30 Fundraising Ideas for Mission Trips

mission trip fundraising ideas tips youth group adultsSaying yes to a mission trip is always exciting, but that enthusiasm can sometimes fade as the bottom line of fundraising becomes a reality. Change your mindset from fear to faith, and trust that people WANT to help you get where God is calling you to go. After that, all that's left is to find a few creative ideas from this list to help you accomplish your mission trip fundraising goals.

Ideas for Large Groups

If you are going with a large group, it is often beneficial to raise money together that can be divided among participants.

  1. Online Garage Sale - Challenge your mission trip team to collect items donated by neighbors, family members or local businesses and hold an online group garage sale using a social media site. Genius Tip: Use SignUpGenius to collect mission trip donations.
  2. Lawn Chair Movie Night - Ask about using your church gym or a friend's large flat yard to host a fundraiser movie night. Either request a donation as the entrance ticket or collect an offering at the end. Raise extra funds by selling concessions or crafts inspired by your trip.
  3. Card Crawl - Ask your group to gather as many donated restaurant gift cards as possible, and use a church hallway to tape up a picture of the business' logo with the card amount. Set up shop one Sunday morning, and have folks purchase the gift cards for face value (or even donate extra!). Genius Tip: Collect donations directly on a sign up with SignUpGenius Payments.
  4. Wall of Giving - Decorate 3x5 cards with numbers from one to a desired amount (maybe 100). Find a wall at church on which to display them and have people commit to donate the amount equal to one of the numbers. Encourage picking a meaningful number such as a birthday, anniversary date or favorite number.
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  5. You Bring/We Wash Fundraiser - Secure a parking lot with hoses and offer to wash cars, dogs, bikes or dirty lawn furniture for a donation. Sell concessions or have a bake sale to boost fundraising potential.
  6. Tchotchke Sale - Whether it's Christmas decorations, an unused candle or hand-me-downs from grandma, everyone has a few tchotchkes around the house that can be gathered for a blowout sale to raise money for your trip.
  7. Dine for a Cause - Many local restaurants will offer a portion of the evening's sales to a fundraising cause. Do online research or call some establishments near your church to see if they do charity fundraising.
  8. Sunday Morning Doughnuts - Some doughnut franchises offer fundraising opportunities — perfect for Sunday mornings! If there is no minimum order, this is good for individual fundraising, too. Bagels are another alternative.
  9. Fundraising Website - Simplify giving by creating a group fundraising page with trip information and fundraising details. In order for gifts to be tax deductible, your church needs to set up your site/page as a "Certified Charity," otherwise donations are personal gifts. Get the word out about your page via the church website, church bulletin/newsletter and social media platforms.

Collect donations for a fundraising night with an online sign up. SAMPLE

Ideas for Individuals

You may be headed out on your own with a mission organization, but these ideas will help you gather a support network to help along the way.

  1. Work for It - For teens, if you are of hiring-age and have reliable transportation, consider getting a job over the holidays or setting up a babysitting or pet-care business to help you raise the money. If you combine this with other fundraising efforts, potential supporters will be impressed that you are chipping in with a job to raise money, too.  
  2. Cookie Lady/Man - Have a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe? Bag them up and sell them after church or on the weekends at a friend's/sibling's sporting event to raise money for your trip.
  3. Custom T-shirts - Research local artisans or online companies that will make T-shirts in small orders that you can sell to support your trip. Keep costs down by using one ink color, a simple (but professional-looking) logo and a universally appealing shirt color.
  4. Neighborhood Web Sites - Utilize existing neighborhood email and social media groups or websites such as nextdoor.com to get the word out that you are raising money for a mission trip. Offer services such as dog walking, childcare, yard work or errand running.
  5. Social Sites - Create a Facebook group, and invite friends and family to learn more about your mission trip and how to donate. Update your group with information about your progress, trip details and photos.
  6. Recycled Book Sale - Spend a week or two soliciting book donations, especially at church. Pick a central drop-off spot or offer pick-up, then spend a Saturday morning selling the donations. Alternatively, ask if you can have a book sale after church for several consecutive Sundays.

