Team Building and Fundraising

Below is a variety of suggestions for building a solid, stable, and committed team of volunteer youth workers.


For leaders’ meetings, break into smaller groups.

We have found that when we break down our leaders into smaller groups (men at one house and women at another, middle school leaders at one place and high school leaders at another, and so forth), our attendance is better due to the fact that the leaders are noticed more and the intimacy is improved.

Send e-mails to the entire group.

E-mail is a beautiful thing! This has made the connection between me and my volunteer staff much more effective. I try not to bombard them with e-mails though—just enough to communicate.

Take them to lunch.

One of the best ways I care for my leaders is to take them to lunch. I try to take two or three at a time so I can meet with them all in one month’s time. I spend time talking to each of them about the students they shepherd and how to take them to the next level spiritually. It is also a time when I ask them about their families and occupations. This is a specific time of caring for them.

Throw three big parties a year.

We like to celebrate what God has done in our ministry, and I try to make these parties a big deal. Different places other than the church and great food are always musts! Read stories from kids (or bring some in to give testimonies), give outstanding results from the semester, and share what God is doing in the big picture. Most of all, encourage like crazy!

Give out t-shirts, key rings, bats, paddles, and so forth.

Each year I come up with a theme that I can use to cast vision and have it printed on something. Be creative! This helps each coach feel like a part of the team.

Pay your leaders’ way for conventions, camps, and retreats.

No money is required from my volunteers; just their time and caring for young people are needed. This is worked into my annual youth ministry budget.

Send handwritten personal thank-you notes.

Read different books together over time and discuss.

Visit your team members where they work and live.

We tend to expect leaders to come to where we are; find out instead where they work and live. Get involved in their lives and the lives of their kids as well and you will have strong volunteers for life.

Plan an annual youth staff retreat.

More can happen in one weekend than in a whole year of Sunday school or adult training meetings. Take your team somewhere to play together, to dream together, and just to let them know how valuable they are.

Conduct a “staff infection.”

Once a year towards the start of school, do a crazy night to introduce the youth staff. Do all the skits and gags from their high school and college days, as well as make up some new ones. Rehearse three or four times together and just enjoy the lighter side of ministry with your team.

Give them training opportunities.

If you can budget money in to take your team to a Youth Specialties Convention, to Willow Creek, to Saddleback, or to a similar training environment, the return is well worth the investment. You might also bring someone in to train your volunteers.

Empower them and show your loyalty.

Give your volunteers a job and let them do it. Be loyal to them in front of others. Let them know they can trust you.

Have fun or just hang out.

Plan a retreat that has a lot of relationship time built in or make plans for an outing—something such as playing laser tag or an afternoon team building event. Leaders

Train towards specific goals.

Leaders want to have a goal to pursue and need training on how to get there. Don’t forget that you live the vision every day; they only see it on Wednesdays and Sundays if that. Keep the vision in front of them often.

Give them annual covenants to sign.

My adult leaders commit to specific assignments for a year at a time. Then I give them tremendous freedom to complete their assignments.

Reimburse them for taking students to lunch or other ministry contacts.

Have mandatory participation in a small group that you lead.

This is not a time of youth worker training; instead, it is a time when we get honest with each other and develop deep relationships. This has been extremely beneficial.

Train towards specific goals.

Leaders want to have a goal to pursue and need training on how to get there. Don’t forget that you live the vision every day; they only see it on Wednesdays and Sundays if that. Keep the vision in front of them often.

Provide pastoral care.

Whenever possible, I make sure that I am the pastor who cares for my youth ministry team’s pastoral needs.

Remind yourself constantly that you are a leader of leaders.

Your first priority needs to be your volunteer leaders. (Check out Exodus 18:17–27; Acts 6:1–4; and Ephesians 4:11–12.)

Never ask a volunteer to do you a favor by helping with the ministry.

You are doing them a favor by offering them the chance to serve and to be used by God to do an exciting work.

Don’t be threatened by their success.

