How do I fundraise? One of the biggest struggles of mission trips is often raising the funds needed to travel. Don't let the cost of mission trips prevent you from serving internationally! Here are 25 ideas you can use to raise money for your mission trip:
1. Send Support Letters
You can thoughtfully explain the purpose of your trip and your passion to serve through a friendly, concise support letter. Inform your friends and family about your financial needs and budget for the mission trip, and maybe even provide a suggested donation. If you're willing, list some ways you are willing to work in order to earn the money (see the rest of the suggestions below for ideas). One page is an optimal length (add a photo or two to grab attention!), and try to target around 75-100 people. It's most efficient to print out the letters, but add a personal touch by addressing each recipient by name and signing your name by hand. Be sure to keep track of everyone you give a letter to and who gives you money—you'll want to send thank you letters after the trip! :)
2. Partner with Your Local Church
A home body of believers is foundational for any successful mission endeavor. The Great Commission is not meant to be carried out alone—and this includes short term missions as well as long term missions. Talk to your pastor and see if you can personally share about your opportunity to your fellow church members. If you have a Missions Board at your church, talk to them as well; sometimes churches have specific funds set aside for supporting and contributing to their students' mission trips. Also consider talking to Bible study and small groups about financial and prayer support. Prayer should be of highest importance in any ministry, so whether or not your church gives, you'll want the blessing, encouragement, support and prayers of your church family.
3. Host a Dinner or Banquet
Raise money by preparing a delicious meal. Make it simple and fun: breakfast for dinner, baked potato bars, chili or spaghetti… An ice cream social would work as well! You could either raise the money by selling tickets in advance, or you could place a donation basket on the table and allow people to give as much as they feel led to. This is an event that could easily be combined with another (e.g. talent show, silent auction, game night) to make it more exciting and to draw more people to participate. Take the opportunity to share with people about what you'll be doing on your mission trip while they eat.
4. Organize an Auction
A silent auction could have a single theme (such as a dessert auction), or you could include anything and everything from baked goods to pizza, from handmade items to gift baskets… maybe even your services! Start off each item with a suggested price, and then let people bid as much as they want until the event is over.
5. Plan a Bake Sale
You could sell homemade baked items at a local farmer's market, or even at your church (everyone is hungry and willing to buy food when church gets out!). Wrap individual items with charming ribbon or paper—make it appealing to the eye! And if you sell out of a particular item, you could have a piece of paper "take orders" for those who may have wanted some and get it to them later.
6. Organize a Talent Show
Enlist some of the talented people you know to display their abilities for a good cause. Even those who may not have a particular "skill" to show off can participate in funny skits or be the "host" of the show. Make it a fun night, and be sure that you contribute with your own talents as well. :)
7. Sell Handmade Items
If there's some craft that you can make, sell it! For one of my mission trips, I sold some of my handmade jewelry and sewing projects by sending out emails with pictures and information. I also listed some of the items on Etsy (although there's small fee for each listing) and set up a table at church one Sunday to display and sell my items. You could also make flyers to hand up or give away and possibly put an announcement in the church bulletin.
8. Babysitting, Weekend Daycare, or Parents' Night Out
Get the word out that you are looking for some babysitting opportunities. Also consider watching children for multiple people for a weekend daycare, or advertise for a "parents' night out" (feel free to enlist the help of friends or family).
9. Host a Yard Sale
Clean out the house and make some money at the same time! But get ready for an early weekend morning… sales typically start as early as 7am. :)
10. Have People Donate Gently Used and Unwanted Items
This is a great way for people to support you, especially if they don't have a lot of cash to spare. Not only will it increase the value of your yard sale, but it will make it bigger and hopefully attract more people. One of my relatives donated a whole stack of brand new clothes that she had never worn… I was able to sell a lot of them on eBay, as I'll describe below
11. Sell Stuff on eBay
Several months before one of my mission trips, I began listing my family's old, gently used clothing and shoes items on eBay. I made somewhere around $500 by the time my trip came around, and it's a little "side business" I continue to this day! The job requires a lot of listing, packaging, and shipping; but if you're willing to put in the time and effort, it can really pay off. My personal tips: As far as clothing goes, name brand items sell the best. However, any clothing in great condition can sell as well–especially if they have unique characteristics that people will be searching for (chambray shirt, chiffon dress, chino shorts, etc.).
