Although they often do, schools should not underestimate the value of fundraising. Fundraising can help schools offer scholarships and new programs, maintain academic excellence, and complete major projects.
Having a well-planned and well-executed fundraising strategy can make all the difference between thriving and simply surviving for most schools.
Fundraising might allow your school to offer daycare, more extracurricular activities, after-school clubs, and educational programs.
There are many benefits to fundraising. Students gain valuable leadership skills and confidence. Fundraisers require students to work with each other, as well as their parents and teachers in order to meet their overall goal, and this teaches them teamwork. Students are also taught the importance of community, creativity, caring about others, and improving the common environment.
Fundraising also allows parents to get involved and play a more active role in their children’s lives. Finally, additional funds allow schools to improve their facilities and programs. It’s a win-win!
In this article, we will share 53 popular school fundraising ideas:
Elementary school fundraising ideas mostly involve teachers and parents for supervision and hence, the school gets an opportunity to involve more people and boost its outreach.
This is a simple elementary school fundraising idea that is sure to get students excited (maybe even some teachers)! Collect donations from children in exchange for them coming to school in pajamas for one day.
Example: The Challenger Elementary School PTA hosted their biggest fundraiser called Challenger Challenge in which they encouraged teachers to have their own donation page. The donation page below (shown in the image) belongs to one of the class teachers who set up a simple, suggestive donation form along with a goal thermometer and the event description.
As the teachers crossed fundraising milestones, their class students received different prize levels. One of them was a pajama day and a movie in the class. This is a classic example of peer-to-peer fundraising as well as a fun school fundraising idea.
Unlike candy bars, popcorn is still a relatively healthy snack (unless loaded with too much sugar, salt, or butter). To make things even easier, there are many companies with whom you can work to organize a popcorn fundraiser for your school – they provide the gourmet popcorn, you sell it, and then you split the profit.
Treasure hunts are fun for students of all ages, but they are especially exciting for younger students. Students can pay to participate on their own or in teams. Think of a theme, potentially one related to the curriculum, and organize the treasure hunt. Make sure you have an award for the winning team. Bonus points for explorer outfits!
Carol singing might be seasonal, but who can resist elementary school children singing carols? This fundraising activity can help raise a lot of funds. Practice a couple of carols with the students several weeks leading up to Christmas. Go around your school’s neighborhood with your student choir and collect donations. You may also want to check out these Christian fundraising ideas to inspire more creativity in your team.
On Disney Day, students get to dress up as their favorite Disney characters in exchange for a small donation. Promote this event well in advance to allow parents to make or buy the costumes.
Encourage the children to do arts and crafts, either in groups or with parents, and give the public the opportunity to purchase the items. Contact the local art supplies stores and try to get the art supplies donated.
If you live in a country that gets some snow, organize a snowman-building competition in the schoolyard on a snowy day. Charge per team entry into the competition. Offer a reward to the winning team.
Transform this classic, old-time favorite activity into something that can serve the fundraising needs of your school. Help your students set up a lemonade stand at a school event. Students can sell the lemonade, with all proceedings going towards funding a school project. Make sure to get all the supplies donated.
Ideal for warmer days, this school fundraising idea helps build your school’s community. Picnic fundraisers generate needed funds while encouraging spending time outdoors. Planning a picnic fundraiser means selecting a park or a green area (if not your schoolyard), designing announcements, determining a participation fee, ideally getting food and drinks donated, and lining up a raffle to bring in even more funds.
Sell tickets to these events beforehand. This makes it easy for your school and staff to make arrangements and know the headcount. The best way to do this is to create a simple event page online and add ticket levels as per your pricing strategy. Then, sell tickets to the picnic and manage the sold tickets and purchasers’ information at the backend. A good event ticketing tool will also let you send automated receipts to all purchasers, take additional inputs from attendees, and accept donations from the event page.
Charge a small fee for students to enter the tournament. Match them up and get the tournament started! The best two out of three wins, then the winners match up and play again. Keep going until only a few participants are left playing. Then, have a $5 buy-in to get back into the game. The final winner gets a prize.
A seasonal crowd-pleaser, this school fundraising idea is easy to organize. Hide chocolates and other treats around the school and have the kids look for them. Children can compete individually or in teams. The student/team who finds the most hidden treats wins!
Every parent will want to come and see their child performing in a play. Work with your students to prepare an age-appropriate play, promote the play to their friends and families, and charge them to see the play. Make sure the viewers know that the money is going towards a specific cause (e.g. modernizing the school gym).
