I’ve been asked to write up a few fund-raising ideas for a mate on the NCYC09 crew, and, to tell you the truth I’ve got a major beef about fund-raising activities by the church for events like NCYC, Summer Camps, Conferences, Mission Trips, Activities…
The major beef is that we, as a church always talk about being saved not through works, but by faith, we talk about God’s love being undeserving, as something we’re given rather than earn, about Grace being a gift. We talk about community and faith and love as things that we shouldn’t be trying to earn but as something that we should be trying to give freely as a gift.
Why then do we make a sudden jump to the idea that young people or others will enjoy the conference more if they earn their way, why do we say things like “we had to earn our way in life, let’s make these young people earn their way to go to this conference?”
It’s a philosophical and theological difference that I have, that if we’re a faith that constantly talks about gifts and giving then why do we make people earn their way to go to something that we know would be good for them, would challenge their faith, deepen their understanding of the gospel, have a renewed generation in our midst?
Then of course there’s the financial difference that I have, let’s say that we’re running a chocolate drive, first then we have to purchase chocolates, that then have to be delivered to the group in boxes and then we try and sell them at the purchase price + whatever we’d like to earn on top as a group fund-raiser. So in order to make money, for an activity that we know is going to be beneficial we must spend money.
Lamington drives, cake drives, car washes, sock drives, pie sales, they’re all the same, we spend money to purchase equipment and/or product and then sell for a profit in order to make money on top of what we’ve spent.
Even if we run a small fete selling cakes there’s someone who has spent time and money to make the cake and, even though it may be a donation to the program there has already been a financial cost in ingredients, power, gas in order to make the cake.
Financially the way I see it is that we’re spending on average about $0.60 for every $0.40 made, for every $3.00 piece of chocolate/lamington/cake/pie that we’ve made $1.20 on we’ve actually spent $1.80 on overheads. Something doesn’t really calculate.
Here’s another idea…
Forget the overheads, forget making the young people earning their way in that kind of way.
a) give the money you would normally spend on overheads to the young people to attend the activity.
b) give the money that you would normally spend on purchasing the chocolates/socks/pies/lamingtons during the activity to the group of young people and, in the case of conferences like NCYC/Planetshakers etc ask them to have a conversation with the organisers about either an indigenous/overseas/country group that may be looking for financial support to attend the conference.
c) have the young people and church host the group you choose to sponsor over, your young people may be interested in learning some of the language of the people coming over, or learn some of the cooking, have them host the people at home, transport with them to the conference, share each other’s faith with each other.
This way the “earning” is in “giving” the young people earn their way by engaging with other young people from a space/country/culture that is different from where they’ve come from. By giving the money and time and hosting them we’re teaching them to give freely, they learn from others that this Christianity thing is much bigger than just them.
Instead of having your youth group run around selling chocolates or pies or socks or lamingtons, or washing other people’s cars have them think about learning a language, writing letters to people they’re supporting to attend the conference with them, make small gifts for their new friends to take home with them, send a few people over before the conference so they can meet the people before the conference…
Who knows? it’s just an idea I’ve been having lately about how we encourage young people to be church and to attend conferences…
Perhaps fund-raising works against what we’re on about…
And, as a gift, here’s another fund-raising activity that I’ve put together for those of you looking for an idea. I like to call it the “Oh No Not Another Lamington Drive” fund-raiser