The Perfect Fund Raiser. This is the first of a series on the last choir tour. It is somewhat of a retrospective on 35 years of choir touring with some added things about the planning for the current tour. I hope this series will be helpful to you. We are intentionally looking at some of the “best of” things as well as modern trends in ch…

The Perfect Fund Raiser. This is the first of a series on the last choir tour. It is somewhat of a retrospective on 35 years of choir touring with some added things about the planning for the current tour. 

I hope this series will be helpful to you. 

We are intentionally looking at some of the “best of” things as well as modern trends in choir touring, too. 

The first one is on fund raising. If you are SO blessed that you don’t have to do any fund raising because your church budgets all the money or parents pay for the total cost, you can skip this one and move on to the next posting. 

And, as you go, please note that you are the envy of every hard-working youth choir director who has to spend tons of hours raising money for the tour. 

We are all jealous! 

See you at the next post—now, for all of the rest of us fund raising weary directors.


Not all fund raisers are created equal! 

Many of them are simply a waste of time. 

I have long since given up on car washes and bake sales to get your kids on choir tour.

Those events can be great team building, but little else. And if you are looking for team building there are some more effect things to consider. (Read anything that Cathy Britton has written and you will see what I mean). 

As fund raisers they are not worth the hours spent. You likely have other events that you have learned won’t do anything but fill your calendar instead of your coffers! 

Determine the amount that you hope to make per student.

My goal is always around $500 per student—total from all of the fund raisers. 

This is a larger amount because we typically fly to the location of our trip and then stay in that one place. 

If your tradition is to use vans or buses, then your amount per child might be less. But as fund raisers go, don’t waste your time on anything that raises less than $100 per student. 

Do you know how many cars you have to wash for 40 kids to make $100 each? 

If your total need is less than mine, then you can hope to achieve less for each fund raiser, but you will do better if each of the fund raising events garners 1/4 of the total need per student. 


I say a minimum of $100 because fund raisers take a lot of time to pull off, lots of planning, lots of promotion, kid hours, adult hours, custodian help and on and on. 

The most effective fund raisers also limit fund raising “fatigue” in the congregation, in that you only ask them for money 3-4 times during the course of a year instead of 6-8 times. 

Sometimes we think of an event, like a church golf tournament. It is great fun for the congregation, but can have a huge overhead without and outside sponsor. 

You will end up reducing your funds raised per kid—which has to be the ultimate measure of the worthiness of a fund raiser. 


The best fund raisers are going to be something unique to your situation. 

Every church has that really talented individual or group of people who would be thrilled to use their talents to help the student choir. 

Perhaps this could be a group of carpenters who build bird houses made out of car license plates or customized local university bird houses. 

That latter one really works well if you have 3-4 major universities that vie for the plum spot in your congregation. 

Living in Houston, one year we had Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, U of H, TCU all trying to outsell one another, and all of it was helping the kids. 

Taping into already set loyalties (like university loyalty) can be a major boost to the fund raising efforts. 

Everyone wants their school to “win.” (and not only on the sports field) 

For the last 12 years a woman in our church who loves to bake and decorate beautiful cookies has been willing to help raise money for the choir tour by selling beautiful cookie bouquets. 

She, and other adults, teach the students how to decorate the cookies and they sell them at the church. 

It has become a much-anticipated seasonal event. 

Thousands and thousands of dollars have been raised just from the cookie sales. Some years it is our top fund raiser. 

You may not have a baker in your congregation, but I bet you have someone who is talented and eager to use their gifts for raising money for the kids. 

Be creative, talk to other staff members about talented people in your church. 

A professional house painter in your church could train teams of students to paint the homes of elderly people in the congregation and others can give to that incredible ministry and pay the kids $15-20 per hour for their trip fund. 

There are plenty of ideas that are unique to you situation. 

SILENT AUCTION (but NOT Garage Sale) 

Our second biggest fund raiser is the annual Silent Auction. Unique items and crafts sell the best. Beach houses and Hill Country homes go for BIG BUCKS! 

Some Bible Study groups collect themed basket items (Baby, Kitchen, Coffee, Bath, etc) and those sell well as Christmas gifts. 

There are lots of possibilities of items: restaurant passes, theme park passes and on and on. 

Make sure that these items for sale are new, not stuff that has been in the garage for 15 years. 

We incentivize the students by letting 100% of the sale price for items that they bring in goes into their account. 


The bottom line of every fund raiser is just THAT—how much did it make for the trip.

Any fellowship benefits, while positive and good, have to be secondary to the ultimate goal of make money for the trip costs. 

Your time is valuable too! 

You will spend hours and hours in preparation for any fund raiser that you do, make it worth your time as well.