Fun and Creative School Fundraising Ideas

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8 school fundraising ideas

School Fundraising Ideas

8 Great Fundraising Ideas

In this article, we’ve listed a variety of fundraisers that schools successfully planned and held over the years. We hope to give you a starting point for your planning. Eventually, we will be coming out with smaller guides that lay out step-by-step how to run with each one of these suggestions and many others.

School Fundraising Ideas

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Put Your Graduation Company to Work

Today your Graduation Supplier can also be your partner in fundraising. All you have to do is ask. There are many options available to fit almost any financial goal. From a few dollars to augment your ceremony, to sizable donations for capital improvements. One of the most successful programs we’ve seen uses graduation ordering portals. Our top recommendation to ease the fundraising process is to use pre-built ordering portals for your students. It is by far the easiest way to manage your graduation products.

When you use a portal program, there is no need to measure students, collect money, or distribute gowns (besides providing them with the web URL). So the first set of savings you see comes with the limited energy spent on getting the gowns to students. Less time, less responsibility, and less help needed to get it all done. The graduation company you work with will handle all of the hard work and difficulties involved in ordering. With fast access to reports, you can see who made purchases and who’s outstanding. From there you can easily send students an email reminder to the help ensure that graduation goes off without a hitch.

In addition to the ease and hassle-free graduation that a graduation portal provides is your ability to turn a profit for your school and your ceremony. Many companies allow you to control the price after a certain point, which is the real reason we’ve mentioned this as a fundraising idea. Every cap and gown sold can help pay for the rest of the graduation expenses and other school expenses (depending upon your goals).

Support Your Graduation with Portals

If you work with a company that offers portal software simultaneously with a cash back program, you’re not only saving time, but you’re making money. The graduation company can set up your school to receive anywhere from 10% to 20% of the purchase price back as cash to help fund school activities. We list this as the first fundraising idea because it’s the easiest we’ve come across. GraduationSource offers this service. The video below outlines portals in greater detail:

Pro Tips:

Go a step further when thinking about the graduation ceremony your school wants to hold. This event is huge. The attendance will be larger than most events your school will host all year long. Take advantage of it. The following ideas for fundraisers can all happen before or after your graduation ceremony. That’s guaranteed attendance! Just make sure that if you decide to capitalize on this highly attended event that you let parents and families know there will be other fun activates at the graduation.

School Fundraising Ideas

Tag-A-Long Fundraising – Set Up Shop

Your school will have many events that draw a crowd. Graduation day is just one of them. There are school plays, concerts, sporting events, and other similar activities. Set-up a shop!  The store can sell any number of things. Sell balloons and flowers to give to the students after they’ve walked across the stage at graduation, played their instrument at the concert, or performed their role in the play. Most parents won’t pass up a last minute opportunity to reward their children. Especially when proceeds can go towards things that benefit the school.

There are a few reasons we recommend you select this fundraiser:
  • Minimal set-up costs
  • Many parents, students, and guests will buy flowers/balloons for grads
  • Volunteers will find this project simple to do

Whether they want to select a bouquet for a boyfriend or girlfriend, or just purchase a balloon for a cousin, you can easily accommodate the needs of your guests. Best of all, this is a fundraiser that will make everyone smile and enhance photo opportunities.

A few suggestions for flowers and balloons:
  • Get flowers and balloons in the school colors to encourage school spirit.
  • Try choosing a local distributor who will either donate or offer discounted prices on the merchandise as they are part of the community and will be more likely to help than outside vendors.
  • Have both individual and batch prices so people can buy a single balloon or flower or receive a discount for three or more.

Remember to post signs and banners describing what the school will do with the money, as well as your fundraising goal. You want to encourage parents and family members to buy items they wouldn’t have bought otherwise.

You can consider selling these other items as well:
  • T-shirts
  • Keychains, lanyards
  • Hats and caps
  • Preprinted Signs of Encouragement for the Team – “Go Tigers!”
  • Tickets for Other School Events
Pro Tips:

Involve the students and create a committee! Get them to tell you what kind of things they’d like. They may be able to give you a list of products that are easy to procure. You want to make sure that whatever you are selling to parents is something students will be happy to receive. The key is to provide value if you’re selling something.

