Thinking about starting a campaign to raise money for the school you love? You’ll need some top school fundraising ideas, so you’ve come to the right place!
If you want to give your school a funding boost to be able to provide more resources and better education for students, a fundraiser is an effective way to get everyone involved. A well-organized school fundraising campaign or event engages students, teachers, parents, and volunteers, making a positive impact on your school as everyone comes together to reach the goal.
However, fundraising with the same old ideas year after year can get boring! You’ll raise more with interesting, unique school fundraising ideas that catch people’s attention. We’ve got plenty of ideas for outside-the-box fundraisers that will produce greater results for your school.
Plenty of these school fundraising ideas are COVID-safe, and others can be used once the pandemic has fully subsided. Either way, your school should be prepared for post-pandemic fundraising, to be better positioned for the inevitable resurgence of in-person events, as well as virtual fundraising opportunities, which are here to stay.
This guide will walk through our top ideas for enjoyable and intriguing campaigns for all ages, as well as a few expert tips and tricks to set your school up for success with any fundraiser.
Our Favorite Fundraising Ideas That Work:
- Most Popular School Fundraiser Ideas for All Ages
- Elementary School Fundraising Ideas
- Middle School Fundraising Ideas
- High School Fundraising Ideas
- Student Group & College Fundraising Ideas
- School Fundraiser Ideas with No Selling
Best Practices for Ensuring Successful School Fundraisers:
- Create a detailed school fundraising plan.
- Build out a comprehensive school fundraising toolkit.
- Take a multichannel approach to promote your school’s fundraising campaigns.
- Boost school fundraising engagement with strategic incentives.
- Set yourself up for long-term fundraiser success.
With these ideas and pro tips, you’ll be able to raise more for your school to help out your students and teachers and create a greater sense of community in the process. Let’s get started!
Our Favorite Fundraising Ideas That Work
Most Popular School Fundraiser Ideas for All Ages
1. Online donations
Your supporters need a place to give money quickly and effortlessly, and your school needs a way to accept those donations. Therefore, your online donation page is the foundation for all school fundraising initiatives.
Encourage sharing among donors’ friends, families, and social networks. Your school’s online giving pages have the potential to go viral—probably not globally, but among the grandparents, aunts, and uncles within your community!
Students, parents, faculty, and staff— almost everyone at your school has a phone they’re practically glued to. 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 with only two clicks of a button. It’s a super-easy way for individuals to contribute to the school!
3. Face mask fundraiser
With many schools requiring face masks for all students and faculty, it’s the perfect time to host a face mask fundraiser.
To get started, simply send your school logo to a product fundraising platform like ABC Fundraising, which will design and create your custom face masks. Then, start selling to students, families, and community members.
You can encourage supporters to order online (from your custom-designed web-store) for a hands-free, socially distant fundraiser, or equip students with a top-notch school fundraising catalog to sell from. Either way, your fundraising platform does all the heavy lifting for you.
Your students, families, and community supporters will be rocking your branded face masks in no time— all the while promoting health and safety and raising funds for your school.
4. Pledge fundraiser
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 also raises money for their school— it’s a win-win!
5. 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 offer an opportunity to showcase local businesses and engage members of the wider community in your fundraising efforts.
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.
6. Social media
Spotlight your school’s educational initiatives on your social media pages 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 on your social media pages. Once supporters make donations, encourage them to use your social media sharing buttons to tell their friends.
7. 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 opportunities.
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!
9. T-shirt sale
Everyone loves well-designed t-shirts, so why not use them to raise funds for your school? T-shirt fundraising platforms let you create a custom t-shirt design, then sell your shirts to raise money during a scheduled time-frame. Look for a platform that doesn’t require payment upfront, like Bonfire.
With a t-shirt campaign, you can 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.
10. Matching gifts drive
How would you like to receive two donations for every one that you solicit? Consider promoting matching gift 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.
11. 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.
Elementary School Fundraising Ideas
12. 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!
