of a trip. People will do that. Afterwards, you can have the kid(s) that got the scholarship(s) to write a thank you and say how much the trip meant to him (them).

Sunday morning doughnuts

  • Krispy Kreme will sell doughnuts on the cheap for fundraisers and then you can re-sell them on a Sunday morning by the box.

What other successful ideas have you been a part of?

Lead On!