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56 School Fundraising Ideas to Raise Funds in 2019

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Published: Jul 13, 2022

School fundraising season is here! That’s true no matter when you stumble upon this article because every season is school fundraising season. 

But seriously, school fundraising is a big part of keeping schools up and running. Budget cutbacks and other government shenanigans keep schools from getting the funding they need to maintain activities and courses for students.

The benefits of school fundraising are undeniable, with 1.4 billion dollars of the $3.3 billion raised annually through fundraising going towards school, churches, and other organizations.

Since it’s invariably your students who get involved in various fundraising activities for your school, use these ideas to make it fun for them.

School Fundraising Ideas – Public and Private – All Levels

For private schools, you can club most of these efforts can with a matched giving program. This will generate twice the returns for the same fundraising event.

Multicultural Fair

Difficulty: ++++

Fundraising capability: +++

A multicultural or international fair is a great way to emphasize the diversity of your school and raise funds at the same time. They do take time to organize, however.

How to do it:

There are a few ways to organize a multicultural fair at your school. You can assign a country to each class and have them research and present their findings in exciting ways at the fair. Alternatively, you could ask students and families who belong to these diverse cultures to share there local food, music, and traditions.

Invite the wider community and alumni to the fair and charge them a fee for entry.

Awareness bracelets (or school Merch sales):

School Fundraising Ideas awareness bracelets
Photo by Gwen Weustink

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: ++++

You will be selling merchandise like bracelets, bottles or t-shirts to students. They can be to promote a cause or have your school’s logo and colors.

How to do it:

Order your merchandise in bulk from retailers at a discount. If you are aiming to sell school merch at a holiday fair, like during Christmas, make sure to place the order sooner rather than later to avoid the rush.

Teacher in jail fundraiser

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: +

If there is one fundraiser, all your students are guaranteed to get behind; it is this one. This fundraising idea is great to throw together at the end of the term. This helps both teachers and students a chance to take a break.

How to do it:

Set a funding goal that each class has to reach to put the teacher in “jail.” If students manage to achieve that goal, students get a break from studying, and books and teachers get to relax and grab some coffee.

Make sure that the goal is reasonable and that the class can achieve as long as each student contributes their part.

Read Next: Alumni Engagement Strategy & Best Practices: 9 Top Ways to Nurture Your Network

Difficulty: ++

Chores auction

Fundraising capability: +++

A chores auction is a great way to engage your school athletics and sports teams, and even parents as volunteers, helping people complete chores at school or homes. 

How to do it:

The great thing about this idea is it’s free to set up, meaning all the funds you collect go straight to your school. Hold an auction for people (such as parents) to bid on the chores that they can do. The winners can then coordinate with the volunteers to schedule a time and date to get the specific task done.

Scrabble tournaments

School Fundraising Ideas scrabble tournaments

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

Don’t worry if your students aren’t the physically active type. A scrabble tournament can engage your students in a battle of grammatical wit.

How to do it:

Ask for a donation to enter the tournament as a participant. You can set aside a portion of the funds raised as prize money to increase interest in the competition.

Book fairs

School Fundraising Ideas book fairs
Photo by freestocks.org

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: +++

The theme of “reading” is an excellent incentive for schools and communities to pull together and fundraise. If properly put into place, you can also run it as an annual or bi-annual event.

How to do it:

Partner up with a book vendor who can supply the books to be sold at the fair. Negotiate on the percentage of funds that will go towards your school from the sales. Make sure you have space and volunteers available on the day to set up your book fair.

Formal day

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: ++

Most kids can’t wait for the day they get treated like grown-ups. Make that dream come true by organizing a formal day.

How to do it:

Ask the students who want to participate and come dressed formally to donate to the school. Set the dress code for the day: classic tuxedos and elaborate dresses. The staff can join in on the fun too.

If you want to turn this idea on its head, you could host a pajama day, with all the students wearing their pajamas to school.

