Summer of Fundraising
If you follow on me on Instagram, then you know that my summer has been marked by one thing:
Trust me, it was not in my plans to do eight fundraisers between May and July; however, that's just the way things ended up happening. (Youth ministry, amirite?)
While I'm sure eight fundraisers is nothing compared to other groups, I will say this: I learned so much during this summer of fundraising. There were some pros. There were definitely some cons. There were laughs. There were meltdowns. There were victories. There were failures.
Now that our fundraisers have ended, I'd like to share what I have learned over these past few months. Below I have provided FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) concerning our summer of fundraising. My prayer is that they will help you and your group should you ever find yourself in a similar situation!
Why Did You Have So Many Fundraisers?
This summer, our youth group will be attending a youth conference in Dallas. We had quite a few students in our group that needed full or partial scholarships. Each fundraiser went toward providing those students with the financial assistance to attend.
Why So Many in a Short Amount of Time? Haven't You Heard of Planning Ahead?
Uh, yeah! If there's one thing I love to do, it's planning ahead! (I currently have TWO planners to keep me organized.) However, life happens and things get changed...no matter how far you plan ahead. The original plan for our students was to attend a camp a few hours away from our hometown. Unfortunately, this camp had to cancel the week we were scheduled to attend (and the following weeks), and we were notified shortly before we were to register. Because of this, we had to search for an alternative option--one that would fit well into the spiritual, cultural, and financial context that our group is in. Thankfully, we found a student conference that everyone agreed on, but the event date was closer than we would have liked--just a few short months away! If we were going to go, we would have to get creative and raise quite a bit of funds in a short amount of time.
What Fundraisers Did You Guys Do?
We all know that church people love food. So, all but one of our fundraisers were food-related. For instance, we did four food-based sales after church, serving a different food item each week. One week we sold hot dogs, and the next we sold baked goods, followed by nachos next week. (I would say that it would be very important to find what foods your congregation will spend money on.) In addition to our after-church sales, we found local businesses that would partner with organizations to help raise funds for a cause or trip. These were helpful and great for bringing in additional funds from outside the church. If you ever find yourself needing to raise money in a small window of time, call around to local restaurants and see if they will hold a "Spirit Night" for your group. This is where a portion of the proceeds made during a set amount of time will go toward your group.
The only fundraiser we did that wasn't food related was the "Adopt-An-Envelope" wall. You've probably seen this idea floating around Pinterest or Facebook. It's a great and easy way to raise funds quickly! I have provided a picture below, as well as a link to the instructions from Pomomusings!
Were Your Students Cooperative?
Yes! There were times I had students that didn't need to work volunteer anyway just to help out. I watched them learn the value of hard work, as well as the importance of earning something that you want, rather than just having it handed to you.
Were there times of frustration? Definitely. Occasionally there would be a student that didn't want to help, listen, or participate. Thankfully, though, these problems were usually resolved with one-on-one conversations...and MUCH prayer. (Except for one really intense situation that involved a high schooler calling me a not-so-nice name. But that's another story for another day!)
Okay, So What Did You Learn From Your Summer of Fundraising?
I learned that fundraisers are difficult, but they're pretty great for bonding with my students.
I learned that some fundraisers are better suited for high schoolers, while others are better done by middle schoolers.
I learned that God works in even the "little" things...like raising money for a youth trip.
I learned that you've got to stay joyful, even when you're burnt out.
I learned that God has grace for students that call you mean names...and grace for you when you are about to literally lose your mind.
I learned that there are so many people in our churches that find so much happiness in helping our students achieve whatever goal they are working toward.
Most importantly, I learned that while a summer full of fundraisers was not my ideal plan, it just might have been God's and He will use it for His glory.
Though I am still tired from the past three months, I can look back and see that God was over it all. I am grateful that He carries us through, and that He provided more than just funds--He provided lessons to be learned, victories to be won, and amazing memories to be created.
What a summer.