$10, Fund Raising Hurts Your Ministry

There’s a lot of events and trips our youth ministry will miss out on because of the costs.  Whenever I tell some of my peers this they ask, “Why don’t you fund raise?” The answer is because we are church that doesn’t fund raise.  And, it can actually do more harm in the long run.  This is why:

  • It’s Wastes Resources: To run a fundraiser you need to invest time, energy and money.  I know sometimes you have to spend money to make money, but when it comes to fundraisers it’s nearly impossible to calculate all the costs (i.e. wear and tear of building property).  Plus why not save the money you would have spent on the fundraiser and just put it towards the cause or trip you are planning to take?
  • It’s An Unnecessary Risk:  I admit I’m biased because I’ve been burned, but if you don’t raise enough money you’ll end up owing.  There is nothing worst than coming out of a fundraiser in debt.  And if you fail once, it’s even harder to convince people to jump on board the next time.
  • It’s Consumer Driven:  When you do a fundraiser you are basically selling something (a fun time, car, etc.).  Fundraising is a nice sounding way of turning a profit.  If you consistently fund raise you’ll be under the pressure to provide your participants with cool stuff or an awesome time or else you won’t get their money.

Some of you might be thinking, “Chris, if we can’t fund raise, then what should we do?” My solution, spend the time and energy teaching teens how to tithe.  We’ve used several resources (i.e. Dave Ramsey’s Generation Change), we do a message series every year and we make it a priority when it comes to our one on one mentoring.  If you can raise the giving that’s happening at your church then you should be able to budget the costs of trips and events you want to do.
The problem with teaching tithing is it takes time, but the fruits are worth it.  When you teach tithing you teach your students to not only invest in the local church but how to honor God.  Where fundraising can be about “me” tithing is all about our relationship with God.  And as it says in Malachi:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Do you agree that fund raising can be damaging to youth ministry?  Please share your thoughts.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • We don’t need to fund raise for our general expenses–we use budgeted money and money given by parents and students to run the program. We do raise money for our annual mission trip. Two of our annual fundraisers are dinner/nights out and I don’t think our congregation looks at it as consumeristic–they are supporting their missionaries. The third fundraiser is parking cars at an annual street festival that begins right next to our church building. The merits of that can be argued, but the street festival is held each year for non-profits to raise money over a weekend–you can’t have a booth unless you’re a non-profit.

    We always make all of our money. Last night’s fundraiser put us over by $150 (which we’ll give to the ministries we’ll work with in New Orleans this Summer).

    I get what you’re saying–just have a different perspective.

  • Becky,
    I agree with you that there will be times when we need to raise support for certain initiatives and it seems like you are all very focused with how you do that. My question to youth workers is where is teaching tithing on their priority list of topics? In my opinion it should be in the top 5 of what we teach.

  • Well, those are true, challenging words (which I always welcome). I’m not good at teaching tithing and have not made it a priority for my youth. And you’re right–I probably should.

  • Becky, thanks for your honest response. I appreciate what you do, I admit I’m no where near perfect either.

  • I did 8 fundraisers last year and wasted a ton of time, energy, and good will. Finally, I figured out an investment based (stockholders) strategy where adults are giving to the program/mission trip based on how they feel called. We made thousands of dollars more by doing less. Sure, we should be able to support our ministry with our budget, but right now that is not going to happen.

  • Katie,

    That’s amazing, good job with that, in what way did you share the vision?

    Obviously are budgets are affected by more than what parents and students give. It’s a church wide effort. Realistically we won’t be able to support our ministry from our budget until the whole parish becomes a tithing parish. I think what Katie has suggested is a great alternative.

  • Anonymous

    Why dont you be part of GodTube.com’s flash mob. They are giving away $1500 to the winner. It is fun to engage your kids and if you win you raise a little bit of money. I think the website is http://www.godtube.com/30days