Simple Fundraising Success: Give Them Something they Need

Every year the youth in my local church raise money for a service trip. Over the past 50 years the leadership has determined, through trial-and-error what events and services raise the most money. I thought I’d share their findings with you, and include a principle that you could employ for some simple fundraising success.

Here’s the principle: make it easy, and give them something they need.

What are the two most popular and successful youth service fundraisers at my church? The after church potato and soup lunch and the group housework service. Here’s a quick description of each.

Potato and Soup Lunch: Once or twice a year the youth schedule an after church luncheon. They hire a caterer at a discounted price, advertise for at least four weeks and set up tables with table cloths and candles. Then, at 12:30 on the date advertised  the fellowship hall is opened up and guests make their way through a potato, soup and salad bar. The food is hot, and delicious. Guests can choose their own potato and salad toppings. Someone is playing piano and guitar music softly in the background, and  diners enjoy chatting with their immediate, and church family. A basket at the front holds donations. A small note next to it supplies guests with a base cost per person, so that guests understand what the meal cost the youth and that money given over that amount will help fund the service trip.  These luncheons are always very well attended. The convenience of participating cannot be understated in this case. People are already hungry, a delicious meal is ready on-site, and four hundred people stop in ready to eat and donate.

Group Housework Service: The second successful fundraiser involves a team of anywhere from two to thirty youth working together. In the fall and in the spring, times when people are looking outside at their yards and thinking “I really need to get out and rake (spread mulch, weed, mow) but when am I going to find the time?” the youth group advertises willing workers and a coordinator’s cell phone number and email address. Church members contact the coordinator with a weekend date that works for their schedule, a description of the project, and a ballpark number of workers needed. The youth and a supervisor show up on the agreed upon date, do the job, and then accept a donation for their work that will be divided by the number of people in the group. This fundraiser also has the convenience factor, allowing people to choose the time, date and project type.

If you are helping brainstorm for a fundraising event, think about what people will be doing around the scheduled date. Buying Christmas gifts? Getting ready for back to school? Spring cleaning? Putting on snow chains? Consider tapping in to these tasks, and you might find a unique and lucrative fundraising idea. What do people need and how can you provide it to them in a convenient way?