Raising money for the school you love? Check out these 50+ fun, effective, and engaging school fundraising ideas for all ages!
Whether your school is raising money for your PTA or helping one of your own clubs or sports teams reach its goals, a fundraiser is an effective way to get everyone involved. An effective, well-organized school fundraiser gets students excited about a good cause and has a positive impact on your school or community.
Nonetheless, fundraising with the same old ideas year after year can get boring! You’ll raise more with school fundraising ideas that catch people’s attention and get them excited. Here are some ideas to switch things up and produce greater results for your school. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, student, or volunteer, this list of recommended school fundraising ideas is sure to take your school spirit to the next level.
This guide contains ideas for unique and intriguing campaigns, as well as a few tips and tricks to set your school up for success with any fundraiser. Use the links below to jump to a particular section, or just follow along with us from the top.
|Fundraising Ideas||Tips & Resources|
|Most Popular Fundraising Ideas for All Ages||Crafting your School Fundraising Strategy|
|Elementary School Fundraising Ideas||Building a School Fundraising Toolkit|
|Middle School Fundraising Ideas||Promoting your School Fundraiser|
|High School Fundraising Ideas||Boosting Engagement with School Fundraising Ideas|
|Student Group & College Fundraising Ideas||Long-Term School Fundraising Success|
|School Fundraising Ideas with No Selling||Additional School Fundraising Resources|
Ready to get fundraising? Let’s dive in!
1. Online donations
Consider your online donation page to be the foundation for all school fundraising ideas and initiatives. Your supporters need a place to give money quickly and effortlessly. And your school needs a way to accept those donations!
Encourage sharing among donors’ friends, families, and social networks. Your school’s online giving campaigns have the potential to go viral— or at least to grandparents, aunts, and uncles across the world!
Students, parents, faculty, and staff— almost everyone at your school has a phone that they love to use. Take advantage of the cell phone epidemic with text-to-give fundraising.
Donors simply text a keyword (like “give”) to your school’s text-to-give phone number and confirm the amount. First-time donors will be directed to a brief online form, while repeat donors can complete a donation in only two clicks of a button. It’s a super easy way for individuals to contribute to the school!
3. Pledge Fundraising
Pledge fundraisers are one of our favorite types of school fundraisers thanks to their ease of planning and universal appeal. To get started, first plan a fun and engaging event that students want to participate in. A walk-a-thon is one of the most common, although you can mix things up with a dance-a-thon, hit-a-thon, or even a read-a-thon.
Then, you equip each participant with their own fundraising page to share with family and friends. These supporters then pledge a certain amount (either a flat fee or per activity completed) that will be collected upon the conclusion of the event. This way, kids get to partake in an exciting event that raises money for their school— it’s a win-win!
4. Silent auction
We’ve seen how remarkable silent auctions can be when it comes to inspiring generosity. Schools in particular are the perfect match for auction fundraisers because they are fantastic opportunities to bring your community together and support the school you love.
Discover what your community has to give. You never know—someone may be willing to auction off their vacation house for a weekend getaway, or a local business owner may be able to offer irresistible goods or services!
5. Social media
Spotlight your school’s educational initiatives and let followers know how to get involved. When it comes to soliciting donations, social media is tough to beat— it is currently cited as the most inspiring factor behind donations from both Millennials and Generation X.
Feature your school’s online donation page and text-to-give number front and center of your social media pages. Once supporters make donations, encourage them to use your social media sharing buttons to tell their friends!
6. Email campaign
Email is a quick and classic way to keep in touch with students and their families. By including links to your campaign (that drive traffic to your online donation page) in monthly e-newsletters and dedicated fundraising emails, you can spread the word about your fundraising campaigns.
For a crowdfunding campaign, your school sets up an online fundraising page where anyone can donate and see real-time updates on your progress. The most successful crowdfunding campaigns are fueled by social media, so make sure parents and students are actively sharing your page— and leaving encouraging comments!
Everyone wears t-shirts, so why not use them to raise funds for your school? T-shirt fundraising platforms let you design a shirt, then sell it to raise money during a scheduled time-frame. Look for a platform that doesn’t require payment upfront, like Bonfire.
Wear your school pride on your sleeve. T-shirts are also great places to feature your text-to-give number in a fun, artsy way.