Trivia day

School Fundraising Ideas trivia day
Photo by Nicole Honeywill

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

Every student body has its trivia experts. Give them the chance to prove their mettle with a trivia quiz.

How to do it:

You will need to come up with the questions for the quiz. Make sure the questions are appropriate for the grade of the students who are participating. The questions can even be about your school’s history and traditions. Charge for entry into the competition and set aside some for those funds for the prize money. Students can participate individually or as part of a team.

Debate competition

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

A debate competition is excellent for your more intellectual students to let off some stress.

How to do it:

Similar to conducting a trivia competition, students can compete in your debate competition in teams or individually. Come up with some interesting (or even controversial) topics to get your students motivated. Have them fundraise to get exclusive perks during the debate, like choosing if they are for or against the topic.

Movie night

School Fundraising Ideas movie night
Photo by Jake Hills

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

Hosting a movie night at school is an idea that is sure to surprise and excite your students.

How to do it:

Pick a popular (and family-friendly) movie to display with the help of a projector. Who needs to go to the theatre when you can host a movie night on school property or campus? Better yet, all the proceeds can go to a good cause. 

Alumni luncheon

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: +

Give old students the chance to reconnect with their friends and teachers by organizing a luncheon.

How to do it:

You will need to reach out to the old students, by making a call or sending an SMS, letting them know about the event. Appeal to raise funds for the school at some point during the event.

Naming rights

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: ++++

Give parents and students the honor of having a part of your school named after them.  

How to do it:

Hold a bidding process for whatever part of the school you are offering up to be named. Choose a winner based on whoever has donated the highest.

You can sell naming rights to anything. It can be a wing of your school or even a wall or a seat in a lecture hall to them.

Carnival

Difficulty: +++++

Fundraising capability: +++++

Organizing a carnival at your school is a big undertaking, but the fun it will provide students and parents, and its fundraising potential makes it well worth it.

How to do it:

Depending on the scale of your planned carnival, you will need to rent attractions like rides and entertainers, and set up game booths and food stands. You can even have students volunteer to man each attraction.

A carnival is a great way to include additional fundraising events from this list since you are guaranteed a high turnout.

Dogwash

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +

A favorite of any animal lover, spend a day with your students washing dogs of pedestrians walking their dogs.

How to do it:

Find a place, such as a local park or dog park, where people tend to walk their dogs. Make sure to bring signs that tell the dog owners that you are organizing the dog wash to raise funds for your school.

Food trucks

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: ++

Treat your community to some delicious food by organizing a food truck.

How to do it:

Clubbing food trucks with another fundraising idea like a carnival is a good idea. Find food trucks that run through your city or town, and ask them to set up shop during your event. You could either ask for a flat fee from them or a percentage of the sales

Bingo games

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

A Bingo fundraiser is easy to organize and lots of fun for participants.

How to do it:

Purchase bingo cards in bulk online or from a charity supply company. Make sure you have enough writing utensils for all the players.

Garage Sales

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: +++

Ask your students to bring their old and unused items to sell and fundraise for their school.

How to do it:

Find a place to hold your school’s garage sale, like the yard, cafeteria, or parking lot. You can even club this event with a handicraft sale or a bake sale.

Tennis and Badminton Tournaments

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

If your school has tennis or badminton courts, put them to good use as a part of your school’s fundraising.

How to do it:

Ask for an entry fee to participate and attend the tournament.

Spelling Bee

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

A school spelling bee can raise a surprising amount of funds for your school.

How to do it:

Research and gather a list of words for the event. You can download a list of words from online sources. Charge a fee to participate in the spelling bee. You can even charge to watch the event.

Walk a Thon

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

This fundraising event is not just fun; it also enables students to get some much-needed exercise.

How to do it:

Give students pledge forms so that they can solicit donations from family members and friends for them to participate in the event. Have prizes for categories like “Most laps completed” or “Most funds raised.”

Slam dunk competition

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: ++

This fundraising idea requires virtually no overhead: Just your school gymnasium, and the help of some talented student-athletes.

