Some church youth groups plan special outings, retreats or projects that require extra funds to cover expenses such as gas, meals or even van rental. The most successful fundraising efforts are often the ones that are most fun for the participants, as they'll be enthusiastic about the projects. Host a car wash or a special brunch, or collect recyclables to help raise necessary funding for those special youth-group events
Cash-Based Car Wash
A **car wash** in the church parking lot offers a simple way to raise funds in a place that parishioners and local drivers alike can find with ease. Select a location within reach of a spigot, hose and drain. Provide buckets, soap and soft sponges and cloths to wash or even dry the cars. An adult should supervise the car wash and collect cash from teens or youth during the event. **Encourage some of the youth to make signs for the car wash**; they can take turns holding up the sign near the driveway during the actual event. If the church lot isn't a viable option, ask a business-owning parishioner to use her business parking lot and water for an afternoon as a way to help the church youth. The ideal location is on a street with plenty of traffic in a high-visibility area and with more than one driveway, so even drivers not having their cars washed can enter or exit the lot with ease. A car wash may be most successful during warm weather or on a warm weekend after winter in a cold climate.
**Order travel mugs or water bottles labeled with the name of the youth group**; then hand out one bottle to each youth group member so they may collect their own change. Encourage church members and guests to each purchase a bottle at a reasonable cost above the actual price, benefiting the youth group. Each bottle owner should take his bottle home and empty change into the bottle each day or as frequently as possible. When the bottle is full or at the end of a month, the change is turned in to the youth-group leader. The participants keep the mugs or bottles. Keep a large donation jar on hand at the church as well, so parishioners may donate extra funds on the fly -- even paper money.
Raise Funds Through Recycling
If you live in an area that offers cash back for collected recyclables, set up boxes or bins inside the church with a large youth-made sign explaining the recyclables drive. Even if your area does not offer cash for recyclables, [companies that recycle paper offer fundraising partnership opportunities](http://suburbanwasteservices.com/paperretriever/) in which they pay for collected paper products based on tonnage collected. Make arrangements with such a company to set up a **paper-only collection dumpster** at a corner of the church parking lot, within visibility of drivers who may not belong to the church but wish to recycle items anyway. An adult involved in the project should call a local zoning representative first to make sure the bin does not violate any local regulations. The paper-collection process works best as a long-term project lasting at least one month. Make the event more fun by encouraging the kids to collect their own paper each week -- even leftover bulletins or tossed office paper at church. Keep a scale on hand at the youth meeting location, offering a prize to the kids who collect the most pounds of recyclables each week or month.
Food for Funds
**Selling food offers a win-win for all parties** -- the youth group raises money, while those purchasing a meal or food get to enjoy a tasty treat. Organize a special after-church brunch or lunch run by youth, selling tickets in advance and at the door. Several adults can do the actual cooking, or at least supervise older teens in the kitchen; the entire youth group may help serve the food buffet-style, as well as clean up afterwards. For another option, enlist teens to help make tasty treats such as brownies, cookies or even gift baskets containing pre-packaged treats, selling the items at a table before and after church services. Candy or snack companies also offer fundraising packages; for this type of program, children go door to door or visit relatives, encouraging adults to purchase chocolate bars, trail mixes or other snacks. The youth group keeps a portion of the monies collected for such fundraising partnerships.
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