9. Matching gifts
How would you like to receive two donations for every one that you solicit? Consider promoting matching gifts programs to your donors. Thousands of companies offer matching gift programs where they agree to match charitable gifts by employees to eligible nonprofits, like your school!
Simply include a matching gifts search tool on your donation page and encourage donors to check if they’re eligible through their employers. Using the database, donors can easily ask their companies to double (or triple!) their donations to your school.
9. Prospect research
How do you know which of your students and their families are going to give? By taking into account both prior philanthropic interests and certain wealth indicators, prospect research shows you who’s most likely to donate to your cause. This strategy is especially effective for private schools in affluent communities.
In addition to your generalized fundraising efforts, prospect research shows you where to focus your marketing tactics for maximum impact.
11. School carnival
It’s time to break out the classic state fair games and attractions— a carnival is a great way to have some family fun while raising money for your school. Students, teachers, and parents can all get involved and have a great time with this fundraiser.
You can charge for general admission or per activity, and don’t forget to sell concessions. The only thing better than a funnel cake is a funnel cake for a good cause!
12. Pajama day
Nothing beats the simplicity of a pajama day fundraiser. There is hardly any planning or startup costs, it’s super easy to organize, and your students will love it. Your school will raise money, and kids get a nice, comfortable school day in their PJ’s!
Charge students a few dollars (maybe $1 or $2) to wear pajamas to school for a full day. You can amp up the fun by serving breakfast for lunch in the cafeteria or putting on a movie in the classroom. Get your students pumped for the fundraiser by offering a prize to the class with the highest participation rate.
13. Field day
By the time the spring semester rolls around, there’s nothing kids want more than to go outside and play. That’s why field days are amazing fundraising opportunities for elementary schools. You can set up classics like dodgeball and tug-of-war, rent a bounce house, and get splashing with some water games!
You may charge for general admission or for participation in individual games. Invite parents to participate and set up concession stands and a general donation booth.
14. Parents’ party
Targeting your students is a great idea when planning elementary school fundraisers, but let’s not leave out the parents! A parents’ party is a fun event that brings parents together to rally for a good cause.
Host your event at a local restaurant to get the community involved in your fundraising too. Most importantly, don’t forget to offer childcare. Busy parents are willing to give a lot for a night out without the kids!
15. Movie showing
What’s better than watching a good movie with friends? Watching one during the school day and raising some money while you’re at it!
Elementary students will do pretty much anything to get out of class for a while, including giving a few dollars to the school fundraiser to watch a popular film. Don’t forget to bring the popcorn and hot chocolate to tie the whole event together.
16. Principal challenge
Sometimes principals get a reputation for being serious and authoritative— maybe even mean. This curious fundraiser will change your students’ minds and boost school spirit while raising money for your school.
Students donate with the goal of seeing their principal do something silly, like getting pied in the face or kissing a pig! Set a reasonable fundraising goal, so students will see the payoff.
17. Dunk tank
This works great in addition to another fun event, such as a carnival or field day. Gather bold teachers and staff willing to brave the dunk tank for a good cause.
18. Talent show
Middle school students might be hiding a multitude of talents, from comedic chops to Broadway-style belting. Give these kids their chance to shine by hosting a school-wide talent show.
Charge a small fee to participate, as well as an admission fee for spectators. Assemble a panel of judges, and don’t forget to bring prizes for the winner(s)!
19. School picnic
A school picnic is a fantastic way to get kids out of the cafeteria and into the sunshine on a nice spring day, while also earning money for your school.
Students can donate a small fee to attend the picnic during an extended lunch period. Find a nice, shady park near the school, plan for a day with a good weather forecast, and make sure to offer plenty of snacks and games.
20. Spelling bee
What better way to cross excitement, knowledge, and fundraising than by hosting a spelling bee? Combining education with a little friendly competition is sure to spell success for your school.
Encourage students to gather pledges for each word they spell correctly. Put up a fundraising thermometer to show the students how much money they’ve raised with sheer brainpower! Add a special twist by holding a teachers’ bonus bee at the end.
21. Haunted house
When it comes to seasonal fundraising ideas, almost nothing outranks (or out-spooks!) a haunted house around Halloween.
