If you raise money for a school, you know there are many ways you can fundraise to support programs, scholarships, and more! Whether you’re looking to better involve students, alumni, the community, parents, or teachers in your fundraising efforts, this guide offers more than 50 fundraising ideas to help your school revitalize fundraising efforts. We hope you find this useful! If you are looking for help boosting and organizing your school donations, be sure to schedule some time with our partners at GiveSmart.
No one understands the impact of your school better than your students. By involving students, you can raise much-needed funds for the programs they care most about!
It’s best to set goals for student participation and offer a fun prize if your students meet that goal. For example, if you challenge students with selling 500 gala tickets, offer an end-of-year field day as a reward for meeting that amount!
Here are some top fundraising ideas that allow for student participation:
- Dances: Use ticket and concession sales as a way to fundraise. Make sure the tickets aren’t too expensive, so every student can participate.
- Theme Nights: Have special theme nights at your sporting events, and charge more for tickets to those games. For example, you can have a Star Wars night at your football game or a Space Jam night at your basketball game. You can draw inspiration from many professional sports teams! Just let attendees know ahead of time.
- Contests: Let each grade or class create its own fundraiser. Have a reward for the group that raises the most!
- ‘Thons: The best thing about "a-thons" are you can make a fundraiser from any activity.Read-a-thon; dance-a-thon; spell-a-thon. Students get people to pledge money for every book they read, hour they dance, or word they spell. You raise money while students are learning and having fun!
- Talent Competitions: Think about the ways you can get your students to show off their passions and talents, all while raising money: battle of the bands, talent shows, karaoke competitions, and more. You can sell tickets to the show and/or have people vote on the winner using donations.
- Field Days/Carnivals: These are ever-popular options that get students excited! You can charge students for different carnival games or field day activities. If you’d like to involve the community, host the event on a weekend and invite families.
- Game Night/Day: If you don't have the resources needed for a field day or carnival, consider hosting something smaller like a game day.
- Student “Coupon” Books: Convert the popular local business coupon books into something students will want to purchase. Include coupons for a no uniform day, extra long recess, or first in line for the bus.
Classic sales have been a cornerstone of school fundraising for a long time, and they’re not going away. While magazine and wrapping paper sales may be falling by the wayside, there are still several popular sale options for schools.
While you might want to break out of the mold and do some less traditional fundraising, too, don't feel like you have to completely abandon the classics.
- Class Arts and Crafts: Offer class art projects for sale in auctions or individual art projects for sale on a piece-by-piece basis.
- “Built-in” Programs: Partner with companies like Amazon and Target that let you get cash back when your students or parents make purchases.
- Dress Drives: Ask students to donate past homecoming and prom dresses and save them to sell the next year. This is a great way for students to support the school and purchase dresses at a bargain.
- Bake Sales: Depending on the ages of students, have students or parents bring in baked goods to sell at a sports game or during lunch.
- Picnic Basket Auctions: Let students put together picnic baskets, and then sell them to parents.
- Coupon Books: Ask local stores, attractions, and restaurants to give you special deals for anyone who buys your coupon book.
- Greeting Cards: If you’re raising money for your art programs, have students create greeting cards available for purchase by parents, grandparents, teachers, and the community.
Having a couple big events throughout the year is great. But, some fundraising ideas allow you set it up once, and collect money all throughout the year.
- Online Donations: Create a donations page on your website, so people can make online donations whenever they like. You can also set up a monthly gift program for those willing to give more than once.
- Text-to-Give: Reach donors where they’re the most active: on their phones! Use a text-to-give campaign to aid fundraising efforts throughout the year.
- Coin Wars: Have a jar in each classroom and let the students put in their loose change. Create prizes, like a long recess, for the class that raises the most each week or month.
- Giving Kiosks: Similar to coin wars, set up small stations throughout the school where people can donate using cash, change, checks, or credit cards.
- Raffles: Host raffles at any event where you have a large crowd, like a sporting event or concert. You can offer a 50/50 raffle where the winner keeps half of the total or you can offer a raffle for a specific prize. Pro tip: Ask students to sell the raffle tickets at events to increase engagement and participation.
- Online Shopping: Set up a school store on your website where people can purchase school spirit items with your organization receiving a percentage of sales.
For the Parents
Give the parents a night out with a fun event hosted at the school. There are many ideas, ranging in formality and ticket price, so you can mix and match types of events throughout the year to create a fun year of fundraising.
- Wine and Cheese Night: Ask local businesses to donate wine, cheese, fruit, and other snacks and allow parents to purchase “tasting tickets” so they can try the different types of wine and cheese.
- Silent, Live, and/or Online Auction: An auction can be hosted at an in-person event, or online. You can incorporate a silent auction into a gala or into a more informal event, such as the wine and cheese night mentioned above.