13. Pajama day
Nothing beats the simplicity of a pajama day fundraiser. There is hardly any planning or startup costs, it’s easy to organize, and your students will love it. Your school will raise money, and kids get a nice, comfortable school day in their PJs!
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.
14. 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 great fundraising opportunities for elementary schools. You can set up classics like dodgeball and tug-of-war, rent a bounce house, or get splashing with some water games.
You can charge for general admission or for participation in individual games. Invite parents to participate and set up concession stands and a general donation booth.
15. Parents’ party
Creating student-approved events 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.
You can host a virtual happy hour for parents, host a virtual cooking class sponsored by a local restaurant, or live stream a concert for parents featuring a local musician.
16. 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.
17. 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, kissing a pig, or dying their hair with your school’s colors. Set a reasonable fundraising goal, so students will be able to see the payoff.
18. 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.
Kids pay $1 per throw (or 3), for a chance to toss a ball at a target and dunk the individual in the tank. Students will jump at the chance to embarrass their favorite (or least favorite!) teacher.
19. Board game tournament
Host a tournament either during lunch, recess, or an evening after school, and set up a few popular board games for students to choose from. See if you can borrow games from families and community members to reduce expenses.
Charge students an entry fee donation and watch as they compete to become the Uno or Monopoly champs!
20. Community yard sale
Most of us have plenty of random items thrown in storage or bedroom closets that haven’t been used in years. Encourage community members to bring these items to your school for a community yard sale, with the proceeds going toward your fundraising pot.
Get your students involved by teaching them how to take payments and letting them take over cashier duty (with supervision). They’ll help raise money while learning valuable life skills.
21. Balloon raffle
This fundraiser adds a surprising twist to a typical raffle. Participants purchase a balloon, and when it’s time to find the winner, they pop their balloon and see if they have the winning ticket inside.
Kids will love having the chance to see if they’ve won a prize, but they’ll mostly get a kick out of trying to pop their balloon.
22. Bake sale
When it comes to fundraisers, bake sales are one of the most delicious options. Ask your school parents to cook up a yummy treat to put up for sale at your fundraising bake sale.
Kids can get involved by helping their parents bake, or selling the baked goods at lunch or during recess.
23. Bingo night
Bingo is one of the easiest game nights to put on because basically everyone already knows the rules, and all you have to do is purchase bingo sheets, markers, balls, and a cage.
Students will pay a small entry fee, and you can host the bingo event after school.
24. Family photoshoot
Bring in a professional photographer to your school on a Saturday to host family photoshoot sessions. In exchange for a donation, families can pose for photos and pick up their photos after they’ve been developed.
Parents cherish family photoshoots because they can document their children’s lives and have beautiful, professional portraits that remind them of when their kids were young.
Middle School Fundraising Ideas
25. 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)!
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. 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.
In a read-a-thon competition, 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. And, to boost competition, consider positioning different years or classes against each other to find the reading champions.
30. 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.
31. Jelly bean jar
Keep a large jar of jelly beans (or another candy) in a highly trafficked area of the 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!
32. Video game tournament
Middle school is the age where plenty of kids are starting to become interested in video games. Just like a board game tournament, you can charge students a small fee to join a video game tournament during lunch, a free period, or after school.
Set up consoles and ask community members to donate games. Games in the Mario franchise are always a popular pick for kids.
33. Themed fun run
You’ve likely held a fun run to raise funds for your school or a local charity in the past, but you can spice up this traditional fundraising idea by hosting a running competition with a theme. For example, give this year’s virtual or socially-distanced running event a theme like “Running through the Decades” and ask participants to dress up in clothing representing their favorite decade.
You can have students and/or community members join in on the fun. Have participants collect pledges from friends and family members. At the end of the event, they’ll collect donations based on how many laps they ran or a certain distance they achieved.
34. Scratch card fundraiser
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of playing the lottery. You eagerly scratch away at your cards, hoping to see some big winnings. You can bring this same excitement to your fundraising efforts by having your middle school students distribute scratch-off cards.