How to do it:

Have teachers or students go around the school collecting pledges based on the number of successful slam dunks. The donation amount can be as low as ¢25.

Read a Thon

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

Combine fundraising with learning by organizing a read a thon.

How to do it:

Participants (students) commit to reading in order to raise funds for their school. Friends and family of the participating students can donate in order to support their reading progress.

Raffles

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: ++++

Raffles are an easy way to raise a lot of money for your schools. Make it a part of your school’s yearly fundraising program.

How to do it:

Try to get raffle prizes donated or sponsored by a local business in order to maximize your fundraising through your school raffle.

Talent Show

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: +++

A talent show gives your students a chance to show off their unique skills.

How to do it:

Set up a selection process so you can finalize the number of acts on the day of the event. Make sure to advertise your event beforehand. Set up a ticketing booth outside of the event venue.

Straw Draw

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: +

A straw draw is a simple and inexpensive fundraising idea that does not need much preparation.

How to do it:

Write down different perks and attach them to each straw. Simply charge a fee (ex. ¢50) to pull a straw and receive that perk.

Elementary School Fundraising Ideas

School Fundraising Ideas elementary school
Photo by Nicole Honeywill

Crafts day

Difficulty: ++ 

Fundraising capability: +++

Ask children and their parents to get creative for crafts day, with handmade crafts projects that people can purchase. 

How to do it:

Give the children some direction by providing ideas about what they can contribute. Alternatively, have each class come up with an overall theme for their crafts themselves.

You could even provide the materials for their projects. Make sure the cost doesn’t go over the budget for your fundraiser.

Bring your parents to school day

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: +

Encourage parents to spend the day at their child’s school. Deepen the relationship between your school and parents. 

How to do it:

Organize some fun games that parents can play with their children, like chess or checkers, and ask for a donation to participate.

You could even host game booths or a raffle that parents can participate in to fundraise for your school.

Lemonade stand

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

Not only is this a crowd favorite fundraising technique, but it is also easy to organize.

How to do it:

The best way to bring people to your lemonade stand is to set it up during another event that you are organizing. That way, you are guaranteed to have participation from your broader community.

Promote the stan with the help of students by handing them posters or leaflets to distribute during the event.

Scavenger Hunt

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

A scavenger hunt can get whole families involved in raising money for your school.

How to do it:

Map out your scavenger hunt course and clues. For younger students, you may want to keep the clues on the easier side.

Middle School Fundraising Ideas

School Fundraising Ideas middle school
Photo by NeONBRAND

Roshambo tournament

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

Otherwise known as a rock paper scissors tournament, you can encourage some friendly competition among students and even parents with this family-friendly event.

How to do it:

Ask for a donation to enter the tournament. You could even hold the competition in support of a charity and have a portion of the proceeds go to the cause.

Bottle/can deposit donation

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

Plenty of families will have spare, empty bottles lying around. Urge them to put their trash to good use with a bottle donation drive. Your school can gather bottles and send them over to your local recycling center.

How to do it:

Inform parents that you are conducting a bottle donation drive in advance of the event and give them time to gather their used bottles. Ask them to send the bottles over with their children on the day of the drive.

Make sure to check with your local recycling center on the requirements for dropping off the recyclables, like using specific bins or trash bags, particular drop off times and more.

Penny drive

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: +++

A penny drive, also known as a penny war, is an easy to organize fundraising idea. Typically students bring spare change to school over some time and deposit them into containers.

How to do it:

Have each class collect change from students within the class. At the end of the collection period, the class with the most donations collected can be declared the winner of the war. Motivate students to donate by offering an award, like a trophy for the winning class.

Cupcake Competition

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

Find out who among your students can create the best cupcake in this colorful (and tasty) competition.

How to do it:

Simply ask students for a small registration fee to participate in the competition, and ask them to bring their best cupcakes on the day of the event. Have a panel of judges decide the winner.

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High School Fundraising Ideas

School Fundraising Ideas high school
Photo by Shubham Sharan

Cook-off fundraiser

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: ++

Ask students to show off their best recipes in a cooking battle. Have a theme for the event to make it easier for judges to decide the winner, like a chili or ramen cook-off.