- Gala: A more formal fundraising option, a gala is an opportunity for parents to dress up and spend a night mingling with other parents and teachers. At a gala, you can host several other fundraising opportunities, such as a silent auction, live auction, donation campaign, raffle, and more.
- Dinner and a Movie: Do you have a great outdoor space and a projector? Host a picnic movie night with catering from a local restaurant or food truck. You can include the students in this and play a family-friendly film, or make the event just for parents and play something just out of theaters.
- Cakewalk: Another casual fundraising event option is a cakewalk. In this event, cakes are donated by local businesses or parents and each participant pays to win a random cake.
For the Community
Often, your town is invested in your school's success – especially if you’re located in a smaller town with only one or two school options. This allows you the opportunity to involve the community in your fundraising events.
- Sponsorships: You have more advertising space than you think. For example, you could sell an ad in your yearbook or on your field fences to a local business willing to make a donation to the school.
- Matching Gift Programs: Many businesses offer programs where when an employee donates money to an organization, they will match it. On your donation form, ask if your donor’s company offers this so you (and the donor) can take advantage of this.
- Student Services: Allow the community to participate in your fundraising efforts through purchasing a car wash or a lawn mow. The students can then provide these services for free and you can provide the necessary materials at a low cost.
- Auction Items: If you are hosting a live or silent auction, approach local businesses to ask for item donations. Stores can donate products and restaurants can donate gift cards. You never know who will be willing to make a donation until you ask.
- Shows: If your school has an amazing music or theater department, create a fun show and open up ticket sales to the public. To make this especially successful, you will want to promote the show with ads and student outreach.
- Races: Host a 5K or 10K in your community that benefits the school. You can use the school grounds as a course and ask for local businesses to donate snacks for finishers.
- Restaurant Percentage Nights: Many restaurants are willing to host percentage nights where a certain percentage of sales on a specified night are donated back to the hosting organization. Contact local favorites and ask about this opportunity.
- Golf Tournament: Are the parents at your school particularly sporty? Hosting a golf tournament will allow parents to compete for a good cause. You can even combine a golf event with a formal gala to create a day of fundraising for parents and other donors. You can learn more about golf fundraising events in our helpful guide here.
- Letter-Writing Campaigns: Sometimes, the best approach is a direct approach – meaning direct mail. Emails can get lost, but if you get a letter in the mail from a student you know, you are much more likely to open it. So think about getting students to mail out fundraising letters to the people in their lives they think may want to help.
Getting teachers and admins to participate in your fundraising can really help you build up excitement among your students.
- Embarrassing Teachers: What student wouldn't love to see a favorite teacher shave his or her head or be dunked in a dunk tank? As long as the teachers agree to it, you can set up fundraisers where if you raise a set amount, a teacher will do something pre-determined and embarrassing. Or, you can have multiple teachers, and the teacher who raises the most will do the "embarrassing" action.
- Teacher Shows: Karaoke, talent shows, and more. Who wouldn't want to see what their teachers/admins have got?
- Teacher vs. Student Events: Consider having a tournament – sports, trivia, or whatever – and make it students versus teachers.
- Take the Place of a Teacher/Admin: With proper guidance, get kids to raise money through sponsorship – or sell raffle tickets – where the highest raiser (or raffle winner) gets to be "principal/vice principal/teacher" for the day.
- Tournament to support a sports team
- Art show and sale to support the arts program
- Concert or show to support the music and theater programs
- Get donors – often alumni – to support a scholarship named after them or their graduating class.
- Get a local business to sponsor a scholarship.
- Get an organization to set up a scholarship dedicated to a student who meets the vision of the organization. For example, a science lab could sponsor a scholarship for a student with an impressive science background and drive towards those programs.
- Get the community to sponsor a scholarship for a well-rounded scholar.
- Start a website showcasing past scholarship and provide a way for donors to give through that website.
Fund a School Trip
- Crowdfunding: Ask students to raise funds for their trips through peer-to-peer fundraising or crowdfunding. This can be a great way to offset the cost of a trip.
- Themed Event: Host a themed charity event where the theme relates to the location of the trip. For example, if the class will be going to New Orleans to build houses, host a “Mardi Gras” themed fundraising event with King Cake and beads.
- Business Sponsor: You can reach out to businesses and ask them to sponsor part of the trip. Maybe a local travel agency would be willing to help sponsor the airfare. You can have the students write them thank you notes and also thank the businesses graciously in your newsletter and on social media.
Last But Not Least...
- Direct Ask: Have you ever just asked straight-up for donations, with no fundraiser event involved? You may be surprised how many parents would rather just “write a check” than have to help pull together a carnival. It never hurts to ask!
We hope this guide offers your school some great ideas to kick off your fundraising planning. When in doubt, try to be creative, and put yourselves in the donor’s shoes to think of what would make you want to give to the school!
To learn about how you can incorporate event fundraising technology into your fundraising efforts, sign up for a free demo of the Community Brands GiveSmart product.