Everyone remembers how fun sleepovers are! Host a school sleepover in the school gym or the school library. Tell every student’s parents what the student needs to bring, and plan fun activities, games, or a movie for the children to enjoy. Charge a specific amount. Any profit goes towards the school’s fundraising needs.
Middle school fundraising ideas are usually fun with games and challenges that intrigue and draw kids this age. This is also a good time to instill a sense of giving among kids by helping them raise funds for the school.
This school fundraising idea might be the favorite of your teachers and parents, as it encourages children to read for pleasure. Students obtain pledges from teachers, family members, or parents for the number of pages or books they can read, and then they log the hours. A read-a-thon is also a comparatively easier way to fundraise for your school.
Example: Costa Rica International Academy and Futuro Brillante have partnered to help students in need through their CRIA Read-A-Thon fundraising campaign. The Donorbox donation page here is simple yet suggestive with the form and the goal meter and helps raise the funds needed. They have also shared how the donations would be used to help improve the lives of those who are vulnerable and cannot afford basic necessities to continue education.
Think of fun but challenging questions, either about your school and its history or pertaining to general knowledge. Invite people who are connected to the school and set a date for the competition. In order to raise money, you can charge a small entrance fee, sell food and refreshments, or do both. Select good questions, a great quizmaster, and be careful to select a reasonable time.
This school fundraising idea is fun and versatile. Encourage students to dress up as characters from movies, books, or TV shows – and of course, pay for that opportunity. Not only is this fundraising idea a great way to engage students, but is also easy to incorporate into the school curriculum.
Organize a race that includes obstacles like rope and wall climbing, walking on a beam, bag races, running through sprinklers or pools of soapy water, climbing stairs, dodging water balloons filled with paint, mud pits, jumping through tires, etc. Charge for participation and get the material donated. Obstacle courses are exciting for everyone involved, so there should be plenty of donations pouring in.
Must Read: 20 Unique Cheerleading Fundraising Ideas
Charge a small amount and organize a fun night of food and drinks for your students’ parents. The gathering can be quite relaxed, and you can even get volunteers to look after the children so that parents don’t have to pay extra money for a babysitter.
Most spelling bees will see children compete as individuals. Each child, in turn, is asked to spell a different word and they might call out their answers or write them on a board. Raise funds by charging entry fees to children, charging the parents who come to watch, or charging for “second chances”.
Put money into 100 helium-filled balloons and sell them for $10 each. Put $100 in one balloon, $50.00 in two, $20 in two, $10 in two, $5.00 in two, and $2.00 in the rest. This idea won’t bring you thousands, but it’s a great one for a smaller fundraiser. However, to raise more funds with this school fundraising event, you can add other ideas added to it – e.g. a cookie dough fundraiser, trivia for the kids and parents, bake sale involving parents, food and snacks options, etc.
Who wouldn’t want to do something that’s both good for the environment and raises money? When organizing a community cleanup project, pledges are tied to a specific attainment goal such as the number of pounds of trash collected or the number of road miles cleaned of debris. Parents, alumni, and members of your community pledge to support the students cleaning up. These school fundraisers are highly supported within the community and can help you raise more money.
This school fundraising idea is famous for a reason. It’s incredibly easy to set up and is very entertaining. Put up a jar of jellybeans in your school hallway. Have students pay a dollar or two to guess how many jellybeans are in the jar. At the end of a week of guessing, announce the winner – the person who guessed the number closest to the number of jellybeans in the jar. The winner gets to keep the jar or wins another prize.
This is a perfect activity for the young ones (and those young at heart). Cupcakes are pretty inexpensive to bake. Reach out to multiple families (or classes) to bring in their favorite flavors of baked cupcakes. Buy toppings in bulk (or get them donated): icing, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, etc. Charge customers for a cupcake and let them decorate it. You can also have add-ons like a cookie dough fundraiser added to this event to make it more fun and exciting for these kids.
Spruce up the school menu by offering pancakes one morning before school in the school gym. Offer drinks and other refreshments and a charge per serving.
Once per month or several times per year, depending on your capacity, organize a family fun day. Make it a Saturday so that both students and parents can attend. Make the event fun, but also educational. Have staff members, alumni, and some parents volunteer their time. You can organize many different activities e.g. face painting, gardening, or sculpting with clay. Charge a participation fee.
