Fundraising, that dirty little word. Through the years, I have heard from many new youth workers, "My church told me, ‘Oh, don't worry. You never will need to fundraise. We fully fund our ministries.' What they mean is, ‘You won't need to fundraise unless you actually decide to do your job… because this stuff is too expensive.'" It is a startling reality every rookie faces when he or she realizes the mission trip they want to take their kids on costs between $10,000 and $20,000, and the church only allocates $4,000 for the entire youth ministry budget. It has become the default that the students need to fundraise.
I have been a youth director for nine years; the past seven years, the ministry has needed to fundraise between $15,000 and $20,000 annually. I admit we have taken our students to some really incredible places: Mexico, Vermont, Montana, Belize, Pittsburgh and suburban Philadelphia. Through all of these experiences, I realize at least two things about the church:
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First, congregations support good youth ministry. During the past several years, we always have received the money needed to go where we have been called to go. Even during the latest recession, people supported the youth ministry.
Second, for some reason there is a disconnect between budgeting and fundraising; and it is an unfortunate part of our culture. In most school districts, students have to fundraise. People won't think twice about paying for a car wash or dropping money into a football helmet, but if the school district increased school taxes $5 or $10 a year, people would go nuts. It is the same with most churches; if everyone (who was able) increased his or her pledge $5 or $8 a month, most youth ministries would not need to fundraise. At this point in my career, I have come to accept fundraising as an unfortunate part of my job. Here are some things I have found helpful through the years.
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So, until churches begin funding youth ministries at the appropriate level, realize you need to allocate the time to fundraising. Don't hesitate to ask people politely to help meet needs, and go for the big events. As Jesus said in Luke 25:1, "Go forth and sell frozen pizza in My name."
Joshua Gill is Youth Director at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Malvern, Pennsylvania.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
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Publication date: March 14, 2011
Content originally appeared at Youthworker Journal. Used with permission.