School Fundraising Ideas

Hold A Raffle! (With Details on How)

The raffle is one of the most popular fundraisers a school can run. Just like the shop idea, you can hold these at any school event. So many people love raffles after all, and everyone hopes they’ll win big! Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you choose to do a raffle at your school:

Two of the most common raffle styles:
  • Win a Gift Card! Contact local businesses and restaurants and tell them about your event to see if they will donate the gift card. There’s a good chance they will. The worst case scenario is that you must pay it for it with raffle proceeds.
  • Win Money! Typically called a 50/50 Raffle. Half of ticket sales go towards the fundraiser and the other half go to the winner of the raffle.

Please note: in some areas you will need to obtain a special permit from the local government to have a 50/50 raffle. Contact your local government office to check if this is necessary. Technically it’s gambling, which isn’t always legal, at least, not without a permit.

Pro Tips: Make sure you get a license to perform raffles on a repeat basis. They are fun and lucrative. Hold them at every event you feel is appropriate once you get that permit.

Tips to hold a raffle with prizes:
  1. Contact students, parents, staff members, and local businesses to see if they can donate prizes. You never know who will give prizes until you ask. Remember to thank everyone for their help and participation.
  2. Keep a spreadsheet, listing the types of prizes that you have obtained and the value of each. You’ll also want to record the location of each award, especially if it is not directly on school property. That way you’ll know where to find it when it is time to distribute prizes. Also, list who has donated the prizes so you can write thank you notes to them after the event.
  3. Some prizes may be snazzier than others, like tickets to a live theater event or dinner for two at a nice restaurant. Be sure to advertise larger prizes when selling your tickets. You can mention less expensive rewards in a more general type of way, so people have an idea of what’s available.
  4. As previously mentioned, contact local vendors! They can be your best friend, from donating the actual items that you’re raffling, to sometimes working out a deal in which they split the proceeds of the raffle in exchange for a big ticket item. Think about how nice it would be to raffle off a new car, and you and the car dealer split the ticket sales.
Tips to hold a 50/50 raffle:

(you can do most of these steps for both types of lotteries)

  1. Particularly with a 50/50 raffle, it’s critical that you get the word out. The more people who buy tickets, the more money you will raise. Create an action plan for local media and other local community partners that you’ll contact as well, sending them flyers and press releases about your raffle. Begin with this before anything else.
  2. Next, create a solid team of volunteers to get the word out about the raffle and aggressively sell tickets. They can do this in person or over the telephone. Selling tickets must be done in a friendly, neighborly way, not in a pushy manner. Explain the fundraising goal for your school and why the raffle is necessary.
  3. Locate a place to hold the drawing. As mentioned before, school events that already are scheduled can be a perfect place to hold a raffle. You can sell the tickets at the door and perform the drawing while the event is going on. As the school event draws to a close, award the winner.

School Fundraising Ideas

Hold a Fun and Crazy Event (Karaoke Night)

Most of us have tried Karaoke. Karaoke contests are silly, great fun. These events encourage many people to participate, from the young to the simply young at heart. When it comes to high school students, it will probably be hard to get involvement as kids can be critical of one another. Karaoke may be more appropriate for colleges, greek club, or even a parent-teacher night as these groups are less likely to be embarrassed in front of others. Singing is a joyful thing to do. It lifts one’s spirit and makes for a great time.

We recommend a Karaoke event for several reasons:
  • Minimal investment
  • Fun for all ages
  • Wholesome activity

Another thing you might want to consider is having a few short contests, where people can sing against each other. Try to have themes to each contest such as the Best Happy Song, the Best 50’s Song, or 80’s number. Choose topics that will encourage both recent grads and parents to reach for the microphone eagerly. Have contests geared toward kids to promote their participation. Doing something fun for them tends to draw a big crowd, and you never know what can happen. Giving simple prizes like a baseball cap with your school’s mascot or a coffee mug to the winners is a very low-cost way to get people involved and excited.

