Mission Trip Fundraising Ideas

Many people find mission trip fundraising intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! In fact, gathering financial support provides 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 consistory or mission committee to support your team financially and in prayer.

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

Write 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.

Hold a group fundraiser

Group fundraising events can be a great way to strengthen team relationships while also raising financial support for your trip. Here are are few ideas:

Auction: Hold an auction with items you make and/or receive 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.

Bingo night: Charge a small entrance fee. As with an auction, you can make prizes yourself and/or ask for donations.

Chili cook-off: Charge a participation fee from chili cooks and sell bowls of chili to attendees. 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.

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 (with pancakes made by your team, of course) 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: Organize a 5K race and charge an entrance fee. Provide t‑shirts, refreshments, and local entertainment.

Try service-oriented fundraising

These events allow you to raise money while also providing a service to your community.

Takeout” dinner: Make to-go dinners and sell them on a Friday night. Schedule pick-up from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. so people can get their dinner on the way home from work. You could also 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 Christmas time. Or hold a gift wrapping event at your church where people can bring gifts they have purchased elsewhere to be wrapped. Ask church members or a local store to donate the gift wrap.

Service board: Ask church members to post odd jobs or service projects on a bulletin board for members of your group to do. Charge a set fee for your team’s services.

Think outside the box

Not all fundraisers have to look alike. Here are a few creative ideas to get you thinking. What else can your team come up with?

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, and offer a small prize to whoever guesses closest.

Collection boxes: Set out handmade collection boxes around your church. Encourage church members to 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 gloves, snacks, tape measures, 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 suitcases or vehicles to take it all along!

How to keep track of donations

Keeping track of the donations your team receives is crucial. You should keep good records of donations to your team as a whole and to individual team members. Encourage your team members to track the donations themselves as well. This helps hold 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. 
  • Designate one person to supervise your donation 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.
Want more trip planning support? Our short-term mission team would love to help.