Fundraising events can be a good tool for church youth groups to fund mission trips, camps, facility upgrades, and other activities. Depending on what your goals are, they can be local or reach people across the world.
So, whether your youth group is gearing up for a mission trip or in need of new sound equipment, a church fundraiser can be a great way to reach your financial needs—and a lot of fun, too!
Here are 50 of the best church fundraising ideas for your youth group members to meet their fundraising goals, organized from easy ways to more complex.
1. Classic Bake Sale
This is one of the first fundraisers that usually comes to mind, and it still rings true as a very easy church fundraising idea. Probably the easiest.
Here you must involve those special members of the congregation who bake the best pies and cakes. Ask them if they could donate a cake, a pie, cookies, or other baked desserts that are easy to sell in pieces or by the slice. You can also spice it up by having a friendly competition for the title of “Best Baker.” Surely, they will participate, and the treats can be sold after your Sunday service or other church services.
2. Yard Sale
Like the first option, a yard sale (or a rummage sale) is one of the primary ways a lot of Sunday schools or youth ministries raise funds. You start out by gathering donated items and could branch out to incorporate board games during the yard sale or a fun run for the family members. Overall, a yard sale is a simple, fun way to raise money.
3. Car Wash
Perfect for the warm summer months, washing cars can be fun and provide team building for students. Youth groups can do this after a Sunday morning service in the church parking lot. This should be approved by the church leadership and advertised well in advance (1 month at least).
A fun little addition is to issue “parking lot tickets” on the day of the car wash. What you do is post advertising on your church’s local social media pages and bulletin board that people will be issued “parking lot tickets” that day. Youth groups can issue tickets for the cleanest car, dirtiest, etc. You should create a checklist noting the reason why a ticket has been issued, just like a real ticket! Consider having a prize for the dirtiest car…as an incentive to have the owner go through the car wash!
4. Silent Auction
A special event like a silent auction of donated items from members and local businesses can be a big hit! These can be arranged in person or by having an online auction. A hybrid of both an online and in-person auction is possible, but does have the potential to complicate the process.
Someone with experience in social media marketing can make this a great success. It’s important here to involve people who are skilled at arts and crafts. Handmade articles are of high value, for example, a community/youth group made a quilt or a bench covered with tiles with handprints of the Sunday school students. Snowballfundraising.com appears to be a notable website to host this event (though I have no direct experience with this platform).
5. Pie in the Face
This is a great idea if you have a leader or pastor willing to get pied in the face! Sell as many tickets as you possibly can, then have a drawing. The winner gets to throw a pie in their face. Make this part of a carnival at your church. You can have a pie-throwing competition. It creates a lot of fun and excitement among carnival-goers. Have buckets of water and paper towels handy to wash off the pie.
6. Movie Night Under the Stars
Another great easy fundraiser is hosting a movie night under the stars at the church. You can sell tickets and run a concession stand for movie-goers. You can create it as a romantic “date-night” for parents and couples for Valentine’s Day and include a simple dinner.
Have colored full picnic blankets laid out, candles, fairy lights, and dinner in a picnic basket. The picnic basket can be sold separately for extra income. And make sure to pick a really good movie!
8. Talent Show
Is your youth group full of talent? If so, showcasing individuals and groups singing, performing skits, doing comedy, etc., is bound to draw a crowd! Charge an entrance fee and sell beverages and snacks. Have the different groups in church, e.g., pastors, Sunday school, etc., perform at least one time.
To get extra mileage out of the talent show, you could see if you could get a business (or individual) to sponsor you (donate) for you to have your dress rehearsal a night or two before the grand opening at a nursing home. The residents at the nursing home would surely be entertained!
9. Making Bail
This one is sure to be fun! Tie up or “lock up” one of your leaders or pastors. Require bail to be posted and refuse to let them go until the “bail” is paid. Keep a running tally on a poster board or large piece of paper to show how close they are to making bail. This will build up the excitement! Have a theme song played every time the bid goes up, or the jailed person tries to escape.
You can incorporate this with a mock trial the day before where there have been multiple accusers, and then you sentence them to jail time the next day. Accusations can include sitting in the same place in the church, a choir member can be accused of having the most beautiful voice, etc. Have fun!
10. Game Night
Using donated prizes, host a game night charging for tickets to play games, such as horseshoes, popping balloons, etc. You can arrange a video gaming night. Have teams at different locations playing online games against each other. Each team has a name, a banner, etc., and ends the night with a sleepover and a midnight feast at church. Be creative. Think out of the box!