What you will need for this type of fundraiser:
  • A karaoke machine (or several)
  • Banners and flyers
  • A dance floor (optional but could be fun for guests)
  • Seats and tables and a proper arrangement
  • Light refreshments (optional)
  • Prizes for contests
  • Student and parent volunteers to help with the event

School Fundraising Ideas

Hold a Big Event – Plan a School Fair!

Right from the start, we want you to know that having a school fair is likely the most planning-intensive fundraising idea you can choose. However, if it carried out correctly, and planned strategically, your school can also make thousands of dollars over the course of one to three days. For this one, you need a large team to pull it off. You’ll need parents, students, outside contractors, and a large start-up budget.

If you want to prepare for this event properly, you must give yourself ample time to plan it right. If done well, it can turn into an annual event that the community looks forward to each year.

How to begin

To start, you’ll need to decide on what type of activity stalls to have at and the number of people who will be at each stall. To clarify, an example of a stall is a booth where a particular game or attraction will be. A ring toss or a dartboard with balloons is an example of types of stalls. Then, consider how you will find volunteers or staff members to help at the stalls. Remember that you will also need both management and security to help with your school fair, as this will be a large crowd and your goal is for everyone to have a terrific experience at the event. Most contact the local police department to provide security and protection as these events can attract everyone in the community, not just students and their families.

A lot of school fairs have stalls that have different food items, games, and memorabilia. But you’ll want to pick and choose what you think would be best for your school. Consider first what would appeal to your students, then also to the parents and families who will attend the graduation ceremony event.

Pulling off a school fair can be exciting and fun, and will almost guarantee that you draw a crowd. But do not do this type of fundraiser without “crunching the numbers” first. It is critical that you understand if this event will help you reach your fundraising goals. Many schools operate these at break-even for the sole purpose of providing a fun time for the students and community.

What you will need for this type of fundraiser:
  • Tents to set up stalls
  • Tables and chairs where necessary
  • Select what your stalls will sell (games, food, memorabilia, etc.)
  • Be sure to have a School Spirit stall with school memorabilia items
  • Student and parent volunteers
  • Flyers to help advertise the event
Pro Tips:

I know we’ve written this before, and you’ll read it a few more times. Your school graduation ceremony is a great event to jazz up with a fair. The visitors are guaranteed, and it’s a great chance for the extended families of students that traveled far and wide to spend time having fun with their recent graduate. Hold it before, or better yet hold it after, the graduation so that everyone can go straight from the graduation to the fair.

School Fundraising Ideas

Go All Out! – Make The Fair into a Full Blown Carnival!

If a school fair fundraiser tempts you, but you want more than a few dozen booths, then it’s time to get serious. You can reach out to vendors who have rides, petting zoo, food trucks, and more to expand this event and make it something attractive enough to lure visitors from the community as well.  This is a terrific way to provide your guests with a way to relax and socialize while generating much-needed funds for your school.

We suggest you do one of three things:
  • Charge at the gate for entrance
  • Charge for tickets at the door that can be used to buy food, drinks, play games, and ride rides
  • Or, charge for both (although this is a little excessive)
What you will need for this type of fundraiser:
  • Rides. Small-scale rides are transportable to the school
  • Pinball machine(s)
  • Foosball tables
  • Table tennis
  • Gaming consoles like the Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation with a big screen
  • Have a food eating contest
  • Great place to hold raffles
  • You can even throw in the karaoke
  • Lots of volunteers
  • Cash! You’ll need to be able to give change to people buying tickets for the ride and food
  • A spacious indoor environment, like the auditorium
  • Light refreshments (optional)
Pro Tips:

Just like with the fair the carnival can be a graduation day improvement. One important thing is to check your school’s insurance regulations to make sure you are covered for all reasonable liability. Many schools don’t have these types of events because of the risk of incident. There’s no need to worry if you use trusted and well-reviewed vendors and have all the coverage required.

