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Church fundraising ideas, and those for any faith community, come in many forms, and one of the best is Barefoot Sunday. When you do a Barefoot Sunday event, you could raise money for your worship community. But you can also make a significant impact on the lives of people living in poverty around the world. We know that people of all faiths want to follow the right and moral path. And that means that each of us gets invited to serve our worship community and also people we may never meet.
Barefoot Sunday offers us an opportunity to make a sacrifice for our church or place of worship. However, it also helps us reflect and become aware of the gifts in our lives. Also, walking barefoot on a Sunday or weekend service gives us the chance to participate in an event that reminds us of others worldwide. Through no fault of their own, millions of people live in poverty. Therefore, a Barefoot Sunday event shows us how we can support them in their paths to earning sustainable incomes.
Although Lent and Easter are an excellent time to do Barefoot Sunday for Christian churches, the idea of Barefoot Sundays and weekends are universal. Meaning, your faith community can choose any time of the year to decide to do one. There’s always a time to engage your followers in this meaningful experience. And Barefoot Sunday events are excellent for joining them with a sermon series during any time of year.
Because of our humanity, we all have stories. In fact, sharing stories has been one of the ways that humans have connected since the beginning. We have several stories to share with you as we help you understand the power of Barefoot Sundays. These stories will help you realize the potential that shoes have as a currency, not only as footwear to protect one’s health. And we think that after you know these stories, the idea of Barefoot Sunday weekends will take on more meaning for you.
Anyone who was old enough to be aware remembers the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. It struck the Pacific on December 26, 2004, during the holiday season. Once it finished, about 250,000 people lost their lives in 14 countries. And millions more were affected because of the wall of water that devastated these nations wiping out everything many people had. It was utter devastation.
Like millions, Wayne Elsey watched the news. Today, he is the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs Group, LLC, but earlier in his life, he was the CEO of an international shoe manufacturing company. As he sat in his home, safe, he saw the devastation with sadness and horror with his family. At one point, news footage appeared on the television that showed a single shoe float ashore on a beach. That image haunted him for days.
As a shoe salesman, he understood the need for shoes. Aside from comfort in walking, shoes prevent disease and illness. Unfortunately, after natural disasters, infections can spread quickly. In other words, shoes are a necessity.
Wayne decided to lead the charge in the footwear industry to ship thousands of shoes to people affected. In short, he thought that he and his team would send a few thousand shoes. Instead, they sent more than 250,000 pairs of shoes to people affected by the tsunami. This event was the beginning of Wayne’s shift from businessman to social entrepreneur, one of the creators of Barefoot Sundays and global philanthropist.
Now that you know a bit about how shoes can make a profound difference, let’s dig into Barefoot Sunday weekends a little deeper. Faith leaders want the best for their congregations, and they seek ways to ensure that for their places of worship. For instance, faith communities turned to virtual weekend services or hybrid (in-person and live streaming) services so they could continue to minister through the pandemic. In short, innovation is an idea that also has a home with faith-based places of worship.
That’s what makes Barefoot Sunday weekends so powerful. When doing Barefoot Sundays, faith leaders share the need and impact that shoes can have on peoples’ lives. Meaning, they have a chance to speak about sacrifices, sharing their gifts with others, and the work of their faith community. So that’s why we developed this guide to serve any community of worship doing a Barefoot Sunday shoe drive fundraiser.
The following weeks could get coupled with a sermon series that brings forth the stories and ideas of asking people to sacrifice their shoes.
SANDALS: Sandals mean simplicity, creativity, and the outdoors. It is the simplest way to consider the spirituality of Barefoot Sunday. Church leaders could share how sandals help represent two of the greatest men who ever walked our planet. Of course, for Christians, the first is Jesus Christ. And the other man is St. John the Baptist. However, other faiths hold in esteem other influential figures or even nature. All represent a higher moral power, simplicity, and living a life of righteousness.