How to do it:

Have staff or students act as a panel of judges, and charge a registration fee for anyone who wants to take part in the competition. Be sure to have a prize for the winner.

“Seed” money

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: ++

Seed money fundraiser is a fun idea to bring out the entrepreneur in your students.

How to do it:

Instead of asking each student to make a direct donation to the fundraiser, grant them some amount of initial funding, such as 5 to 10 dollars, and encourage them to come up with creative ways to grow that initial investment 

Battle of the bands

Difficulty: ++++

Fundraising capability: +++

Your students will love a chance to show off their musical chops with this fresh twist to the usual talent show.

How to do it:

You will need an open space, such as an auditorium, or a gym, a speaker system, and judges.

To save costs on renting instruments or electronic equipment, as the band members to bring their own, or borrow from friends.

Karaoke

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: +++

Like the battle of the bands, a karaoke fundraiser gives your students a chance to shine. It also provides some entertainment for an audience. It will work great as an “add on” event.

How to do it:

All you would need is a karaoke machine (which you could rent), a venue to host the event, such as a gymnasium or an auditorium. Be sure to offer prizes to motivate students to give it their best shot.

Dance off

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: ++

For those students who are more physically gifted, this is a perfect opportunity to display their skills. 

How to do it:

You can either have students competing individually or as a team. Make sure the venue for the dance-off has enough space for dancers to move around on stage comfortably.

Car wash

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

Do something nice for the community by organizing a car wash, with the help of your students.

How to do it:

Set yourself up in an area near a busy road, with strategically placed posters that will catch the attention of commuters. Make sure you have all the supplies you need, like a supply of water, washcloth, hoses, and soap. 

Fashion show

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: ++

This is the perfect opportunity for the burgeoning fashionistas of your school to showcase their creative talents or their runway walk.

How to do it:

Have students participate in the fashion show as designers and models. Charge a fee for the attendees of the event. Clubbing your fashion show with another school event is a great way to make sure you have a decent number of attendees.

Climbing Competition

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

Getting some physical exercise is never a bad idea. Host a climbing competition for your school fundraiser.

How to do it:

Rent a climbing wall or go to a local climbing gym for this competition. Charge students who want to participate in the competition.

Related: School Text Messages To Parents – What You Need To Know

Festival themed school fundraising ideas

Halloween

School Fundraising Ideas festival halloween
Photo by David Menidrey

Haunted House

Difficulty: +++++

Fundraising capability: +++

The bread and butter of any schools Halloween festivities is the haunted house.

Not only are they fun to experience, but they are also fun to ideate and set up.

How to do it:

Since a haunted house is no easy task, you will need the help of plenty of volunteers. You will need to plan out the layout of the house and assign volunteers to help create each portion. 

To make it easier for your volunteers, have a theme for your school’s haunted house, so that your volunteers have an idea of what kind of displays they will be creating.

Trick or treat

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: +++

Put a twist on this staple Halloween tradition by asking for donations for your school while you are out trick or treating.

How to do it:

If you are organizing a school or class level trick or treat outing with students, try to divide your trick or treating groups so that each of them can target a different neighborhood. Have some students carrying posters, making it apparent to residents that you are fundraising.

Pumpkin sales

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: +++

Cut yourself a slice of the pumpkin pie during Halloween. Parents are more willing to buy Halloween pumpkins from schools rather than outside retailers because they know the funds will go towards helping their children’s education.

How to do it:

Team up with a pumpkin supplier or wholesaler to split the funds raised or offer them a spot to sell their wares at your school for a price.

Pumpkin run

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: +++

This fun Halloween themed run will excite the kids and give parents some much-needed exercise. 

How to do it: 

Encourage kids to come dressed in their most colorful (and scary) Halloween costumes. You can let parents participate too! Charge a fee to participate in the race. Make sure to have a prize pool to get people excited to participate.

