how to have a successful mission trip fundraiser

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

May 4, 2009

I wish that I could afford to just pay for myself (and my family) to go on missions trips all the time. BUT…   I live in the same reality that most of you do. Too often there is not enough month left at the end of the money…

Even if I did have the money, there are LOTS of reasons to find outside financial support when going on a mission trip. A couple of the big ones are…

  1. mission trip partnering, mission trip fundraiserFaith strengthened by God’s provision
  2. Leads towards humility rather than pride
  3. Builds accountability rather than autonomy

And if I am honest, fundraising for my (very expensive) trip to Kenya and Uganda has been one of the biggest stress points for me as I prepare.

My fundraising plans include a few different pieces that I thought that I would share with you here…

  • A fundrasing letter campaign (here’s mine)
  • An email campaign using missionmatchup.com (see my trip profile)
  • A bake sale after a Sunday service at my church (details below)
    • $50 of baking materials out of my pocket
    • Other cakes, cookies and brownies donated by family/friends
    • $250 worth of baked goods donated by a local Amish restaurant (thanks Willard from Troyer’s Dutch Heritage!)
    • Asking only for donations we made $1400!
  • Engage the online community through this blog

But rather than copying the specific things that I’ve done, I’d like to share some of the best advice that I’ve gotten regarding holding a successful mission trip fundraiser. I’ve learned that the keys to a successful mission trip fundraising effort are…

  1. Strong relationships
    In a way, this is a step that begins LONG before you ever even plan a trip at all. The truth is that people will invest more into people that they like. And this doesn’t mean putting on a ‘fake’ nice-guy attitude. It means really investing in your relationships with other people. It means regularly putting others before yourself. And don’t do it so that you can get something out of them later on. Do it because that’s what Christian brotherhood is all about.
    .
  2. Connecting your message closely to the Gospel
    It is also important for people to see how your trip is connected to the Gospel of Christ. The more closely it is connected, then the more important it becomes to people. In my church, I had the opportunity to get up front and share briefly about my trip as the congregation prayed for me. This also happened to be the same day that I did my bake sale (mentioned above). What I shared went something like this…

atpulpit, mission trip fundraiser

I’m going to be joining a ministry called Five Talents International on a trip to Kenya and Uganda. Five Talents is a faith-based organization that specializes in microfinance. In case you are not familiar with what that is, it is a great tool used in the fight against extreme poverty. Basically it is just like you getting a small business loan, but these microloans are for small amounts like $50 that allow people to buy tools, equipment, or livestock that will help them to generate a regular income for themselves.

Our team will be going over there to teach these people basic, Christian business skills that will help them to be successful with the microloans that they will be getting. In fact, the lesson that I am primarily responsible for is the finance lesson, which is very similar to something like a Crown Financial seminar that we might have here in our church. But regardless of the lesson, we teach them to put God first, and we use the Word of God as the foundation for everything that we do.

But this trip is about more than just the microloans or the teaching. The more that I learn about these people, not only do I see many cultural differences, but I also see that they are very much like you and me. They are mothers and fathers with hopes and dreams, and with kids that they want to provide the best that they can for. Their kids get sick just like ours do, but the difference is that where we have doctors everywhere and drugstores on every corner, they don’t have the luxury of resources like that or the means to pay for them. So when a disease like malaria has such a high mortality rate over there, it is often not because the disease itself is so deadly, but it is deadly because they lack the means to be able to treat it. Therefore, something like malaria is a disease of poverty.

So personally I try to identify with the father who worries about not being able to provide medical care for his kids, and who also has to let his kids go to bed hungry every night. And it is things like this that cause these people to live with a great deal of shame, and with a lack of hope.

So like I said… For me this trip is not as much about the loans or the Christian teaching that we will be taking over there, and that is much needed… But this trip is about delivering hope in the name of Jesus. It is about delivering dignity in the name of Jesus. And that is something that I feel extremely blessed to be a part of…

To give you some perspective, we were only expecting to make about $600 or so with our bake sale… $700 if we were really lucky. So imagine our shock when we counted about $1400! And if I had to attribute that to anything, I attribute it to getting these two rules right.

I just pray that God continue to be glorified through this whole experience! I can certainly see His hand in all of this, and am encouraged by His strength and provision. Amen!


20 Comments

  1. Angel

    It was just a few months ago that I was fundraising like crazy for my 13 year old and three others to go on an AIM trip to Belgium. A lot of the fundraising fell onto my shoulders and I learned a lot!

    1. Dessert auctions are more fun than dessert sales. Get you a real auctioneer, take donations at the door as well, and get the ladies at church to help you out by doing the baking. Make sure there are plenty of plates, forks, and servers and then encourage everyone to share their dessert. It is a lot of fun!

    2. Keep a tally of what you are needing and what you have on the church bulletin board with information on how to donate.

