You’ve received a calling to serve—and you’ve decided to answer that call—but, now what? Whether you’re going to focus on discipleship, reconciliation within the community, providing healthcare and education, or any other faith-based initiative for mission-work abroad, if you’ve figured out where you want to go—and what you want to do once you get there–you might be wondering how to raise money for a mission trip by yourself. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone.
Meaningful travel opportunities that include faith-based outreach might require some creative mission trip fundraising ideas to help make a cost-effective journey. Perhaps you will decide to work with one of the well-known organizations that donate money for mission trips. Maybe you’ll take a more structured approach and ask for dedicated sponsorship from companies that donate to mission trips as part of their corporate values. Or, perhaps you’ll take a more grassroots approach, and engage your friends, family, and community members in the fundraising process.
Having a solid action plan for building your mission fund will only strengthen your chances to get the support you need. Bonus: Tapping into the wide variety of available resources on mission trip fundraising ideas allows you to spread the word about your goals! (And it can be fun).
So, how should you raise money for mission trips abroad?
1. Kick it old school with a bake sale!
Nothing hits the purse strings (or wallet or pocket!) sweeter than some sweets! So why not make some of your grandma’s famous apple pie, or bake some delicious peanut-butter cookies, or make your favorite gluten-free, vegan chocolate brownies, and raise some funds while feeding some hungry friends? People really do love to trade hard-earned money for a worthy cause, and when you add in some chocolate (or sweet berries or tart lemon bars!), it’s even better. Just remember you can charge a bit more than the average bakeshop, but don’t go overboard. The goal is to sell as many as you can, to raise as much money as you can, so be smart–but stay generous.
2. Host a brunch, a lunch, or a potluck dinner–because food is your friend.
Whether you invite people over for frittata or tofu scramble, set out the salads and sandwiches, or get support from your fellow foodies and friends, make sure to make the environment as warm and inviting as the food. Your potential donors will feel right at home. Share the purpose of your mission in the invitations–you might even include your mission trip fundraising letter in the emails–but whatever you do, be sure to make the purpose of your party clear. And remember one of the core rules of fundraising, when you’re inviting people over for a sit-down meal, a buffet, or even a dish to pass, you can ask for donations at the door, and then pass the plate again at the time dessert is served, while you remind your well-fed participants why they’re there and what good work you plan to do with their contributions.
3. Work it out–cycle, sweat, walk, run, or stretch for the cause!
Maybe you’ve already fed your potential donors, or maybe food is not your thing, but you can always invite the community to join you in a spin class, yoga practice, walk, run, or other workout program to raise money for your mission trip abroad. Remember to engage your local fitness instructors and studios for help, and follow whatever community rules are in place. For example, for an outdoor run or a walk, you will likely need permits and safety monitors–but you might find that a local spinning studio would let you bring in a group for a class and just let you collect a fee from anyone who wants to help.
As an added layer of donor opportunity, you could also sell mission trip fundraising bracelets (which are inexpensive to make) or design some mission trip fundraising t-shirts to sell, which only adds to the fun!
4. Wait–let’s talk about those t-shirts and bracelets again…
If you’re design-inclined (of if you know someone who can help you with some basic graphics), you can amp up your t-shirt and small tsotchke game and sell those as a stand-alone option for people to wear their support on their arms and their sleeves (or even their heads!). When it comes to mission trip fundraising bracelets, you can have different colors for different levels of donation and offer your supporters something extra (like a signed photo from your travels when you return) if they’re willing to level up and donate more than once at multiple levels.
Or, if t-shirts and clothing are the easier sell, then be sure to offer value-up options here, too—don’t just have mission trip fundraising t-shirts, but offer some long-sleeve shirts, hoodies, even baseball hats for supporters to purchase. There are so many options for wholesalers and drop-shippers (meaning you never need to buy the inventory, they handle the payment and printing and shipment for you)–be sure to check with your mission group to find out what you might be able to do to keep these sales tax-exempt.
