I had been preparing for my first international mission trip to Uganda for several weeks, and I had hit a wall financially. I wasn’t where I wanted to be at that point, and I was not very optimistic. I remember expressing my concern to a friend of mine and he stopped me mid-sentence, grabbed my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said,
“Hayley. Did God call you to go to Uganda?”
“Yes He did,” I replied.
“Well then there’s nothing to worry about! He will provide!”
And you know what, He did. Above and beyond.
I haven’t forgotten that moment. In fact, I have thought about it often when the stress of fundraising loomed overhead.
Fundraising for mission trips can be difficult and takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you regularly go. So I’ve put together a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to help those of you who won’t let a dollar amount stand in the way of what God is calling you to.
1. First things first, trust God as your Provider. He funds what He favors. If He has called you to go, He will provide a way. But that doesn’t mean you get to sit back and wait on checks to come in the mail. You will have to do your part.
“You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16
2. The main thing you should know is that where you are going, what you’ll be doing and how much it will cost is not the most important thing when you are fundraising. The most important thing is the why–why you are going and why you need support. If people do not understand your heart and your calling, they will be reluctant to support you. Let them know that this isn’t just a fun vacation they’re paying to send you on, but that their donation is impacting the kingdom of God!
3. The dollar amount should not take precedence over your relationship to the giver. No matter how much or how little people are able to donate, be thankful! Treat every donor as if they are a member of your team–because they are! They may not be able to jump on a plane with you, but they are sending you and they are praying for you. That is vital! Keep them involved in the conversation with stories and pictures.
4. Use your skills to provide something for the giver. I personally find it very difficult to have someone just write me a check expecting nothing in return. I know that the donor typically sees it as giving to the Lord, not to me, but I still try to give them something in return if I can. Even if it is just a hand-written thank you note.
Here is a list of fundraisers I have held in the past:
Babysitting Nights. Gather up several of your friends and host a Babysitting Night at your church! I have done this several times and let me tell you, the parents REALLY appreciate it. These nights are also really great if your whole team is fundraising. You can partner together and split the monies raised.
- Ask parents to RSVP with their kids’ names and ages.
- Organize them by age range and create a schedule including several games, dinner and ending the night with a movie.
- Have the parents bring a bagged dinner for each child.
- Ask for a minimum of $10/kid, but make it known that donations above that price are welcomed.
- Host these throughout the year and advertise them for specific purposes: Valentine’s, a break while the kids are home for summer, Christmas present shopping, etc.
- Have a sign-in sheet ready for the parents to leave their cell #s in case of emergency.
Get Creative. Make something or provide a service that you can sell. This can be a lot of work, but ultimately it is so rewarding!
- Make and sell handmade Christmas ornaments, keychains, art, etc.
- Make the packaging cute and unique, and include a thank you note
- Family Photo Shoots. This one was a BIG hit when I was fundraising for Uganda. And it is so much fun for you AND the families!
- Book 2-3 Saturdays of 1 hour photo sessions starting at 8:00 am and charge $100 per family.
- Included a disc or digital downloads of 30 or so edited photos.
- One year I even included a custom Christmas Card design incorporating their photos for an additional $50.
- If you aren’t a photographer, consider asking a photographer friend to donate their time with mini sessions.
Sell Customized T-shirts. Using an organization like FundtheNations, create a custom t-shirt that you can sell. I’ve done this twice now and both times have been very successful.
- Make sure the shirts are a good quality! Do your research. Both shirts I have sold have been extremely comfortable but not too fitted, and durable.
- Provide the shirt in various styles if possible – tank tops, short sleeved, v-neck, crew neck, long-sleeved.
- Charge at least $20 per shirt so that there is a large enough profit margin once you’ve paid for the production of the shirt.
- Use an order form like this one to keep track of your orders – T-Shirt Order Form
Give Specific Needs. Use a fundraising website such as PlumFund and list out specific needs your team has that they can give to such as meals, items for donation, flights, etc.
A few other ideas: Bake sale, yard sale, fundraiser concert, car wash, pet sit, send out support letters, offer yard services, etc.
Once you’ve returned from your trip, be sure to send out an email or newsletter to your donors thanking them and letting them know how their money was used – and include photos! This keeps you accountable to them and helps them feel as if they were on the ground with you!
Finally, whatever you do, however you seek support, don’t let the cost of an overseas mission trip stop you! Stepping out in faith that the Lord will provide will teach you so much about Him and about yourself!
Are there any fundraisers you’d add to this list? Leave a comment and let me know!