One of the best ways to fund a mission trip is to ask for help from friends and family. While the idea of asking for money may sound daunting, you’d be surprised at how many people want to help—especially when it’s for a good cause. In general, people are supportive of Maranatha’s mission and the idea of helping a friend through a potentially life-changing experience. By asking for monetary support you’re giving them the opportunity to partner with you in your mission and it could be the start of a dynamic friendship.
There are a number of ways to raise money. Here are just a few ideas that have worked for our volunteers. Remember to contact a variety of people beyond just your immediate friends and family, and you may consider a combination of a few ideas to reach different people. Just remember to always thank those who have donated to your cause and follow up with them when you return to share your mission experience with them.
Ask in person.
The most common method of short-term mission fundraising is making a direct appeal in person or over the phone. Ask to meet with a potential supporter, and have a conversation about what you’re doing and why you want to go on a mission trip. Then ask if they would be willing to help. Do your research and anticipate what questions they may have and be prepared to answer them. Most of all, people want to see your desire to participate and how you anticipate being impacted by the experience.
Send a letter to ask for donations.
Send a personalized version of our sample letter on the website (or write your own) to family, friends and church members asking for their financial help and prayers to go on this short-term mission project. You can make it personal by listing other ways you are fundraising (i.e. “Let me know if you want to order some fresh-baked bread!”), setting a fundraising goal, or including a picture.
Give a special presentation at church, or any other group you belong.
Many people talk with their youth leader or pastor and ask to make a special announcement or brief presentation letting people know about their plans to participate on a mission project. You may want to show one of the short videos that Maranatha has available online to help people see why you are so excited about this!
Use an online crowd funding platform.
Make donating easy for your supporters by signing up for an account on a crowdfunding website, like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. You can list your cause, goals, and incentives for certain giving amounts. Then people can give to you directly online. Just make sure you let Maranatha know if this is how you’re fundraising in case the website sends the money without your name on it.
Start an electronic media campaign.
Connect with people in as many ways as you can. That can certainly include email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Post frequent updates about your mission trip plans, include photos of your destination and videos about Maranatha and their projects. Always make it easy for people to figure out how to donate to your project too. You can also email or share video clips of Maranatha Mission Stories from Maranatha’s website.
Hold a sale
From pies to an old snowboard, good old-fashioned sales are still a hit. Organize a bake sale, lunch stand, or a yard sale, and make sure your customers know that the proceeds are going to a good cause.
Print a flyer or a sign up sheet offering to bring back different souvenirs for every donor of $10, $25, $50, or $100, etc. The souvenirs should be relatively inexpensive, and remember you should be making a profit off the sale (e.g. bring back a $1 souvenir for a $10 donation). These could be handcrafted key chains you’ll buy there, a shell from the local beach, or a vial of dirt or sand from your worksite.
Share what you know.
Everyone’s got a skill that someone else needs. Consider the skills that you have and what they might be worth. Yard work, car washes, photography, plumbing, cooking, tech support, cleaning, tutoring, sports lessons, housesitting, pet walking, music lessons, babysitting—get creative on how you might turn your skill set into a job that makes money. You can offer your talents for a set rate or with a simple invitation to donate to your mission trip.
Give donors an opportunity to get a taste of the culture you will soon visit. Have a fundraising dinner with a menu and decorations culturally appropriate for your destination. For example, if your short-term mission trip is to Nicaragua, research a menu and hold a Nicaraguan dinner asking for donations towards your trip.
Create a Book
Before you leave, presell photobooks or cookbooks. During your trip, collect photos or recipes and when you get back create and deliver the book to your donors. You can create these online through companies such as MyPublisher, Apple, Shutterfly, Walgreens, etc.
Collect cans, bottles, and/or newspapers to raise money while you care for the environment and encourage others to do the same. Check with local agencies for places to deposit your collection. Place recycling bags at your school, teams/clubs you are involved with, your or your parent’s workplace, church, etc.
Collect Your Spare Change
Each time you go to the store and you receive nickels and pennies, don’t throw them into your wallet. Find a basket or a jar and put all your change in the container. It won’t be a lot, but every dollar counts!
Make it Visual
Sometimes a visual aid can motivate and remind church and community members about your goal and inspire them to give. You could create a thermometer with your goal and color each increment as you receive donations. You could put a map on the bulletin board with pins in your hometown and your Maranatha project location. Or you could create a model hardhat and ask donors to “fill the hat” with cash.
** Before you start, you may want to take a moment to connect with your church pastor, board, and treasurer. People are sometimes encouraged to give even more if they know that they will get a tax-deductible receipt to use for their taxes. Maranatha is typically unable to track and issue receipts for individual small checks, so one way to still provide your donors with the tax deduction is for them to send the funds to your church. The church will process the donation to a mission fund, and then you will request the church to sponsor you on your trip. For more information about this process, please contact Maranatha at (916) 774-7700.