I worked in the youth ministry of a church where the entire year’s programming was built around fund-raising events, like eight of them. It was too much.
I’ve also worked at churches that didn’t raise enough funds for youth ministry to do it well, or that didn’t target fund-raising to specific events or trips for it to be effective.
Somebody once objected to a youth mission trip fundraiser: “Why should people give money for this? These kids’parents can afford it.”
He wasn’t wrong. At least as far as appearances go, appearances for these specific people who are here at this precise moment.
But raising money to supplement the budget for a youth mission trip is more than a practical exercise. It’s more than math, and its more than dollars and cents. It’s about inviting the congregation to personally participate in the mission students are taking. It’s about sending.
It is also about building and supporting the norm that everybody gets to go, regardless of whether or not they look like they can afford the registration and the plane ticket. Vigorous fundraising that is well planned and carefully targeted enables me to tell a new student next year that they should come on the trip, even though their parents–or parent–are balking at what we’re suggesting families contribute toward the costs. That new student may become two the next year and then two more the year after that.
As much as anything else in church life, fundraising for youth mission trips is about the students who are here now and the ones who will be here tomorrow.