Fundraising Ideas & Tips for Your Mission Trip

If you’re like a lot of youth leaders, fundraising might be one of the more daunting parts of planning for your mission trip – especially coming up with fundraising ideas during a pandemic.

We’re here to help.

With over 25 years of mission trip experience, we’ve compiled some great fundraiser planning tips as well as our favorite fundraising ideas from experienced youth leaders – ideas that we’ve re-designed to work even when you’re fundraising during a pandemic.

All of these activities, tips and planning ideas are centered around inviting others to join your group as they go on a mission trip. While your whole congregation and community can’t fit in your vans, they certainly can join in what God is doing through your group and in the lives of your participants – what an amazing thing to support!

As you plan for your next mission trip, we hope these ideas and tips inspire your fundraising efforts.

If you want to skip the how-to’s of planning for fundraisers, and just want ideas for fundraising during a pandemic, head to our 25 Safe Fundraising Ideas.

Where do I Begin?

First things first. Rather than just throwing some events on a calendar, take some time to do a little pre-work. This will help you be much more strategic in your fundraising.

Do Some Math:

Fortunately for some, unfortunately for others, a good place to start your fundraising plan is to do some math – or have someone else do it for/with you!

Your first step is to understand what your budget looks like for the trip – not just the amount that you might pay the organizers of your trip, but a number that includes rental vehicles, gas, travel meals, any activities you might do before or after, group t-shirts, etc. Once you calculate all of that, it’s helpful to break it down into a per-person amount.

We’ve created a great resource to help Trip Leaders plan these types of details – get a free copy here

Break it Down
Once you have your final budget, determine your group’s philosophy on fundraising and walk out some scenarios.

  • Does your church cover some of the cost from some of their budget, or are participants responsible for the full number?
  • Do you typically fundraise for the entire trip cost, or do participants usually cover a certain percentage?
  • Do you have a scholarship fund for those who don’t raise all of their funds?
  • Do adult leaders pay the full amount, a discounted amount, or do they go for free?
  • What happens if someone raises way more than they need? Even better, what happens if your whole group collectively raises more than they need? Make sure you talk with the “money person” at your church to make sure all your plans line up with church policies and tax rules.

Your answers above may change your final “per-person” number. Next step: You will use the answers to these questions to start building your fundraising plan. 

Planning Fundraising Ideas

Create a Fundraising Plan

Now that you have a goal number for your group (and for each individual participant), you can start planning how to raise that money. You’ll want to get a few final preparations out of the way, then you can start brainstorming those fundraising ideas. Nail down these things:

  • When should we start fundraising? Some groups start right away in the fall, while others focus on the 3-4 months before their trip. Generally speaking, you’ll want to wait until you have a good portion of your spaces filled before you begin.
  • Do you want to focus on group fundraisers, or do you want to give each student some individual fundraising ideas? We’ve found that its most effective to have a mixture of both, and we have ideas that fall into both categories!
  • Are fundraisers mandatory? Is there an attendance requirement to group fundraisers? If they can’t attend, do they still get the funds?
  • Who are you asking? As you fundraise, you’ll continue to be surprised by the generosity of people. Also, remember to ask for support beyond just financial support! With that in mind, know that you can ask anyone for support. However, you’ll want to make sure you’re not bombarding people with support requests. Space out your fundraisers and strategize so your 30 participants aren’t asking the same 10 people for money.
  • How can people contribute financially? Talk with your church’s finance person to determine the best way for folks to give – is there an online portal? Cash? Checks? Find out who they should make checks out to (if applicable) and if there are any tax items to consider.
  • Finally, let’s get some fundraising ideas on your calendar!

Fundraising Ideas and Activities – Even During a Pandemic!

While COVID-19 has certainly changed how most of us do life, there are still plenty of fundraising ideas that take pandemic precautions into account. As you pick specific fundraisers, make sure they line up with your church’s/local/federal guidelines on pandemic safety – feel free to adjust any of our ideas to follow this guidance!

Here’s our list of our favorite fundraising ideas that are designed to work well during COVID-19. 25 Safe Fundraising Ideas.

Interested in writing support letters for your trip? Check out How to Write and Send a Great Support Letter.

Don’t Forget to Share Your Story

Finally, as you fundraise for your mission trip, be sure to share your story to folks. Share details of where you’re going, who you hope to both serve and learn from, and share specific reasons that you’re going on this trip. People want to support you on your mission trip, so go beyond simply asking for money – invite them to partner with what you and your group is doing.

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