By the time warm weather rolls around, there’s nothing that we want more than spending some time outside. Organize a field day or a sports day, and set up a variety of games and sports to give an opportunity to all children to join in. Charge admission to parents and other spectators. Sell merchandise, snacks, and drinks to maximize donations.
High school fundraisers involve older students, thus opening the door to more fun and potential for raising funds for your school.
Color Runs make running more fun for schools and students. Have students wear white tee shirts. At specific checkpoints, volunteers will spray them with water-based paint or throw water balloons containing paint at them. Raise money by charging a participation fee or by getting sponsors to pledge money for each lap completed.
Example: New Life Christian School has set up a fundraising page with Donorbox to raise funds for their annual jog-a-thon and color run event. The little description on the page clearly shows their donors how the funds will help improve the school (New Books and Staff Development). Their donation form here is recurring which enables their supporters to turn their one-time donations into monthly contributions with just a simple click.
Music is a hobby for many students. Organize a friendly battle at your school. Charge the bands, as well as friends and family who come to see the show.
This is another fun and entertaining school fundraising idea. Encourage students to form teams and compete in singing/lip-syncing. You can charge a fee for participation. You can also encourage students raise money for your school by creating fundraising campaigns for them. They can invite their friends and family and ask them to donate an amount to the school to show their support.
Host a school-wide event. Ask students and their families, faculty, and staff to donate their gently used items for the sale. The key to a successful sale event is promotion, so promote it like there’s no tomorrow.
The movie night school fundraising idea can be used to fundraise in elementary schools, middle schools, and colleges. Organize a viewing of an age-appropriate movie in your hall or team up with your local cinema to get a special rate for families to attend a new release.
This is indeed a fun way to raise money for your school while involving students and their families.
This school fundraising idea is ideal for students who are friendly and nice to younger kids and can engage them with games and activities for a long time. You may want to choose your volunteers carefully and have someone (preferably, a teacher) be present during that time.
Give parents a break and have the high school students babysit for one evening while parents go out. Charge for the service.
A great way to raise money is to arrange a walk-a-thon for students. Depending on where your school is and how your students get to school every morning, your school can actually raise a good amount of funds!
Organize a week in which the students would come to school on foot, not by car. Ask the students to donate all the money that was saved by not using cars to go to school. You can also let every high school student participating in the walk-a-thon raise money with their own fundraising campaign. It can be done before the day of the event and on the day. Friends, family, and neighbors would love to cheer for them while also donating some money. This peer-to-peer fundraising method usually works great for fundraisers like this.
Example: Gloucester County Christian School has effectively turned its annual walk-a-thon into an online fundraising campaign. And see how successfully it ran with a simple online donation form and concise description of the event. The goal meter has apparently been effective at creating urgency for their cause.
Students will love this school fundraising idea. Have them fundraise a specific amount of money to get their teacher or principal “locked” inside the school for the duration of one period. This means the students (and teachers) get a free period! High school fundraising ideas like this one can easily add to the fun and more students would love to join in.
Get your students to bring to school old cartridges, mobile phones, or clothes. Set up a partnership with a company that is going to buy these off you and then enjoy your newly raised money.
Elsewhere known as the “Penny Drive”, this fundraising idea is simple, yet very effective, as it utilizes the competitive spirit of high schoolers. Place one jar per class in the hallway. The students can then add their spare change to the jars until they’re full. The first class that manages to fill their jar gets a reward. Isn’t this the simplest yet an inspiring way to raise money?
This school fundraising idea is helpful for the community and other students. Ask your high school students and staff to bring gently used, no longer wanted books to school. Organize a big book sale day, promoting it a couple of weeks in advance.
If your school requires its students to wear uniforms to school, this fundraising idea is perfect for you. Organize no uniform days several times per year. Ask students for a small donation in exchange for dressing down. Students will get to showcase their personal style, and you will raise funds.
Set up a car washing station in your schoolyard. Have your staff and students volunteer to wash the cars of parents and other visitors in exchange for a small donation. This is usually fun for students while you get to make sure they also raise money for your school.
Get your principal on board to complete a challenge (e.g. dye their hair a fun color) if a fundraising goal is met. Students can either vote for their favorite idea by donating or simply donate to reach the fundraising goal as soon as possible.
This school fundraising idea is unique, interesting, and stimulates creativity and entrepreneurial mindset in students. Give each student a small amount of “seed money” and ask them to use their creativity to come up with a way to turn the initial $5 or $10 into a larger amount of money. It might be helpful to set some ground rules. You may also want to introduce the concept of peer-to-peer fundraising to your students to help give their fundraising efforts a boost.
