TIP #1: Start Early – The earlier you begin the better. If you know this summer that you want to go on a mission trip next summer, then start saving now. A $1,895 international mission trip seems like an unreachable goal. However, if you break it up over a year, it’s only $160 per month (about $5 per day). If you pack a lunch instead of eating out each day, you will pay for your trip with no problem.
TIP #2: Diversify Your Funding – People become overwhelmed when they think about coming up with a large amount of money for a mission trip. Try diversifying your funding to make it more manageable. For years I have been telling potential participants to do the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 plan. First, plan on paying for 1/3 of your trips cost out of pocket. This gives you a sense of ownership and accountability. You will take more serious something you are personally invested in. Secondly, plan on raising 1/3 of your trip cost through fundraising. This will give you a more manageable amount to focus your fundraising efforts. Finally, plan on raising 1/3 of your trip cost by sending out personal letters to family and friends who will commit to pray for (and hopefully financially partner with) you for your trip. The key to a good letter is to be concise, yet adequately explain the reason for your trip, the goals of your trip, and the importance of their involvement in your trip both prayerfully and financially. Most people who receive your letters will make a minimum donation ($10-$25), but some will give much more. If you work hard, you will find that your out of pocket cost will be less than the 1/3 you planned for.
TIP #3: Diversify Your Fundraising Audience – Audience diversity is an important aspect to fundraising. You don’t want to keep asking the same people to help you fund your trip. Your church family may be incredibly supportive of your upcoming trip. However, you do not want to take advantage of their generosity by focusing all of your fundraising efforts on them (i.e. – after church meals, love offerings, etc.). You need to look for fundraising opportunities that target a variety of different people (coworkers, family, the general public, etc.)
TIP #4 – Maximize Your Fundraising Potential – When I began fundraising for short-term mission trips, I had no clue how to fundraise efficiently. I spent many long Saturdays washing cars for very little money. I learned that my time was better spent doing fewer fundraisers with higher profits. These types of fundraisers can sometimes come with risks. However, they typically pay off far more than you may anticipate. Below are some examples of successful fundraisers:
SUPPORT LETTERS – Support letters are one of the most effective (and personal) ways of raising funds for your short-term mission trip. In this electronic age, getting a personal letter in the mail is a unexpected surprise for many people. Unfortunately, most people do not maximize this unique opportunity. There are a few things you can do that will greatly increase your chances of seeing a return on support letters. Here are a few pointers in writing the letter: make is short, make it personal, clearly explain your reason(s) for going, proofread it, ask for prayer (not just money), be humble, be thankful. There is also a simple thing you can do in order to help your recipient get you support. With the letter, also enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Most people do not have stamps or envelopes in hand. Providing this simple item (though extra cost for you) will greatly increase your odds of receiving a donation. It will also ensure that the donation goes to the correct address and person. If possible, route your funds through your local church. For example, your enclosed envelope should have an address that reads something like: Anytown Baptist Church - Attn: Jane Doe's Mission Fund - Address. This will also make things less confusing for your church's financial secretary if there are multiple letters coming in. Finally, follow up is a key to future success in letter writing. Make sure you send a follow-up Thank You letter (with pictures) to everyone who has made a donation to your trip. This will make them feel appreciated and personally involved. It will also be helpful in case you send letters for a future trip. There is more information about writing support letters in our International Missions Manual. Need a sample letter? CLICK HERE to download a letter that is 90% complete!
T-SHIRT SALE – T-shirts can be a very profitable fundraiser. Hope Missions has a "sister company" - GoTees Screen Printing. This means that we can provide quality t-shirts at a very affordable cost. Everything you need to get started is at our GoTees webpage - www.gotees.org.
BED SHEET SALE – One of the most effective fundraisers we have seen in recent years is selling BED SHEETS!!! I know it sounds ridiculous. But, it has become one of the top fundraisers for many of our mission participants. The sheet come from Sanders Collection - (http://www.sanderscollection.com/seller_hub.html#). We highly recommend that you call them directly, tell them you are doing a fundraiser, and request a sample set and order forms. You PRE-SALE (get money up front) sets of sheets for $40 a set. When you place your order, you only pay $17 per set. That's a $23 per set profit. Many people sell enough sheets to pay their entire mission trip expense.
BBQ SALE – A good Boston Butt Sale is always a success. A couple of things to keep in mind to maximize profits. If you know someone who has large cookers (the kind you pull behind a truck!), cooking them yourself is the best way to make the most money. If you do not have access to your own cooker/smoker, contact a local BBQ restaurant. Many times, they will work a deal with you. Also, PRE-SALE (get money up front) as many Boston Butts as you can. Only cook a few more (about 10%-15%) more than you have actually sold. This will keep you from wasting food and money. Give out tickets or flyers with information on when and where people can pick up their BBQ. You can typically make $8-$15 per Boston Butt.
MEGA YARD SALE – Yard sales are great - and 100% profit!!! Don't just do a regular yard sale. Do a MEGA Yard Sale! Get with your church, family, friends, neighbors. Ask everyone to donate their unused items to your Mission Yard Sale. Conduct the sale in a public location - your church, shopping center parking lot, etc. Get a team together to help you conduct the sale. I have heard of people making $1,000 - $5,000 if they plan well.
SIDE JOB - Extra jobs are always a great way to raise additional funds. A sacrifice in your free time can pay off big time. Consider offering a baby sitting service, mow lawns, or clean houses. Instead of paying you, ask people to make a donation to your church (on your behalf) for your upcoming mission trip. Many times people will give more to your cause than to you personally. You will be surprised how quickly you can raise money by doing extra odd jobs.
SOCIAL MEDIA - Though not as personal as a written letter, many people are taking advantage of Social Media (FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) to help get the word out about their need mission funds. I know several people who have made public pleas to their online "friends" to contribute to their cause. Some have even set up PayPal accounts for people to donate. We had one young lady who raised all of her funds by posting a YouTube video of herself sharing the desire to be On-Mission. One of the most popular online tools today is www.gofundme.com. GoFundMe makes raising funds easy! Check out their website for more details.
The key to a successful fundraising event is planning. The more you prepare, the more successful the event. Don't let lack of funds keep you from participating on a short-term mission trip. Having faith that God will provide through His is part of the mission process. Most people discover that it is not as hard as they thought. They just needed to take the first step and say like Isaiah, "SEND ME!"
Feel free to contact the Hope Missions Office with any questions on raising funds for your mission trip. We are here to help!
Shawn Doss, Founder and Director