6 creative and effective middle school fundraising ideas

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Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

6 creative and effective middle school fundraising ideas

Between school supplies, field trips, sports team equipment, and school initiatives, middle schools need a steady rotation of new fundraising campaigns to try out. And if you really want to supercharge your donations, you’ve got to get students and parents on board with your fundraising strategy. 

An exciting reward, friendly competition, and a little entertainment goes a long way with fundraising for your middle school students. Below, you’ll find six middle school fundraising ideas that combine all three of these things to help you meet or beat your goal in no time.

6 middle school fundraising ideas

Take these fundraising activities and events for a test drive with the tweens in your life. 

1. Dance-a-thon

Kids Dancing

Move your feet! If you’ve got a large fundraising goal, a dance-a-thon is a fun and memorable way to reach it. All you really need is a DJ and a dance floor. Crank up the tunes and have students dance for a set amount of time — 60 minutes, three hours, or a half-day. You can charge an event entrance fee for each student. 

But the best way to raise money with a dance-a-thon is to have your middle schoolers ask for sponsorships.

It’s simple. Each student will create their own fundraising page, and then ask their family members, friends, and community members to donate money on their behalf. (This is also known as peer-to-peer fundraising.) Set a per-student goal, like $100, to give students a concrete figure to aim for, or leave it open-ended. Here’s an example of how to set up a dance marathon campaign step by step.  

2. Movie night

This is one of our favorite middle school fundraising ideas because it’s super flexible, and you can run it multiple times each school year. Pick a crowd-pleasing movie and set up a makeshift theater (like the parking lot, cafeteria, or football field). Queue up modern family-friendly films like “Inside Out,” “Coco,” and “Up!” Or, try out animated classics like “Fantasia” or “Mulan.” 

Another way you can put a fresh spin on this idea is to turn it into a drive-in movie night fundraiser. It’s nostalgic for parents and a new way for the kids to watch their favorite flicks. You also try out a theme, like showing “Lady and the Tramp” on Valentine's Day or “Coraline” on Halloween. 

Sell tickets online, and then raise funds by setting up a stand for a bake sale with treats like hot chocolate, brownies, popcorn, and candy. Wholesalers offer discounted food and drink, so you can make a profit on your snack sales and make your moviegoers happy, too. 

3. Teacher spelling bee

Lisa Simpson Microphone

This fundraising idea spells “success!” You know the classic spelling bee, where student contestants put their spelling skills to the test. Now, turn the tradition on its head with a teacher spelling bee.

Putting your school’s principal, teachers, coaches, and administrators in the spotlight is a surefire way to drive donations. You can charge an entry fee for attendees, but you’ll bake in other opportunities to raise money. Create spelling bee rules that help contestants who are rusty on their spelling stay in the game. 

For instance, if a contestant spells a word wrong, they can:

  • Ask someone to make a small donation to give them a re-do
  • Request a donation so they can skip to the next round 
  • Buy an “ask-the-audience” pass 

Choose challenging words, and your audience members will be on the edge of their seats with every letter. 

4. Principal challenge

Similar to idea #3, every middle school student can get behind a fundraising event where they see their principals sweat a little. This principal challenge is a creative fundraiser to raise school spirit and unite everyone for one large fundraising effort. 

Set a realistic fundraising goal and dangle a reward the student body can’t resist. For instance, if the school meets or beats their $3,000 goal, your principal has to wear the mascot costume all day, dye their hair, or take a pie to the face. You can also supercharge your fundraising by creating a direct cause-and-effect between donating and winning the reward. 

For example, for each small donation amount ($5), students get a voucher for one piece of tape. Then, at the end of the semester, each student helps tape the principal to the wall. Don’t forget to share goal updates — and pictures of the big moment — on social media. Check out a list of the best principal antics to get inspired. 

5. Tag Day

Han Solo Tag By Starwars

Tag, you’re it! Tag Day is a well-known school fundraiser among bands and large student groups, and you can use it to your advantage, too. Essentially, you have groups of students post up outside local businesses and ask patrons for donations. They can also canvass neighborhoods or send out donation request letters in lieu of visiting businesses. The “tag” refers to the tags, ribbons, and stickers that students give to people who donate, although this isn’t required.

It’s a collective, community-wide effort. So, you’ll need some time to get the OK from businesses and coordinate your students and volunteers. Have teachers, club leaders, parents, and community members sign up for times to drive students around and chaperone. 

Students should be prepared to explain why they’re raising funds and why it’s important to them personally. For a fun event before the big day, have participants make signs showcasing their cause.

It’s a good idea to have students wear their school spirit T-shirts or uniforms so donors can easily spot them. 

6. Read-a-thon

Have students crack open a book for a good cause. A read-a-thon encourages a love of reading and directly involves your students in fundraising for their class, club, or grade. With a little extra effort, a read-a-thon could also be your next completely free middle school fundraiser. 

There are a few ways you can go about raising money. Have students pledge to read for a certain amount of time and get sponsored by their community members. For instance, a student might ask family members to pledge $10 for each hour they hit the books.

Or, you can motivate students by creating a “1,000 Minute Club” for students who read 1,000 or more minutes during the read-a-thon challenge. They’ll receive recognition and a raffle ticket for a prize. Reach out to local companies to see if they’ll donate a small prize, like a gift card or headphones.

Create or download a simple daily log participating students can use to track the amount of time they read. They’ll write down the book titles and the number of minutes they read. You can also have them write down things like page numbers, or a favorite moment, to encourage honesty and engagement.

Check out these other middle school fundraising ideas

When it comes to school fundraising, Givebutter is simply a grade above the rest. We’ve got a library full of fundraising events to inspire your next campaign:

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.