Often in our every-day youth group lives, we struggle with a simple fact: Youth groups need money to do the amazing work that they do. Thankfully, members of the community, both within and outside of the youth group, can generally see that good work, and want to give money to see it continue. Finding ways to connect those two desires can sometimes be difficult. With that in mind, this year’s network of Regional Membership, Communications, and Financial Vice Presidents put together a list of 15 fundraisers they have found successful as a starting point as you begin to think about your own youth group’s fund raising.
• “At our spring event last year, each regional board member had a can with his or her name on it, and throughout the event, participants could drop money into the cans. The regional board member who had the most money by the end of the event was pied in the face by their successor (who was elected by the end of the event). I don’t remember exactly how much we made, but it was a LOT, and I got to pie my predecessor in the face!” – Rachel Kahn, NFTY-Northwest Membership Vice President
• “In my temple youth group, we have ‘BESTY Bagel Day’ every year. Temple members can order bagels, and we worked with a local bagel shop to get discounted prices, so we can resell them and make a profit. On the day of the event, people can either pick up their bagels at the temple or we deliver them. It’s not exactly the most original fundraiser ever, but it always raises a lot of money.” – Mikah Atkind, NFTY-Northeast Liaison Vice President
• “One thing my temple youth group did that was a great fundraiser was also a penny war for the older grades. Each grade got a jug that over the course of a few months the students were encouraged to fill with pennies. The jug that was most full at the end of the competition won a prize. The competition was really great and everyone wanted to know who was winning. Another great thing that was started this year is that the board members are selling juice boxes and mini-water bottles alongside the sisterhood bagel sale each morning. It offers a great alternative to the regular soda purchasing and has so far been successful.” – Lena Bradtke-Litwack, NFTY-Ohio Vally Treasurer
• “One of the things we do at my temple that is always a fun way to get the teens involved and raise money is a babysitting event. We usually hold it during one of the bigger temple-wide events, and the parents can drop their kids off with TRSTY members, enjoy themselves child-free at the event, and come back to get their kids afterwards. They give us donations and we treat it like any other youth group event with a program for the TYG members and the kids.” – Frankie Zito, NFTY Mid-Atlantic Region Western Membership Vice President
• “Another super successful fundraiser that we have every year at our Fall Kallah is Social Action Assassins. It’s really just a regular game of Assassins, in which each person is given the name of another person to “eliminate from the game” (it’s totally non-violent, I promise!). Everyone pays five bucks to play, and the game goes until the end of the event. It’s a great way to meet new people and a fun reward for donating to charity.” – Rachel Kahn, NFTY-Northwest Membership Vice President
• “Every year KESTY puts on a Purim Carnival for all of the temple members. We have different carnival games, moon-bounces, costume contests, and food. We always raise a lot of money and everyone has a lot of fun!” – Ray Paleg, NFTY Mid-Atlantic Region Eastern Membership Vice President
• “In BaRFTY, we held a night with two types of auctions called Auction with Abraham. We made a dinner and had a silent auction with items (ex: football signed by the LSU team) while dinner was going on. When dinner was over, we “sold” our TYG members to people in the congregation. Each TYG member said what he or she wanted to sell themselves for (ex. babysitting, cleaning, etc). We got food for dinner at a discounted price and made a lot of money. You just have to make sure that people follow through with their jobs following the event.” – Rachael Maas, NFTY-Southern Membership Vice President
• “In NFTY-NAR (New York Area Region), we ran a Hebrew Spelling Bee. Each week the regional Religious and Cultural Vice President posted Hebrew words of the week, and at our last event of the year, participants could take part in the spelling bee. The rest of the region placed bets on who they wanted to win. It raised money for the Jaffa Institute and was a fun way for the region to learn some Hebrew! – Beckie Hamroff, NFTY-New York Area Region Communications Vice President
• Pie Mafia! “At our summer event, we charged people $1 per participant, $5 per board member, $10 per staff member, and $20 per advisor. After making over $400, we bought whipped cream, and pied people! You’d be surprised how much people loved being pied. We would pie new members and they would be so happy that ‘someone thought of them enough to pie them!’” – Dean Kroker, NFTY-Pennsylvania Area Region Fundraising Vice President
• “My TYG gets most, if not all, of its money by doing Nosh Stop. Basically, for 15 minutes before and after Hebrew and Religious School, a few people from our temple youth group take turns selling all types of candy and Snapple. It makes a lot of money! Also, have your TYG bring in the Halloween candy they don’t like and sell it as ‘5 for a dollar.’” – Hanna Cohen, NFTY-Chicago Area Region Membership Vice President
• In NFTY-MAR, we do an Auction at our winter event. The regional board members all choose something they want to auction off, some auction a dinner, beat-boxing lessons, etc., and participants can auction things as well. The participants then bid on the item or service, and the money goes to our charity of the event/year.” – Frankie Zito, NFTY Mid-Atlantic Region Western Membership Vice President
A few of my own fundraising ideas to add to my incredible network:
• In the past, my temple youth group would hold a car wash after Religious School. We’d blast music, hold signs out on the street, and make a lot of money! Everyone has a really good time, and people would leave happy with their clean cars.
• A really unique fundraising idea that I’ve seen is to get in touch with a local donut shop, and secure a price of donuts in bulk, and sell them as “suf ganyot” (sugary donuts that are traditionally served in Israel on Hanukkah) and selling them as a fundraiser for Hanukkah.
• I have also seen TYGs have a fundraiser around Purim where people could purchase shalach manot baskets the TYG made and send them to one and other. Many customers ended up being students buying baskets for their parents, but many other temple members also took part.
I hope that you learned about at least one idea that you found helpful! What does your youth group do to fundraise?
Taylor Lyles is the NFTY North American Membership and Communications Vice President and a freshman at the University of Miami. You can find her on Twitter at @NFTYMCVP and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NFTYMCVP.