The Necessary Evil of Fundraising

For most of us, the need to fundraise for events like NYC is a necessary evil. While some of our churches may be able to budget a small amount of money to help subsidize some of your students, no church will be able to cover the entire cost for each of your students. Nor should they, for that matter.

Since fundraising is a must, how should we go about it? I’m not sure there are any right or wrong ways, but here are a few tips that can help guide us as we seek to alleviate the financial burden of attending a life-changing event like NYC.

Tip #1: Don’t Do It All Yourself

Of course, this tip will resonate in just about any ministry situation. You are not a lone wolf. You need a pack of good folks who will support you along the way. This is especially true for fundraising. If you’re the only one doing the work for the fundraiser, then it’s not really a fundraiser; it’s the church subsidizing the trip through your salary.

With that said, find someone within your congregation who has a knack for fundraising and recruit them to help you out. Maybe you’ve been able to handle all your fundraising needs in the past, but NYC will likely be the most expensive event (per student) you’ll ever do. Don’t be afraid to look outside your normal youth volunteers. If your first choice shoots you down, ask them if they know someone who would be willing to help.

Tip #2: Work Smarter, Not Harder

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard; it means you need to work efficiently. In other words, find fundraisers that will deliver the maximum amount of funds with the least amount of effort.

Tip #3: Have a Plan

You should soon know what NYC will cost each of your students. Once you have a solid figure, sit down and decide how much each student will pay out of pocket, how much the church might be able to pay from your youth ministry budget, and how much you intend to fundraise per student. Then, divide the amount you need to fundraise per student by the number of fundraisers you intend on doing. Keep in mind that not every fundraiser will bring in the same amount of cash. Be sure to space your fundraisers out so as to not cause fundraising burnout.

Tip #4: Build Community

Don’t just rely on fundraisers like Butter Braids, which are largely individual activities. As you plan out your schedule of fundraisers, be sure to include one or two that require your group to work together as a team to accomplish the end goal. That way everyone gets to know each other well before you ever step foot on the bus or plane bound for Phoenix.

Tip #5: Look Outside the Church

As you plan what fundraisers you might do, be sure to focus at least half, if not more, of your attention to sources that are outside the church. It’s a sad reality that some people within your church will see their purchases or donations to a fundraising cause as their tithe. Asking too much of your local congregation may hurt the overall church’s cash flow, which might inhibit the good work your church does in other areas.

Additionally, focusing your attention on the community that surrounds your church is a good way of letting folks know that you’re there. Just don’t let fundraising become your main outreach approach!

Tip #6: Begin Planning for NYC 2023

For large events like NYC, your district NYI likely sets aside money every month to pay for the expenses that it will incur. Because the costs are so large, it makes sense to spend the four years leading up to NYC to prepare.

While it may be too late for this NYC, ask your church treasurer or finance chair to set up an account where you can bank a portion of your yearly youth budget to help students attend NYC in four years. Set a goal for how much you’d like to have on hand and then do the math to figure out how much you need to save each month or year.

You can do the same thing with the fundraisers you might have in the non-NYC years. It might be wise to set aside a portion of each of those fundraisers and put it toward funding NYC 2023.

Jason Buckwalter

Jason is an ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene, has served in a variety of youth ministry roles, and is an avid fan of books and baseball.

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