9 Potent and Creative PTA Fundraising Ideas | Donorbox

If you’re a parent with young kids, you’ve probably already been contacted by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at your child's school. But do you understand what this organization does? Today, your PTA is there to ensure a healthy environment for school children. Most PTAs must fundraise to meet their annual goals - this article provides nine ways to do it.

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9 Potent and Creative PTA Fundraising Ideas | Donorbox

PTAs, or Parent Teacher Associations, are school-based organizations dedicated to making schools a better place for children to learn and spend time in. School PTAs are usually associated with the national PTA, whilst PTOs (Parent Teacher Organizations) generally serve the same purpose but are independent.

There are many things PTAs can raise money towards. Your association might want to raise money to build a new sports facility or a daycare center, or simply for school supplies. Perhaps they need funds for educational field trips or extracurricular activities.

PTAs vary in size and the budget available to them. However, whatever their financial situation, most PTAs still need to fundraise to achieve their goals and objectives. Check out these PTA fundraising ideas in this blog to draw inspiration and creativity and ensure more funds for your organization.

Top 9 PTA Fundraising Ideas [For Parent Teacher Associations/Organizations]

The following PTA fundraising ideas will spark creativity and ensure your kids, as well as their parents, will be more engaged in the fundraising activity. We have also added suggestions and pro tips so you can raise money more effectively with each fundraising idea.

1. Create membership programs and charge fees

This is the most basic, and perhaps an obvious, PTA fundraising idea. By setting up a membership program for all parents, PTAs can ensure a basic income for their association.

Many PTAs charge around a $5 membership fee, but the amount varies greatly depending on location, the size of the school, and past fundraising success.

If you choose to have membership fees, it is important that you designate what the money will go towards. Members should be able to clearly see how their contributions made a positive impact.

If you feel uncomfortable charging membership fees, consider asking parents to choose between paying a membership fee or contributing their time. This encourages all parents to participate in whatever way they can. Many will choose to still pay the membership fee which will help you maintain a cash flow for your PTA.

Pro tip: Move your membership fees and other payments online. Choose a powerful online membership tool like Donorbox Memberships. Create online membership campaigns to accept monthly and yearly payments, add unlimited membership tiers, let members log in and access their own accounts, and manage membership data at the backend. Learn more on our guide.

Here’s an example of an online membership campaign created on Donorbox to accept membership payments.

pta membership campaign on donorbox

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2. Host a hobbies, arts and crafts fair

A ‘hobbies, arts and crafts fair’ is a great PTA fundraising idea. It enables you to engage your school community by allowing parents (and perhaps even teachers) to show off their hobbies, art, and crafts.

Many adults have creative hobbies that they would like to share with the rest of the world. Organize a fair where parents can sell their work. Invite community members to participate as well. Have a percentage of all the proceeds go to your PTA.

You could potentially also charge a small admission fee to all visitors. Utilize Donorbox Events to set up an event page and sell your tickets online. Our conversion-optimized tools enable you to boost your ticket sales revenue with fundraising events.

Think of other fundraising ideas to add to this fundraising event to make it more fun for the kids and help you raise money for your school needs. A fun activity to add to the fair is ‘paint a rock’. The so-called ‘Kindness Rocks’ are simply flat rocks that can be purchased at local arts and crafts stores. They can then be painted on with oil-based Sharpies or acrylic paint.

Encourage children and parents to paint the rocks and write encouraging and positive messages on them. You can then display the rocks in the school or in the schoolyard. Sell the blank rocks that visitors can paint on to raise money for your PTA.

Set up a donation kiosk at your fair. The Donorbox Live™ Kiosk app will easily turn your iPad or Android tablet into a donation kiosk. Download the app to the tablet and pair it with a card reader device to accept in-person donations at your event. This helps you make on-site giving quick and convenient – thus ensuring more people give to your PTA!

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3. Engage kids in a read-a-thon

Read-a-thons are an educational, but also very fun PTA fundraising idea. In essence, your PTA will make money by having students get pledges from relatives, neighbors, family, friends, and others for completing a certain amount of reading. Very few fundraising ideas have this much educational benefit for the students, which is why it’s easy to convince others to donate.

The idea is to have students read as much as possible during a designated time period (minutes, hours, sessions).

You could combine this event with another fun fundraising idea like a book sale or a book swap to get the kids excited about reading.

It’s worth asking teachers whether they want to coordinate the read-a-thon with books the class is reading as part of the curriculum or if you want to let the students pick their own books for the read-a-thon.