College students are older and they can be great volunteers for fundraising events while also taking part in challenges and games to increase donations for the organization.
For a more college-appropriate fundraising idea, try a dorm decorating contest. Have students pay a small fee to enter their room in the contest. Think of a prize and award it to the best spruced-up space.
Think of a theme (e.g. muffins, chili, pancakes) and have participants pay a fee to enter the cook-off challenge. To increase the number of donations, other students and parents can judge the entries by making a donation themselves. Your participants can also help you raise more funds with peer-to-peer fundraising. These campaigns are easy and quick to set up. All you have to do is choose an effective peer-to-peer fundraising tool that lets you get started in minutes and automates most of the process.
With Donorbox, you will just have to toggle a switch on the tool to get started. You can invite your students from the tool and they will be guided there to create and customize their own fundraising campaigns. It’s the most hassle-free way for you to encourage more involvement and include students in your fundraising efforts. They’d love to make your fundraising a success with some extra efforts.
Naming rights aren’t reserved just for multi-million donations. Sell naming rights to a brick in a wall or a seat in a lecture hall to individual student donors making the highest donations.
Partner with a local restaurant and host a luncheon for your alumni. You can host the luncheon as part of an alumni weekend or as its own event. You can either sell tickets to raise money or ask attendees for donations.
Have your students write letters to local businesses asking them to sponsor your programs/events.
Students can remind them of the tax write-off and offer a certificate that local businesses can then display.
Raise money by offering the skills and services of your students to the highest bidder. These skills can be professional (e.g. photography, tutoring, web design), but also everyday activities (e.g. running errands, driving, babysitting, pet sitting). Otherwise, have people sponsor your staff members and students doing community service for 24 hours.
College students have a lot on their plate. Organize a stress relief event to help them de-stress and relax before exams. Have volunteers offer aromatherapy, gentle massages, and foot rubs. Make sure there are a lot of scented oils and candles around, as well as soothing music.
College students and selfies – the perfect match! Student runners take selfies at specific checkpoints (to be posted on social media later). Register participants and have them pay an entry fee. Since those selfies will be shared, this activity is also an excellent marketing tool and can attract even more donations.
Have your students reach out to local businesses in advance to get sponsorships for the event and help raise more money.
Individuals pay to participate. Players can sneak a peek at a dictionary for an additional donation. Make additional fundraising money by selling refreshments, organizing auctions and raffles, etc.
Every college student appreciates cooked food. Get several restaurants to donate a dinner for 2. Raffle off a week of eating out. Set your raffle ticket price based on your ultimate fundraising goal.
These will especially be popular at the start of every semester or during major exam periods. Packages could include candy, chips, hot chocolate, cookies, a mug, fruit, a magazine, etc. that would be appropriate for both male and female students at colleges. Parents are always looking for ideas on things to send their kids when they are away from home. Send order forms to the parents who can order the packages as a surprise gift. You will make the most money making these yourself.
Host an event where students can share the richness of their cultures with others. Students can share their local meals, sweets, dances, or other traditions. Albeit this event might take a bit longer to organize, it has a lot of fundraising potential. You can invite members of the wider local community and your alumni and charge everyone for entering the fair.
Bonus:- We also have a Mega List of 100+ Powerful and Effective Fundraising Ideas ( Divided into 18 Categories)
School fundraising is difficult. Schools increasingly fundraise to cover necessities like teachers’ salaries, which is a far cry away from organizing a bake sale to purchase additional photography equipment. Parents have started to criticize the seemingly endless fundraisers. Parents with more than one school-aged child can especially find themselves juggling too many fundraisers, some at the same time. Fundraisers can be expensive to organize and can add stress to already busy staff schedules.
With all of this in mind, what’s the best way forward?
When planning the school year, do not omit the fundraising plan. Use the above ideas as inspiration and make them your own! Choose the ones that reflect your school’s spirit, make sure you have the balance between the ones easier and the ones harder to organize, and finally – prioritize. Don’t overwhelm the school calendar, the parents, the staff, and the students.
Most of the fundraising ideas we shared above are physical but do not forget about the digital. Your school’s website needs to be modern, functional, regularly updated, optimized for mobile, and able to receive donations. Having an online donation process can help relieve some of the work. Check out Donorbox – a powerful donation software that easily integrates into your website and allows you to receive both one-time and recurring donations.
Planning and implementing a multitude of school fundraising ideas throughout the year can help your school achieve its goals and serve its students in the best possible way.