This works best when someone can donate either one big item or a few small items. This can be done the traditional way, but a great way to go is digital. You can find designs for raffle tickets, social marketing, videos, and so much more online on websites like Canva.com. As of the date of this post, nonprofit organizations and schools could apply for the pro membership and enjoy the benefits for free. All you need to do is to create an account and fill in the online application. The application process takes 7-10 business days.
12. Bingo Night
Another classic sure to draw a crowd! You can make a little extra money by running a concession stand as well. A bingo night is a great fundraising idea to include senior citizens. Make a theme party for them and have your youth group do performances from their era. Waiters can also dress up for this as well.
13. Selling T-Shirts
Having a t-shirt sale is a popular fundraiser because it is fun and easy. The students can design or vote on a design and sell both in-person and online. A t-shirt fundraiser is a great opportunity to create an online store for your church/youth group to have a constant income. Other useful items, like baseball caps, cups, etc., can also be sold. It’s a fun, effective way to develop entrepreneurial skills and employment opportunities within the congregation.
14. Coffee Bar
Everyone loves a good cup of coffee! Have the students sell coffee in the morning to the congregation members before church services, or set up a stand somewhere in the community. Offer donuts, pastries, cookies, biscotti, pies and even pre-ordered takeaway lunches.
15. Trivia Night
Invite the congregation and community to a trivia night! Have teams pay an entry fee, as well as a spectator fee. Offer concessions to make extra! You can spice up the evening with a theme and let the trivia revolve around the theme of the topic. Invite other churches and youth groups to participate with a trophy as a reward.
16. Karaoke Night
Hosting a karaoke night is similar in many ways to having a talent show, but it is potentially a lot more exciting. You can set up the fundraising event to charge either by admission or by song. Like with bingo and trivia nights, it can turn into a theme night, inviting other churches and youth groups to participate. Have a competition for the most hilarious song or duet.
Here are some tips to make this a great experience:
- Have a DJ with very good sound equipment.
- Make sure the DJ is set up approximately an hour before events start to ensure that all the relevant equipment is working.
- Have backup equipment ready in case of power outages or any under unforeseen circumstances.
17. Youth Group Calendars
Work together to design a calendar to sell to the community and church. Include important dates and, if possible, include the year’s fundraising activities on the calendar. Planning is a crucial part of a fundraiser, and if printed on the calendar, people will know to plan for it.
18. Candle Sales
This has been a common fundraiser for many years. Companies such as ABC Fundraising can be a great source for fundraisers like this. If you plan to make the candles yourself, Pinterest is a great place to source ideas. It takes practice and can be incorporated into a great team-building opportunity for youth groups.
19. Dog Wash
A dog was is just like a car wash…only with four paws instead of wheels! Consider planning to have it on a Friday or Saturday instead of Sunday morning services if you think you will be able to get enough people to come. Have pre-bookings for the doggy parlor. Just remind owners to bring a leash for their dogs. Also, put on very old clothes, especially if you end up holding the event on Sunday. You don’t want wet dog hair and smell on your Sunday church clothes.
Try to get a local vet to sponsor veterinarian services for the day. You can also have a dog adoption day with it.
20. Lemonade Stand
A classic lemonade stand in a busy area on a warm day is always a hit. The stand can be set up during a walk or bike-a-thon. You can also put up a stand at a sports complex in your community or get permission from a nearby mall to sell on Saturdays.
21. Face Painting
Do you have artists in your midst? Hold a face painting night or have face painting offered to the younger children during Sunday school, charging per face!
Kids love this! This can also become part of your online store, where you offer it as a service for birthday parties, school concerts, etc.
22. Pancake Dinner
Offer a phenomenal breakfast or dinner and charge per meal. This is a great idea if have a coffee shop set up at church. You could turn it into a monthly or quarterly event. If you are doing the Youth Group Calendar fundraiser (#17 above), make sure to include this on your youth calendar. Be adventurous with the menu. Try different pancake recipes from around the world. Pinterest is again a great source for ideas.
23. Parent’s Night Out
Host a night out for parents (or couples) by serving dinner and a movie. Students can serve as the wait staff. This can be incorporated into the Movie Night Under the Stars (#6 above). Remember to create a romantic atmosphere. Decorate with fairy lights, candles, and white and red color schemes. You can offer this for Valentine’s Day. Include a jukebox or DJ for the night. Keep the menu simple! You can serve tuna salad or soup for a starter. The main course can include chicken pie, salad, and a garlic bread roll.