School Fundraising Ideas

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry – The “Foodie” Fundraisers

If you’re looking for a fundraiser that is guaranteed to be popular with both parents and students and will also help you develop relationships in your local community, you simply can’t go wrong with a Restaurant “Foodie” Fundraiser. It’s more complex and has more working parts than most of our other suggestions although it’s still much easier than the fair/carnival. There are two ways to do this fundraiser. One is relatively straightforward, and the other is harder, yet considerably more fun.

Fundraiser Number 1 – Simple Foodie Fundraiser

Get some local restaurants, preferably 20 or more, to offer a particular meal or choice of meals at a significant discount. Either settle for a prix fixe dinner or a big discount like 30% off. Sell the booklet of coupons to parents and students at school events for a fee, perhaps around $20, for a savings of over $200 at all the local restaurants in the area. This not only helps the school but drums up local business sales and helps the community.

Here’s what we recommend for the simple version:
  • Contact all local restaurants within a 20-minute drive
  • Let them know about your school and its objective and target
  • Tell them about the idea above and see if they will participate
  • If yes, ask for their logo and their offer to put in the coupon book
  • Enlist the help of students and educators to design the coupons for each restaurant
  • Get the coupon booklets printed at a local printer
  • Sell the booklets at all school events
Fundraiser Number 2 – Simple Foodie Fundraiser

Get some local restaurants, preferably 20 or more, to do food sampling at the school itself. Have them cook up a couple of specialty dishes and offer them at the school foodie event. The businesses get to advertise their food, and the school gets to sell admission to the event. You can even offer a 50/50 deal if it helps attract more food vendors.

Here’s what we recommend for the secondary version:
  • Contact all local restaurants within a 20-minute drive radius
  • Let them know about your school and its objective and target
  • Tell them about the idea above and see if they will participate
  • If yes, ask for their logo and contact information for promotional materials
  • Enlist the help of students or other educators to design the flyers for the event and use all the business logos and contact details to show who’s participating
  • Get the flyers printed at a local printer
  • Mail them with the monthly school newsletter, put it on the school website, post flyers around the school, and announce it over the loudspeaker

School Fundraising Ideas

Make a Coupon Book! (And Support Local Businesses)

This is similar to the simple “Foodie” fundraiser except you would offer products and services from a variety of companies in your area. Just like the simple foodie fundraiser, you will reach out to local businesses within a 20-minute radius who would be willing to offer substantial discounts on their services. Then you can assemble a coupon booklet you can sell to students, parents, educators, and other community members to help raise the funds you need.

You may wonder why companies would offer all of these discounts. In part, it is often a goodwill gesture to be a part of the community. But many businesses also do it to boost sales. These participating companies are hoping to see a higher volume of customers, even if they cut their profits on smaller sales. They are also hoping that these customers will return.  As a case study to demonstrate how businesses are willing to be a part of this kind of program we advise you take a look at www.groupon.com and www.livingsocial.com.

The steps we recommend for this concept are the same ones as the simple foodie idea:
  • Contact all local businesses within a 20-minute drive radius
  • Let them know about your school and its objective and target
  • Tell them about the idea above and see if they will participate
  • If yes, ask for their logo and their offer to put in the coupon book
  • Enlist the help of students or other educators to design the coupons for each restaurant
  • Get the coupon booklets printed at a local printer
  • Sell the booklets at all school events

*Keep an eye out for our new school fundraising idea mini-guide series where we will recommend five new ideas with instructions on how to make them work!

school fundraisers

Future Reading:

Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing articles on specific topics related to school fundraisers. We will provide fundraising ideas, fundraising instructions, and other useful insights.

If you’re interested in getting all of that information at once, GraduationSource recently published an eBook detailing school fundraising – it’s a draft that’s continually improving with feedback from readers like you.

If you would like to read the entire eBook “Fundraising for Your School” – DOWNLOAD IT HERE

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