Donors will scratch away at different circles on the cards that reveal small donation amounts (usually less than $5). Then, once donors make their contribution, you can offer a coupon sheet in return. This is a great way to raise funds quickly from many different sources!
35. Rock, paper, scissors tournament
Create a unique fundraising opportunity from the world’s most intense game—rock, paper, scissors! The tournament starts with pairs matching off in one-on-one matches, and players get knocked out as the event progresses. You can even have those who lose their matches become “fans” of the person who beat them and follow them around, cheering them on as they go. The event concludes with a final face-off, and a champion is declared.
Be sure to charge a small registration fee for students to join the tournament to capitalize on this fundraising idea!
36. School sleepover
There’s something about being at school after hours that holds an air of mystery and intrigue for middle school students. In a school-sleepover fundraiser, students can make a donation to gain access to an exclusive nighttime event.
Have attendees bring a sleeping bag or small air mattress and their PJ’s, and set up a sleeping area in the gym or other large space. Then, you can host fun activities like a haunted classroom tour or a movie with popcorn. This way, middle schoolers can have some fun in the place where they’re normally hitting the books all day!
37. Hula hoop contest
Hula-hoop contests get students up on their feet and exercising while they groove to their favorite songs. Have participating students grab a hoop and start twirling. You’re out when your hoop falls to the floor, and the last student standing wins!
Be sure to offer prizes for your top competitors, too.
38. No uniform day
In exchange for a donation, give students the chance to forgo their uniforms and wear an outfit of their choosing for a day. They’ll be able to express their personal style while supporting their school.
High School Fundraising Ideas
39. 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, such as the opportunity to represent your school and create the music for future events (like a school theme song to play before morning announcements).
40. 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.
41. Dog wash
Nobody wants to wash their own smelly pup, and 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.
42. 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 the 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.
43. 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.
44. 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!
45. 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. They can teach younger kids a new skill and give parents some time to themselves during 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 eager mini-athletes can practice football, basketball, and baseball.
46. 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.
47. 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 freezing ice water).
Students then post their videos 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!
48. Candy grams and carnations
These are especially successful fundraisers around Valentine’s Day, but can also work for other special days like Christmas and Halloween— just make sure to customize the treats for your holiday of choice.
High schoolers jump at the chance to send a sweet treat or flowers 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 recipients’ classrooms.
49. Powderpuff game
Hosting a powderpuff football game is a great way to get students excited about fundraising. In this twist on the classic American sport, cheerleaders make up the football teams, and the football players become cheerleaders rallying supporters from 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!
50. Flapjack fundraiser
As a simple, sweet, syrupy breakfast item, pancakes have nearly-universal appeal. Partner with a local restaurant to host a special pancake dinner. For example, Applebee’s has a pancake fundraiser program where they provide the food, supplies, and a cook. It’s your job to gather student volunteers to host, take orders, and bus tables.
Invite families and community members to join you for this pancake party and sell plates for a chosen donation amount. A delicious meal for the price of helping a good cause!
51. Discount card fundraiser
Discount cards are popular product fundraisers for high schools because of the value they offer. High school students can sell these cards to their family members or neighbors. The cards are typically $10-$20, and in return, the donor receives deals and coupons to use at local businesses and restaurants, saving customers hundreds of dollars.
In these fundraisers, you engage local business owners and residents alike in your efforts to help your school, creating a greater sense of community involvement.
52. School dance
School dances give high school students the chance to let loose and create cherished memories with their friends. In addition to your annual prom and homecoming dances, offer students the opportunity to attend a dance with a fundraising purpose, where their ticket funds are contributed right back to your school.
Give the dance an intriguing, yet simple, theme, like a Masquerade Ball, a glow-in-the-dark rave, or Winter Wonderland. You don’t want to blow all your fundraising money on paying off a photo booth or purchasing an expensive disco ball, so be sure to task your planning committee with the goal of finding inexpensive but elegant decorations.