End the three courses with vanilla ice cream with a selection of sauces as the dessert. Take the season into consideration when planning this event.
24. Selling Lollipops
You’d be surprised at how many children (and adults) still enjoy a good lollipop! Oh, how they can bring back memories. Try to get hold of many varieties as possible. Old fashioned toffee apples in green and red are for sure a big seller. Wrap them with a card with a special message on it. It’s a great idea for Valentine’s, Mother’s, and Father’s Day.
25. Family Photoshoot
This takes someone with a great camera and an eye for photography. Offer mini photo sessions providing families with simple family portraits. Have a photo booth at a church carnival. Arrange for a variety of props such as pioneer clothing, superheroes and biblical clothing are some examples that can be used to spice up the photoshoot.
Take pledges in exchange for students completing projects around the community. Identify areas in the community that needs upliftment. Get local businesses to sponsor teams to complete the work. Just remember to arrange permission from local authorities where needed.
27. Virtual Road Race
A virtual road race is a creative way to reach a larger number of people. Similar to a walk-a-thon, only anyone can participate anywhere. Make pledges per mile, and those who sign up can run wherever they want to! You can set a specific date or give the runners a period to complete their runs. As with gaming night, try to end the race in one place. Include some beverages to end the night on a virtual runner’s high!
28. Craft Sale
Get creative and make some awesome pieces of work! You can accept donations to sell as well. Grandma and Grandpa, it’s a great time to show your skills to the younger generation! Get the whole congregation involved!
You can have items photographed and put online to be sold. Crafts can also be displayed after a church service or at a craft table during a carnival.
29. Used Book Sale
Similar to a yard sale, only more specific and bound to bring the readers out! Accept donations and host a sale. There will always be someone looking for that special book! Have permission from a local coffee shop or mall and sell the books there. A Saturday is a good time to sell, but if you know of a market somewhere that would be more effective, sell it there.
Charge per student and spend the night locked in the church doing fun activities. You can also have a sponsorship/donation form and get sponsors. Have small awards for who stays up the longest, has the most energy, wins a dancing competition, etc. Be creative with the activities. Students can also have a cook-off competition during the night. For this one, a tip is to limit each member of the team to cooking for only 5 minutes to create their dish.
31. Direct Mail
Create awesome flyers and cards describing what you are raising money for, what your event is to raise those funds, and how to give. You can use the postal mail to send the information to physical addresses, and you can also get some exercise and have the students hand them out to people themselves before and after church services.
As for events that you are contacting people about, get creative! You could host a safari night where participants dress up as if they are going on an African safari. Have a route and let each group start at a different spot on the route.
There are a lot of different foods to choose from for a cook-off, such as BBQ, chili, or even a baking contest! This is another activity you could do for your Direct Mail event (#31 above).
Another great idea is to host your own Masterchef series over a couple of weeks. Get it on film and showcase it on the night of the final night of the competition. Sell tickets for the final night to show the participants’ progress.
33. Sporting Event Parties
Is there a big game coming up? Host a watch-party offering concessions and a big screen. This is a great event for Father’s Day or for a father and son day. A light dinner could be included in the price and arranged buffet style so it is easy to set up and execute.
34. Toy Drive
Collect gently used or new toys and send them to a toy drive facilitator, who will then pay you for them. Drop boxes can be placed in strategic places at church or Sunday school to be collected over a two-month period.
Host well-known musicians or a line up of local musicians. Charge an entrance fee as well as provide concessions. Some celebrities will do it for free. Make a list of celebrity performers, and start asking! Instead of a concert, your group could opt for a melodrama with an interesting plot involving the pastor playing the big bad wolf.
36. Sporting Tournament
Hold a fun run for people in the church and encourage them to invite their friends and family. Charge by individual or by team and hold a raffle at the event to make a little extra all at once.
37. Selling Cookie Dough
There are plenty of companies that will offer pre-made cookie dough, or you could work together and make your own to sell. Research your local options through social media and internet searches for your area. The best time for this fundraiser is over the Christmas holiday season.
A walk-a-thon can be a challenging event to organize. You will want to have people pledge per mile. You can also do a raffle, sell concessions and sell other merchandise such as t-shirts. Visit supermarkets, restaurants, etc., to get sponsorships for the raffle prizes after the race.
39. To-Go Meals
Offer to-go meals to the community either made by students or volunteers. Don’t complicate the menu. Keep it simple and affordable!
If you have time, have students collect pledges (usually up to a few dollars) per grade. At the end of the semester, collect your pledges. It is a great way to up students’ grades. A target can be set by parents.
