Youth group… camps and conferences… great discussions… laughter… silliness…. mission… these are just some of the things that youth and youth leaders alike look forward to at the start of each year. Not on that list? Fundraisers. Whether it is trying to find the right way to raise (usually) much needed financial support, or signing up volunteers to help keep all of the pieces running on the big day, fundraisers can be the bane of a youth leader’s existence.
In the Presbyterian world, we are a few days into “Week 1” at Montreat Conference Center and youth all around the country are counting down the days, if not hours, until they pile into church vans and head to the beautiful North Carolina mountains for a week of rich discussion and enriching worship. In addition to youth conferences around the country, churches are also preparing to travel the world for mission trips. As the plans for each trip are finalized, the final checks are needing to be written and so the final fundraisers of the season are making their way into announcements and bulletins every Sunday.
This past Sunday, while worshiping with First Presbyterian Church in Garner, NC, I saw a ray of light in the world of fundraising! Not to mention a wonderfully creative and fun idea.
Before worship even started, I heard mumblings of the youth fundraiser as individuals asked one another if they had brought in their donations and if they would be helping. Of course with it being the start of summer, I thought they must be talking about a yard sale. At the start of worship, two very excited young girls stood up and informed the congregation that their departure to Montreat was just over 800 hours away and they couldn’t be more excited. As they prepare for the trip though, they need help…
“Come to our Auction!” the girls encouraged the congregation. This particular auction that the youth are hosting is a fun blend of a yard sale, craft sale, auction, and raffle. Members have donated items they have made or found at home and filled the Fellowship Hall. On June 18, the congregation will gather for an ice cream social and purchase raffle tickets for $0.50 each. As they fellowship, individuals can drop their raffle ticket in a cup for the items they would like to take home. Later in the night, an emcee will draw one ticket from each of the cups (this year there will likely be over 500!) and the winner will take that item home with them.
Seeing the excitement and support for the youth and their final fundraiser, and hearing memories of the previous year’s auction was invigorating and brought back so many wonderful memories of my own time in youth group and working at fundraisers. The task of raising money did not bring down any person, but instead energized the whole congregation!
Camps, conferences, and mission trips are wonderful experiences for our youth, but they mean so much more when supported by the congregation in such exciting ways. How does your congregation raise money for youth events? Share your ideas here!
Rev. Jordan B. Davis
Church Relations Officer