Camp is more meaningful for students when they have worked hard to get there. Fundraisers are a great way to get students to feel ownership over their camp experience and raise support while also serving as a time of fellowship and outreach. We have the privilege of working with hundreds of churches across the country and have compiled a list of our top 25 fundraiser ideas for churches. Remember: the most important aspect of fundraising is to make it specific to your group and your group’s needs. Some of your students would never be able to experience a camp like BigStuf without raising support so get to work and start fundraising your way to camp. It will be here before you know it!
1. Rubber Duck Race
Hold a rubber duck derby at a local river or creek and involve the whole community! Choose a body of water that has a little movement to the water or this could take awhile! You can sell a single duck for $5, a quack pack for $25 (5 ducks and 1 free), or a grand pack for $100 (20 ducks and 5 free). Be sure you have a spreadsheet to track your duck purchases. You will need to number all of your ducks so each participant knows which duck(s) belongs to them on the day of the race. Invite everyone to come watch the duck race and give a prize to first place. You can incorporate this event into a local school/community event or festival already on the calendar. A good source for rubber ducks is Oriental Trading or Century Novelty.
2. Dress Drive
Setup a place and time after homecoming and prom where people can drop off their special occasion dresses as a donation to your youth group. Encourage local dress shops to donate overstock items or last year’s dresses. Provide each donor with a donation receipt stating your church name, address, a statement saying you are an approved nonprofit, a description of the item donated, and the date of the donation. Be sure to notate that the donor did not receive anything of value for their donation. Once you have collected enough dresses, hold a big sale and invite the community! The girls in your youth group are going to love this one!
3. Dog Day Saturday… Woof! Woof!
Choose a Saturday and provide a doggie daycare for half the day. This could include dog washing, dog playtime, dog walking, and any other doggie service their owners might need (for a fee of course). Each student is responsible for one dog. Just have the owners sign-up ahead of time so you know exactly how many dogs you guys will be responsible for. Your only cost will be dog-washing supplies and some doggie treats, which could also be donated from a local store.
4. Homework Help
Most youth groups have a couple of super responsible, super bright students so why not use their gifts to help them raise money to get to camp? Setup an after-school tutoring and snack time where these students help other students keep up with their studies. You can limit it to twice a week for a couple of hours after school and ask your church to let you use one or two of the classrooms.
5. Cow Pattie PLOP
You need at least one silly fundraiser throughout the year. We suggest the Cow Pattie Plop. Find a local dairy farmer who is willing to let you plot out part of his field into small sections or blocks. Have church members buy a block, or two, or three for $20-$25 each. Ask the farmer to let only one cow onto that plot of land overnight. Whichever block the cow poops on during the night is the winner!
6. Mystery Dinner and Reverse Raffle
This will take a little work, but your students will have a blast pulling it off. Have students write a script or find a script for a mystery story. Help them assemble props and costumes. Then invite the church to purchase tickets to attend your mystery dinner theater! Let half of the youth provide the entertainment, and the other half can prepare and serve dinner (keep it simple with something like spaghetti, lasagna or BBQ). As guests arrive to your dinner, hand out raffle tickets. Decide on what the raffle drawing will be for and make it really embarrassing, such as dressing up as a baby and singing nursery rhymes on stage or doing the Harlem Shake in an embarrassing costume. If guests wish, they can pay an “exit fee” of $5 or $10 to remove their raffle ticket from the drawing.
7. BINGO Night
Yes, we are serious… BINGO is not just for the older generation. You will be amazed at how all ages get into a BINGO night if you do it right. You can also pair this with an easy meal like soup and sandwiches or a baked potato bar and charge a donation per meal. First, you need to ask people to donate gift items and divide them up by value. Have a table with not-so-nice items such as dollar store goodies, seasonal decor, etc. Have another table with nicer gifts. These are your prizes. The idea is to charge a fee for each BINGO card, and the fee is based on the prizes they are playing for. Charge $1 per card for the nice prizes and charge $.25 for a card for the not-so-nice prizes. You are going to need a lot of BINGO cards (check with your local senior citizens center) and a loud, good BINGO caller/host. Once the competition starts heating up, those BINGO cards will start selling like crazy!