When some of your students start to look to and depend on a volunteer as their mentor, pat yourself on the back; that’s what is supposed to happen.

Don’t be afraid to have high expectations of leaders.

Be clear about what you expect up front. Some people may be too busy to be involved. Better to know that first rather than be disappointed later.

Have your leaders’ meetings on the same night the students meet, maybe a half hour before.

That way your leaders are not giving up an extra night off of their week.

Recruit parents to show appreciation to the adult volunteers.

Got an idea for building your volunteer team that you would like to recommend? Drop us an email at


Golf Tournament

We have an annual golf tournament in the spring. There is a committee of five people that contacts the golf course where will we hold the tournament and helps to get hole sponsors, golfers, door prizes, and prizes for winners of the tournament. Most of the money from the tournament will be made from hole sponsors. The first year we did this, we approached local businesses and personal contacts to sponsor holes and donate prizes. Each year since, we have been able to go back to those same sponsors and have also gained new contacts. We usually have forty to sixty golfers who participate in the tournament. Last year, after expenses, we made $3,200.

Car Wash plus Advertising Book

Write a letter in your own words to sell ads. Make sure the letter is on your church letterhead and that people know what the ad is for (to distribute to customers at your fundraiser car wash). Sell your ads for a predetermined price. For example, in our small community we ask $15 for business card size, $25 for 1/2 page, and $35 for a full page ad. Once you have sold the ads, put them together in booklet form. Make sure people know you are photocopying their business cards or yellow page ads, and that the book will be given to at least 300 cars that you are washing. If you do not wash 300 cars make sure you pass out all the books in the neighborhood (300 books passed out to 300 customers who will see the purchasers’ ads). We made sure our car wash was on a day that the community was having a homecoming, to bring in lots of business. We made $750 in ad sales and $250 from donations the day of the car wash.

Peanut Butter Eggs

Our youth group makes peanut-butter eggs every year for the month of April; when we first started doing this, we sold about one thousand eggs. They are becoming very popular in our area. These are chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs. People in the church donate many of the ingredients. This is our major fundraiser. If anyone wants more details or the recipe, you can contact Eric Rowe at

Painting and Cleaning

Our youth group was recommended by a realtor in our church (also the mom of two of our youth) to repaint the basement of a house that was going on the market for sale. We had parents and youth working together and finished the task in about eight hours (a 2,000 square foot basement divided into five rooms). You may also wish to check with local realtors about cleaning houses for sale before they are shown.

Rock Concerts

We pick up rocks in farmers’ fields before they plant their crops. The rocks being tossed on the wagons make noise so we call these events “Rock Concerts.” We recommend doing this early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the heat of the day. Some farmers also need people to go through the fields and pull weeds before they take over the crops.

Drive Cars

Car dealerships sometimes need help driving their cars to a mall or convention center for a show. The dealership donates to the youth group instead of paying an outside company for this service. Contact a car dealership to see if they need help transporting their vehicles.

Pie in the Face Election

Get volunteers who are well-known in the congregation (e.g. pastors or youth leaders). Put each of their names on a collection jar of some sort. People make donations by putting money into the jar of whoever they want to get a pie in the face. Then hold a social (perhaps a pie auction) and announce the winner (or loser, I should say). Everyone gets to watch this person receive the prize. This is an easy, 100 percent profit fundraiser.

Pancake Breakfast

Our small town hosts a large Fourth of July celebration and a fall festival each year. On the mornings of these events our youth group puts on a large pancake breakfast. This year we served over three hundred plates of pancakes for a profit of $1,300! If you need details please e-mail me at

Free Car Wash

Each student takes pledges per car to be washed. On a certain advertised day the youth group hosts a car wash that is absolutely free. Someone must keep track of the number of cars washed; at the end you tabulate how much money each student has earned. This fundraiser has the potential of raising thousands of dollars in profit if the students will get the pledges!