    3. We had what we called a BBQ Potato Dinner. Basically, you go around and get orders from local businesses to serve them lunch on a particular day for a donation (we did not set a specific amount). Then you get local businesses to donate the food or sell it to you at a seriously discounted price (let them know that you will deliver each plate with a menu that provides information on who you sponsors are and how cheap the free advertising will be). Sam's Club sells all you need when it comes to to-go boxes, brown paper bags, etc. Get a team together, prepare your food, and serve it promptly. We served over 250 plates of BBQ, baked potatoes, green beans, and a brownie and profited over $1600. Plus, we had a lot of the businesses tell us that if we ever did it again to make sure that we came back and took their orders. 🙂

    4. We also offered a Canteen at church before Sunday School. We got the ladies of the church to bake us delicious goodies, brought in fresh fruit, made coffee and served it for a donation. We usually made a couple hundred each time and we might run 200-250 on an average Sunday.

    Of course, it might be too late to use any of these ideas but there is always a next time. 🙂

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      These are some great fundraising pointers! Especially the ideas that involved getting local businesses into to the mix…

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience here Angel! I always appreciate what you have to share!

      Reply
      • Angel

        Thanks! I am glad you liked them. We used all those, plus a bagged chili lunch (which I forgot to include) and a Paypal donate button on my website, and raised over $7000 in about three months time. 🙂

        The bagged chili lunch is easy too. Get people to pitch in and donate what you will need to make chili (all the ingredients plus your cheese. Also get some sodas.) Get a local restaurant to donate your silverware and napkins. Buy some bowls w/lids, single serving cups w/ lids for your cheese, and single packaged crackers (A lot of times restaurants will order these for you at their prices or they may even donate them to you. If you can’t do that, think Sam’s Club!).

        Type you up a little something explaining what you are raising money for with a thank you. I do it in Word with four to a sheet so they will easily cut and staple onto my paper bags.

        Make your chili, bag it up with the cheese, silverware and napkins. Fold your bag over and staple your thank you note on. Get your teams together and load up your cars with the bags and a cooler of sodas in different varieties. Then go hit up local businesses and offer them lunch and a drink for a donation. It is best to start around 10:30 and work until lunch time. It is impromptu, but we did 60 bags and made over $250. We also only had a three-person team!

        And, of course, you can do sandwiches and chips too … depending on the time of the year. Plus, some people won’t want the lunch but will still donate to help. 🙂

        Reply
  2. Angel

    It was just a few months ago that I was fundraising like crazy for my 13 year old and three others to go on an AIM trip to Belgium. A lot of the fundraising fell onto my shoulders and I learned a lot!

    1. Dessert auctions are more fun than dessert sales. Get you a real auctioneer, take donations at the door as well, and get the ladies at church to help you out by doing the baking. Make sure there are plenty of plates, forks, and servers and then encourage everyone to share their dessert. It is a lot of fun!

    2. Keep a tally of what you are needing and what you have on the church bulletin board with information on how to donate.

    3. We had what we called a BBQ Potato Dinner. Basically, you go around and get orders from local businesses to serve them lunch on a particular day for a donation (we did not set a specific amount). Then you get local businesses to donate the food or sell it to you at a seriously discounted price (let them know that you will deliver each plate with a menu that provides information on who you sponsors are and how cheap the free advertising will be). Sam's Club sells all you need when it comes to to-go boxes, brown paper bags, etc. Get a team together, prepare your food, and serve it promptly. We served over 250 plates of BBQ, baked potatoes, green beans, and a brownie and profited over $1600. Plus, we had a lot of the businesses tell us that if we ever did it again to make sure that we came back and took their orders. 🙂

    4. We also offered a Canteen at church before Sunday School. We got the ladies of the church to bake us delicious goodies, brought in fresh fruit, made coffee and served it for a donation. We usually made a couple hundred each time and we might run 200-250 on an average Sunday.

    Of course, it might be too late to use any of these ideas but there is always a next time. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Naomi Welsh

    Wow! I am really fascinated by your experience and advices. I really appreciate your good work.

    Reply
  4. Naomi Welsh

    Wow! I am really fascinated by your experience and advices. I really appreciate your good work.

    Reply
  5. Naomi Welsh

    Wow! I am really fascinated by your experience and advices. I really appreciate your good work.

