Feeling a little old for the car wash, read-a-thon, or bingo night? Shut off the garden hose and put down the bingo cards.
We’ve got a list of 10 high school fundraising ideas that are crowd-pleasing and easy to pull off. Whether you’re a high school student looking for fundraising strategies — or a parent, group leader, or PTA member hunting down inspiration — these events and campaigns will do the trick.
1. Haunted house
Get everyone’s skin crawling for a good cause. A haunted house in the middle of the school will certainly grab attention when Halloween rolls around. As you can imagine, this kind of event takes a healthy amount of preparation and a group of volunteers, so start preparing early.
Plan the layout and then let your imagination run wild. Pick up some fake bones, coffins, and cobwebs, and set up creepy sounds, eerie lighting, and fog machines throughout the space. Don’t forget the costumes for your designated scarers.
Make sure the haunted house entrance is sufficiently shocking. That way, you’ll attract both thrill-seekers and some scared-but-curious onlookers. To raise funds, sell tickets and group passes.
If you really bring the scares, some people may be willing to buy tickets multiple times just to see their friends freak out. Consider opening the house up to community members, too.
2. Candy grams
Try out this tasty fundraising campaign to raise money around Valentine's Day or the winter holidays. All you need to do is buy some crowd-favorite candies and chocolates, like lollipops or Hershey’s Kisses. You can also provide some card stock and ribbon, and allow buyers to attach heartfelt notes and holiday wishes to their gift. Students and teachers simply donate to purchase their candy gram.
Throw in “delivery” to make this high school fundraising idea even sweeter. Have each person write down the recipient’s name, grade, and homeroom teacher, and drop off treats throughout the week. Timing is everything. Leading up to prom, for instance, you could sell flowers or add them to your candy gram bundle.
3. Trivia night
Nobody likes a pop quiz, but trivia night is a different story. Come up with fun questions for a movie, TV show, YouTube channel that’s popular with students. You can even poll students via the school newspaper to see which movie or TV show wins out. Stranger Things or Riverdale, both teen mysteries, are great candidates.
This school event is low-cost and easy to put together. Aim for 10 to 20 trivia teams, as long as you aren’t overcrowding your venue (cafeteria, gym, auditorium, home, etc.). You can sell tickets at $10 a piece. Raise extra money by providing sweet and salty snacks. Another idea is to follow trivia up with a movie night.
Prizes are a must. They’ll motivate your attendees and add friendly competition to the night. Ask around your community for an interesting prize that’s relevant to your trivia night theme. Or, see if a local business will donate something, like a special edition DVD.
4. Crowdfunding campaign
When a bake sale isn’t quite enough to meet your fundraising goal, start a crowdfunding campaign. Essentially, you’ll raise a lot of money by asking for small online donations from a large group of people. It’s perfect for high school students with allowances or part-time jobs, as well as the parents, relatives, and teachers who support them.
To get started, you’ll create a main fundraising page to track progress and update donors. Spread the word far and wide via social media, text message, and more.
It’s a sort of crowdfunding tradition to incentivize donations with unique rewards. So, come up with small rewards and prizes for your donors, like free T-shirts for $20 donations or a merchandise bundle for $100 donations.
5. Color run
Take a break from product sales and provide some wholesale fun for the student body. Color runs have really taken off in the past few years. They’re social media ready and a welcome twist on traditional walk-a-thons and field days.
Simply create a route in a walkable part of town, like the neighborhood around the school or a nearby park, and bring the color powder. Let volunteers unleash their inner Jackson Pollock and go crazy with color. Charge a race entry fee, or have participants raise a certain amount of money from their friends and family to qualify.
Alternatively, you can end the run in your parking lot, and have an obstacle course ready to go. Throw in a BBQ or bake sale to bring in more donations. (If you reach out to a local restaurant, they may be willing to send food for free or donate a portion to your cause.)
Fall, summer, or spring, this fabulous school fundraiser is sure to brighten things up and leave participants with great memories.
6. T-shirt sale
A T-shirt fundraising campaign is as uncomplicated as it gets. Family members, teachers, PTA members, and school administration can never have enough school swag, especially if it’s contributing to a good cause.
Jazz things up by hosting a T-shirt design contest. Take entries from just your school group, school department (like the sports or arts program), or the entire school. The competition will bring attention to your fundraising goal and boost school spirit at the same time.
It doesn’t have to end with T-shirts. Experiment with PopSockets, posters, mugs, and notebooks. You never know what will click with your supporters and make your fundraising efforts a success.
7. Principal challenge
A principal challenge is a surefire way to raise funds and create a memory students won’t ever forget. The idea is to get your school principal — or vice principal, well-known teacher, choir director, student body president, etc. — to take a giant step outside their comfort zone and do something crazy in front of the whole school.
These wild antics create a huge buzz and make students excited to donate. Here are some of the best principal stunts we’ve come across:
- Cover your principal in silly string
- Prepare an ice cream sundae on your principal’s head
- Principal spends the night on the school roof once you’ve hit your goal
- Principal dresses up in a chicken suit
- Stick your principal to the wall with tape
- Principal dyes their hair a neon color
Generally, principal stunts work best for schoolwide and grade-wide fundraising goals. After all, you’ve got to get your principal to agree.
8. Pizza party
All hail the king of comfort food. Surveys over the years have shown that pizza is America’s number one food. (Steak, hamburgers, and tacos came up second, third, and fourth, respectively.) And most young adults say they would “give up something for an entire year in order to have free pizza anytime.”
If students are dreaming of pizza, why not try a high school fundraising idea that uses a delicious slice as a reward? Keep things simple by having the class that raises the most donations win a bottomless pizza day.
Although you can take your pizza funds from your donations, there’s another option. Reach out to local businesses and see if they’ll supply a portion of the food for your feast.
9. Pajama day
What high schooler doesn’t wish they could roll out of bed and go to class in their PJs (if going back to bed isn’t an option)? Although this might sound more like an elementary school fundraiser, this fundraising idea isn’t just for younger students.
This is a common spirit week event, and it works well for a high school fundraiser, too. Teens will donate in droves to show up to school in their favorite T-shirts, comfy pants, plush robes, and slippers. (Just remember to share some guidelines about what qualifies as pajamas.)
One way to keep things organized is to sell a special pass that students have to pin to their shirts to show they’ve donated. Throw in some snacks and call it a day — hot cocoa and cookies, anyone?
10. Talent show
This could be your last chance to catch tomorrow’s celebrities before they’re famous. It doesn’t have to be a night of endless karaoke. Put out the call for future rockstars, comedians, dancers, and actors. Set it up as an in-person fundraising event or easily convert this into a livestreamed evening of thrills.
Another option is to do things battle-of-the-bands style, where participants go head-to-head and students vote on their favorite contestants over the course of a few weeks. Contestants proceed from week to week until they face off on the final stage. (If you go this route, be sure to keep your admission price or donation amount low so students can feasibly attend multiple shows.)
Hopefully this list of high school fundraising ideas has inspired you to plan and execute a fundraising campaign with confidence. You’re not in it alone — Givebutter can help!
We’ve designed a fundraising platform specifically for schools, student groups, sports teams, and clubs raising funds. Our platform and 70+ fundraising features are 100% free forever, so there’s nothing holding you back from getting started.
Be sure to check out our other exciting fundraising ideas for schools and students of all ages:
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.