Motivating your youth to get involved in youth groups or children’s programs requires creative activity ideas. However, some ideas to encourage youth participation can require extra funding. Expenses like transportation, supplies, and food can quickly add up, but they shouldn’t hold you back from planning fun activities for your group. In this quick guide, we’ll look at three powerful ways to raise money for your youth ministry:

  • Merchandise sales
  • A-thon events
  • Car wash

These fundraisers not only fund future events, but also engage your youth group members during the fundraising process. Let’s begin.

Merchandise sales

One of the best parts of being involved in a youth ministry is the community. It’s a place where kids can meet like-minded people and build long-lasting friendships that start as early as elementary school. As a church leader, it’s important that you cultivate these relationships and the feeling of belonging to that community.

Just like many kids might already wear cross jewelry or a WWJD bracelet to represent their beliefs, they can also wear branded merchandise that represents your church. You can sell merchandise to anyone in the congregation, but this can be an especially meaningful fundraiser for school-aged students, who can show off their merchandise at school and motivate more people to join the church.

Choose products that youth and parents will want and use. Some items they might be interested in include:

  • T-shirts
  • Pens 
  • Ball caps
  • Bags
  • Notebooks 
  • Mugs
  • Pins
  • Water bottles
  • Stickers

The best way to ensure your kids are interested in these products is to engage them in the merchandise development process. First, ask for their opinions on the type of merchandise they want. Then, take it further by allowing them to design the products. For example, you could host a t-shirt design contest where the kids design t-shirt ideas and vote on their favorite ones. Kids will be especially interested in wearing merchandise that they helped create.

Plus, branded merchandise has a great potential for outreach, which can spur the growth needed for church transformation. Branded merchandise will serve as a talking piece that could start a conversation about your church or ministry. Through this, your kids can also learn how to spread your church’s message to others.

If you have the room in your budget and technical expertise, consider running an online store or order form. This makes your fundraiser more sustainable in the long run, since you can continue selling branded merchandise as new members join your youth group. Even if you don’t use an official storefront, be sure to manage your church’s bookkeeping as you collect donations to keep track of your fundraising revenue.

A-thon events

Your youth group members joined to interact with other kids and enjoy fun events. Appeal to your church’s and your youth members’ interests by hosting an exciting fundraising event. Consider these a-thon challenges that might inspire your kids:

  • Walk-a-thon: Encourage kids to raise money by asking for pledged donations in exchange for a certain distance walked. For example, kids might ask for $5 per mile walked. Then, they’ll walk as far as they can and friends and family will donate according to the amount they pledged per mile.
  • Read-a-thon: Read-a-thons are a premier online school fundraising program because they encourage students to read while also raising money for their cause. This works in a ministry setting, too. Host a read-a-thon and choose books that can be discussion topics in church meeting times or encourage kids to read certain books of the Bible. Then, youth group members can collect pledges from their families and friends for reading a certain number of pages or books.
  • Dance-a-thon: Kids will ask family and friends to pledge a set amount of money for a certain amount of time danced. Then, you can host a dance in your youth group building or church sanctuary, pick a fun playlist, and let the kids dance as long as they can.

These fun events not only make fundraising enjoyable for the kids, but they also encourage healthy habits and teach valuable lessons. For example, a read-a-thon can urge kids to make a habit out of reading their Bibles and boost their scripture verse memory.

Aside from a-thon events, there are tons of creative activities that can engage your congregation in the fundraising process. For example, Double the Donation suggests trying raffles, appreciation grams, and other fundraising events to raise money for your mission. Choose the event that will appeal most to your congregation and youth.

Car wash

Another way to engage kids in a youth group fundraiser is by using it to teach a valuable lesson. For example, Read-a-thon’s list of best school fundraisers recommends using fundraisers to brighten a community member’s day (and again, the list is applicable to church as well!).

To do this, propose fundraising ideas that provide opportunities for kids to serve others. A car wash, for example, can connect your youth group to your community by providing a service to people outside your church. You’ll only need these supplies to get started:

  • Car soap
  • An empty parking lot
  • Several water supplies and hoses
  • Sponges
  • A cash box to collect donations

Set a small price for the car wash and recruit volunteers from your youth group to wash. Not only will it be a fun way to raise money, but your kids can also show Christ-like love as they serve their friends and neighbors. Ultimately, working together to reach your fundraising goal will be a big win for your team.

Approaching fundraising as a ministry can be challenging since money isn’t the focus of what you do. However, if you decide to host one, choose an idea that will engage your kids and teach them valuable lessons.

The most powerful fundraisers are opportunities to involve the youth, the adults in the congregation, and the greater community. Whether your youth group members gather for a movie night or volunteer for a car wash, their participation will strengthen your ministry and their understanding of God even as they’re raising money.