Our friends at Compassion International let me know about an exciting new project they had been working on called Cardfunder. Our team at YM360 was asked to be a part of it as the development was expanded to a student platform. What we saw is that it became an obvious homerun for student groups to use to impact the world.
I connected with Mitch Grainger who is the family and youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Warrensburg, MO. They recently piloted Cardfunder in their community. Mitch has served there at FBC for the last four years after previously leading student ministries in Florida. I asked Mitch a few questions about their experience with Cardfunder.
JRD: How did you come to know about the Cardfunder option for your students?
M: Our church was hosting the Compassion experience, and we had our community-wide Disciple Now weekend. We always try to create some sort of mission project and or group game. Compassion asked if we would want to try the Cardfunder and we did.
JRD: So your church already knew Compassion and trusted them, which is easy to do based on their unbelievable rating with Charity Navigator. What would you share with a church that does not really know much about the ministry and work of Compassion?
M: To research them and even call other ministries who have worked with them. (To learn more about Compassion’s financial integrity, check it out HERE.) https://www.compassion.com/about/financial.html
JRD: You were one of the pilot churches for Cardfunder. We have been able to take some of your thoughts and refine the opportunity for other groups. But from the start, what was it about Cardfunder that you were drawn to?
M: It was easy. Cardfunder’s promo video did a great job of explaining how it worked and how easy it would be to make a huge impact. (You can view the video by clicking here.) After watching the video I felt like it would be a good fit for us. https://www.cardfunder.org/
JRD: So, you did something a little different. You made it a competition. How did you do that and how did it work?
M: We told them that the average amount left on a gift card was about $1, so for every card turned in they were awarded a $1. The team that collected the most won. They were reminded that no matter the amount, they were helping others by simply asking for a gift card. All our students were already divided into host homes, so each family group was a team. We turned 200 plus students and leaders loose in our town for two hours to see which team could collect the most gift cards.
JRD: How did your students respond when you shared with them what they were going to do?
M: They were pumped to compete against other youth groups and their own peers at our Student ministry, and excited about helping out a great cause.
JRD: And what were the results?
M: Unbelievable. I think the collected well over $5,000 dollars in that two-hour period!
JRD: Do you think your students were able to “own” the project?
M: I do. They’re still talking about it. We live in a Midwest, blue-collar town and these students love a challenge. They worked hard and the results were awesome.
JRD: Do you think a Cardfunder campaign would work anywhere?
M: Yes, it would work anywhere. This is something that no matter where you live, there are so many unused gift cards that could be collected.
JRD: I read where there has been over 40 Billion of gift card waste over the last 10 years. This is obviously an easy way to leverage that reality to MAKE AN IMPACT. SO, REFLECTING BACK ON YOUR CARDFUNDER EXPERIENCE, WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT REALLY STOOD OUT TO YOU AS A YOUTH LEADER?
M: Just how hard all the different groups worked. We were blown away how many cards they came back with.
JRD: ANY THOUGHTS YOU WOULD SHARE WITH OTHER YOUTH LEADERS THAT MAY CONSIDER HAVING A CARDFUNDER CAMPAIGN WITH THEIR STUDENTS?
M: It's easy to do, the impact it has is so huge, and you’ll have fun with it. It will cost you nothing but a little time.
Our team agrees with Mitch. The opportunity for impact with Cardfunder is not only huge, it is super easy to get your group involved. You can make it a part of one of your events there at your church, do it as a part of Wednesday nights, or for a set month in your ministry calendar. Compassion even lets you designate where you want the funds to go so you have a lot of opportunity for impact in an area that you are passionate about.
Check it out HERE and get your students involved in changing the world!
And if you are interested in sponsoring a child with Compassion check out more information HERE.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.