    Reply
  6. Angel

    It was just a few months ago that I was fundraising like crazy for my 13 year old and three others to go on an AIM trip to Belgium. A lot of the fundraising fell onto my shoulders and I learned a lot!1. Dessert auctions are more fun than dessert sales. Get you a real auctioneer, take donations at the door as well, and get the ladies at church to help you out by doing the baking. Make sure there are plenty of plates, forks, and servers and then encourage everyone to share their dessert. It is a lot of fun!2. Keep a tally of what you are needing and what you have on the church bulletin board with information on how to donate.3. We had what we called a BBQ Potato Dinner. Basically, you go around and get orders from local businesses to serve them lunch on a particular day for a donation (we did not set a specific amount). Then you get local businesses to donate the food or sell it to you at a seriously discounted price (let them know that you will deliver each plate with a menu that provides information on who you sponsors are and how cheap the free advertising will be). Sam's Club sells all you need when it comes to to-go boxes, brown paper bags, etc. Get a team together, prepare your food, and serve it promptly. We served over 250 plates of BBQ, baked potatoes, green beans, and a brownie and profited over $1600. Plus, we had a lot of the businesses tell us that if we ever did it again to make sure that we came back and took their orders. :)4. We also offered a Canteen at church before Sunday School. We got the ladies of the church to bake us delicious goodies, brought in fresh fruit, made coffee and served it for a donation. We usually made a couple hundred each time and we might run 200-250 on an average Sunday.Of course, it might be too late to use any of these ideas but there is always a next time. 🙂

    Reply
  7. BibleDude

    These are some great fundraising pointers! Especially the ideas that involved getting local businesses into to the mix…

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience here Angel! I always appreciate what you have to share!

    Reply
  8. BibleDude

    These are some great fundraising pointers! Especially the ideas that involved getting local businesses into to the mix…Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience here Angel! I always appreciate what you have to share!

    Reply
  9. Angel

    Thanks! I am glad you liked them. We used all those, plus a bagged chili lunch (which I forgot to include) and a Paypal donate button on my website, and raised over $7000 in about three months time. 🙂

    The bagged chili lunch is easy too. Get people to pitch in and donate what you will need to make chili (all the ingredients plus your cheese. Also get some sodas.) Get a local restaurant to donate your silverware and napkins. Buy some bowls w/lids, single serving cups w/ lids for your cheese, and single packaged crackers (A lot of times restaurants will order these for you at their prices or they may even donate them to you. If you can't do that, think Sam's Club!).

    Type you up a little something explaining what you are raising money for with a thank you. I do it in Word with four to a sheet so they will easily cut and staple onto my paper bags.

    Make your chili, bag it up with the cheese, silverware and napkins. Fold your bag over and staple your thank you note on. Get your teams together and load up your cars with the bags and a cooler of sodas in different varieties. Then go hit up local businesses and offer them lunch and a drink for a donation. It is best to start around 10:30 and work until lunch time. It is impromptu, but we did 60 bags and made over $250. We also only had a three-person team!

    And, of course, you can do sandwiches and chips too … depending on the time of the year. Plus, some people won't want the lunch but will still donate to help. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Angel

    Thanks! I am glad you liked them. We used all those, plus a bagged chili lunch (which I forgot to include) and a Paypal donate button on my website, and raised over $7000 in about three months time. :)The bagged chili lunch is easy too. Get people to pitch in and donate what you will need to make chili (all the ingredients plus your cheese. Also get some sodas.) Get a local restaurant to donate your silverware and napkins. Buy some bowls w/lids, single serving cups w/ lids for your cheese, and single packaged crackers (A lot of times restaurants will order these for you at their prices or they may even donate them to you. If you can't do that, think Sam's Club!).Type you up a little something explaining what you are raising money for with a thank you. I do it in Word with four to a sheet so they will easily cut and staple onto my paper bags.Make your chili, bag it up with the cheese, silverware and napkins. Fold your bag over and staple your thank you note on. Get your teams together and load up your cars with the bags and a cooler of sodas in different varieties. Then go hit up local businesses and offer them lunch and a drink for a donation. It is best to start around 10:30 and work until lunch time. It is impromptu, but we did 60 bags and made over $250. We also only had a three-person team! And, of course, you can do sandwiches and chips too … depending on the time of the year. Plus, some people won't want the lunch but will still donate to help. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Robert

    Thanks for the interesting post, i liked reading it.

    Reply
  12. Ashley

    Yes Support letter are the key I remember when I was 17 and went to Romania it was a big help! Raising $3000 is a big deal to anyone let alone a 17 year old but with lots of hard work I made it! I also just started a fundrasing business so I can help people and churches go on mission trips check out my site http://crossroadsbookstoreandsports.com/fundrai

    Reply
  13. David Knapp

    Thanks for the great article and coming by my site. Glad I had a great article to trackback to.

    Reply
  14. David Knapp

    Thanks for the great article and coming by my site. Glad I had a great article to trackback to.

    Reply
  15. Technocon

    Fundraising is sometimes the most harrowing experience connected with mission trips. I know myself it was a struggle on my first mission trip. That’s why I have started a crowdfunding platform specifically for Christian mission trips. It is still in beta and contains test data now but please check it out at http://missiontripfunding.com. We hope to finish testing and go live sometime in June 2013. Thanks for any feedback on this.

    Reply

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how to have a successful mission trip fundraiser

by Dan King time to read: 5 min
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