12. Offer Yard Work Services
In the spring and summer, when things are growing and the weather is getting hot, many people will be willing to hire young people for yard work—and especially if it's going toward missions. If you're going to ask people for money, you should be willing to work for it too.
Send out emails and fliers, post it in the church bulletin—you're available for hire to do those tasks around the house people don't get to. Painting, dusting, washing, mopping, or whatever other job someone might want help with. This is your opportunity to be a blessing to others while raising money for your mission trip at the same time. If you want to serve other people in a cross-cultural context, you'd better be more than willing to serve them in your own community.
14. Organize an Ultimate (or Softball) Tournament
I don't know about you, but I love playing Ultimate frisbee. Another idea to raise funds is to organize an Ultimate tournament, or any other sport such as softball, and charge a small fee to join a team. This would also be a good chance to sell some concessions, as well.
15. Sell T-Shirts
There are several T-shirt companies that exist to help students raise money for mission trips. Check out Fund the Nations and Bonfire Funds to see how they work. Everyone loves T-shirts! So, get some awesome t-shirts made for a low price, and sell them to people you know to raise money.
You know there's a subject you're good at. :) Advertise to parents of younger students the subject you're willing to tutor in. And, who knows, this might be a job that you can keep even after you come back from you mission trip!
17. Offer a Course of Something You're Good At
Maybe it's knitting, tennis, drawing, piano, cooking, writing, making Excel spreadsheets, or photoshop. Whatever it is, use it to your benefit and offer classes as a fundraiser.
18. Partner with a Restaurant that Will Donate a Percentage of a Meal
Some restaurants are willing to set aside a day or two where a certain percentage of all their meals can go toward a non-profit. Check around with your local restaurants. Then, if you find one that will partner with you, get the word out to all your friends and church community so they can all eat there that day and support you in the process.
19. Corporate Sponsorship
There are many companies and businesses that incorporate philanthropic giving into their budget, including your mission trip! Inquire with friends and family to see if they have any business contacts or associates that you can write a letter to. Also look for Christian business owners or business that advertise in your church bulletin or Christian magazines.
20. Use Your Photography Skills
If you've got the skills, try to find some families or individuals that want some portraits. In addition, if you're willing to give up the copyright to any of your photos, you can sell them at http://photodune.net. Go take a walk, snap some good photos, and sell them on a public domain photography website. It will take quite a few photos to make a substantial amount of money, but every little bit helps.
21. Organize a Car Wash
Of course, there's the good ol' fashioned car wash to raise some money. If you decide to do a car wash, my suggestion is to make it clear that sponges and wash cloths will be kept off the ground. My mom says this is the reason she never does them… the little rocks that the sponges pick up can scratch the car, and she never wanted to take that chance.
22. Have a Fundraiser Party
Do something fun for everyone and raise some money while you're at it. Have a family game night, plan a "Trivia night" with competing teams, skit night, "famous duos" night with costumes… or any other event you can think of!
23. Pet Sitting/ Dog Walking
Advertise to take care of those furry creatures to help you reach your financial goals.
24. Use a Fundraising Website
There's plenty of free websites dedicated to promoting the cause you're fundraising for, such as Razoo or Team316. They're easy to share on social media, and it tells you exactly where you're at with funds.
25. Frequent Flyer Miles
Many airlines allow people to donate their frequent flyer miles to non-profit groups. If you know someone who travels often, ask if they'd be willing to donate some of the mileage they've earned through flying so frequently to your trip (if your trip is eligible with the airlines).
What ideas would you add?