Recruit parents, teachers, and volunteers to build and staff a haunted house, and have students pay a small fee to walk through. You can hold the haunted house during school hours, or host an event one evening or weekend.
What’s a guaranteed way to make reading cool for middle schoolers? Add a competitive element by turning reading into a fundraising challenge.
Students recruit sponsors to donate based on the number of books or pages they read throughout a defined period. Don’t forget to offer prizes for each milestone the students hit. To boost competition, consider positioning different years or classes against each other to find the reading champions.
23. Scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are easy to organize and fun for all ages. Make the clues a little more challenging, and middle schoolers are sure to participate. Bonus points if you can tie the clues into your teachers’ lesson plans, making for another educational yet effective fundraiser.
Students can pay to form teams and embark on the hunt throughout a full school day, or even longer. The winning team may be the first to find every item on the list, or the team with the most found at the conclusion of the event.
24. Jelly bean jar
Keep a large jar of jelly beans (or another candy) in a highly trafficked area of school, such as the front office, for a few weeks. Encourage students, teachers, and parents to submit their jelly bean estimate into the contest for a small fee.
At the end of the set time period, the person who had the closest guess wins the jar of candy. This is one of the easiest fundraisers; all you need to get started is a clear jar, a few bags of candy, and some eager participants looking to show off their guessing skills!
25. Board/video game tournament
Host a tournament either during lunch, a free period, or an evening after school, and set up a few popular board games or video game consoles. See if you can borrow games from families and community members to reduce expenses.
Charge a fee for entry into a tournament that middle schoolers will flock to for the chance to be crowned reigning champion. Offer a decent prize to the winner, and the rest of the proceeds go straight to the school!
26. Battle of the bands
Find out which of your high schoolers are going to be the next big music stars with a battle of the bands fundraiser. Student musicians get the perfect venue to share their passion with classmates and compete with other bands.
Charge groups a fee to participate (or audition), as well as an admission fee on the big night. Consider offering a grand prize to the winning band: the opportunity to represent your school and provide the music behind future events.
27. Car wash
This fundraiser is sure to make a splash in your community. Set up a car wash in the high school parking lot or partner with a local business during a late-spring weekend, and have students take shifts cleaning cars. If you have an online donation page set up, you can accept card payments and text-to-give in addition to cash.
28. Dog wash
Nobody wants to wash their own smelly pup, and the groomers can get so expensive! Offer a more affordable solution with a dog wash fundraiser. Encourage students, parents, teachers, and community members to bring their furry friends to be bathed by student volunteers for a reasonable price.
Find an empty parking lot (like the school on a weekend) or a park to set up shop in, and make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need— a few kiddie pools, hoses connected to a source of water, dog shampoo, and tons of towels.
29. Prom dress drive
Shopping for a big dance can be intimidating. There are so many choices, and a nice dress can be quite pricey. Make pre-prom season a blast for everyone with a prom dress drive.
Whether you plan this fundraiser around homecoming or prom season (or both!), you’re sure to get a big turnout. Ask community members and alumni to donate old formal dresses, which you’ll then sell at a discounted price to your students.
30. Walk- and jog-a-thon
The classic walk-a-thon can work for all ages, but you can boost engagement with high school students when you add a little twist. Consider taking your event to the next level with a theme— such as a color run or a zombie run (great around Halloween!).
Using peer-to-peer fundraising strategies, students can invite friends, classmates, and relatives to sponsor them as they walk or jog a certain number of laps around the school track. Each student can use a unique online donation page to raise funds and build up a pre-jog buzz.
31. Chore auction
This fundraising idea is perfect for parents who have a hard time persuading their busy teenagers to get their chores done.
Host an event and invite the whole community. During a live chore auction, your audience will bid on students to complete errands or other mundane chores. Teachers can task students with cleaning classrooms, parents can have their driveway shoveled, and classmates may enjoy seeing their friends clean their lockers—for a price!
32. Summer sports camp
Student athletes love to share their hard-earned skills and expertise with their community. A summer sports camp gives them the chance to do so for a good cause, while kids learn a new skill and parents get some time to themselves during the busy summer days.