Student Group & College Fundraising Ideas
53. 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 wild with their imaginations. You can do this fundraiser several times a year, especially around major holidays!
54. 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!
55. 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 videos of 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 near each submission. Guests vote for their favorites with their wallets; the entry with the most donations wins!
57. 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 showdown.
Have the audience pick the winner by their applause, or ask esteemed members of your campus community to be the judges.
58. 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 prominent 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.
60. 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 collect funds via an entry fee, a charge per bag, or by selling individual items for discounted prices.
61. 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.
62. 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 be sure to bring the hot cocoa to keep your participants and viewers warm and cozy.
63. 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.
64. 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!
65. 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.
66. 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 in a socially-distanced environment or online so pet parents can upload photos from the comfort of their own homes.
67. Book swap
We’ve all been guilty of buying a brand-new book and letting it collect dust on our bookshelves, or holding tight to our childhood favorites for longer than we should. A book swap is a great way to give these volumes a new life.
Host the exchange in a central campus location, and charge visitors an entry fee to access the swap. Make sure they also bring along a book (or books) to trade. Swap attendees can bring home some new reading material and know that they’re helping a good cause, too!
68. Karaoke night
Karaoke nights are entertaining, often hilarious events that college students love. This is an inclusive activity as well because anyone who’s been to a karaoke night knows that you don’t have to be a talented singer to put on a good show. Charge performers a fee when they put their name on the list and watch as students belt out their favorites and embrace their inner star.
School Fundraiser Ideas with No Selling
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 like 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.
70. Box Tops challenge
Traditional box tops fundraisers involve students and parents searching household items for box tops, clipping and collecting those tabs (each one representing a 10 cent donation), and bringing them to your school.
You may still find paper box tops clips on food packaging, and those will still be honored. However, this classic fundraiser is getting a makeover: the program is shifting to digital-only! Instead of clipping tabs, users 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.
71. Restaurant fundraiser
Partner with a local restaurant that is willing to host your fundraiser for an evening and contribute a portion of their sales back to your school. Chick-fil-A and Chipotle are popular chains that host these events, or you can 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!
72. 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!
73. 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.
74. Penny war
For this fundraiser, you must first establish teams. You may decide to pit classrooms 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 competitive factor will drive students to give more to win the game!
75. Coin jar
For this fundraiser, you’ll want to partner with a local business that agrees to keep a small jar at the 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 number of people willing to drop loose change in your jar.
76. Wishlist drive
If your school is in need of specific new items such as laptops, books, gym equipment, or classroom supplies, a wishlist drive is the perfect way to deliver these items directly to those who need them within your school.
Create a wishlist of products on an online retail site such as Amazon and promote the list to your school community. Supporters can purchase items and have them transported right to your school so they can immediately be put to use.
These are all excellent school fundraising ideas, but they won’t succeed in a vacuum. Ensure your school has a plan in place to guide your fundraising efforts from beginning to end with a clear strategy. This encourages your team to stay on track and makes it quick and easy to track your fundraising successes over time. Here’s what we recommend:
Create a detailed school fundraising plan.
Define your needs.
Why are you fundraising? The idea of “school fundraising” can be so vague, it’s hard to tell what you’re even raising money for. Where does the money go— Does the football team need new uniforms? Does the robotics club need funds to travel for a competition? Tell supporters which programs require funding so they can understand the need on a more personal level.
Understand your audience.
Your main audience is comprised of students’ families, although you can expand your reach to include community members, alumni, students’ distant relatives, etc. As you get to better understand your audience, it’s beneficial to know their values, motivations, lifestyles, and passions.
This is where having a dedicated constituent relationship management (CRM) platform can come in handy. Your CRM stores all relevant supporter data so you can segment out your audience and conduct targeted fundraising efforts that pinpoint those who are most likely to give. For example, your CRM contains information such as wealth indicators and supporters’ past giving history, allowing you to identify and reach out to those with a higher capacity and affinity to give.