You could prepare several prizes for the top 3 contestants as well. A Kindle or bookstore gift card would be a great prize.

Pro tip: Give your read-a-thon a fun twist by introducing peer-to-peer fundraising. Donorbox Peer-to-Peer lets you create a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and invite supporters from the tool. In this case, you can invite students or their parents to use their own fundraising pages to raise money as they make progress with reading books. Their relatives, friends, and family would donate to their campaigns. This also helps you boost your organizational outreach, in addition to increasing donations.

Try Donorbox Peer-to-Peer

4. Use the non-prominent holidays for a fun potluck

It can be difficult to organize fundraising events on Christmas and Thanksgiving – holidays usually reserved for family and friends.

This is why it’s a good idea to think of fundraising ideas based on holidays like President’s Day or Columbus Day. Organize a potluck lunch or dinner on a non-prominent holiday and charge admission fees.

Encourage community members to bring their favorite dishes or select a ‘theme/cuisine’ for the potluck. If your school community is quite multicultural, then encourage families to bring dishes that represent their culture and organize a multicultural potluck.

The cost of organizing this PTA fundraising idea is quite low due to the donated food. In addition to having families bring in food, you could also ask local restaurants and cafes to donate some. This will relieve some of the pressure that attendees might be feeling.

Be sure to have enough plates, napkins, utensils, and drinks on hand. To make things easier, you could allocate categories of food to families by their last name (e.g. everyone whose surname starts with A-D brings starters, etc.)

Find a space that’s big enough and convenient enough for everyone to get to. Invest a little bit of money in decorations, small games, and other activities to enrich the event. Recruit about 15 to 20 volunteers to help with the event.

Charge for admission and set up additional donation boxes or tablets with online donation forms ready for donation.

Pro tip: Make sure everyone is informed of the health codes and is following all the guidelines when preparing the meals.

5. Up the fun factor with a grab-a-bag fundraiser

“Grab a bag” is a PTA fundraising idea with a lot of potential. Get multiple bags and fill them with a variety of items – ranging from something from a dollar store to something quite expensive. Charge a flat fee per bag. Supporters shouldn’t be able to see what they’re buying.

To collect the items for your bags – have everyone donate small items or spend a small amount of money at a dollar store to increase the number of items on offer.

The secret to getting some of the more expensive items for your bags is to use the parents’ existing professional networks and reach out to sponsors that way. Most companies have something they can donate. You could also create a student version of the grab bags and fill them with notebooks, snack bars, caps, and more.

If you don’t have the capacity to organize a big grab bag fundraiser, focus on what your volunteers and community can donate or what you can purchase at the likes of dollar stores and then create bags varying in financial value (all still sold at a flat fee).

That will make this PTA fundraising idea even more entertaining – no one knows what they’ll get!

6. Host a parents and teachers talent show

Talent shows are pretty common school fundraising ideas that work equally well in the PTA fundraising world. To add a fun twist to this PTA fundraising idea, instead of having students perform – organize a talent show where parents and teachers will perform instead.

Start promoting the idea to them early, offering examples of the types of talents they can show off. Encourage a variety of talents other than singing and dancing. Hold a couple of rehearsals to make sure the participants are on track with their performances.

Highlight both the value of creative expression and arts to your potential participants and community members, but also underline the fundraising potential this PTA fundraising idea has.

Sell tickets to the show much in advance. This will help you make arrangements. Use Donorbox Events to set up a beautiful event page and ticketing form for your talent show. Add as many ticket tiers as you need to the ticketing form. To create a sense of urgency in the community, set a ticket quantity limit and a purchasing deadline. Donorbox also automatically sends the payment receipt and the digital copy of the ticket to your purchasers. All event ticketing data will be stored in the database for you to have access and utilize for hosting the event or further communications.

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7. Host a student art show

To do something special for students of all ages and to fundraise for a good cause, organize a student art show. This PTA fundraising idea is a great way to build community spirit, showcase your art program, and boost the students’ confidence.

You can have a theme for your art show and have students from all years create and submit art for the show. Or you can also keep the best art from the entire year and then organize the show. Make sure you have enough space for the show. If your school isn’t big enough, try a local sports center, a library, or a town hall.

There are many ways in which you can raise money during a student art show:

  • Charge an admission fee
  • Don’t charge an admission fee and instead charge for nibbles and refreshments
  • Auction off or sell the art
  • Any combination of the above

To make the student art show even more engaging and attractive to visitors, try to turn it into an immersive experience. Have art supplies and a big canvas out for all the visitors to co-create art together. Make sure you have multiple “working stations” so that more people can work on the piece at the same time.