5. Shop for funds–and do it using other people’s money!
In today’s gig-based economy, people are sharing and outsourcing tasks that used to be done by individuals as a normal part of the household chores. And it’s easier than ever to do this with organizations run through phone apps, like Instacart, Shipt, PeaPod, and others! While there’s nothing new about delivering pizzas (and that could certainly be an option, too)–with these newer services, you can help someone out by doing their grocery shopping when they’re short on time, or picking up their pet food so that they don’t have to go themselves, or even grabbing their cough syrup and juice for them when they’re sick.
If you treat this as an extra job to raise funds, you can easily sock it away (along with the tips!) as one more creative solution for how to raise money for a short term mission trip.
6. Clean your closet–for a cause!
There are so many great places to sell your gently-used clothing for a profit. And most of them only require that you can use an app and sign up! From the vintage to the hard-to-find, and from designer, to daily-wear, to single-purpose (hello, prom dress!), you can unload your extras, downsize to your minimalist capsule-wardrobe, or anything in between.
Not only would you be clearing clutter and raising funds, but you’ll learn how to raise money for a short term mission trip in a way that passes on the items you no longer need to someone else. Just remember, if it’s truly designer, or vintage, be sure to check around to make sure you’re maximizing the opportunity to raise the money you need!
7. Get paid to do some chores for your neighbors.
Yes, we’re talking shoveling, lawn-mowing, raking, gutter-cleaning, and sweeping. Add in a bit of weeding gardens, spreading wood chips, washing windows, or painting porches and fences, and you’ve got the idea! If you’re physically able to help with some of these kinds of yard-related tasks, if you ask around in your neighborhood, you’re likely to find someone who would gladly pay you to do the task or at least help them with this kind of work. Not only is this kind of work helpful to your neighbors and beneficial to your community spirit, it’s also an example of what happens when you think about how to raise money for a mission trip by yourself, and realize that the potential of working with others is always an option.
As with the opportunities to shop and run errands for others, it’s often the yardwork (or even housework) that feels like the area of greatest need in today’s busy world. Helping others before your mission trip can be a great way to engage in the kinds of mission trip fundraising ideas that allow you to do some good service work before you leave.
8. Use the power of social media for some extra support.
Social media *must* be a part of your plan to knock these mission trip fundraising ideas outside of the park. While some platforms have strict rules against soliciting funds–even for donations or charitable causes, others are perfect for this exact purpose! You can create a personalized account page on one of these services (from SoundCloud to YouTube to Patreon, just to name a few) and make your ideas about how to raise money for a short term mission trip a part of your overall messaging. You can share your mission trip fundraising letter as a PDF to the site, or post it as part of your press-packet–but the power of your story might best be told through audio, video, or images.
If you opt to share a podcast or a video, you can interview others in your organization, talk to your friends about mission travel, share what you’re most excited to do when you arrive, explain why this was a calling for you, or even imagine what you most hope to do when you return. If you’re someone called to serve on a mission trip, you likely have a great story to share–so why not post it to a platform that will let others sponsor your stories (and your mission!) by donating to you based on the information you share.
9. Partner with the big players–from corporations to organizations.
When it comes to working with companies that donate to mission trips, your home organization likely has a list of potential partners for you to choose from–but don’t forget to ask your family members and friends about whether or not they know of any businesses or organizations that donate money for mission trips as well. Sometimes it will be in the form of a scholarship or a grant (depending on the orientation of your mission or your level of education)–and other times, it will be in the form of a direct cash donation, or a matching gift.
Some companies and organizations even have dedicated programs that allow you to sell their products and keep a share of the profits (think of cookies, pizzas, and candy as the easiest to sell and most lucrative) but the biggest benefit will likely be from direct funding. In fact, you might find that some of the best opportunities are from national or global organizations that are dedicated to funding mission trips, but might not even be in your area–so be sure to do your research and get creative in terms of your ask.
