Every summer our BCK (Big Church Kids) High School Youth Group goes on a mission trip. Our weekly BCK meeting combined with annual mission trips have had massive impacts on our youth in a variety of ways: relationship building, servant leadership, confidence, personal and community faith. We have watched our small group of 4-5 kids grow to 10-20, even close to 30 youth some Wednesday nights. Additionally, we have had 3 graduates come back to lead and serve in youth ministry because of the impact it made in their lives. Our first mission trip four years ago had just 8 youths. All 10th graders who didn’t know what it meant to be a part of a church or have a church home. Last summer, we had 20 students!
I have also watched our group impact one another as well as others.
- They showed a family who had walked away from church what it means to be a part of a community that uplifts and supports one another.
- A family from the opposite side of the country even went on another mission trip with us!
- They welcomed several youth to BCK who had walked away from church, including kids who walked away from our own church but came back to be a part of BCK. Why? I will let the youth answer that themselves.
Funding Forward – Mission Trip Style
Mission Trips are amazing and their impact on our volunteers, the communities we serve, and most of all, our youth, is life-giving and faith forming. But let’s be honest – mission trips are expensive, and as a church we get burnt out asking for money frequently. Families come from a variety of financial situations and that is why it is important to me to find creative ways to fund our trips, so everyone who wants to go can go. We raised $8,000 in 2020, $14,000 in 2021 and $22,000 in 2022, fully funding trips for 9, 17, and 20 people respectively. We have been able to accomplish this through a variety of different strategies.
Our church has gym rentals and we have started running concessions for those events. We run concessions for our Trunk or Treat event and our yearly car show, as well as breakfasts for our play and musicals. These fundraisers are a great source of income, enjoyable for the youth and are good for relationship and team bonding. Throughout the year our youth run a coffee bar for events and Sunday mornings. We even have a member of our church who supports the coffee bar by donating all the supplies.
We’ve recently started collecting and returning cans, which has raised over $200 in two months. We also asked local businesses and senior living centers if they would collect cans for us and they have agreed. Additionally, each year we have had a donation of $1,000 or more from a business to support our youth. Another big fundraiser is through Green Valley Gift Cards to our local greenhouse. We sell $25 gift cards and we get to keep $7 of each card. Each year this fundraiser brings in about $2,000 – $3,000.
We hold an envelope fundraiser and have found the best time to do so is either around Christmas when charitable donations are high, or when there is a set amount to be raised. Our congregation supports and donates a lot of money to support our programs throughout the year, however, I have found more success raising funds outside of the church because it doesn’t create donation fatigue.
Lastly, we fundraise through social media. We create posts with a link to support, and encourage our youth to share them on their stories or pages, as well as leave a personal note in the caption about what the trip means to them. The why and the story of your trip is essential when pursuing fundraising through social media and people outside your congregation.
Mission trips naturally invite curiosity from all kinds of people when you take time to tell the story of what God is up to in the lives of your students and the people they serve alongside. Exploring new ways to fund them is a challenge worth undertaking.