Organize T-shirt sales with an online sign up. SAMPLE

Country-Specific Ideas

These ideas are inspired by the country or area where you are headed on your mission trip.  They not only encourage others to support you financially but will remind sponsors to keep your focus country in their prayers as well.

  1. Tour of ____ Night - Secure a room at your church and put up pictures up of where you will be traveling, serve local food and find creative ways to make the country/city "come to life" for potential supporters. Charge a fee for admission or take a "love offering" at the end of the evening to raise trip funds.
  2. Map Art - Make copies of the map outline of your host country/state and cut out a heart around the city/area where you will be traveling. Frame and sell.
  3. Mug Art - Use a ceramic marker to write a simple message such as "Pray for ___ (country name)" and make a simple outline of the country with a red heart for the city you will be visiting. Sell these at a church bazaar or via email or a social media page.
  4. Trip-specific Instagram - Create interest (and generate donations) for your trip by creating an Instagram or photo account about your host country. Share it with friends and family with a link to a fundraising page or donation information. Use the account to advertise other fundraising efforts such as craft sales or special fundraising nights.
  5. Joy Ornament - Cut out the shape of your host country in green paper and use it as the "O" in the word "JOY" (use red paper for the J and Y). If your country is oddly shaped, glue a small outline of it to a circular piece of paper. Glue the letters together at the edges and attach a ribbon. Sell as ornaments for an easy fundraiser.
  6. Sunday School Adoption - For teens, ask your church's Sunday school coordinator if there are any adult Sunday School classes that might be interested in hearing about your trip and "adopting" you to support your goal.
  7. "Tag the Bag" - Buy a large suitcase/canvas duffel to take on your trip, and have sponsors give donations in exchange for a spot on the bag where they can write their name or well-wishes.
  8. "Love" In Any Language - Pick a word from the language spoken in your host country (like hello, love or serve) and make a framed piece of art with craft paper and decorative accents to sell.

Mission-Driven Ideas

These ideas are inspired by the mission of your trip, whether it be home construction, medical care or spiritual encouragement.

  1. Themed Baskets for Silent Auction - Gather donated items (non-perishable food, art, books, gift cards) and assemble baskets for a silent auction using mission-inspired themes such as traveling, spreading love, going global, feeding the hungry, etc. Genius Tip: Collect auction donations with an online sign up.
  2. Isaiah 52:7 Fundraising - Use this inspirational verse as your theme for selling gently used shoes, selling decorated discount-store flip flops or giving pedicures in exchange for donations.
  3. Picture This - If you have some decent photography skills (and a nice camera), consider selling some of your shots to raise money or offer to take individual or family portraits for a set fee. After your mission trip, set up a page to share photos from your travels with all your sponsors. Genius Tip: Use a SignUpGenius online sign up to set appointment times.
  4. Medical Trips - Put together simple first aid kits with sports, summer or kid-friendly themes and sell — or have a suggested donation amount — to raise money for your trip.
  5. Construction Trips - Use a construction theme such as "buy a brick" or "pave the way" and have a wall where folks can select different donation amounts printed on paper bricks or pavers to give toward your trip.
  6. Working with Children - If you will be working with a school or children's organization, make a school-supply pack with classroom supplies and sell to raise money.
  7. Working with Children, Part 2 - Gently used baby clothes and toys are great items to collect via donation and then resell. Ask your church's quilting or knitting group if they would be willing to donate baby blankets to sell, too.
After all that successful fundraising, be sure to thank donors for every gift — big and small! And remember, many folks want to help send YOU rather than go themselves, so let your enthusiasm for the trip be contagious. Most of all, let your confidence rest in the One who is sending you out to do great things!

Julie David is married to a worship pastor, and after 20 years in ministry together with three daughters, she is still developing the tender balance of thick skin and gracious heart. She currently leads a small group of high school girls.