How a Small Amish Ministry Raises Big Bucks With Shotguns

Posted by Don Carmichael on 12/4/17 5:30 AM

You probably wouldn’t think of the Amish when you think of fundraising success stories.  But you may want to think again!

Meet Strait Paths Foundation – a small Christian ministry of four staff that provides counseling services to Amish and Mennonite families throughout rural central Pennsylvania.  

Strait Paths is located in Bird In Hand, Pennsylvania, a very small community in the heart of horse-and-buggy Amish country.  Some years ago, Strait Paths launched one of its first major fundraising events and conducted a golf tournament.  Understandably, it didn’t go far. As it turns out, most Amish folk don’t play golf.  

So, how do you fix a problem like this – where most of the ministry’s supporters can’t play the game?  

Simple. You use a shotgun..

Make The Fundraising Event Relevant to Your Supporters

Many Amish and other Strait Paths supports have shotguns and like outdoor sports like hunting and fishing.  Instead of trying to force a square peg (golf) in a round hole (their support community), Strait Paths chose to use an event that everyone could relate to and enjoy – Sporting Clays.

How well did this sporting clay event work?  Strait Paths raised over $50,000 on their first event, over $100,000 on their second one and has been averaging $119,000 per event over their past five.

How Sporting Clay Shoot Events Work

A sporting clay event involves shooting flying three-inch clay targets, called skeets, with shotguns.  Shooting in foursomes like a golf tournament – and also keeping score with a scorecard like a golf tournament – participants shoot at clay targets from 10-20 stations with a goal of hitting 100 targets.  Sporting clay events are fun and different, and unlike golf, the game is less expensive and gives everyone an opportunity to participate.



Apply an Effective Fundraising Method to Your Clay Shoot

Most charity clay shoots, like golf tournaments, raise money through each participant paying an entry fee.  And like golf tournaments, most clay shoots using this entry-fee model do not end up raising much money.

In addition to making your major fundraising event culturally relevant to your support base, you also need to have an effective fundraising model.  Instead of asking each shooter to pay $100 (which only leaves $20 - $30 in profit after the facility, food and gift costs are deducted), ask your shooters to raise money by asking their friend and relatives to be personal financial sponsors.  Most of the clay shoots we conduct are seeking 40 shooters who each try to raise $2,500.  If each shooter actually reached his or her goal, your event would raise $100,000.


Your major fundraising event success will come from having an event that both matches your supporters’ culture and uses an effective fundraising model.

If your school or nonprofit organization is looking for a major fundraising event that can not only raise significant money and out-perform traditional fundraisers but also is fun and different, consider a sporting clay shoot.  Clay shoots can be done year-round in most places, take less time, are cheaper than golf events, and have a curiosity appeal that draws more people.

And if these preceding benefits over golf aren’t enough to convince you… consider that the average sporting clay shooter in America makes 40% more money than the average golfer!


Are you looking for a fundraiser that uniquely reaches your donor community? Give us a call for a free consultation at 1-800-490-1959.

Topics: donors, event fundraising