The Best No-Cost or Low-Cost Fundraising Ideas for Church Youth Groups

Updated on June 27, 2018
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Claudia helps out the church youth group and has a teenager who has been an active participant for three years.

A list of the best no or low-cost fundraisers for church youth groups.
A list of the best no or low-cost fundraisers for church youth groups. | Source

No church youth group really likes to raise money, but let's face it, there are times when it's a necessity. The group might be planning a big mission trip, a weekend retreat at a local camp, or even just need money for supplies.

Whatever the reason, sometimes you have to come up with a good fundraiser, and that is not always easy. Some churches are small and not able to give too much, others may have donor fatigue.

Luckily, teens seem to have some success when raising cash. Congregations usually like to give to them, and the easier you can make it for a donor, the better.

One thing you'll notice on this list is that many of the ideas don't require high up-front costs. The types of fundraisers that make people buys items to resell, or takes a large percentage of the funds raised, like candy or t-shirt sales, don't make a lot of money. They aren't always worth the effort, especially if your church is on the smaller side. They do make more sense in a larger church and can be quite fruitful.

So here they are, the best no or low-cost fundraisers for church youth groups.

Good luck with your event!

Quite possibly the easiest and most fruitful fundraiser for youth groups, the wall o' money always brings in much needed funds.
Quite possibly the easiest and most fruitful fundraiser for youth groups, the wall o' money always brings in much needed funds. | Source

Hands down, this is always a success and yields a nice amount of money for a small amount of effort.

You'll need the following:

  • A bulletin board prominently placed in the church. You can also use space on a board if there isn't an empty one available.
  • Blank envelopes
  • Fun and colorful signs and pictures

Basically, the Wall O' Money is envelopes with a dollar amount written on them and displayed on the bulletin board. Our church uses $1 through $50, but if you have a bigger church, why not put up $1 through $100 envelopes. Once done, there will be an envelope for every dollar amount. For example, the first envelope will have $1 written on it, the second one $2, the third one $3 and so on until you reach a $50 envelope. There's a sign at the top saying "Wall O' Money" and a note on one side saying what project(s) the group is raising funds for. You can also put pictures of the members up for more visual interest.

Once the board is up, have the youth leader, or better yet a couple members of the group who are brave enough to get up and speak, tell the congregation what it is about. If you have a church email list, send the information that way as well.

You may want to have someone print out a little note for each envelope giving instructions for the donation. For example, "Please put the cash or check made out to......in the envelope and place it in the offering plate. You may also give it to the church office. Thank you for supporting our youth!" Decorate the envelopes to make them more visually appealing too.

This is a nice fundraiser for a few reasons, the smaller amount envelopes are ideal for children, or those that are unable to give larger sums. People can also combine envelopes if they want to give a little bit more.

You'll find that those envelopes will be gone in no time, and the best part is that it's pretty good money. 50 envelopes will earn $1,275 and 100 envelopes will earn $5,050! Your group might even be surprised with more money since some people like to throw in a little bit extra in their envelope.

Everybody loves a bake sale and they are a great way to make some money for the church youth.
Everybody loves a bake sale and they are a great way to make some money for the church youth. | Source

Tried and true, bakes sales are an easy option for a low-cost fundraiser. Unfortunately, unless you have a big congregation, or are holding it at a large event, they don't bring in tons of money. They are still worth it though.

To organize the bake sale, contact all of the youth group members and get them and/or their family members to donate baked goods. You may even want to have one of your meetings be for baking goodies for the sale. You'll find that most folks will donate a couple of items. Also ask the congregation for some treats.

It's good to have a large selection of both individual and larger treats for sale. There are a couple of ways to price the goodies. Either ask for a donation, or have them priced already. The nice thing about asking for a donation is people will usually throw in a nice amount for the treats.

Make sure to advertise and remind the congregation about the sale. If the sale is at another location, like a festival, get the word out on social media too. Youth are really good at spreading messages.

Don't Overdo It

Having too many fundraisers for the same group will quickly turn donors away. Take care to decide which one is best suited to your group's needs.

With a yard work fundraiser, all you need is some youth group muscle power to earn the cash.
With a yard work fundraiser, all you need is some youth group muscle power to earn the cash. | Source

Many congregation members need yard work done, but can't do it for themselves, Make it known at church that the youth group is available to help out for a donation.

This is a good fundraiser in that the group can earn a fair amount of money, but it can be difficult to organize since it's hard to find a time that everyone is available. Also, the kids might not like doing certain job.

Choose a month and ask the group what Saturdays or early evenings they are free. Figure out a schedule and let church members know when the service is available.

We had our garden mulched and what normally takes me and my husband a long day or two, only took about 3 hours. We gave a nice donation, ordered pizza for the whole gang, and enjoyed the fellowship.

Fun, but lots of work, church carnivals can often be a big fundraising success.
Fun, but lots of work, church carnivals can often be a big fundraising success. | Source

Throw a carnival at the church. Younger kids love going to things like this and it's even more appealing when teenagers are doing the work.

Working with the church office, find a good date. Decide how long it will be and what events you'll be having. Then it's time to get volunteers. You'll need one or two youths per booth. If there aren't enough youth members, ask them to bring a friend or two. You'll be wanting those extra hands when the carnival is in full swing. You're going to need some extra adults on hand too.