Have members of your high school sports teams donate their time to host a community sports camp during the summer. Children can pay a fee to learn from the greats, with all the money going back to your school. Consider hosting a few camps throughout the summer so excited mini-athletes can practice football, basketball, and baseball.
33. Art auction
Partner with art classes to find student artists willing to donate their time and talents to support their school. You’ll be amazed at the art that is produced, and community supporters are willing to pay a good price for beautiful artwork that goes to a good cause.
34. Video challenge
High schoolers dream of going viral on the internet. Start an online campaign encouraging students to film themselves partaking in a challenge (such as eating a super hot pepper or being submerged in a bucket of super cold ice water).
Students then post their video to social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, and nominate several friends to complete the challenge themselves. The goal is for the challenge to spread rapidly throughout the internet— and that each participant makes a donation to your online fundraising page!
35. Candy-grams and carnations
These are especially successful fundraisers approaching Valentine’s Day, but can also work for other special days like Christmas and Halloween— just make sure to customize the treat for your holiday of choice.
High schoolers jump at the chance to send a sweet treat to their loved ones, romantic interests, and good friends alike! Just set up a station at lunch to accept pre-orders with payment, and the treats are delivered later to each recipients’ classroom.
36. Powder puff
Hosting a powder puff football game is a great way to get students excited about fundraising. But it’s not just any football game. For a twist on the classic American sport, girls make up the football teams while boys become cheerleaders on the sidelines!
Charge a small fee to play, sell team t-shirts, and sell tickets and concessions on the day of the big game. You’ll have a great turnout!
37. Applebee’s flapjack fundraiser
Partner with your local Applebee’s to host a special pancake dinner. Applebee’s provides the food, supplies, and a cook, while you bring student volunteers to host, take orders, and bus tables.
38. Dorm decorating contest
It’s hard to spruce up a cramped space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try. Encourage students to decorate their dorms (either the entire room or just the exterior), and compete against friends and neighbors for best decorated.
Have residents pay a small fee to enter their dorm in the contest. Choose a theme or let residents run with their imaginations. You can even do this fundraiser several times a year, especially at major holidays!
39. Beard challenge
Perfect for social clubs or fraternities, a beard challenge is a fun way for guys on campus to raise money for their organizations. Participants get sponsors to donate toward their beard-growing endeavor. The more money you raise, the longer they have to wait before shaving, and the bigger the beards!
40. Head shaving challenge
Quite the opposite of the beard challenge, students raise funds towards a set goal. If they hit their target, they have to shave their heads! Encourage participants to take before and after pictures or video the endeavor to promote on social media to boost the cause.
For this fundraiser, students will have to get out of the dining hall and into their kitchens. Cooking in a dorm-sized kitchen only adds to the excitement of the challenge!
Charge students a fee to enter their best dish in a themed cook-off (think: chili, baked goods, or burgers). Consider charging a small fee to be a taster, and set a jar by each submission. Guests vote for their favorites with their wallets; the entry with the most donations wins!
42. Lip sync showdown
Performers might not actually be singing or playing instruments, but this fundraiser still requires a lot of talent! Students pay to form teams to participate in a lip-sync showdown and “belt out” their favorite hits, and audience members pay a small entrance fee to witness the shindig.
Have the audience pick the winner by their applause, or ask esteemed members of your campus community to be the judges.
43. Engraved bricks
Legacy-style fundraising ideas for colleges and universities give students and alumni the chance to have a lasting impact on their alma mater. Offer students the opportunity to have their name and a short message engraved on a brick, to be placed in a walkway or courtyard on campus.
You can charge per brick, per word, or per line of text. Time this fundraiser around graduation, so soon-to-be alumni have a way to leave a lasting mark.
There’s no better fundraiser to get everyone on campus involved! Students pay to have friends thrown in “jail” at the center of campus. To get out of jail, the individual must match the initial donation.
Make this more fun by posting a “most wanted” list of notable campus figures, each with a bail amount that they must meet if caught. This is an exciting and interactive fundraiser that feels more like a game than a campaign!
45. Clothing swap
Based on the philosophy of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” encourage students to dig through their closets to find piles of used clothes to donate to a used clothes drive fundraiser. On the day of the event, you can choose to charge by an entry fee, per bag, or sell individual items for discounted prices.
