Alexis Waid
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Ideas For Youth Group Fundraisers

The article below is filled with ideas that are tried and true methods I have personally used in my previous youth groups. I will share with you which fundraisers you should use and which ones you shouldn’t use and why. Plus I have a secret ingredient for you to utilize to make every fundraiser I suggest a success!

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Reasons To Do Youth Group Fundraisers

The first one is the most obvious:

Because you need money!

Unfortunately, a lot of churches do not have the funds to allocate to the youth budget. So in order to do everything that you want in the youth ministry, you need to raise money.

To bring ownership and responsibility

There is something to say about youth working for their objective. If youth just sit back and allow all the adults to take care of the funds for their trip or whatever they are raising money for, then they have no accountability or responsibility in raising their own support. Since we are trying to build character and Christ-like virtues within our youth, working towards their goals is a noble pursuit that helps youth develop further.


Youth Group fundraisers are so much fun and they bring an opportunity to team build. Almost every fundraiser I have ever ran had the youth fully immersed in the project. This helped bring cohesion and teamwork within the group. I only fundraise for retreats or mission trips, so it was a way for the youth going on those trips to bond even more beforehand.


Have you ever heard of youth groups described as “A One-Ear Mickey Mouse?” In that description, the church is the big circle and the youth group is a small circle that is part of the church, but really is out on its own. Well, fundraisers can build help build or reinforce a bridge between the congregation and the youth group.

As you will see later in the article, there are ways youth group fundraisers can incorporate the congregation and make connection points to the church at large. This is just one of the crazy valuable results of effective youth group fundraisers that go beyond gaining more money for the ministry!

Reasons Not To Do Youth Group Fundraisers

To raise support for fun trips without any Christian edification

Look, the reason why we are a youth group is because of Jesus. Youth groups are not a social club. While youth groups do have a social piece, youth groups are a part of a church. They are under the wing of Christian education and exist to form discipleship. While we can and should have fun elements involved, the goal of whatever we are raising money for should be to help them grow in their faith.

Now, I do say this with the awareness that some of you out there are doing ministry with kids that are in extreme poverty and have no fun opportunities in their lives. In these scenarios, I completely understand that maybe the money raised is simply to go out to eat or go have a fun night of mini-golf. If the mission of your youth group is to reach underprivileged kids and you want to raise funds so they can do other things that their peers do, then by all means! However, there is still an opportunity to bring faith into any trip or event. There are always opportunities to have a discussion about God while you all are eating or use it to build bonds with the kids so that you can go deeper with them when the time is right.

Types of Youth Group Fundraisers To Avoid

Selling items – kits, donuts, wrapping paper, etc.

The profit margin on these types of fundraisers is rather small. So in order to get a lot of money raised, you will need to sell A LOT. That’s why when these fundraisers happen in schools for fundraisers, there are incentives for the kids who sell the most, it’s a volume game. And a school usually has many, many more kids than your youth group involved in selling.

If you find a fundraising product that has a great profit margin then by all means pursue it. But more likely than not, the profit margin is relatively small and there isn’t a lot of incentive for the youth to sell these products even if it’s for funds for their trip or whatever you are planning to use the raised money for.

Car Washes (or any potentially problematic scenario)

Honestly, this is up to your discretion, but car washes can raise some concerns, especially if you do not closely control how the youth participate in them and what they wear. I’ve even seen youth washing cars in their swimsuits (not any of the groups I’ve led!) and more than once. If you want to do a car wash, be sure to lay down strong rules about conduct and clothing.

In general, think through closely if a fundraiser will put youth in a vulnerable or morally questionable situation and avoid at all cost.

What Youth Group Fundraisers You Should Do

Ideas For Youth Group Fundraisers | Youth Ministry | Church Fundraisers | Small Group Ministry

I have had massive success with most of the fundraisers I suggest below. Some I share on this list I haven’t done personally, but can tell they have great potential for success and plan to do them in the future!

Sponsor a youth

This is a great youth group fundraiser! Rather than selling or doing anything, you can create a campaign that leads people in the church to sponsor a youth to go on a retreat or mission trip. Individual church members, Sunday school classrooms, small groups, and even differing ministries of the church can sponsor a youth to help them fund their trip.