Pro tip: Add a donation kiosk to your art show venue. Parents, relatives, friends, and others coming to the show can show their support by making quick, cashless donations via this kiosk. The Donorbox Live™ Kiosk app will turn your iOS and Android tablet – paired with a card reader device – into a giving kiosk that enables you to accept donations in person. Your donors will be able to tap, dip, or swipe their credit or debit cards and use their digital wallets to give easily!

Image of Live Kiosk in action on a tablet, including three types of payment options - credit card, smartwatch, and smartphone.

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8. A day-long sports day for kids and parents

Sports Days, or Field Days, are ripe with fundraising opportunities. Usually hosted during summer, and sometimes spring and autumn, Sports Days are all about students competing in a variety of activities and sports winning trophies and prizes.

Since Sports Days involve a lot of waiting around, there’s a lot you can do to help the parents fill the time and refresh themselves (and raise funds at the same time).

These activities can help your PTA fundraiser raise anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars per Sports Day.

Here are a couple of effective fundraising activities you could organize right before, during, or after a sports day:

  • Lemonade/tea stand: Depending on the weather, set up a refreshment stall offering cold lemonade or hot tea. Of course, you can also sell coffee and muffins.
  • Picnic: Organize a picnic breakfast with all the students and their parents right before the competition starts. Charge per picnic basket (filled with rolls, croissants, fruit, and spreads). Serve warm drinks separately.
  • BBQ: At some point, parents will get hungry. Get some BBQ items donated or purchase them for less and sell delicious food to parents waiting and cheering their kids on. This can be a simple add-on to raise money for your organization.
  • Sell t-shirts: Design branded t-shirts and sell them to kids and parents. Let your kids wear a fun t-shirt and have more fun on the field.
  • Cook-off challenge or a bake sale: Arrange a cook-off challenge for the parents. Teachers can taste the dishes and declare the winners. You can also have a bake sale which can be more exciting for the kids.
  • A shoe drive with parents and kids: So, after the sports day, gather your parents and kids and host a shoe drive fundraiser. Let them donate their old shoes that are still in good condition. Use a website like The Fundraising Company that supports shoe drive fundraisers and get paid for these shoes while also helping needy people from other places.

These are a few inspirations. You can add more fun elements and make this fundraising idea into a day of fun and entertainment for the whole community. However, if the day is going to be that big, remember you need to market it more and better. Along with online advertising and marketing, use direct mail fundraising options and local media advertising to gain more attention.

9. Host a parents’ night out

Every parent appreciates an occasional night out or off childcare duty! Help your peers out and raise funds for your PTA at the same time. This PTA fundraising idea is sure to grab young parents’ attention and you might actually raise more money.

Offer to take care of the kids while their parents are out. A good time would be Valentine’s or just before Christmas when parents do their Christmas shopping.

Gather a couple of volunteers and see if you can use your school to host this fundraiser. Think of a couple of activities and games to entertain the kids and keep them all in one location.

Charge per hour or choose a flat rate – whatever you think would work best for your specific Parent Teacher Association.

Even if your rate is higher than a babysitter’s, many parents will be ready to pay it because they would know that the money is going towards the betterment of the school their child attends.

Over to You – Host Your Own PTA Fundraiser!

PTA fundraising can be challenging. Parents and teachers are often already overwhelmed by work. And brainstorming a good PTA fundraising idea would be additional work they might not have time for. This is where these fundraising ideas will work wonders and help you get creative and unique in your ways to raise money. Our top 9 picks can easily be adapted for any school or grade level.

Don’t forget to demonstrate how the funds will be used to improve your school and why raising the money is important. Working towards a specific target – such as new computers, a field trip, books, or sports equipment – encourages more involvement than just raising ‘money’ does.

And don’t forget about online fundraising – a hassle-free way to receive donations for your PTA. Donorbox is here to help – we have conversion-optimized tools and features to make your fundraiser a success. Sign up to start fundraising today.

If you want to read about some engaging school fundraising ideas categorized into high school, elementary school, and middle school, do check out our blog on the same. Check out the rest of our Nonprofit Blog and subscribe to our newsletter.

Ilma Ibrisevic is a content creator and nonprofit writer. She’s passionate about meaningful work, sustainability, and social movements. If she’s not working, she’s obsessing over coffee or cooking. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

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