Mission Trip Fundraising Ideas

Many people find mission trip fundraising intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! In fact, we believe that offering financial support is a way for others to join and participate in God’s work in the world. If we view fundraising as an opportunity to invite people to become a part of what God is doing and will do through the trip, then it becomes much less awkward and intimidating. A great first step is to ask your church’s mission committee, if you have one, or consistory to support your team financially and in prayer.

There are so many creative and easy ways to raise support, both prayer and financial, for your mission trip. Try a few of the ideas below.

Writing a fundraising letter

Write a mission trip fundraising letter to friends, family, and church members to raise support. Share the focus of your mission trip and why you feel God is calling you to participate. Ask if they will consider supporting you in prayer as well as financially, if they are able.

Group fundraising events

Auction: Hold an auction with items that you have either made or received as donations. 

Balloon raffle: Place numbered pieces of paper in balloons. Sell the balloons for $10 each, giving each buyer a raffle ticket with the number inside their balloon. Pop a balloon for each available prize and read off the winning numbers. 

Exercise/Zumba night: Find an exercise or Zumba instructor who will donate their time to lead a class. Charge an entrance fee.

Game night: Gather a bunch of board games, invite friends to play, and sell tickets for the event.

Pancake breakfast: Have an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast and ask for donations. 

Restaurant night: Ask a local restaurant to donate a percentage of its earnings for an evening to your group. Encourage friends and family to eat there that night. 

5K run: Charge an entrance fee. Provide t‑shirts, refreshments, and local entertainment.

Competition fundraisers

Bingo night: Charge a small entrance fee to earn money for your trip. Ask people or businesses to donate small, non-cash prizes to award the bingo winners. 

Candy jar guessing game: Have people at church or work guess the number of pieces of candy in a jar. Charge for each guess they make.

Chili cook-off: Charge a participation fee to chili cooks and sell bowls of chili to customers to raise money for your trip. Put together a panel of judges to crown the top chili maker.

Chocolate dessert competition: Have people sign up to make their best chocolate dessert. Charge $5 at the door for the privilege of tasting the desserts. Award prizes donated by local businesses to the best desserts.

Dodgeball tournament: Charge an entrance fee to play.

Service-oriented fundraising

Takeout” dinner: Sell dinners on a Friday night. Schedule pick-up from 4:00–6:00 p.m., so people can get their dinner on the way home from work. You could make deliveries for an additional fee.

Flower delivery: Deliver flowers to people around Valentine’s Day for a fee. 

Gift wrapping: Partner with a local store or mall to wrap gifts for a nominal fee at Christmastime. OR Hold a gift wrapping event at your church, so that people can bring gifts they have purchased anywhere to be wrapped. Have a local store or church members donate the gift wrap. 

Service board: Church members post odd jobs or service projects on a bulletin board for members of your group to do. They pay a set fee for your services. 

Outside-the-box fundraising

Collection boxes: Set out handmade collection boxes around your church. People can take them to their places of employment or put their donations in the boxes right at church.

Envelope gifts: Number envelopes 1 to 50. Have people pick one of the envelopes and return it the next week with the corresponding dollar amount inside. This can raise up to $1,347.

Pink flamingo fundraiser: Place a pink flamingo lawn ornament (or a “flock” of pink flamingos) in a person’s yard. Leave behind a note explaining your fundraiser and asking for a donation. If the person donates, they get to send the flamingo or flock of flamingos to another person’s yard. Your group should take charge of moving the flamingo or flock to the new address. (Get step-by-step instructions here.) 

Reverse offering: Put slips of paper listing items that you need for your trip in an offering plate (work globes, snack, tape measure, etc.). Have people draw a slip out of the offering plate and donate whatever item is listed on the slip. This is especially good if you will be running a VBS or if the partner site has asked for specific donations. Just make sure you have space in your suitcase or vehicle to take it all along!

How to keep track of donations

Keeping track of the donations your team receives to support your trip is important. You should keep a record not only of donations to your team as a whole, but also donations to individual team members. Encourage your team to keep track of the donations as well. This helps keep everyone accountable.

Here are a few suggestions for maintaining an accurate record of your team’s finances.

  • Before you create your own donation management system, see if you can tap into the system your church uses for managing donations. 
  • Consider tracking information like team member details, overall budgets, flight costs, and thank-you notes sent.
  • Use Microsoft Excel and Google Docs to easily track information about both individual team members and the group as a whole. 
  • It is helpful to designate one person supervisor of your management system. 
  • Give these online management tools a try for a monthly fee:
  • Feel free to reach out to the Reformed Church in America Short-term Mission team by email at shortterm@rca.org if you have any questions about tracking donations.