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There are not many tasks in the church world that are more difficult than marrying missions and mission trip fundraising. That is, it’s one thing to implore the church to be on mission—to challenge people to leave the comfort of American lifestyle (which is necessary) in order to share the best news in the universe with those who are desperately in need of grace.

Mission is part and parcel with gospel ministry and is central to our DNA as Jesus people. But then to add insult to injury we say, “Oh, and by the way, if you’re going to be obedient to the call to go, it’s going to cost a boatload of cash and you need to start fundraising right now!” People are already nervous about heading to Eastern Europe or Northern China or wherever your church is going–they’re already stepping out of their comfort zones in a big way. Then being asked to raise several thousand dollars to fund this mission can easily seem like a sign from God that they are not equipped, ready, or courageous enough to go.

They need help! This is why churches not only need to develop a comprehensive mission strategy, but they need to develop a mission trip fundraising strategy as well. A fundraising strategy asks (and hopefully answers) the question, “How can we help fund the church to be on mission around the globe?” While this article is certainly not a strategy for raising capital, the hope is to give you a few helpful starters for great mission fundraising.

When asking people to part with their hard earned cash, you either have to appeal to a sense of mission or a sense of value. That is, if someone is going to give you money, it’s either because they believe in you and what you’re doing, or they believe they will receive a valuable good or service in return.

6 IDEAS

I’d like to give you six ideas that have the potential to fall into both categories—fundraising options that appeal to both a sense of mission and to the provision of a valuable good or service. Before we get to the list, it’s important to remember that for most people, asking for money is just plain hard! This is why we want to make our fundraising efforts as accessible and turnkey as possible.

1. Mission Letters

I can’t think of a more effective way to raise money for missions than with a passionate plea in letter form. Writing letters to send to potential supporters allows up to put our hearts and desires for people and the nations in clear, concise, and emotionally appropriate language. People will appreciate a carefully crafted letter that describes where a mission team is headed and what they will be doing. While mission letters are typically written with a gospel-focused tenor for believers, letters are also incredibly effective for those who don’t yet know Jesus.

Even those who would not call themselves Christians want to do good in the world. That’s why a letter should not only include ways in which the team will be sharing the gospel, but also ways in which they may be providing clean water, working in an orphanage, or building a shelter for street kids. There are great resources for mission letter templates online. Here is a solid one to give you some ideas.

2. Crowdsourcing

Don’t be afraid of technology. Crowdsourcing is leveraging your social media influence by asking people to give online to your cause. Don’t dismiss this too quickly! Some of the weirdest things have been funded because somebody simply asked online. Check out how this guy raised $68,000 online to rescue circus lions. Crowdsourcing sites are easy to set up and easy to donate through. Crowdsourcing is like the digital cousin to the mission letter–it’s the opportunity to share your heart online. It also integrates easily enough into Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. For starters go to GoFundMe. If you’re looking for other crowdsourcing options, check these out.

3. T-Shirts

Cool, hipster, and missional t-shirts can be a cash-cow. This fundraiser requires a bit of capital on the front end, but it’s usually worth it. Come up with a design, put it on a t-shirt, and sell the t-shirt. That’s it. Everyone likes a good t-shirt. To increase your potential for profit, design a few different options. Create one mission shirt that’s funny; create one that is serious. Then make sure you research the many sources for purchasing inexpensive shirts so your profit margin can be fairly high. Here are some cool t-shirt ideas on Pinterest.

4. Church Talent Show

This one is a risk. Not because people won’t show up and pay good money, but because so few people actually have real talent. If you want to have some extra fun with it, call it a [No] Talent Show. Either way, people are always looking for something to do, somewhere to go to have a laugh. Secure a venue (coffee shop, church sanctuary, or your backyard) and sign up 15 acts. For good measure, sprinkle in some legit talent (a local band or illusionist) to help draw a crowd. Then invite your friends, advertise on social media, sell tickets, and let your talented church folk to do their thing. It might be a bit cheesy, but nobody is expecting to see America’s Got Talent.

5. Fundraising Meal

Everybody has to eat. This is the meat and potatoes (pun intended) of all fundraisers. There is no better way to get people to give you their greenbacks than by giving them some good food. Breakfast food is the cheapest so your team will have the best return on their investment. But getting people out of the house early in the morning may be a challenge. So find out what works best in your area. Selling tickets for a chicken box, BBQ plate, or spaghetti dinner is an incredible way to put money in your mission’s coffers.

6. Follow-Up Meal

Capitalize on passion by raising money after the trip. I know this is counter-intuitive but most mission teams are the boldest and most committed to the nations when they return from their trip. This is why hosting a dinner with donors after the mission trip may be your most fruitful fundraiser. Create a slideshow, share some of the most powerful stories and experiences from your trip, and then make an impassioned plea for donors to give toward the next trip.

WHAT NOW?

Missions is the lifeblood of the local church—I don’t think anyone is arguing that. Where the contention often lies is how to fund it. With each new project, trip, and gospel venture the church needs to be increasingly more creative in finding ways to make the name of Jesus famous to the nations.

Do you have any other fundraising ideas? What’s worked in your area? Let us know!

Jon Quitt is a pastor and writer (We’re All Heroes In Own Story, Crosslink, 2016). He is married and has two teenagers. Visit his website, or connect with him on Twitter.

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