Let’s talk about it - youth ministry budgets. If we could all be honest, not many of us are rolling in the youth ministry dough. Most likely, you’re living on a shoestring budget and organizing, once again, the annual spaghetti dinner, pancake supper and car wash so your students can go to camp and have a new couch in the youth room that’s not from 1972.
When I was a kid my dad always told me, “Heather, money doesn’t grow on trees.” I wish my dad’s statement wasn’t true, because if it wasn’t, I’d ask for a youth ministry money tree this year for Christmas. If you know my dad, he is a very hard-working man. Every dollar to him mattered. To him, it wasn’t a dollar to waste, but one to steward well. You and I are in a similar situation, wanting to be good stewards of our youth ministry budget, but also getting really tired of all the fundraisers we have to do just to keep the ship running at full speed.
Here’s a few tips to keep things running smoothly (dad approved) without taxing your budget.
- Contact local businesses to see if they can offer free things for outreach events. I can’t tell you how many free slurpees, ice cream cones and hamburgers I’ve gotten from doing this.
- Do your research before you buy. Some businesses look to get rid of nearly brand-new stuff. I used to get day old donuts for free from the local grocery store and Panera Bread too. They give all their bagels and breads away for free at the end of each day. All it takes is a phone call and a quick ask. Other places are looking to sell nearly new furniture, too, for next to nothing.
- Utilize your congregation. Does anyone own a business, work for the school or have a heart to go above and beyond? Keeping things within your budget is all about playing it smart. Building relationships and making connections with your church congregation brings people on your side. You’ll find more often than not, as long as you’re not just using them for free stuff, people will be quick to come alongside of you. I’ve gotten buses, hundreds of apples, trailers, tons of food, and school gyms all for free or nearly nothing thanks to this approach.
- Find fun things to do that don’t tax your budget. Bringing in Lecrae for your next big youth event would be cool, but is it necessary? What about a local Christian band the kids love or something as simple as a dodgeball tournament or movie night? Kids care more about the relationships that are being formed than they do about the thing they’re doing.
Before you fire up the engines for the next spaghetti dinner, think about applying some of these principles if you’re looking to become a budget savvy youth ministry.