Investing in a CRM for your school’s supporter data will boost the return on investment of your fundraising events because you’ll be able to engage reliable donors who will donate more to your campaigns.
Set concrete goals.
Before you begin fundraising, define a specific financial goal you hope to reach. Consider the acronym SMART— an effective goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. You’ll have an overall fundraising goal for the year, but it’s also helpful to create smaller goals for how much you plan to raise from each event or campaign.
As you set your goals, a fundraising thermometer can be an engaging, effective way to demonstrate your progress to your audience. With a fundraising thermometer template, you can input your goal and the current amount you’ve raised to date to create a visual representation of the headway made and how far is left to go. These thermometers inspire more donations by conjuring a sense of urgency and a desire to see the goal accomplished.
Create a timeline
You’ll likely be fundraising year-round, so it’s good practice to establish a timeline of events in advance to keep things on track. Decide how many fundraisers you’ll need in a year to meet your goals, and then spread them out throughout the school year so as to not tire out your generous families and donors.
No one person can reach the fundraising goal by themselves. Delegating tasks at the beginning spreads out the workload among faculty, staff, parents, and volunteers and allows each person to fulfill their own responsibilities.
By following these steps, you’ll have a carefully crafted fundraising plan to 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.
Build out a comprehensive school fundraising toolkit.
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:
Online donation pages
Taking your fundraiser online is crucial to spread the word farther than your neighborhood and make it possible for family members across the world to get involved. Additionally, these online donation pages offer flexible payment options including debit/credit, Paypal, and Apple Pay, so you’re not held to the limitations of cash or check.
When parents and supporters choose to give through your handy online donation pages, make sure to also provide the option to set up a recurring donation right there. Securing recurring gifts is the best way to ensure a steady flow of fundraising revenue year-round, even when you don’t have a campaign running.
By providing a streamlined donation process, you boost the number of donations that come through. Text-to-give options take only a few minutes to set up for first-time donors and then seconds for repeat donors!
Having complete access to your fundraising and donor data provides valuable insights over time— for example, who is giving to your school, when donations come through, and whether you have recurring donations set up.
Several fundraising ideas on this list include an auction of some sort, so you’ll want to investigate your options for auction software to prepare for these events. Look for a software option that can handle ticketing, online and mobile bidding, and the check-out process. Top choices keep the payment process secure while encouraging participants to make additional donations.
Event management software
Many of these fundraising ideas involved virtual or in-person events.
Search for fundraising event software that allows you to manage ticketing, online registration, event data tracking, and marketing. Placing all of these planning aspects under one roof helps your fundraising team save time and ensure everyone’s on the same page.
Take a multichannel approach to promote your school fundraising ideas.
To get the greatest 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:
Facebook is likely the most-used social media platform among your target audience, but Instagram and Twitter each offer their own unique set of benefits. Use a combination of platforms to get the word out about your upcoming fundraiser and encourage students, parents, and teachers to share your posts as well.
With Facebook, your supporters can even create their own Facebook fundraisers to solicit donations for your school using their personal social media pages. Be sure to promote these opportunities to your school community and provide instructions for starting a Facebook fundraiser.
Do you send out a school-wide newsletter to your families, either in the mail or via an e-newsletter provider? This is a great opportunity to promote your fundraiser, as those reading are already interested in hearing what’s going on in your school community.
Especially for younger students, sending a note home in a student’s backpack is a great way to communicate the details of your fundraiser with parents. Additionally, many teachers today use text services like Remind to chat digitally with students’ families.
Make sure to keep your school’s website up-to-date with information about your upcoming and current campaigns so that parents can quickly search and find everything they need to get involved.
If you’ve noticed your school’s website is in need of an update to be a more effective information platform, check out some of the best school website examples for details on how to make your website more visually engaging and user-friendly.
Get your students excited with promotions on the morning announcements! Do something out of the ordinary to grab kids’ attention and put the focus on your fundraiser— like bringing the principal on the news wearing a funny costume.