10. Teach what you know–tutor others–host a workshop. Get creative!
Do you have a talent for math? Are you a musician with a teacher’s heart? Do you know how to crochet and could you help a group of interested people learn what you know? If you’ve got a craft, hobby, or artistic talent to share–or if you can help some hopeful learner as they try to master French, or Latin, or history, or calculus, why not consider some part-time tutoring, teaching, lectures, classes, or workshops to get some extra funds for your mission travel?
When you think about how to raise money for mission trips abroad, why not tap into your talents in ways that allow you to teach others as you earn funds and share your enthusiasm for working with others? Not only will you be able to gain some extra income, you’ll also be able to practice the social, teaching, and soft skills required for a good mission trip–especially one based on providing education, service, and support to others.
11. Use FundMyTravel to crowdsource online.
With so many crowdfunding options out there, it might be hard to pick the right one for you. But if you’re looking for a platform that is dedicated to funding meaningful travel experiences, there’s only one you need to consider, and that’s FundMyTravel (hey, that’s us!). When you think about the best options for mission trip fundraising ideas, crowdfunding makes sense–but you don’t want to get lost in a sea of other campaigns for everything from self-operating pet feeders to tech-based wearables or band vans and food start-ups.
Once you sign up and create an account on FundMyTravel (FMT), you’ll be part of a global community of travelers, who support one another, learn from one another, and share their funding needs with the community on a dedicated platform that understands that everyone deserves to be able to pursue the adventures they seek or are called to in life.
If mission-connected travel is right for you, then using FMT help you turn the challenge of figuring out how to raise money for mission trips abroad into an opportunity to share your goals and intentions with a dedicated travel-focused audience, while also giving you a campaign link you can share with others. It’s just one more way to go from wondering how to raise money for a mission trip by yourself to finding a solution that makes sense for you. And when you build your campaign, don’t forget to think about the pitch. The way you deliver your message is as important as the message itself, so make sure your ask is compelling, concise, and inspiring!
Example mission trip fundraisers on FundMyTravel:
- Veronica’s Medical Mission Trip to Panama
- Support Caroline’s Mission Trip to Haiti!
- Support me to find my feet – Soul building mission trip
Be sure to read our helpful tips on how to raise money to volunteer abroad and create engaging, thoughtful, and purposeful fundraising pages to expand your mission.
These mission trip fundraising ideas will put you on the right path
So now that you’ve got almost a dozen ways to creatively think about how to raise money for a short term mission trip, what should the next steps be? For starters, take this list, and see what you might add! Is a car wash at your local church an option? What about a volleyball tournament for a good cause? Perhaps your community is the type to rally behind a raffle, or join you for a golf outing–or maybe you and some friends could team up and do some dog-walking or babysitting for some neighbors in need…
Whatever you decide to do, remember to clearly communicate your purpose and keep copies of your mission trip fundraising letter available for anyone who might ask to see it. It’s best to be transparent and offer the opportunity for clarity. That kind of preparedness speaks to your sincerity and integrity, and it helps the donor feel confident that their donation is going not only to a worthy cause, but also to a deserving person they can be proud to support.
Remember, doing good for others feels good. That’s the very spirit behind your call to service. While some of your donors might also share your servant’s heart, even those who don’t share in the mission can be strong supporters, so don’t be discouraged if you find that your neighbor is happy to pay you for cleaning their gutters, but isn’t at all concerned about what you plan to do with the funds. Offering options for different kinds of support and levels of involvement is a key lesson to keep in mind when it comes to raising money–and if you remind yourself of that from the start, it will only help you be most prepared when it comes time to make your appeal. Your mission trip is underway from the moment you decide to go–and raising the money to get there is simply part of the adventure!
This article was written by Andi Sciacca. Andi Sciacca is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and their four-legged family. Andi works with inspired professionals who are expert practitioners, experienced educators, and well-known contributors to their field. She helps them take ideas and put them into practice. When not working, or writing, she loves to experience music, see the world, and learn new things. Her favorite places to travel include anywhere she can eat good food – and swim.