46. Auction off a parking spot
What is every college student’s nightmare? Parking on campus! Nobody wants to deal with circling the parking garages and ultimately missing valuable class time. Host a live auction to sell a reserved parking spot in a prime location and see how high your students are willing to go to avoid the everyday parking struggle.
47. Polar plunge
Daring students collect pledges from friends and family as they prepare to be submerged in ice cold water for as long as they can withstand. Pledges may come as a flat rate, or a set amount per second the participant lasts!
This is a great wintertime fundraiser; just make sure to bring the hot cocoa to keep your participants and viewers warm and cozy.
48. Benefit concert
Find a local musician or even a big-name artist that is willing to put on a concert for your fundraiser. You can even boost school spirit by bringing in an alumni performer!
Students will love having a night out at a concert for a discounted price. Choose a fun venue that’s big enough to hold your crowd, and set up concessions for a better guest experience and a boost in revenue.
49. 50/50 raffle
In this simple fundraiser, individuals purchase tickets for the chance to win an undefined sum of money. When a ticket is sold, that money goes towards the jackpot. At the conclusion of the raffle, the money is totaled and a ticket is chosen at random. The winner with the matching ticket receives half the sum of money, while the school gets the remaining half!
This is a great fundraiser to host in cahoots with another event, running simultaneously during a sports game, gala, or concert!
50. Used textbook sale
Following the end of each semester, there are thousands of students left with textbooks they will never use again. Some students keep old textbooks, give them to friends, or sell them back to the bookstore— but many throw these old books away!
Set up a used textbook drive after the conclusion of classes and encourage students to drop their unneeded books with you. Then, you can sell these books back to the bookstore or to other textbook re-sellers for a profit!
51. Pet contest
College kids love showing off their fur babies. You can capitalize on that by hosting a competition to find your school’s cutest pet, with a small fee to enter the competition. These contests can either take place on campus to see some well-behaved furry friends, or online so that owners can upload photos from the comfort of their own homes.
Amazon.com offers a program called AmazonSmile that gives 0.5% of the price of Amazon purchases back to a designated charity. That percentage may not seem to be much, but it’s a great way to earn extra money for your school on top of other fundraising efforts. Plus, it’s a fundraiser that requires hardly any effort from students and parents who already shop on Amazon!
You just have to register your school with AmazonSmile first to become a registered charity, and then inform your community to shop through AmazonSmile instead.
53. Box Tops challenge
Traditional box tops fundraisers involve students and parents searching household items for box tops, clipping and collecting those tabs, and bringing them to your school.
This classic fundraiser, which is still an excellent choice, is now getting a makeover. The program is shifting to digital-only! Instead of clipping tabs, users will only have to scan receipts with participating items on the Box Tops app, making the fundraiser more efficient for both parents and the schools they support.
54. Restaurant fundraiser
Partner with a local restaurant that is willing to host your fundraiser for an evening and contribute a portion of the proceeds back to your school. Chick-fil-A and Chipotle are popular chains that host these events, or choose a local favorite! Make it a spirit night by asking students and parents to come all dressed in their school garb— and remind diners to mention your fundraiser at the register!
55. Shoe drive
Almost everybody has an old pair of sneakers lying around that aren’t worn anymore. Ask students, families, and community members to donate their gently worn, new and used shoes to a shoe drive.
When you partner with a shoe drive organizer, they collect your pile of shoes at the conclusion of your fundraiser in exchange for a check for your school!
56. Junk drive
A junk drive fundraiser collects items that many consider to be garbage and sells them back to recycling companies for a profit. You may be tempted to throw away things like broken cell phones, empty ink cartridges, and old electronics as they reach the end of their shelf lives. Ask your students and families to collect these items instead, as they can still be worth quite a bit!
57. Penny war
For this fundraiser, you must first establish teams. You may decide to pit each classroom against each other, or maybe you want to go by grade level instead.
Each team gets a jar and is encouraged to bring in coins (pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters) for their own jars. Each coin counts positively towards the team. Things heat up when students drop dollar bills in their opponents jars, who then have to subtract points from their total. The competition against other students will drive students to give more to win the game!
58. Coin jar
For this fundraiser, you’ll want to partner with a local business who agrees to keep a small jar at their registers. The jar should be visually appealing and include a quick background describing who and what these donations are for. You might be surprised at the amount of people willing to drop loose change in your jar.
