You are ready to start your in-person services back up. You go to look in your supply cabinet and notice the tubs of supplies are dwindling. The crayons are broken, the markers are dried up, and who knows what happened to all of those glue sticks!
Children’s ministry requires a lot of “stuff”. All of those needed items get used up, misplaced, and repurposed faster than we would like.
So, what do you do when the cupboard is bare … and the budget is too?
Well, you could always put out a desperate plea, begging people to donate supplies for the children in your church. You could put notices in the bulletin for weeks.
Or, there is an alternative.
Instead of begging for help, you could create a fun supply drive that accomplishes the same purpose. You can take the opportunity to build excitement around the vision and need of your ministry. And, by the way, also collect the items you need.
A supply drive will take more time and effort, but it can benefit your ministry in three ways:
1. You cast a positive light on kids’ ministry.
Which of these two following requests best reflects what is happening in your ministry?
“All of our crayons are broken, please make sure the children can color.”
“Our kids have been extremely busy learning about Jesus. You get the opportunity to help them keep learning about Him in fun, hands-on ways.”
The words we use to communicate to our church are powerful. Even something as simple as asking for help with supplies gives you a chance to emphasize why you do children’s ministry in the first place. Inspiring others to volunteer their help is more about how you ask than you might think!
2. More people will get involved.
People respond better to positive, exciting movements than they do to bland asks. Most people in your congregation see a request in the bulletin and assume others will take care of it.
By building energy around a supply drive, you can get more church members involved in supporting children’s ministry.
3. You are likely to get more of the stuff you actually need.
Let’s just be really practical. You need stuff. The more people involved, the more stuff you will get. And the more organized and specific you are, the more likely you will get more donations that are what you actually need.
Let’s get practical.
What does it take to make a supply drive happen?
1. Determine what you need.
Take a good inventory of what you have and what is missing.
Do you need general, week-to-week supplies? Are there very specific items that you need for ministry during COVID realities or another special event? Do you need to stock a new classroom? Do you need to refresh the nursery for reopening your in-person ministry?
It is probably best not to do all of this at once. You can piggy-back some. You can use the momentum of a big event, like VBS, and also restock daily supplies. But it will be more effective to focus as much as you can.
2. Pick a beneficial time.
You know the rhythms of your church best. Think about a time on your church calendar that would be a good time for this emphasis. Christmas may not make sense because people are asked to give to so many various causes, and families are pulled in a lot of directions. You could center around a holiday like Thanksgiving. Back-to-school time may work great because of the sales on so many of supplies you’re likely to need.
Try to find a time in your church’s calendar that is not extremely busy, so you aren’t competing to communicate.
3. Create a theme.
If you are asking for nursery supplies, you could turn your drive into a baby shower. Could you do a birthday party or anniversary party? Maybe your theme could be sports related?
Use your kidmin creativity to make this not just a request, but more like a party.
Brainstorm how many unique and creative ways you can let people know about what is happening. Think bigger than a simple bulletin or pulpit announcement.
Decorate your hallway to reflect your theme. Set up a fun display. Get creative with social media. Send print or email “invitations” to the drive. Send creative reminders home with kids.
Remember, always be positive and fun. YOU want people to be excited about the supply drive and remember to contribute.
5. Create a creative and easy-access list.
The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are to get what you need. You can create a display where people can pick up names of items (think like the Angel Trees at Christmas time).
Technology also allows for some easy solutions. Create wish lists on Amazon or Target or another store your people are familiar with. Use SignUpGenius.com to create a list so people can pick what they want to purchase.
Your two goals for your list are to make it very, very accessible to people and to make it very, very easy for them to buy what you need.
6. Clarify how you will collect the supplies.
Make it incredibly easy for people to give you the things they buy.
You could have a big drop-off event, like a baby shower or party (you can do this drive-thru style too!). The church could have a clearly designated area (or several). You can have people do a drop off in the parking lot on a Sunday morning.
Be creative, but keep it simple and extremely clear. Have a team ready to sort and store supplies as well.
When it is all over and your sad supply cabinet is now overflowing, make sure that you celebrate in a way that honors those who have helped.
Make a video of kids saying thank you while using supplies. Take fun pictures and post them where church members can see how they’ve contributed. If you used a digital resource that saved the names of people who donated, consider sending handwritten thank you notes.
Communicate how grateful you are. Remember that helping people see how they invested in a ministry helps us all notice where God is at work.
Your supply drive can not only provide the materials you need, but it can also drive forward your ministry’s momentum in the church. Make it fun and have a blast sorting all of those supplies!