HEELS & BOOTS: During the second week, church leaders should convey the importance of shoes for Barefoot Sunday. This week, your emphasis should be on work shoes, including high heels, boots, and traditional leather shoes people would wear to the office. During this time, you and your faith community could share a story of a Samaritan helping others and its meaning for our lives.
SNEAKERS & ATHLETIC SHOES: On the third week, remind your parishioners about the innocence and compassion natural to children. By reminding people of empathy, you have a chance to lead your congregation in their spiritual development during Barefoot Sundays. By understanding what it means to walk in the proverbial shoes of others‚ including children, they will become gentler and less cynical and judgmental.
EVERYDAY SHOES: We all struggle with questions about our lives. And sometimes, we even want to run away (as represented by sneakers). Yet, every day we get up and continue forward. In countless stories shared within worship communities, stories exist of service acts for others, including in moments when it’s easier to simply walk away. In the final week of the Barefoot Sundays or weekends, faith leaders help their followers focus on life’s meaning.
Finally, places of worship changed their hours of in-person availability to great people who visit. So, make it a point to create easy drop-off locations (e.g., local gym or school) where people could drop-off their shoes if they can’t make it to one of your Barefoot Sunday weekend events or services.
Thousands of other religious leaders have to raise money for their work and mission. Weekly, parishioners are asked to open their wallets during church services and other faith-based services. But, as much as followers want to give sacrificially, sometimes it’s tough. There are many demands for money on the faithful, including families, living expenses, education, and healthcare.
With this in mind, shoe drive fundraisers have become one of the leading ways to raise money for churches and religious groups. Instead of giving money, your congregation will contribute gently worn, used and new shoes to your fundraiser. One of the critical events is with a Barefoot Sunday or series of Barefoot Sundays or even weekend events—depending on your faith. During this kind of activity, people are asked to attend services and then contribute all of the shoes they no longer want or need. Yes, this can include the ones they wear on their feet when they walk into a place of worship. It’s a beautiful event full of symbolism and meaning as people bring up their shoes to the altar.
When you complete your event and fundraiser, you are issued a check for the shoes by a reputable, and Better Business Bureau accredited social enterprise, such as Funds2Orgs. Eventually, the shoes get shipped to developing nations where micro-entrepreneurs like David sell the footwear in their communities for profit.
A Barefoot Sunday event is indeed a way to engage your congregation in a whole different approach to giving. So, how can you do one when you’ve decided that this is the right type of fundraiser and experience for your church or faith-based worship group? It’s not hard.
One of the most critical components for Barefoot Sunday is to recruit excellent volunteers. So, let’s explore how you can get leaders within your congregation to help you. By the way, you’ll not only want to get older people to assist but also make it a point to get the young members of your community involved. Barefoot Sunday events and shoe drive fundraiser is a kid and youth-friendly fundraiser and event.
The most successful churches and religious organizations for a Barefoot Sunday event and shoe drive fundraiser are those with a motivated group of volunteers. So, how does that happen? Well, one of the great things about an active faith community is that you have people who care about your good work. Let’s explore 3 ways to encourage your faith members to get involved in all activities related to Barefoot Sunday.
1. Community Creation
Because people are social, Barefoot Sundays and a shoe drive fundraiser should be about community. In other words, it should be about your worshipers reflecting on the gifts they have received. Barefoot Sundays is a reminder of what God, the universe, nature, or a higher power created and how much we have in the U.S. However, more than 600 million people around the world go barefoot because of poverty. A Barefoot Sunday fundraising event also offers a time to raise awareness about global poverty. And it’s a chance to participate in doing something to alleviate suffering around the world.
Some ideas to develop community include the following. Develop a worship community contact list so that people can feel free to reach out to each other. Add a page on your website focused on pictures from your events, including Barefoot Sundays and community activities. Create a monthly newsletter emailed to parishioners about the work of your volunteers in the community. Establish a closed Facebook Group where your volunteer community can come together digitally.
2. Social Recognition
Worship community volunteers will help you in your work as a faith leader because of their commitment to making a better world. However, people do like to get thanked for their volunteer work and a job well done. A great way to ensure that your volunteers are supported is by acknowledging their work. As we noted in the previous paragraph, figure out ways to provide recognition for all of your volunteers, including in Barefoot Sunday work.