Before embarking on your school fundraising adventure, it’s important to have a clear strategy set in place. This encourages your team to stay on track and makes it quick and easy to track your fundraising successes over time.
Here are a few key steps to get you started:
By following these steps, you’ll have a carefully crafted fundraising plan and set your school up for success! When you do the prep work ahead of time, you’ll thank yourself later when your campaigns are running smoothly and you exceed your fundraising expectations.
You’re not likely to have a successful fundraiser without the right tools in your pocket. There are many moving pieces to keep in line, all while managing students, teachers, parents, and volunteers. But with a well-developed fundraising toolkit, you’ll have all that you need to make fundraising easy and fun.
These are some key fundraising tools to look for:
With these key tools in your arsenal, you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build your fundraisers and bring your school to the next level.
To get the biggest turnout at your school fundraisers, you’ll need to get started with the promotions as soon as possible. For maximum impact, use a combination of both traditional and digital marketing methods to get your message across.
For example, consider these channels to spread the word:
Maximize the impact of your parent/student communication with messages through different channels, but you don’t want to bombard them either! Find a happy medium of boosting awareness and delivering information to your audience without overwhelming and irritating them.
Motivating students to get involved in your fundraising efforts can be a difficult undertaking. Different aged students ranging from kindergarten to college provide unique challenges concerning their engagement in the fundraising process. Yet once you have students on board, they will be your greatest fundraising tool to boost awareness and harness community support.
How can you increase participation in your school-wide fundraisers? Incentivize engagement with your fundraiser by rewarding top participants with school merchandise and prizes. Students of all ages like getting free gifts!
Give out your school’s t-shirt to boost school spirit, or create fundraiser-specific merchandise to commemorate the event! If your school partnered with a local business or community organization, you can reflect that organization’s purpose or work in the design of your merchandise.
Other fun rewards can take the form of exclusive experiences instead of merchandise. For example, consider offering your top-fundraising students the opportunity to:
Rewarding individuals who excel in their fundraising efforts is a great way to take advantage of a competitive edge between students. Sometimes the honor of being crowned winner is even more motivation than the prize itself!
Fundraisers are a great way to boost support for your school. However, constantly planning and hosting elaborate events is not always a sustainable practice. Strengthen your school’s partnership with your community by encouraging additional donations outside of fundraising efforts.
Your school fundraisers have already taught your students how effective online fundraising can be when information is shared in a clear and enthusiastic manner. Encourage students and families to keep the momentum going by:
Motivating students and parents to each give and promote further giving to your school is just one of several ways in which you can ensure that the community enthusiasm surrounding your school doesn’t wane after the event.
With preparation, reflection, and a group of engaged students, you’ll be able to boost donor retention based on the success of your initial fundraiser and encourage your students and families to continuously get involved in your school.
Are you ready to take your school and its fundraising strategy to the next level? If you’re looking for more valuable tools and tips to get prepped for a successful school fundraiser, check out these key resources below:
Text-to-Give Software: A Comprehensive Guide. You already know that text-to-give is an essential fundraising strategy. Read this thorough guide to learn how to get the most from your text-to-give campaign.
Planning a Walk-a-Thon: Your Questions Answered. Hosting a walk-a-thon is an excellent way to get students, parents, families, and friends involved in a fun event that also raises money for your school. Find out how to organize and host a successful event-a-thon with this guide.
Recurring Donations: Building a Stronger Fundraising Model. Donors who set up recurring donations give 42% more annually. It’s important to get donations; it’s even more important to keep them coming.
How to Use T-Shirts to Motivate Students. T-shirts are one of the most practical prizes out there. They are cost-effective, long-lasting, and exciting to receive. Learn how to design and promote school t-shirts to boost your fundraiser.
What to Know about Nonprofit Email Newsletters. Email newsletters are a great way to keep parents, students, and alumni updated on your campaign progress. Learn how to create an effective newsletter.
Volunteer Management: Engaging and Keeping Volunteers. Whether you already have a parent/teacher organization running or you’re looking to establish one, a successful school relies heavily on family volunteers. Find out how to attract new volunteers and boost fundraising engagement.
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