Christmas Trees

Our youth group operates a Christmas tree lot each year. It’s a lot of work and planning because you have to order the trees in August and then have people working the lot at all times. It’s well worth it, though. We usually profit around four or five thousand dollars. As an option, you can get tree pricing from a wholesaler, mark the prices up, and “re-sale” them. This eliminates the risk of having leftover trees, but customers must be willing to take what you bring them!

Silent Auction

The silent auction is a great way to get the people in your congregation involved in supporting your missions trip. About three to four months before you want to hold the auction you will need to contact local businesses and local pro sports organizations for donations of items that can be auctioned off: tickets, products, gift certificates, and so forth. Once you have your items, set up tables somewhere in your church where there is a good flow of traffic and display your items on the tables with a bid sheet for each (for tickets or gift certificates, make a copy of them and put that out with the bid sheet instead of the actual item). Put a minimum bid on the sheet for each item. People can come by and view the items and put their names and bids on the sheets. Then if others want to bid the items up they can come along and put their names and bids on the sheets. Stand back and watch your competitive people try to outbid each other over the next couple of weeks while you have the silent auction running. When you are ready to close the auction, whoever has the final bid on a sheet gets that item. This is also a great way to auction out your youth to do spring cleaning, wrapping Christmas presents, and so forth. We usually make about $1,200.

Stock Options

For this fundraiser, people can buy a twenty-five dollar stock in a student who is going on a missions trip. For one or two Sundays place a stock option ballot in your Sunday morning bulletin for people in the congregation to fill out and turn in with their money. Once you have a person’s form you match him or her up to a student who is going on the missions trip, so that person can be praying for the student. During the trip have your students write to their sponsors to give an update on what is happening on the trip. Then when you get home have a get together with the students and those who purchased stock so the students can give an account of what happened on the trip and how God worked.

Chocolate Suckers

Get plastic molds, sucker sticks, and white chocolate; melt the chocolate and make your own suckers and other fun treats to sell. Our youth group does this and sells the suckers for fifty cents each. It is so much fun!

Basketball Tournament

We recently held a three-on-three basketball tournament in our gym. If you have access to a gym or an outdoor court and a lot of help you can pull this fundraiser off. It was a sixteen team tournament (you can have as many as you want) set on four courts. Each game had a scheduled time and court. Set-up was done the night before and we were ready to begin at 9 a.m. The thirty-third game was finished by 6:30 p.m. Each game was played with two ten-minute halves, two one-minute time outs, and a three-minute half time break. In the event of overtime, the first one was five minutes and the second one was three minutes. We charged seven dollars per player and they could have up to four players on a team, open to anyone in the community sixteen years or older. We had a meeting with all the teams ten days before the tournament to explain everything. We had an event coordinator (for setting the rules and regulations), a registration coordinator, a promotion coordinator, and a concession stand. Promotion was done with a flyer in our bulletin and newsletter, local sports stores, the high school, the local newspaper, and through a lot of verbal communication. It turned out great and was a lot of fun!

Spring and Fall Banquet

We used to sell a lot of things throughout the year, but would barely cover the price of buying the things we sold. Then we decided to do a spring banquet. We do it each year right after morning worship on Sunday so we can get a good turn out. We serve a delicious but inexpensive meal. Our kids and youth put on a show with singing and skits. Along the side of the room we have a silent auction. We sell tickets to the show and people place bids on merchandise in the silent auction. We get the stuff for the silent auction from businesses or people in our congregation. Everyone has a great time and we earn enough money to send all our kids and youth to summer camps. The first spring banquet went so well that we have now added one in the fall. Because of these banquets we don’t wear out our congregation by constantly selling things.

Ice Cream Social

Plan this event for June or July. Ask several people in your church to fix a certain flavor of ice cream. Then, after you have enough people making ice cream, post a notice to the church stating the date and time of your event. The most important part of this fundraiser is that you do not charge a certain price; people make free-will donations for the ice cream. Our church usually makes $300 or so from this event. And if you throw in some good apple pie, it will encourage the people to pay more!

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