Costume Contest

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

Determine who’s the spookiest of them all with a school costume contest.

How to do it:

Charge a fee to enter the contest. It’s a good idea to hold this event as a part of a larger Halloween event, like trick or treat or a haunted house. That gives you the chance to attract last-minute entries to the contest.

Scary Movie Night

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

Another fun activity for students is a themed movie night. 

How to do it:

Get a projector and set up a makeshift movie theatre in your school’s auditorium or cafeteria. You have the choice of charging for entry or charging for snacks like popcorn. Make sure your students have permission to stay at school after classes.

Christmas

School Fundraising Ideas christmas holiday
Photo by Denise Johnson

Santa Run

Difficulty: ++++

Fundraising capability: +++

Christmas time offers up all sorts of opportunities to raise funds for your school. Participants in a Santa run have fun—and get some exercise while raising funds for your school.

How to do it:

Rent plenty of Santa costumes for your runners. Ask them to donate for participation in the run.

Another idea is to ask a local company if they would sponsor the event in exchange for their name being associated with it.

Christmas cookies sale

Difficulty: ++++

Fundraising capability: +++

Put a twist on the classic bake sale during the holidays, by selling Christmas themed cookies with the help of students.

How to do it:

Acquiring the cookies for your sale can be done through a few different ways. You can ask students to bake cookies at home and bring them for sale. Alternatively, you could buy them wholesale from a retailer. If the cookies are Christmas themed, that’s an even more significant motivator for people to spend on your cookies.

Christmas cards

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: +++

This fundraising idea will appeal to the creative side of students. Unique Christmas cards created by kids have the additional appeal of going towards a good cause—your school.

How to do it:

Working with a known provider, sell gift cards from local retailers with a portion of the proceeds going back to your fundraising efforts. 

Christmas Themed Play

Difficulty: ++++

Fundraising capability: +++

Enlist your school’s drama club to help you organize a Christmas themed school play.

How to do it

“A Christmas Carol” is a great, well-known play that is perfect for Christmas. Create or rent all the necessary props and costumes. You can host your play in your schools auditorium. Charge an entry fee from attendees.

Snowman building contest

Difficulty: +

Fundraising capability: +

Take your students outside to show off their creative talents with a snowman building contest.

How to do it:

Enlist judges from among the school staff to determine the final winners. As for a donation to enter the contest. Have a prize pool to attract contestants.

Valentine’s day

Valentine’s flower sale

Difficulty: ++++

Fundraising capability: +++

Flowers—and roses especially—are some of the most powerful symbols of Valentine’s day, which is what makes this a lovely way to raise funds for your school.

How to do it:

Getting a hold of roses for Valentine’s day will be challenging. Make sure you have arrangements for the flowers far enough in advance. An option is to team up with a local florist, suggesting a donation to your school for every rose sold.

Chocolate sales

Difficulty: ++++

Fundraising capability: +++

Raising funds on Valentine’s day with chocolate is a thematically appropriate idea.

How to do it:

Much like a bake sale, you will need to decide where your chocolates come from. Buying them wholesale from a retailer and selling them on the day is an option. You could also enlist volunteers from among the student body to help make them.

Singing Valentines

Difficulty: ++

Fundraising capability: ++

Recruit your school’s talented singers for this unique Valentine’s Day fundraising idea. 

How to do it:

Ask for contributions from students, for a choir to sing Valentine’s Day classics at each classroom and deliver their cards to recipients. Add in some candy or chocolate as a bonus.

Valentine’s Card sale

Difficulty: +++

Fundraising capability: ++

Let your students choose from a selection of Valentine’s Day cards provided by your school.

How to do it:

If you expect a lot of buyers, the most efficient method would be to buy Valentine’s Day cards in bulk from retailers. Be sure to order them in advance in order to beat the rush, since others may also preorder Valentine’s Day cards.

Have some ideas that worked out for your school that didn’t make it on this list? Let me know at [email protected], and I’ll add it to this list, and credit you for it too. 🙂

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