As far as attractions go, make them child-centered and have little prizes. Nothing too extravagant or expensive, just some little toys and candy.

Have the youth ask for monetary donations to help offset the cost of the prizes and supplies. Sell tickets for the various games and decide on prices.

A carnival is a good time to set up a bake sale table and sell some other food as well. Parents standing around waiting for their children to play games get hungry. Good foods to sell are things like hot dogs, chips and drinks.

The most important thing with a carnival is to get the word out. Let everyone in church know about it. Tell the youth to let all of their friends about it. Let other churches know about it too. Put signs up. The more people that know about it, the better.

Say "Thank You"

Say thank you, say it often, and say it in creative ways. Nothing turns a donor away more quickly than not getting a thank you.

Ice Cream Socials are a delicious way to earn some cash for your youth group.
Ice Cream Socials are a delicious way to earn some cash for your youth group. | Source

Perfect for right after a church service, ice cream socials are always a crowd pleaser. Get the word out early and ask for donations of supplies. It won't be too hard to get some tubs of ice cream and toppings from someone.

Let the youth do the work. Set up long tables that the helpers can stand behind and have a basket or money taker at the start of the table. Then have people work their way down, with the youth giving out ice cream and helping with toppings.

Have drinks available too.

The most important thing for ice cream socials is to make sure that the youth don't eat all the ice cream before the guests arrive!

Spaghetti Dinners are a great way to raise money and bring the church and community together.
Spaghetti Dinners are a great way to raise money and bring the church and community together. | Source

These dinners can be big money makers, especially if you can get some, or all, of the supplies donated. However, they are a lot of work and need many volunteers. They are good events for larger churches.

Decide on a night when most of the youth is available and get the word out for other helpers. You'll need adult helpers too, especially in the kitchen. As with other fundraisers, ask the congregation for donations of money or supplies to help offset the cost. You'll also want to ask for donations of desserts since these dinners usually consist of spaghetti, garlic bread, salad, dessert and a drink.

When determining a price, make sure to charge enough to make it worth the groups' time. Also, make sure you have enough food on hand. This is tough since you don't know how many people are coming. Just don't prepare too much ahead of time.

To keep things running smoothly, adults can be in the kitchen cooking while the other helpers are out in the dining room helping serve, clean and take money.

Keep it fun!

Don't make it a big party, but if the fundraiser is too difficult or takes too much time, you won't get the help you need.

Car washes are an ideal fundraiser during the summer months.
Car washes are an ideal fundraiser during the summer months. | Source

This is a good summer fundraiser since everyone is going to get soaked.

Find a location that will be willing to let your group hold the event and get organized. Choose a date, decide on a price, and line up volunteers. Don't forget that you'll need a place that has a faucet available for a hose.

You'll need signs and car washing supplies. Get the word out and keep your fingers crossed for good weather.

Parents love babysitting night fundraisers.  It's the perfect time for a parent's night out!
Parents love babysitting night fundraisers. It's the perfect time for a parent's night out! | Source

Parent's Night Out / Babysitting

Always a hit with the parents of the congregation, babysitting night can bring in some decent money, especially if you are the member of a large church.

You'll want to get the word out early on this one so people can plan accordingly. Choose your night and start organizing. Have a handout with all of the information on it and pass it out at church. Ask members to tell all of their friends too.

Because you'll have an idea of how many kids are going to be there, you should be able to plan well.

Have lots of different activities ready so the kids don't get bored. Have snacks and drinks available. You'll want some adults on hand too.

What can be better, the youth make money, the kids have some fellowship with older kids, and the parents get a night on their own.

Let the Youth do the Work

Make sure the youth group members do most of the work. Make them a part of the decision-making process.

Almost everyone has some loose change in their pockets or purses.  Put it to good use by setting up a coin jar drive.
Almost everyone has some loose change in their pockets or purses. Put it to good use by setting up a coin jar drive. | Source

While a coin drive doesn't bring in a lot of money, it's incredibly easy to do. Get a big glass or plastic jar and punch a hole in the top of it, big enough for large coins.

Ask the congregation if they can spare their change. A good thing to do is have the youth stand up and explain what they need the money for. Maybe have a different member speak each week. Send out emails reminding people to bring in their change too. Leave the jar in a visible location for a period of time, like a month or two. To be safe, you'll want to lock up the jar when no one is at church.

You'll be surprised how quickly that loose change adds up.

Fundraiser cost comparisons

Fundraiser
No costs
Low costs
Wall O'Money
All you need are envelopes, paper and markers
 
Bake Sale
 
You may need some plastic sandwich bags or paper bags if needed.
Yard Work
All you need are lots of volunteers
 
Church Carnival
 
You'll need some supplies for tickets, prizes and food
Ice Cream Social
 
You'll need ice cream, toppings, drinks, plates and cutlery
Spaghetti Dinner
 
You'll need the food, drinks, plates and cutlery
Car Wash
 
You'll need soap, sponges and towels
Babysitting
All you need are volunteers
 
Coin Jar Drive
All you need is a big jar
 
Even for all of the low-cost fundraisers, chances are pretty high that members of the congregation will donate some items or cash to help offset the costs.

I'd love to hear from you!

Which one of these fundraisers appeals to you?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Claudia Mitchell

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