You just signed up for that big summer trip, collected deposits, made parents sign their life away and that they promise to pay the trip amount – now how do you fundraise for it? First of all, you did collect deposits, right?
Big events, mission trips and camps can be expensive and not all of your teens and/or youth can pay directly out of pocket. So we turn to fundraising. I can tell you, there are hundreds of ideas for fundraisers (and variations of those fundraisers) and I’ll address those in another blog soon. However, I also want to share some lessons I’ve learned about fundraisers.
Be careful that fundraising does not take over and consume your ministry. This can be tough because the amount to raise seems so high and the trip is amazing and provides an opportunity for transformation and an encounter with Christ. However, if your ministry becomes only about fundraising, what happens for those youth who are not attending? Keep a good balance of fundraisers with your regularly scheduled youth ministry activities.
Also, use the time during the fundraisers for good relational ministry. As everyone is working hard during the fundraiser, be sure that the Core and other adults remain relational with the teens. During those lulls in sales or in between Masses, that is a great opportunity to encourage some “get to know you” time. Pair up a couple of teens with a Core Member and give them some questions to discuss.
Don’t try to do everything yourself. If there was ever a need for you to delegate – this would be it! Fundraising can take a lot of time, energy, preparation, clean up, accounting, and more. Get a Core Member or parent with great organizational skills to help you out. At my parish, I had a Fundraising Coordinator who volunteered to not only coordinate fundraiser, but also helped find parents to organize a specific fundraiser if need be. This was a huge load off my shoulders – I could focus on ministry while these amazing ladies took care of the details. (This is a shout out to Donna and Renada!)
Have Teens Present
Be sure that teens are there to help for each fundraiser. I got a very stern warning on this one. I had adults working hard after Mass one day selling up a storm when a parishioner walked up to me and asked where all the teens were. I was speechless. Teens should be present for two reasons: 1) It will help them have an investment in what they are doing; 2) The parishioners can put a face with who they are helping.
Get the most bang for your buck. There are a lot of fundraisers that will help you make $25 here and there. If your goal is to help each teen raise $1000, that is a heck of a lot of fundraisers. Go for fundraisers that make good money. In my experience, car washes have a low return. Find fundraisers that will help you earn $1000 or more per event. Consider getting sponsors for the trip – in exchange for room on the back of the shirt?
Remind the teens and youth that they were able to go to camp because of the generosity and hard work of others. When we were at camp, and the teens were running around having fun, I think they sometimes forgot that their parents gave up many hours to help fundraise and the parish was generous as well. During prayer times, be sure to include intentions for those who helped with each fundraiser. When the event is over, send “thank you” notes and some pictures of the teens at the event. Have a teen or two share with the parish about his/her experience through a bulletin announcement or a message at the end of Mass – keep the parish connected.
It’s Not All Up To You!
Lastly, as hard as it is to hear, it is not your responsibility to raise every single dollar that every teen needs. This is an important distinction to make when you begin your fundraising and to be sure to share with the parents. Let the parents know that you will do your best to help the youth raise money, but that ultimately the family is responsible for payments.
I would love to hear what experience or wisdom you have to share about fundraisers. Again, I’ll post another blog soon with some specific fundraising ideas. For now, leave your comments on this blog and let’s help each out.