8. Themed 5k Run
A 5K is not only a great fundraiser and way to get the community involved with your church, but it is also a good way to get your students off the couch and moving! Charge a registration fee set at whatever your community is comfortable with paying. You will need to map out a route or do it around an athletic track at a local school. Be sure to get permission from the city if you need to block off any streets. Theme the race by color or costume, such as everyone dress in blue or everyone dress up in 80’s costumes. You can even do a BigStuf themed race and have everyone dress up in appropriate beach attire. Have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophy or medal for the winners.
9. Yard Sale & Car Wash
I know you might be thinking that this one is overdone, but the reality is you don’t have much cost involved so it will yield a nice profit. Ask your church members to donate items and have students organize and price them on a Wednesday night (or 2 or 3 depending on how much stuff you accumulate). Schedule your yard sale for a Saturday and pair it with a car wash. This will keep you students entertained and involved. Accept donations for the car wash as you will get more money per car this way than with a set price. Be sure to market this to your community with signs and ads so you get a good turnout and mention what the money will be used for so people can get behind a good cause.
10. Screen on the Green/Movie Night
If you have access to a projector, show a movie on the church lawn and call it Screen on the Green. Let people bring blankets and lawn chairs. Serve popcorn in small popcorn bags along with water, coffee, and juice (for the kiddos) and charge one price for everything (try to get as much donated as possible). If you have it inside, you can tell people to wear their pajamas (appropriate of course) just to make it different and exciting. Around Christmas, you can do a movie night for kids and charge $1 to watch The Polar Express. Be creative about when you do it and what you show! Oh, and show a BigStuf promo video before the movie (like they show previews at the theater). It’s a great way to remind everyone what their donations are going towards and how awesome camp is going to be!
An easy way to raise some money is to host a tournament. Some great options are dodge ball, corn hole, KanJam, or anything you think people around you will get into! Any team that signs up will pay an entrance fee. The winner gets a prize of your choosing.
12. BigStuf Chore Board
Post a service project sign up sheet at your church or on the website where people can sign up for certain chores or tasks that they need help with. You then send a handful of your students to fulfill the project. You can either have the donor pay a predetermined amount for the chore or donate what they think it was worth. Some examples are raking leaves, painting, spring-cleaning, washing windows or the car, etc. The possibilities are endless! This is a great fundraiser to get the church community involved in getting your kids to camp.
13. Protect Me! Fundraiser
This is an extremely fun way to raise money and the whole church can have a good time with it! Come up with a prank such as flocking, putting a toilet in the front yard, rolling a house… anything that someone can pay to be protected from ($10 is a common amount but choose a price that is reasonable for your church community). Anyone who doesn’t pay the protection fee is fair game for the youth group to prank!
14. Dinner with Trivia or Talent Show
Most youth groups are filled with students who love the spotlight as well as those who love to serve. This fundraiser gets both types of students involved! Provide entertainment by hosting a talent show or trivia night and charge people per ticket to be there. Have students serve the food and host the event. Make a little extra money by having a 50/50 raffle at the event. Sell raffle tickets where half the proceeds go to the winner.
Gather a few of the best cooks in your area (maybe from local restaurants or some of your church members) and have them battle it out in the kitchen! This idea has a long list of possibilities: chili, dessert, hot wings, BBQ, etc. Who will make it the best? People can pay to taste each of the entries and vote on their personal favorite.
Get your church community involved in getting your kids to camp with the Adopt-A-Mile fundraiser. Figure out how many miles it is to and from camp, then calculate about how much each mile costs. Have church members adopt a mile by paying for the cost of one mile.