Ask to hang your flyers in local businesses, restaurants, churches, youth centers, etc. to get the word out about your fundraiser. Hand out flyers at school events, like meet-the-teacher and open house.
Boost school fundraising engagement with strategic incentives.
Motivating students to get involved in your fundraising efforts can be a difficult undertaking. Students ranging in age 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 implementing gamification elements and rewarding top participants with school merchandise and prizes. Here’s how you can put these ideas into action:
Use tools such as a fundraising thermometer or leaderboard to track your progress and encourage students to donate more to fill up the thermometer completely. You can even set goals for individual grade levels or classrooms and give each their own thermometer to try to reach the goal faster than the others and win a prize. Students will be way more excited and motivated to get involved when they know they’re competing against other grade levels or against their friends.
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. These experiences could include a pizza party or taking a ride in a limo to a local movie theater or amusement
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 motivating than the prize itself!
Set yourself up for long-term fundraiser success.
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 individual campaigns or events.
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 through these methods:
Follow up with supporters.
Send out heartfelt thank-you messages to all who donate to your fundraisers. Recognizing donors with letters of gratitude goes a long way toward retaining their support for future funding efforts.
Students can also encourage the individuals who contributed to their personal fundraising pages to maintain their support by continually updating loved ones on important school and fundraising milestones. Keeping donors in the loop ensures they stay invested in your school’s activities and know when annual fundraisers roll around. Be sure to emphasize the value of recurring donations!
Provide donation opportunities at school.
Keeping fundraising jars in classrooms can provide students with a place to donate throughout the school year. Students, especially younger ones, may not be able to give much. So when you promote the idea that every little bit matters, you’ll see an accumulation of funds and students will see their own impact on their school.
Leverage your school website and donation page.
Make sure that students, families, and community members know where they can donate and get involved with the school so that they can continue their support— and encourage others to do the same. Ensure your donation page is accessible to all users, mobile-friendly, designed with user experience in mind, and equipped to accept multiple forms of payment.
Encourage engagement through volunteerism.
Find a group of dedicated parents to take part in fundraising efforts and volunteer at various school events throughout the year with an established parent volunteer program.
And students can help out too! Having students participate in a fundraiser by manning booths at events or accepting payments at baked goods or yard sales is a great way to introduce them to the important work happening in their school and community.
Seek input for upcoming school fundraising ideas.
Whether you had outstanding success or you didn’t quite reach your fundraising goals, be sure to ask your supporters what they thought went well and what areas could be improved going forward. When students and parents see that you value and incorporate their feedback, you strengthen those relationships and lay the groundwork for better future fundraiser ideas.
Motivating students and parents to give and also promote further giving among their families and friends are several ways in which you can ensure that the community enthusiasm surrounding your school doesn’t wane after the initial fundraising 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.
By implementing unique, intriguing school fundraising ideas this year and solidifying your plan for continuous fundraising success, you’ll set your school up with a strategy to bring in more funding for years to come. You’ll invigorate not only your school community but the wider community at large through your engaging, compelling fundraising appeals.
These 75+ fundraising ideas are just the start. If you’re ready to take your school’s fundraising strategy to the next level, here are a few key resources to help brush up on your fundraising knowledge:
- Virtual Fundraising: The Complete Guide. Due to the pandemic, schools have turned to virtual fundraising to raise necessary funds without the assistance of in-person events and activities. Check out this guide for top tips on how to make virtual fundraising work for your school.
- Fundraising Events: 75+ Ideas to Raise More. Organizations are taking on a mix of virtual and hybrid fundraising events. Find out how your school can maximize its approach to fundraising events with this guide.
- 3 Rules for Working Smarter, Not Harder, on Giving Tuesday. It’s never too early to start thinking about your school’s Giving Tuesday strategy since it’s one of the biggest fundraising days of the year. Dive into these tips to help you make the most of your Giving Tuesday campaign.
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