Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The 10 Best Fundraisers for Camp

This week on the blog we're looking at the top five excuses kids make for not going to camp. If you missed the first one, click here. Today we're looking at how to respond to the $$$ problem.

  1. My friends aren't going
  2. I don't have the money
  3. My parents won't let me
  4. I have schedule conflicts
  5. I'm afraid of the unknown

Money is a huge stressor in most teenagers' lives. When they see camp flyers they tend to skip everything and focus right on the $$$ amount.

"There's NO WAY my parents can afford that!"

"I'm already saving for a car."

"I still owe $300 for my drinking ticket and lawyer."

We can go blue in the face telling kids "Don't let money keep you from going!" BUT... until we show them (and their parents) a plan for how we're going to raise the cash flow, our words are empty promises.

How To OVER Communicate The Plan

  • Create information in an online format that is easily accessible for parents. Here's an example blogpost we shared with parents last year. 
  • Make a simple video of yourself explaining how the fundraisers work. Link to the video on your area's YL site.
  • Make hard copies of the plan. Keep them in your car so you can be prepared to give them to a parent or potential camper along with the camp registration form.
  • Include the fundraising plan on the back of your camp flyers.
  • Make individual phone calls to parents. Give them the website to visit so you can both view the plan as you walk them through it.

The Fundraising Plan

  • Lay out the total cost
  • Ask them to pay the deposit
  • Ask them what additional amount they can pay
Break down the fundraisers with practical examples of how they could raise the remainder along with how much time it would take.


$799 (Total Cost)
- $150 (deposit)
- $100 (could pay additional)
$550 (left to raise)

- $50 (from carwash donations: 3 hrs)
- $175 (Trash-A-Thon sponsors, 7 people giving $25 each: 3 hrs)
- $150 (Selling greeting cards, coupon books or Yankee Candles: 5 hrs)
- $100 (YL Yard Sale: 4 hrs)
- $75 (Yard work for a friend of YL: 4 hrs)
$0 remaining camp balance after 19 hours of work


The truth is that most fundraisers don't raise as much money as you hope... and they take a lot of effort, so doing fundraisers can be discouraging... UNLESS you realize that fundraising together is part of the journey, it's contact work, it's making memories, it's relationship-building, it's showing kids that you so badly want to spend a week with them that you're willing to work your tail off WITH THEM to make that happen. 

Greeting Card Boxes

The most successful fundraiser I've done in the past few years is selling greeting card boxes. One of your campers can make $350 by selling 20 of these boxes! 
  • Order 100 of boxes ($7.50/box) 
  • Sell them for $25/box ($1/card- way cheaper than Hallmark) because there are 25 (REALLY NICE) All-Occasion greeting cards in each one (along with a nice decorative storage box that they come in.) 
  • Profit margin= $17.50/box.
Sitting in front of businesses (like Chick-Fil-A or a grocery store) works great to sell them quickly. Make sure you get permission ahead of time from the management. Lowes Foods & Harris Teeter asked me to call headquarters and both turned me down because they have limited solicitation spots and I called too late. In the past King Soopers and Safeway both gave me permission, granted by the in-store managers.

Some of the adult leaders on our team placed them at their offices and churches. Have your high school friends knock on the doors of their friends and ask their parents. It's really a good product for a fair price. It's almost the same price as Amazon.

Download the Customer Data Sheet.

If you have questions, email Rebecca at Paper Magic. She's great and has worked with Young Life in the past. 

Mulch Spreading/Pressure Washing Combo

Last spring we had great success spreading mulch and pressure washing sidewalks, homes and driveways. Make a flyer and have kids pass them out in their neighborhoods. Get a group of guys together on a Saturday morning, borrow a pressure washer and rotate jobs (pulling weeds, pressure washing, and spreading mulch) so no one gets bored. Bring a bluetooth speaker because good music makes working more fun. After you get done, ask the folks you worked for to make a tax-deductible donation to YL and split in among the campership for all the workers! 


Location is key. Find a busy road and ask to use a parking lot in view of the road. We've had success with Chick-fil-a, Walmart, and grocery stores in the past.

You will probably make a total of $200-$400 in donations if you have 20 kids wash cars for 3 hrs. That's not even minimum wage per kid. In order to boost the kitty, you can find donors to match donations or have kids get sponsors.

The Best Carwash Secret: About 2 hrs in, when kids are getting tired and discouraged by the $2-$5 donations, have a pre-arranged friend show up to get their car washed. They were going to donate $100 to campership anyway, why not throw a $100 bill in the pot and encourage the kids to keep going strong for the last hour.

Another way to increase earnings is to have kids get sponsors. Ask Aunt Ruthie to make a tax-deductible donation of $1 for every car lil Johnny washes. Wash 50 cars= $50. Get 5 folks to do that and you've raised $250 in 3 hours! 

Yard Sale

Publicize well. Start early in the morning. Yard sale shoppers are crazy people and typically get going by 6:30am.  Make sure you have lots of stuff to sell. Go to churches, neighbors, family, friends and collect people's junk. Three weeks before the Yard Sale designate a place where you can store the goods, maybe an unused classroom in a church? Have the campers label every item they brought so when customers check out, the parent cashier knows where to credit the $. Split the money of the other donated stuff between all your workers.

Support Letters

Last week we got a letter in the mail from a friend who is a YL leader in another area asking for $ to help take his high school friends to camp. We sent him some. Why? Because I can't think of a much better investment to make in someone's life. If you ask your friends and cast vision for them as to how incredible an investment this will be in a high school student's life, they will support you. Ask your high school friends to send out letters too.

Odd Jobs For "Friends Of YL"

Jim Rayburn started a movement 75 years ago that has impacted millions of lives. There are 60 year olds in your community who still remember their first YL camp experience. Now they have good jobs and love to give away tax-deductible money. They would love for you to move that pile of wood from under their deck or pick weeds out of their garden. Just ask. They'll pay your high school friends way more than they deserve because they learned 30 years ago at YL camp about this thing called grace that changed their life forever.


Find sponsors per back of trash you pick up to clean up the highway. One of our gals made $350 in an hour doing this last weekend.


A fun YL outing to do after club has stopped for the year! Kids and leaders both can get pledges per pin they would bowl over three games. Most kids get pledges of 5-10 cents per pin. If a student gets around $2 per pin in total sponsorships and knock down 300 pins in 3 games, that's $600! You can also get businesses to be lane sponsors (much like hole sponsors at a golf tournament) to cover the overhead cost for the lanes and the food.

Missions Trip Products

If you're going on a YL Expeditions Spring Break missions trip bring back something unique from that place and sell it as a camp fundraiser. Example: coffee from Latin America (buy for $4/lb) and sell it for $15/lb.

Other Fundraising Ideas That Have Worked
  • Ask Facebook friends and include a link to donate
  • Run a YL5K Race and have runners create a fundeasy giving page 
  • Sell Coupon Books
  • Sell Yankee Candles
  • Work Concession Stands at local events

If you have other great fundraisers that have worked, email us ideas here.

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