In order to do a “sponsor a youth” fundraiser, you need to:

  • Communicate with the church clearly about the fundraiser and what you need.
  • Create an application for the youth and a parent or guardian to complete as to why they want and need to participate. This will help filter the kids that really need the help and create accountability and ownership in the process.
  • Come up with a plan for the youth and the sponsor to interact so a relationship can begin and blossom.
  • Ask the sponsor to not only help financially help the youth, but to also pray for the youth.
  • After the retreat or mission trip, have the youth reach out to thank their sponsor with either phone call, a meeting, or a handwritten letter expressing their gratitude and the highlights of the trip.

I would caution that you need to make sure each youth is sponsored, so no one is left out, which might take a lot of work on your end. One way to do this is by only allowing a certain number of youth to be able to participate. Or you can have a whole bunch of people support the youth and divide up the funds evenly throughout the trip. It really is up to you how to do this one. Just make sure the youth who really need the funds get the help they need so they don’t miss out!

Host a Dinner/Meal

I have hosted a couple of different types of dinner sales. My most successful one was a chicken plate where a dad of a youth brought his commercial-size cooker and cooked chicken all day. The youth plated all the meals to go and we had a drive-through from 5pm-8pm and sold out way before the end of that time frame.

Starter Ideas:

  • BBQ
  • Pancake Breakfast
  • Spaghetti Dinner
  • Fancy Dinner
  • Themed Dinner

Figure out what type of dinner or meal you want to have and charge according to what is typical in the market for that type of food. Think about where you live and what people like or even what would entice people to pull their car over to buy a plate!

Ticketed Event

I also have had success in hosting a ticketed event. The youth group would yearly host a murder mystery night where we would assign characters beforehand and everyone came dressed up. We charged 20 dollars a ticket and served a meal. While it took some work beforehand, the youth LOVED the murder mystery dinner and so did the church. It was loads of fun and laughter and it brought in the moolah!

Some ideas you could do for a special event:

  • Escape Room
  • Murder Mystery Night
  • Bouncy House Event
  • Painting or Craft Night
  • Cooking Class
  • Scavenger Hunt

In order to raise money for the above ideas, all you need to do is set a ticket price.

Look at the market and see what it costs to go to an escape room or the cost of a ticket for a painting session. Then you will be able to figure out what to charge.

Make sure you do the event as well as you can! One of the best ways to do that is to identify any professionals in your church, like artists or chefs, and ask them if they would be willing to donate their skill to help the youth have a successful fundraiser.

The trick to this type of fundraiser is to provide something your community doesn’t have access to regularly. Be creative and really think about what the members of your church would like to do. What are their hobbies and interests?

Make a ticketed event fundraiser that your church and community would really love to come out and do!

Organize a Walk/Race

This could be amazingly fun and a way to bring the whole community together, especially your own church community!

Pick a type of walk or race, like a 5K. Then, pick a location, you could do it at a park or the local high school track, just make sure you get the proper permission for doing this. Then charge an entry fee, a standard is anywhere from $25-$35 and usually includes a shirt, which you will have to deduct from your profits. You don’t have to do a shirt, per se but people usually want to have a shirt as proof and honor for participating in a race.

Host an “a-thon”

People love participating in athons, from danceathons to bakeathons these are surefire ways to raise some more.

Types of “athons”

  • Danceathon
  • Chessathon
  • Walkathon
  • Random Acts of Kindness-athon
  • Cleanathon
  • Gameathon
  • Canathon
  • Liftathon

For more on “athons” check out this article.

Bake Sale

It may seem old-fashioned, but believe it or not, these things can bring in the dough! Seriously. You can either bake together as a youth group or you can assign each youth with one or two baked items to bring to sell.

Organize with the church and arrange to have the bake sale after service one Sunday and make sure there are no other food offerings that Sunday. For example, if donuts are usually given away free on Sunday morning, make sure you stop on the Sunday of your fundraiser and communicate with the congregation in the weeks leading up to it to bring some extra cash if they want some sweets.

Another option for the bake sale is to have only one type of dessert, but something with mass seasonal appeal. For example, every Memorial Day we would do an Apple Pie bake sale where the youth would make all of the apple pies and we would sell them to the members of the church after service. You could either preorder or buy on that day. We always made a lot of revenue from that sale as well!

