15+ elementary school fundraising ideas that work

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Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

15+ elementary school fundraising ideas that work

Fundraising for elementary school students can be tricky, with students in grades ranging from kindergarten all the way up to eighth grade at some schools. We can help! Dive into 16 fun-filled elementary school fundraising ideas that work for kids in any age group.

1. Virtual game tournament 

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Let the games begin! A virtual video game tournament lets students join in the fun and raise funds anywhere. Select some popular video games or the online version of tabletop games and broadcast the event using a free live streaming tool. Have your elementary schoolers pay an entry fee to go head-to-head, tournament-style. 

2. Walk the dog

Who let the dogs out? Everyone will for this elementary school fundraiser! Students, teachers, family members, and community members will walk their dogs (or borrow a furry friend) to raise money for the school. Have (human) walkers pay a registration fee or pledge to walk a certain number of miles to raise money.

3. Fall carnival

Break out the carnival games, face paint, and cotton candy to kick off the school year — and your fundraising efforts. You can host a successful carnival even if you’ve got a tight budget. Ask for donations of supplies and prizes from local businesses, and get creative with the resources you have around the school. Sell tickets for each activity. For example, let’s say one carnival ticket is 50 cents. You can have all drinks cost five tickets, and all games cost 15 tickets. 

4. Bingo night

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One virtual bingo night helped STARability Foundation raise over $5,000 from donors, and it can work for your elementary school too. This retro fundraising event is great because most people know how to play. Pro tip? Choose a charismatic bingo caller and offer exciting prizes to keep everyone engaged all night long.

5. That’s a wrap

If you need elementary school fundraising ideas that work, principal and teacher “punishments” never fail. In this particular campaign, students make donations to buy sections of toilet paper. At the end of the fundraising period, they get to wrap the lucky participant with the toilet paper. This is a great school spirit booster, and works particularly well for class vs. class and grade vs. grade competitions.

6. Virtual celebrities

Guess who? A celebrity-centered event creates buzz and expands the number of potential donors for your campaign.

Although you may not have Beyoncé on speed dial, a local celebrity will also do the trick. Here are some ideas:

  • A local children’s book author
  • YouTuber or TikTok star
  • A popular cover band
  • A beloved local news anchor or weather reporter
  • Motivational speaker
  • Local sports team members or mascot

Charge admission to attend, and raise even more funds by live streaming the event. 

7. Superhero run

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It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s super-kid! A typical walk-a-thon probably won’t appeal to elementary schoolers, but a superhero fun run is sure to win their approval. Organize a fun run in your neighborhood and encourage all participants to dress up as their favorite superhero. Snap lots of photos and upload them to social media to raise awareness about your cause. (Get parent and guardian permission ahead of the event.) A color run is another youth-favorite endurance event. 

8. Teacher “jail” 

Here’s a win-win for older students and their teachers. Set a fundraising goal and challenge students to meet it. You can have them participate in a specific fundraising campaign, like a read-a-thon or chocolate sale. Or, let students create their own fundraising page and come up with their own ways to solicit donations from their peers. (This is best for older students.) 

If they meet their goal, their teacher is “sent to jail,” which means he or she relaxes in the teachers’ lounge. In the meantime, students enjoy free time in the classroom to play games, chat, or have an early recess. 

9. Players vs. parents game 

Friendly competition? More like family competition. Pit parent against child in a scrimmage match at the school to raise funds for your cause. Choose a sport — like softball, basketball, flag football, or mini golf — and then blow the whistle. Sell different ticket types for students, parents, and audience members. This works especially well if you’re raising money for an elementary school sports team. 

10. Multicultural fair

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Take students on a tour around the world with a multicultural school fair. Showcase the tasty dishes, unique traditions, and fun facts about a variety of countries. A good source of inspiration is to research the sister city for your area. You can also partner with local cultural associations and businesses, like a Thai Heritage Center, for guidance. Charge a small fair entrance fee and set up food, drink, and gift booths throughout this fun event. 

11. Teddy bear picnic

Fundraising for younger students? Put together a sweet and cuddly teddy bear picnic. Your fundraising team can sell simple brown-bag lunches to raise money, or have a mini bake sale at the picnic. Another idea is to request in-kind donations from local restaurants. Students get to bring along their favorite stuffed animal. You can even set up a mini photo booth and host an easy arts-and-craft activity, like DIY bracelets for students and their plush pals. 

12. Community rummage sale 

Lead a community-wide spring cleaning (or fall, summer, or winter cleaning) and have locals drop off their unwanted goods at the school for one big rummage sale. Depending on the number of items you receive, you can tag each one with prices, or simply arrange them according to price range. Spread the word via community flyers and social media before the big day. 

13. Parents’ night out

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Good news: We’ve got elementary school fundraising ideas that work for parents too. Plan a day or evening when caretakers — parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and so on — can drop off the kids for a few hours and relax. Charge an hourly rate or keep things simple with a flat fee, like $30. Make sure you have activities lined up for your students. 

14. Basketball bonanza 

Host the basketball shootout of the century. Challenge contestants to sink as many baskets as they can in the time limit (30 seconds is common). You can adapt this fundraising event for students of all ages. Simply set up shorter hoops and add more or less time, depending on the age group. Charge a contest entry fee and attendee fee, or have contestants secure a pledge, like a $5 donation for every successful basket.

15. Night at the museum 

See if your local museum or cultural center will open their doors after hours for a special school fundraiser. Invite parents and community members and charge admission for a night of oohing and aahing. Similar to idea #13, you can offer free or paid babysitting services at the school for the duration of the event. They’ll look forward to a crowd-free (and temporarily child-free) night. 

16. Box top fundraiser

Honey Smacks Box Top

We’ll end the list of elementary school fundraising ideas that work with a campaign that’s an oldie-but-a-goodie. Box tops are still around on common food products like breakfast cereal, grab-and-go lunches, and kids’ snacks. Even better, you don’t need to clip them anymore — you can just scan them with your mobile device. 

Because your students and families likely already buy these eligible products, this is one of the easiest ways to raise money around. Visit Box Tops for Education for a full list of products, and share the information school-wide. Encourage everyone to purchase and scan products year-round on behalf of your school. You can even incentivize participation with raffle tickets or rewards for top earners.

Need more fundraising ideas for schools?

Givebutter is a free fundraising platform that helps schools, student organizations, and sports teams create powerful campaigns that win big and run smoothly year after year. 

Get inspired with more fun ways to raise money and make a difference in the lives of your students:  

Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.