41. Gift Wrapping
Offering present wrapping to those in the church and the community typically only works around the holidays. Use simple, classic designs, and have a variety of wrapping paper for adult presents, young child presents, and teenager presents. Have gift cards available to attach to the wrapped gift.
42. Easter Egg Hunt
Similar to gift-wrapping, this is a seasonal fundraiser but it can draw a large crowd! Charge per child, have your students hide eggs, and watch the fun happen. Hide a special egg in an obvious not-so-obvious place.
You can also offer to hide plastic easter eggs with stickers inside in people’s yards for a set fee. Consider the cost of the plastic eggs in your pricing, as it will be easiest to let the recipients keep the plastic eggs so you can hide them and then move onto the next house.
43. Odd Jobs
There’s usually someone who needs their yard mowed, weeds pulled or fence painted. Also, to serve the elderly in your community who may have limited mobility, advertise in senior citizen centers for jobs like grocery shopping, driving services, etc. This idea can be a continuous stream of income and way of helping the community.
44. Shoe Drive
Similar to a toy or food drive, collect gently used or new pairs of shoes and send them to an organization (like Funds2Orgs.com) that will pay per pair. You can determine the type of shoes needed and ask for donations for specific shoe sizes.
45. Selling Gourmet Popcorn
This usually is done through a company but is always a hit with everyone! Pinterest once again has great popcorn recipes. An all-time favorite is caramel popcorn! Experiment with yummy flavors like salted caramel and unusual flavors like chocolate orange.
46. Online Donation Page
This online fundraising campaign can be done through Facebook, your church website, or a GoFundMe page. You’ll have to work together to spread the word, but overall, this is very easy. A great way to do this is through Convoy with raffle tickets.
Marketing is the key to success! It’s of utmost importance to have someone who has social marketing skills in promoting any type of online fundraising. Don’t underestimate the age of your marketer. An 11-year-old can create an awesome advertisement for a Sunday school fundraiser if given the opportunity.
47. Babysitting Service
Offer to watch kids at the church so parents can take a break! Offer fun games and movies for the kids.
Create a permanent babysitting service as part of your church’s ongoing services. Bookings can be made via Facebook. You only need to create an email address. Link it to the Facebook page, and you are all set up.
You will want to ensure that babysitters are background checked and that there is someone at the church babysitting events at all times who is certified in First Aid and CPR. You should have first aid kits handy and know who to call (i.e., 911) in a medical emergency. Also, make sure to have secure sign-in and sign-out procedures and the contract information for parents while they are away.
Teenagers aged 13-18 are a very suitable age for babysitting. A small fee can be allocated for the service rendered by the teenager. It’s a safe way to make pocket money, and they can also be taught about tithing.
Offer the congregation and youth group a chance to give by text using simple software such as Snowball Fundraising (though I have no direct experience with this platform). You can advertise online as well. All you need to do is, choose a local, toll-free, or shortcode number for your Text-to-Give number. Setup is fast, so you can start using Text-to-Give right away.
This can be advertised on the church’s bulletin board as a fundraiser toward a specific goal.
You could use a platform like Donor Box or Fundly to promote a page you create for your fundraiser (though I have no direct experience with these platforms). This is one of the most challenging ways to fundraise on our list. You will want to ensure that your page is full and detailed with information. It helps to add goals and other vital information as to how the funds will be used—then it’s as simple as sharing! A crowdfunding campaign would include a single fundraising page with a set goal. An example of this would be raising funds for your church building project by hosting a carnival. As with any online fundraiser, marketing is an essential and effective way to do this type of fundraising.
50. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
This is the most difficult method on our list. It is an add-on to crowdfunding, as it allows other people and organizations to raise money on your behalf. This allows for multiple pages working on your behalf, which leads to not only more funds but often more supporters of your youth group. We have read that companies like Snowball Fundraising can help set you up for success (though I have no direct experience with this platform). Examples of this type of funding will include sponsorships for a fun run or bike-a-thon. Think out-of-the-box when marketing this. Get a “magnetic theme” to draw’s people attention to this cause.
Youth groups can dress up and go to the local mall to market the cause. It’s fun and exciting!
No matter how big or small your youth group is, these are 50 great church fundraising ideas that your youth ministry can use for raising extra money. Not only are they profitable fundraisers, but a lot of fun to participate in and are opportunities to bring your church and the community together. You can connect with church members, people in the community, and overall a large number of people in your fundraising efforts for your youth group’s own fundraising goal or in support of your church.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.