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All About Fundraising!

Hello! My name is Jennifer Chellberg, Youth and Young Adult Minister at Nativity Catholic Church in Longwood, Fl. I have been bringing groups to NCYC for a number of years from my parish and was tasked this year to also help the diocesan effort of bringing pilgrims to NCYC in Indianapolis. I can offer some key takeaways and insights from my experience on how to get started in fundraising and be successful in it for parishes bringing their first group or even experienced ministers who might need some more ideas.

Why is fundraising so important?

Fundraising is important to the overall experience of NCYC because it opens the experience up to all teens, regardless of their financial situation. NCYC is one of the most expensive events our youth ministry participates in, but I also believe it is one of the most important. The last thing I want is for someone to miss out on the experience because of the cost. 

Fundraising gives a teen ownership of their NCYC experience – when teens are actively engaged in raising the money needed for their pilgrimage, they are more invested in the overall experience. Teens may go on a lot of trips with their schools and their sports teams, traveling for sports competitions, performances, and other events. And they usually have to do fundraising for those as well.

But NCYC is different, NCYC is a pilgrimage.

Oftentimes, when we talk about going on a pilgrimage, we are talking about traveling to someplace holy, but NCYC becomes a location that is made holy by the thousands of Catholic young people that gather there. And providing fundraising opportunities ensures that every young person who would like to attend has the opportunity to participate in an NCYC pilgrimage while also adding to the whole experience of NCYC.

Who does fundraising benefit?

Fundraising serves a dual purpose. The primary goal of fundraising is obviously to raise money to allow a teen to participate in an NCYC pilgrimage. But a secondary outcome from fundraising is it also raises awareness of NCYC to other parishioners and/or the local community (depending on the nature of the fundraising event).

Fundraisers at the parish make NCYC more personal – giving parishioners the opportunity to see the teens they are supporting and give teens the opportunity to share what they are looking forward to about the NCYC experience. When the pilgrims return, they connect again with the parishioners by reflecting and sharing how they were moved by the NCYC experience. Our parishioners are always very generous, but they are even more generous when they are able to encounter the young person they are supporting financially and through prayer. 

The other type of fundraiser brings awareness of NCYC outside our church walls and into the local community. Fundraising is a great evangelization tool to engage our local community by having our young people witnessing their faith as disciples in the world. It’s such a blessing to highlight teens in their local community and their commitment in raising hundreds of dollars and missing multiple days of school to be able to go on pilgrimage for three days with thousands of other teens. What an amazing witness and oppurtunity for the teens to become engaged in their community.

Fundraising Ideas

The most important thing in fundraising for NCYC is to give ownership and responsibility to the teens.  In our initial meetings, we empower the teens to brainstorm and plan what type of fundraisers they would like to do. Some ideas that we have done are: 

  • Fat Tuesday Pancake Dinner 
  • Dinner Silent Auction
  • Face-Painting at Parish Festival 
  • Sell corsages for Mother’s Day 
  • Teen witness with a second collection
  • Car washes
  • Garage sales
  • Bake sales
  • Parents night out
  • Restaurant spirit nights

What are 5 best practices?

Make sure everyone is involved. Share the funds raised accordingly (based on their involvement). For example, when we do a bake sale after Sunday Masses, if a teen wants to stay and help after all of the Masses, they would get a larger percentage of the money raised.

Keep it personal. People are much more generous in giving when there is a personal connection or conversation between them and the young person. Teens can give a personal witness at Mass or have the teens present behind the table at a bake sale. 

Keep it simple. Fundraisers don’t have to be a huge elaborate event like a fancy dinner. A table outside the church with a bunch of teens and cookies can raise just as much money. Also, always put out a donation jar. Even if people don’t want to buy what you are selling, many people will just drop a $20.

Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask parishioners who don’t have any young people if they would be willing to sponsor a young person to go to NCYC. If they say “no” to making a financial donation, ask them if they would pray for a young person. Asking small businesses for their support helps bring them business. They might also be able to donate physical supplies for use in fundraising or on pilgrimage. 

Be clear up front about expectations. Let teens know what the trip is going to cost. And let them know that you are willing to help them fundraise to make it happen, but that they are also going to need to take ownership themselves and put in the work. 

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2023 Host

Mari Pablo

Mari Pablo is a proud Hispanic and cradle Catholic whose life was wrecked in the best possible way when she finally decided to stop fighting and surrender it all to Him. Mari has joyfully worked in youth ministry for over fifteen years, both as a youth minister and theology teacher, and as a presenter for Ascension Press. Mari has a deep love for food but an even greater love for Christ and is dedicated to helping others encounter Him.

2023 Host

Sr. Josephine Garrett, CSFN

Sister Josephine is a native Texan, raised baptist in Houston Texas. Jesus called her to religious life in 2011 and in 2020 Sister made her final vows as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth. She ministers as a licensed mental health counselor, and also serves on the community vocations team and as a national speaker. 

ABOUT NFCYM

The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) is a membership organization dedicated to advancing the field of pastoral ministry to young people.

Members enjoy:

  • Professional training, resourcing, and support
  • Full access to our resources and webinars,
  • Special rates to NFCYM events, and more.

You will now be directed to NFCYM.ORG to complete registration.

ABOUT NFCYM

The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) is a membership organization dedicated to advancing the field of pastoral ministry to young people.

Members enjoy:

  • Professional training, resourcing, and support
  • Full access to our resources and webinars,
  • Special rates to NFCYM events, and more.

You will now be directed to NFCYM.ORG to complete registration.

2023 Host

Mari Pablo

Mari Pablo is a proud Hispanic and cradle Catholic whose life was wrecked in the best possible way when she finally decided to stop fighting and surrender it all to Him. Mari has joyfully worked in youth ministry for over fifteen years, both as a youth minister and theology teacher, and as a presenter for Ascension Press. Mari has a deep love for food but an even greater love for Christ and is dedicated to helping others encounter Him.

2023 Host

Sr. Josephine Garrett, CSFN

Sister Josephine is a native Texan, raised baptist in Houston Texas. Jesus called her to religious life in 2011 and in 2020 Sister made her final vows as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth. She ministers as a licensed mental health counselor, and also serves on the community vocations team and as a national speaker.