Silent Auction

Survey the congregation and even the community, for things you can get donated for the auction. Many people have vacation homes, handmade items, or services or lessons they are willing to offer. You can even reach out to the businesses in your community to donate gift cards, services, and/or products. Business love to help the community they are part of and if you reach out you may be surprised by what they donate. And don’t forget about all the connections within your congregation! The people going to your church know people in the community and can reach out on the youth’s behalf for donations or services.

For the auction, take over the fellowship hall or meeting space and place your items that will be auctioned off with a piece of paper next to each so people can bid. You could start it one Sunday and close it the following Sunday allowing people to bid over the course of 7 days. So many people come in and out of the church throughout the week, and it gives people two chances to get in on the auction if they are only there on Sundays.

You can also hold a silent auction gala one evening and make a whole night out of it filled with tons of fun stuff and, of course, the silent auction fundraiser. You can even sell tickets for additional income!

Cake Walk

I’ve been part of a couple of churches that did this for a church-wide fundraiser and it was always so much fun and people loved it! To learn more about the fabulous cake walk fundraiser head over to Miss Betty Crocker’s blog post about it!

Pink Flamingo Fundraiser

“You’ve been flocked!” This is a super fun and exciting fundraiser that is almost like a game. The youth LOVE doing this, and the people in the church or community enjoy it too! Basically, you can pay to flock someone’s yard with plastic pink flamingos. In order to remove the flamingos also requires a fee.

In order to do this fundraiser, you need to make sure everyone is willing to participate, which means they understand if they’ve been flocked they will have to pay to have them removed. Of course, all money goes towards the youth and their funds!

The pro of this kind of fundraiser is that it is a virtually no-cost fundraiser, besides the purchase of the pink flamingos which you can find on Amazon, Walmart, or Oriental Trading.

Here’s a how to article for running a pink flamingo fundraiser.

3 Ways To Make Every Youth Group Fundraiser A Success

Organization is Key

It actually can take a lot of people and moving parts to pull off a fundraiser. The best way is to form a team of parents or volunteers who will help you successfully run a fundraiser. Meet with them regularly leading up to the fundraiser. Depending on how in-depth your fundraiser is, you may need to meet several times beforehand in order for it to be a success.


You need to have a communication plan. I repeat: you need to have a communication plan. Think about all the people who need to be informed and reminded about the fundraiser.

  • You need to keep the youth in the know and reminded, especially of their tasks.
  • You need to be in communication with the people who are helping you run the fundraiser, i.e. your committee.
  • You need to be in communication and keep tabs on the donors or sponsors if you are running a fundraiser with these elements.
  • You need to keep the church at large and the community informed about the fundraiser.
  • You need to be in contact with the church’s communication coordinator. Who does the bulletin, the PowerPoint slides for announcements, and the monthly newsletter? Get your fundraiser in these places where applicable.
  • You need to also utilize any spoken church announcement time to have yourself, and preferably a youth, give an announcement campaign every Sunday leading up to the event.
  • Plan to have youth go to adult Sunday school classrooms or small groups and share what the fundraiser is and why they are doing it. Church members love this and respond favorably!

My secret ingredient for success

Okay – here’s my secret ingredient to making EVERY youth group fundraiser a success. It’s all in the messaging. You need to convey to the church why the youth are doing this and why you need the funds.

The congregation is deeply invested in the youth, whether you have had experience with that or not. But it’s true members of the church care very much about youth and their faith journey. I can talk to ANY church member in ANY church and we all can agree that more youth need to be part of the church, and they have a desire to see youth have a real and lifelong relationship with Jesus.

—>And that is why we do what we do right? We are leading youth group because we care about youth and we love Jesus. Our ultimate desire is to have them become strong Christians who lean on the Lord in all that they do.

To create effective messaging, you need to find the common desire that literally every church member has and use it to help fund the ministry.

How you do this on the mass scale is by utilizing a great communication plan (see the ideas above.)

Alright, that’s all from me. I hope you this was helpful and I hope you have a very successful youth group fundraiser!!!

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Ideas For Youth Group Fundraisers | Youth Ministry | Church Fundraisers | Small Group Ministry