10 fresh and unique church fundraisers
You know the roster of tried-and-true church fundraisers: the bake sale, the car wash, the shoe drive, the walkathon. Although these ideas are reliable, they may fail to excite younger generations and motivate older generations that have seen these events time and again.
If you need to breathe life into your church fundraising, we can help! Here’s a list of 10 modern and engaging ways to fund your next mission trip, church renovation, community initiative, and more. These ideas cater to all ages and take church giving into the new decade.
10 fresh and inspiring church fundraisers
Put these exciting church fundraising ideas into action across your congregation and community.
1. Give it up
If your congregants already practice Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, moderation, and discipline, then this fundraising campaign will be no sweat. Challenge everyone to give up one thing they buy frequently for a set period of time. Food and drink are popular, but it could also be something like nail salon visits or a Netflix subscription. Participants then donate what they would have spent to your church.
Everyone makes mistakes, so add a little humor to the challenge. Turn slip-ups into more opportunities to raise funds. Set up a text-to-donate number and make the word “OOPS” for mistakes. You can also make the keyword a Bible verse like “3:16” to encourage your participants. This is a fantastic way to unite the whole church and turn pocket change into real change.
2. Lip sync competition
Mic check, mic check! Silly performances can lead to serious funds for your church. A lip-sync competition is fun for all generations and introduces everyone to some new hits.
Treat this like a talent show with a fresh spin. Ask members of your congregation to audition with their acts. They can recreate music videos (costumes and all), perform TikTok dances, or dust off an old hymn for a live “performance.” It may be fun to form teams and battle, like a pastors vs. Sunday school teachers showdown. Charge an entrance fee for attendees and participants to meet your fundraising needs.
3. 24-hour marathon
The sky is the limit with a livestreamed 24-hour marathon fundraiser. It’s only one day long, so your supporters will feel the urgency. You can help them get swept up in the momentum with a high-energy day and night of programming.
The most common idea is a dance marathon, but you can host a pay-to-play gaming tournament or a nonstop virtual concert and poetry slam. Another idea is to have the whole congregation vote on what they want the event to be.
Help participants set up individual giving pages so they can raise money all night long. Share a call to action at each milestone, such as every three performances or each round of gameplay. Get inspired with this 24-hour telethon.
4. Pancakes for parents
Here's a creative way to meet your fundraising goals. Earn extra money for a good cause and give parents a much-needed day off at the same time. This fundraising event gives community members a chance to relax and mingle. A pancake breakfast is easy to put together and customizable for any number of attendees. Set up a pleasant space indoors or outdoors, or rent a dining room at a local restaurant.
Offer brunch packages with a tasty meal and drink. If possible, call on volunteers to babysit children for a few hours. Alternatively, you can set up kids’ tables in an adjacent room and let them enjoy their own bite-sized breakfast. Charge separate ticket prices, such as $14 for adults and $8 for kids 12 and under.
5. “Root” cause
“Leaf” your fundraising worries behind, because houseplants are having a moment. Houseplant sales in the U.S. have surged 50% in the past three years thanks to millennials. That means a plant sale could be just the thing to raise funds for the next youth trip or church initiative.
See if any of your church members have a green thumb and can help you grow seedlings or take cuttings from houseplants. You can also partner with a local nursery. As a last resort, you can simply sell seeds already planted in soil and a nice pot. Don’t forget to include care instructions. Host a plant sale in the church parking lot or other large space. You can even sell raffle tickets for an indoor herb kit or a nice planter.
6. Home exercise classes
Get your members moving (from the comfort of their home) with this athletic and energizing church fundraiser. See if any of your church-goers are fitness instructors or exercise fanatics. If not, reach out to a local fitness guru and ask them to lead livestreamed exercise classes.
You’d be surprised how many people are willing to sweat for a good cause. Raise money by selling class passes for one-time use or a whole month. Ideally, offer a variety of popular options, including cardio, yoga, and strength training. Experiment with a flat fee per class or charge monthly if group fitness takes off with your members.
Another idea? Create and sell church T-shirts that everyone can wear while they work out. Coordinating shirts is like a little virtual high-five.
7. Special series
This is one of the easiest and least expensive fundraising ideas for churches. Work with church leadership to create programming for a special series of sermons. It’s especially powerful if you focus the message on the cause you’re raising money for. An example would be a missions series to raise money for a nonprofit that your church supports abroad.
The beauty of this idea is the flexibility. Pull in your fellow local churches and other thought leaders in the community, or host a few speakers. Turn this into an online fundraising event to open it up to more viewers. Host follow-up discussions over brunch at the church, or create an online space to connect members.
8. Put it up or take it down
Home holiday decorations are wonderful to look at, but putting them up and taking them down is another story. Luckily, your youth groups can come to the rescue for local residents. They become little helper elves (or just volunteers, depending on the time of year) to help get both jobs done. This is a great church fundraiser because you can offer these services to anyone in the neighborhood, not just church members.
Post paper flyers, send a tip to the local news channel, and spread the word using social media. Charge a fee per house or invite donations of any amount. Spread Christmas cheer and help people take down decorations before spring rolls around.
9. Battle of the food trucks
Over 80% of food truck visitors called the dining experience “fun,” “exciting,” “new,” or “different and unique.” That makes it a perfect all-ages event to raise money for your church. There are two ways you can try this.
First, you can reach out to local food trucks and ask them to donate a portion of their proceeds to your cause. Then, rally church members and designate a few nights each month to eat at participating food trucks.
The second way is a little more ambitious but may work well for large ministries. Ask a few local food trucks to set up shop at your church. Make it worth their while by choosing a high-traffic area and ensuring a big turnout.
A good way to gather a crowd is to pack in other family-friendly events — games, live music, silent auctions, and more. Invite judges, have attendees cast votes, and make it a food truck showdown. Sell tickets for food and other activities. You can even make it into a mini tailgate for a big football or baseball game. Get the word out via social media, email, flyers, and more.
Either way, you partner with local businesses for a big impact.
10. Youth lock-in
It may be a ‘90s tradition, but church youth groups go crazy for late-night lock-ins. A fun theme, some snacks, and a few group activities are all you need to make this a memorable night. The advantage with this one is that the kids can lead the way. You can keep these “captives” entertained with a movie night and trivia, or let them socialize and float between activities.
Charge a small admission fee for entry. Make it a sleepover at the church with chaperones on hand. Or, end the night by 10 p.m. (Create different admission tiers if there’s more than one option.) Kids or parents can pay for snacks and merchandise with Venmo (and skip the crumpled dollar bills). Don’t forget to offer some “I Survived the Fall 2020 Lock-In” T-shirts.
A new testament to church fundraising
You don’t have to retire the bake sale, yard sale, gala, and chili cook-off entirely — they’ll always be around. But now you’ve got some fun ways to engage with all sections of your church community.
Churches and ministries across the world are modernizing their fundraising efforts to reach more people in need, share their message, and make it easier to support causes their members care about.
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And we’ve got plenty more fundraising tips, tricks, and tools for nonprofits like yours.