There’s always a need for funds – whether to buy school supplies, run the feeding program, to provide scholarships for needy families or simply keep the lights on and the toilets flushing.
We’ve asked many of our supporters over the years how they’ve raised funds and here are some of the ideas that really stuck.
DO YOU HAVE A FUNDRAISING IDEA that you’d like to share? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ultimate Youth Team Fundraiser – the sponsored building project
“This was so successful that we won’t need to do any fundraising next year” were the bold words of the youth team leader who shared this with us.
This fundraising strategy takes some effort to set up, but the overall rewards in terms of funds raised, co-operation within the church, essential skills built in the youth and serving church members are well worth it.
What is it? In brief, this fundraiser involves asking church members to sponsor an hourly rate for the team members to complete a building project.
How it’s done:
- Pick a project: Choose a project that will take 1 or 2 days to complete. In the church we spoke to, the project was rebuilding garages for elderly church members, as their city had an ordinance that said garages in disrepair must be torn down.
- Divide the church membership list: Each member of the youth team is given the name and phone numbers of a portion of the church membership list to call and ask to be sponsored an hourly rate. These are the ONLY church members they may ask for sponsorship. Each church member knows about the project and expects to be asked; but they’re only going to be asked by one person so can give once and give generously. This step also builds important work skills for the youth – the ability to have business phone calls with adults. It also helps the youth to get to know a few adult members a little better., forming new connections between church members. In the church I spoke with, youth members were sponsored $80 or more per hour.
- Do the project: When the appointed weekend arrives, the youth do the project. This does require proper supervision and planning, but the skills gained by the youth are invaluable, as is the experience of working together and resolving differences. Keep track of the hours worked.
- Collect the donations: When the project is finished, contact your donors, tell them the results and collect the donations. Again, great real world skills gained in initiating conversations and keeping track of information.
The Fundraising Dinner – With a Twist
The fundraising dinner is a fun and versatile fundraiser. We’ve seen and heard many versions: some with a Belize food theme, others with an auction or games night. One enterprising group of retired missioners even set up a catering service for their church, with the funds going to the feeding program.
This particular fundraising meal idea stands out as it was both simpler to organize and more profitable.
At All Saint’s Episcopal Church building connections between church members is a key part of their missions and their missions fundraising, too. They have found that inviting everyone and asking for a donation raises more money than selling tickets to an event. They also found it easier than trying to sell tickets.
One of their most popular meals is the after church lunch. The team cooked a large meal and invited the whole church to attend after the midday service. They set the tables with flowers and had items available for sale, including the table decorations. They also had a silent auction. A basket was passed around to collect donations for the meal. The church members had a wonderful time catching up with old friends and making new friends, then they headed off for the rest of their day.
Gathering School Supplies
We are eternally grateful to the many teams and individuals who gather supplies from our wish list and bring them to Belize. We could not do without you!
To gather supplies, many churches follow the traditional route of having a collection box in the foyer, while some people shop at the local A&R in San Pedro Town, saving all the hassles with weight and customs.
This idea is a variant on the collection box, but one that that does wonders to avoid some of the usual problems with people forgetting to donate, leaving their donations at home, buying the wrong thing or ending up with too many of one item and none of another.
In the weeks leading up to their Mission trip, a mission team from Fort Worth, Texas put up a display board in the foyer. The board had pictures of the items needed, their price on Amazon and check boxes to show how many were needed. Church members then decided which items they wanted to donate for. They then gave cash or wrote a check, and had the satisfaction of filling in the check boxes. A team member then purchased all the items on Amazon, then distributed them for the team to take to Belize. Easy!
NOTE: You don’t need to come to Belize for this to work. Many common wish-list items are for sale right here in Belize, including markers, poster board and composition books. They’re certainly not as cheap as Amazon, but the difference is FAR less than international shipping. You can find our current wish list here.
Taking advantage of second packed bags
This is not purely a fundraising idea, but it is a great way to bring donated supplies. Mr Gary Hunt, who runs Bookbag Santa, leaves collection boxes at schools in the USA at the end of each school year. The students are encouraged to donate whatever school supplies that they would otherwise throw out. Gary then through the donations and keeps what is still good. Some of it is donated to schools in his local area, while the rest is set aside for Belize.
He then organizes a large group of people who like to holiday in Belize, many of whom like to travel year after year. They use their second checked bag to bring the school supplies, which Gary then distributes to various schools in Belize.
I’ve heard of other groups who gather together a group of people who love to go fishing or diving, who also bring supplies to donate.