17. Holiday Needs
Holidays are a great platform to design your fundraiser around. Find any connections you may have to local farmers/vendors to supply the community with a needed holiday item such as pumpkins, Christmas trees, flowers, Easter baskets and more! It’s a great fundraiser to provide a need to the community while also supporting your neighbors!
Everyone needs a night off of cooking occasionally so help your church community by making to-go meals. Ask the church if the youth group could use the church kitchen to cook the meals. Then choose an easy meal for the youth group to prepare like lasagna & breadsticks or BBQ. Have people who signed up take the meal home after church.
19. Easy Sell
If you are looking for a quick and simple fundraiser, sell an affordable item (around $5) that no one can resist! Some examples include candy bars, Ozark delight suckers, cookies, and gummy bears. This fundraiser could easily be paired with one of our other fundraiser ideas such as the Talent Show/Trivia Night or Screen on the Green.
20. Christmas Helpers
Many people need help getting through the hectic holiday season so get your youth geared up to help! Set aside an evening for the community to bring in presents for the youth group to wrap or Christmas cards that need to be addressed. For additional funds you could also use the church facility to provide a night of childcare so parents can Christmas shop. Your only cost will be the wrapping paper supplies and snacks for the kids. Be sure to market this to your community with signs and ads so you get a good turnout and mention what the money will be used for so people can get behind a good cause.
21. Parents Night Out
Have designated nights throughout the year where the children’s department at the church is open and the youth can babysit while parents get a night out to themselves. Nights can also be specific and themed such as a night in December designated for parents to get their Christmas shopping done or a date night for Valentines Day in February.
Pricing Options: $5/hr for one child and an extra $2.50/hr for each additional child. Make a note of when the children are dropped off so parents can pay for the number of hours their children were in your care at pick-up.
You could also just give a flat rate for the evening. You can charge $6 for one child, $10 for two children, $13 for three children, etc. That way you don’t have to keep track of how long each child is in your care.
22.Tail Gate & Car Smash
To kick off the high school (or college) football season, organize a tailgate in the church parking lot after service one Sunday where everyone pays for a plate. Make sure you have some footballs to play with and a few tailgate games (such as corn hole) set up for everyone to enjoy. For some added fun, have someone donate an old junker car (or purchase one at a junk yard for cheap). For a price, people can pay to smash the car! The key is making sure that your price per plate and cost to smash the car doesn’t just cover the cost of your items; you want to make sure you are making a profit. It doesn’t hurt to include a tip/donation jar somewhere so that people are able to donate beyond the cost of the event.
23. Pick an Envelope
This is another quick and easy fundraiser. Have a location in the church where there are 100 envelopes labeled from 1-100. Members of the church select an envelope and fill it with the amount written on the outside. They turn in the envelope to the youth department and the money goes towards camp. If all the envelopes are fulfilled, you will raise $5,050!
24. Artist Market
Use the church parking lot one weekend for an Artist Market. Let the youth create pieces of artwork that they can display and sell. If you want to expand it, sell some tables/booths to church members and allow them to sell their artwork as well.
You can also sell coffee and desserts and have the profit go straight to the camp fund. This is a great way to include other members of your church in your fundraising efforts while allowing the creatives in your church to be able to display and sell their work.
25. Coffee and Cake Auction/Dessert Night
This fundraiser could easily be added to another fundraiser, especially a luncheon or church get-together. Have members bake cakes or have a bakery donate some goodies. The goal is to have delicious, decadent cakes that will make people want to sign up for the auction. To distribute the cakes, you could do a silent auction or a cakewalk. For the cakewalk, have 10-15 (or more depending on your crowd size) people per round. Have numbers on the floor in a circle. You could have 1-20 spots and each person has to pay per round. Play music as they walk around stepping on numbers and then stop the music. Draw a number (that corresponds with the spots) and whoever is standing on that number wins a cake of their choice! You can charge $1 – $5 per round. The math is simple: 20 people at $1 a round is $20. 20 people at $5 a round is $100. If you have 10 cakes that is either $200 at $1 a round or $1,000 at $5 a round!