Church: Minnetonka UMC
District: Twin Cities
Submitted by: Minnetonka UMC
Several years ago, Morgan Frye and Nick Lunde set out to give back to their church and make a positive difference in the world.
“I’ve been going to this church my whole life,” says Frye, a member of Minnetonka United Methodist Church and a 2013 graduate of Chanhassen High School . “I thought: What can the youth give back, what can I give back, to the church that has given me so much? What can I do in God’s name that can help the world?”
Frye and Lunde, who is studying architecture at North Dakota State University, directed their focus toward Imagine No Malaria (INM), an initiative that the global United Methodist Church launched in 2010 and that aims to raise $75 million by 2015 to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa.
Minnetonka UMC initially aimed to raise $13,000 for INM. But Frye’s and Lunde’s creative fundraising efforts, which they employed with the help of other church youth, were so successful that the church later boosted that goal to $20,000, then $39,000—and as of the end of June, Minnetonka UMC had raised $40,609, the second-highest dollar figure among all 360 United Methodist Churches in Minnesota. (Woodbury-Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church has given $55,116 to date.)
Frye and Lunde are proof that a little ingenuity goes a long way.
Two of their most successful fundraisers were in the form of silent auctions, and Frye says one obstacle was helping people get over their “I-don’t-have-anything-to-give” mentality. Lunde donated yard work. Other youth gave babysitting time and donated crafts. Adult members of the congregation gave homemade bread for six months, an hour of genealogy, a lefse class, and a sailboat ride on Lake Minnetonka, among other unique items and experiences.
Not only were the silent auctions fun for bidders and those who donated, but they brought people within the church together based on their interests. Someone from one family would donate an experience, and someone from another would buy it—thus giving the families an opportunity to connect outside of regular worship.
The youth also put on bake sales, car washes, pancake breakfasts, and two intergenerational dances for church members ranging in age from 2 to 80. Around the holidays, youngsters made Christmas cards that they gave out for a $10 donation.
“They had infectious energy, which encouraged the congregation to support them,” says Minnetonka UMC Administrator Kristie Lester.
Frye and Lunde found ways to incorporate INM fundraising in virtually all church events, even those that didn’t have a direct connection. For example, when the church celebrated its 39th birthday, members were encouraged to donate to INM in increments of 39 cents, $3.90, $39, or $390. And there was always a bucket sitting out in plain sight, beckoning little ones who enjoyed dropping their parents’ spare change into it.
“A little change can make a big change,” says Frye, repeating a motto that was frequently used in conjunction with various fundraising efforts.
T-shirts were also popular, and Frye and Lunde sold different ones each year that featured phrases like “Skeeter Beater” and “Buzz Kill”—depicting mosquitos being squished. The themes referenced how some of the money would be used: to purchase insecticide-treated bed nets that would protect against malaria.
Frye says key ingredients to Minnetonka UMC’s success were including all generations in the fundraising efforts and educating the congregation about malaria. Some high-schoolers performed a science experiment involving a plastic bag, baking soda, and vinegar to help younger kids understand how malaria affects the body—and Frye and Lunde printed out educational brochures and invited an Imagine No Malaria representative to speak to the congregation about the initiative.
This fall, Frye will head to Iowa State University to study mechanical engineering, but she has no plans to stop fighting malaria. In fact, she’s already visited with the pastor at a nearby United Methodist Church, who indicated he would welcome help with INM fundraising.
“I’ll probably just repeat the last four years,” says Frye, only half-jokingly.
Minnesota United Methodists have collectively given $2.05 million to date for Imagine No Malaria, exceeding Minnesota’s $1.8 million pledge goal with nearly a year and a half of the fundraising effort left to go. The total amount that Minnesotans had pledged as of the end of June was $2.52 million. As of that time, Minnesota was one of just two (out of 63) regional bodies in the United States that had raised more than $2 million. Internationally, more than $40 million of the $75 million total fundraising goal has been pledged to date.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church