Everyone needs to eat sometime…so let the money they spend on food support the youth! Here are some favorite food fundraisers:
Valentine’s or Sweetheart Dinner
A catered meal (maybe a member in your congregation is a caterer) for couples or singles who like to spend time with friends. Take reservations and decorate the space as a romantic restaurant or elegant dining room. Include candlelight, music and servers dressed in black and white. Provide child care in another part of the same building. Use small tables (not banquet tables) with cloth linens and napkins. Take pictures (Polaroid) as people walk in and are seated by the host/hostess. The guest “check” at the end of the meal isa card with the couple’s picture enclosed, and the card is signed by the youth server. Music should be “live” if a pianist or harpist could be there. Have a youth begin the dinner service with a prayer.
Dinner with Entertainment
Traditional spaghetti, chicken spaghetti, jambalaya, etc. Anything tastes better when you’re having fun while eating! Whether the youth sponsor a church-wide talent show or perform a play (dinner theater style), the show is what sells this night out. Make it something for the entire family or provide child care. Perhaps include an auction or raffle with this event to increase your profit.
Advent or Lenten Dinners
If your church has mid-week services for these seasons of the church year, provide an opportunity for people to fellowship around the dinner table before or after worship. A simple menu of soup and salad or a baked potato bar is standard fare. Some churches have soup or chili cook-offs for these meals (a variety of chefs bringing a pot of their best).
Typically served between services on Easter morning. Pancakes, eggs, sausage, breakfast burritos or breakfast casseroles. If you have the people and equipment, a waffle bar with lots of toppings could be a fun addition!
Superbowl Sub Sandwich Sale
Take orders in advance of game day and prepare sub sandwiches for people to take home from church on game day.
Assemble gift jars with all the dry ingredients necessary for making cookies, muffins, soups, etc. Take orders for about three weeks in advance. Set aside one or two nights to put together all the jars, and have them available for pick-up on Sunday mornings.
Chili or soup cook-off, Cookie or Cake Bake-Off
Start a contest, encourage everyone to bring their best recipe, charge an entrance fee for each pot of chili, plate of cookies, etc. Have a panel of judges award prizes to “best in show”, “best smelling”, “best looking”, and a variety of other categories. Charge a small fee for “onlookers” to come taste everyone’s best.
Baked Potato/Salad Bar
Can be done during Lent/Advent/monthly
Youth bring in potato toppings (sour cream, chopped green onion, cheese, etc.) and salad toppings (croutons, bacon bits, cut vegetables, etc.)
One can approach a fruit market with what you are doing. They may give you potatoes at cost. Lettuce, too! Buy pre-cut/prepared salad if there are time constraints.
Ask for a free-will offering.
Depending on the part of the country you live in, when the blackberries are ripe (or other kind of berry), spend a few hours gathering the berries. Rinse and freeze them. At a later time, come together and make jam. Have jars, sugar, and Sure-Gel donated. Jars can be decorated with a tag identifying flavor of contents with a catchy phrase like “Jammin’ for Jesus.”
Coffee and Baked Goods Sale
We’ve all bought cookies, cakes, and pies at church on a Sunday morning or in front of the local Wal-Mart. The goods are baked by the youth or other congregation members, so there is no cost involved in doing this fundraiser.
Thanks to Keith Minda, Lorraine Carter, and DCE Lisa Day for these ideas. These fundraisers were originally published in Fundraising for Teens, 2010 National Youth Gathering resources, and on thESource. Updated in March 2012.