Social recognition also has another bonus. When prospective volunteers see significant events and people are acknowledged and recognized, they will want to get involved. Spend time consistently promoting the work of your volunteers and see what happens. Soon, you’ll have more people who want to volunteer and become a part of your volunteer group for any event, including Barefoot Sundays.
3. Personal Acknowledgement
The most successful churches and religious groups for a Barefoot Sunday event and shoe drive fundraiser are those with a motivated group of volunteers. So, how does that happen? Well, one of the great things about an active faith community is that you have people who care about your good work for a better world. Let’s explore 3 ways to encourage your faith community members to get involved in all activities related to Barefoot Sunday.
The success of Barefoot Sunday will come down to ensuring that your parishioners become leaders in giving. You’ll want as many people to participate as possible. And, you’ll also want them to reach out to everyone they know, asking for gently worn, used and new shoes. One of the simplest things you can do is remind them that you’re not asking them to request money from anyone. Instead, what you’re asking of them is to be aware of the graces in their life. And you’re asking them to help you with your Barefoot Sunday fundraiser by giving and collecting shoes. It’s a chance to provide for your local work and help micro-entrepreneurs and people in developing nations.
The following are ways to get your congregation and others to support your Barefoot Sunday shoe drive fundraiser.
1. Share Volunteer Stories
As we noted, volunteers like hearing good news stories about your organization. A handy tip for engaging volunteers is to share the stories. You can do this by sharing stories on a website page, social media, and a digital newsletter.
2. Ask for Support for Specific Barefoot Sunday
When people decide to support your church or faith community, they’re looking to get involved. So, one of the best things that you can do is be specific with what you request of them. For instance, if you’re looking for Barefoot Sunday fundraising volunteers, ask them for a specific number of shoes to collect.
3. Create Fun Volunteer Experiences
As we mentioned earlier, people enjoy connecting with others. So, creating events—even Barefoot Sunday planning meetings—provides people with an opportunity to make friends and do something together. And, when you’ve had a successful fundraiser, don’t forget to celebrate at a private volunteer event.
4. Create Friendly Competition
If you’re looking to get people engaged, a little friendly competition will go a long way. Let’s say that you’re having a Barefoot Sunday. Get teams together from your religious groups to challenge each other in collecting the most shoes.
5. Ask for Volunteers and Input for Barefoot Sunday Events
After you’ve decided to do a Barefoot Sunday shoe drive fundraiser, you need to recruit volunteers. Moreover, one of the best things you can do is ask volunteers to help you plan to put together the weekend events, including Barefoot Sunday. Asking for ideas will empower people to get involved because they have ownership of the results.
6. Social Media Ambassadors for Barefoot Sunday
We live in a digital world. And one of the key ways to promote your Barefoot Sunday shoe drive fundraiser is to recruit people who will lead the social media effort. Ask these people to share content on their social networking accounts. And also ask them to get others involved—perhaps their friends and family. Finally, don’t forget to ask them to tag your place of worship on social so you could thank them.
7. Create Peer-to-Peer Pages for Your Barefoot Sunday
Your shoe drive fundraiser for Barefoot Sunday, or any other fundraiser, should include peer-to-peer pages. Peer-to-peer fundraising is people reaching out to the people they know and their peers supporting a cause. When you provide your volunteers and supporters, peer-to-peer pages, you give them the ability to fundraise in more compelling ways. Let them tell their stories about what Barefoot Sunday and shoe drive fundraiser means to them.
8. Reach Out to Local Elected Officials and Community Leaders
An exciting way to get your volunteers engaged in your Barefoot Sunday events is to ask them to reach out to elected officials. For example, your mayor, chamber of commerce, and city council can attend events, especially Barefoot Sundays, because of human interest. They can also provide endorsements, resolutions, or letters of support for your shoe drive fundraiser.
