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.
PTAs are essential for an engaged school environment and a healthy school climate. Some research even shows that students perform better when their parents are actively involved in their schools. Some schools with active PTAs also see a rise in attendance.
There are other benefits to active and sustainable PTAs. Students have more interactions with adult role models and teachers’ workloads get reduced. Teachers also get more space to focus on the curriculum. In addition to that, the additional human and financial resources allow for more innovative projects and activities to get organized.
PTAs vary in size and in the budget available to them. However, whatever their financial situation, most PTAs still need to fundraise to achieve their goals and objectives.
There are many things PTAs can raise funds towards. Your association might want to raise funds to build a new sports facility or a daycare center. Perhaps they need funds for an educational field trip or an extracurricular activity.
Our Best PTA Fundraising Ideas:
1. Membership Fees
This is the most basic, and perhaps an obvious, PTA fundraising idea. By setting up a membership fee 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, 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.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will suffer financially if you choose to not have membership fees. You can still accept donations at each PTA meeting or organize an additional fundraising event. And the members who don’t pay will often give a lot of their time and energy.
Move your membership fees and other payments online. This vastly simplifies the process and makes the job of collecting donations much easier for you. Many PTAs have been reluctant to start receiving online donations due to high processing fees and the complicated processes that often comes with setting up the donation system. An online donation form is a powerful marketing tool, and you can also include the link to it and to your website in all of your communications throughout the year.
Use Donorbox to start receiving online donations for your PTA. Donorbox is a powerful fundraising software that is very simple and fast to set up. You can start collecting membership fees or online donations with a fast, optimized donation payment system in 15 minutes. Over 10,000 organizations from 25 countries use the Donorbox fundraising software. Donorbox is specifically designed to encourage recurring donations and is free to use if you get less than $1k in donations in a month.
2. 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. Have a percentage of all the proceedings go to your PTA. You could potentially also charge a small admission fee to all visitors.
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 by 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 then paint on to raise funds for your PTA.
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.
The idea is to have students read as much as possible during a designated time period (minutes, hours, sessions).
You could combine your read-a-thon with another fun fundraiser 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 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 cards would be great prizes.
There are many ways to make the read-a-thon even more fun and profitable for your PTA. For example, you could invite a children’s author that the students are talking about at the moment and charge an admission fee to the event.
Very few fundraising ideas have this much educational benefit for the students, which is why it’s easy to convince others to donate.
4. Use the Non-Prominent Holidays
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 organize a fundraising event 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 attendees 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 a potluck 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 parents and teachers 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. Grab A Bag
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.
Jean Joachim, PTA member at the school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, has made the Grab Bag fundraisers her expertise. Her $5 grab bags are filled with are filled with Avon makeup brushes, Yves St. Laurent perfume samples, costume jewelry, magazines, discount coupons for local film developing, free health club vouchers, and lots more.
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 like Jean did – focus on what your volunteers and community can donate or what you can purchase at the likes of Dollar Store and then create bags varying in financial value (all still sold at a flat fee).
That will keep the event entertaining – no one knows what they’ll get!
6. Parents and Teachers Talent Show
Talent shows are pretty common in the school fundraising and the PTA fundraising world. To add a fun twist to them, instead of having students perform – organize a talent show where parents and teachers will perform instead.
Start promoting the idea to parents and teachers 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 parents and teachers are on track with their performances.
Highlight both the value of creative expression and arts to your potential participants and attendees, but also underline the fundraising potential this PTA fundraising idea has.
After all, who doesn’t want to see parents and teachers singing, dancing, reciting poems or doing sketch comedy?
Pro tip: Encourage as many different parents and teachers to participate. If some are willing to volunteer to ‘embarrass themselves’ and make a purposeful mistake for a good cause – even better. Making the event lighthearted and fun can only increase its fundraising potential.
7. Student Art Show
To do something special for students of all ages and to fundraise for a good cause, organize a student art show. It’s a great way to build the 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 funds during a student art show:
- Charge an admission fee.
- Don’t charge an admission fee and instead charge for nibbles and refreshment.
- 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 really 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.
You can also organize an art lesson and bring in a local artist willing to donate their time who would teach visitors about art.
8. Sports Day
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 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.
9. Parents Night Out
Every parent appreciates an occasional night out or off the childcare duty! Help your peers out and raise funds for your PTA at the same time.
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 PTA.
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.
PTA fundraising can be challenging. Parents and teachers are often already overwhelmed by work. This is why your PTA fundraising ideas should be as creative and as efficient as possible. 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, books or sports equipment – encourages more involvement than just raising ‘money’ does.
Communicate with parents and teachers frequently and in advance. Try to get everyone engaged or at least supporting your activities.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and repeat the same fundraisers over and over again. But doing the same old will leave money off the table for your PTA. Try some of our best ideas and don’t be afraid to get creative!
And don’t forget about online fundraising – a hassle-free way to receive donations for your PTA.