9. Encourage Volunteers Tagging You on Social Media
One of the best Barefoot Sunday tips we have is for church families to take pictures of themselves and the shoes they’ve collected before giving them at church. Ask them to tag you on their social media posts. And, if possible and appropriate, have families take photos of themselves donating their gently worn, used and new shoes at church.
10. Partner with Businesses and Retail Shops
The chances are that people in your church congregation own businesses and shops. So, ask them to become a drop-off location. When companies and retail shops get involved in a shoe drive fundraiser, they have the opportunity to show their community that they care. That is to say, it’s great for corporate social responsibility (CSR).
11. Ask More of Church Leaders and Donors
More than likely, you have churchgoers who are also major donors. And, as is often the case, they are probably community leaders as well. That means people will want to get to know them better. So, ask them to host an event at their home or outdoor space where people can contribute shoes for Barefoot Sunday and enjoy themselves.
12. Get Your Local High Schools and Colleges Involved
Younger generations are very philanthropic. However, they want to have a good experience first, even with a church or religious group. Barefoot Sunday is an excellent place to start. Get college and high school groups involved in collecting shoes. Let them know it’s for a good local cause and helps eliminate poverty worldwide.
13. Hold a Thank-a-Thon Before Your Barefoot Sunday
As you prepare for a Barefoot Sunday or weekend, one of the best things to do is say “thank you” from the start. Instead of calling people asking for money—or anything else—simply call them to say thank you. First, recruit volunteers to reach all of your congregation to thank them for being involved. More than likely, you’ll get important feedback from your parishioners. Also, doing a phone tree permits you to reach more people exponentially. For a more modern touch, you could also send recorded video emails, and of course, social media is always great for updates and acknowledgments.
14. Reach Out to Other Religious Groups
Another excellent tip for your church or religious group is to reach out to bloggers or media sympathetic to your mission and work. Create a partnership. For instance, if you have a blog, share some of their content on your site. And, when you’re getting ready to do your Barefoot Sundays and shoe drive fundraiser, ask them to help you get the word out.
15. Show Your Appreciation
Finally, show people you appreciate their efforts. As the best churches do, thank people and volunteers—often—for the work they do for you. Let them know that you understand that they don’t have to help you. So, you appreciate their taking the time to be part of your church and volunteer group for Barefoot Sunday or at any time.
In sum, church fundraising ideas can be exciting when you think out of the box. One of the best ways to get your church or faith-based community more engaged is to create events that will be of interest to them. Because of its unique elements, a Barefoot Sunday shoe drive fundraising event can have a profound impact on your community.
In other words, Barefoot Sunday can be a spiritual experience for your community. It can raise money for your church and its essential mission and work. And, it can also help people around the world living in poverty create work opportunities for themselves.
Within a few years of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Wayne set out to do what would become his life’s work. He decided to create organizations that serve as the bridge between groups, including places of worship in the U.S. and families in need of work opportunities in developing nations. David is one of the micro-entrepreneurs with whom we work at Funds2Orgs. And your church or congregation can help provide hope to someone like David and about 4,000 more people with whom we partner.
David survived the major 2010 earthquake. Again, hundreds of thousands of people lost everything. Because Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere, it took years to get people to where they were before the natural disaster. Systemic poverty makes it very difficult for most people to find jobs. Lack of quality education, poverty, infrastructure, and governmental or private support are all components of poverty that are hard to overcome.
Most people in Haiti and developing nations have to sell merchandise to make a living. If you were to travel to Haiti and walk through the Marché en Fer (i.e., the Iron Market) in Port-au-Prince, you might meet David. The market is a busy place with Creole cooking and vibrant energy.
He’s been selling the shoes collected in shoe drive fundraisers and Barefoot Sundays for years. And it’s because of this inventory that he created a sustainable income for his family. David moved from selling shoes off a carpet in the market to having a small kiosk. As he said, “It was not easy at first, but I was able to sell all my shoes and have enough to help my family and buy more shoes to sell.”
This back-to-school resource is essential for school groups who want to get new fundraising ideas and their budget back on track.