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8 simple, low-cost preschool fundraising ideas

Here are eight preschool fundraising ideas that are inexpensive, accessible for small groups of volunteers, and appealing to kids, parents, and community members alike.

Rachel Mills
October 21, 2020
Nerd Mr Butter

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Parents expect more from your preschool than childcare. They’re looking for a space where their child can learn, play, explore, and thrive every day. But molding young minds requires both time and money, and many preschools struggle with limited resources. So how can you raise funds for the next batch of school supplies, field trips, and new playground equipment?

Below, we’ve rounded up 8 preschool fundraising ideas that are inexpensive, accessible for small groups of volunteers, and appealing to kids, parents, and community members alike.

8 preschool fundraising ideas that are easy as 1-2-3

Rule your preschool with these effective fundraising events and campaigns.

1. Art calendar

Cat Drawing GIF by Tapestry

Turn your preschoolers’ finger paintings and drawings into memories that last forever. All you need to do is grab a digital camera and take pictures of your student artwork. You can make a collage of class work, or gather 12 pictures per student. Look for the funniest, cutest, or most skillful pieces from the year so far. Then, upload them to an online photo editor and arrange them into custom calendars.

Alternatively, you can create order forms so parents and grandparents can pick and choose custom pieces ahead of time, like photo books, mugs, T-shirts, and more. Sell these sweet keepsakes year-round, or save your sale for the winter holidays.

2. Weeknight meal cooking class

Parents of young children know the challenge of providing quick and healthy meals throughout the week. So, why not host a cooking class focused on easy weeknight dinners? Reach out to local chefs, dietitians, and health coaches to see if they’ll volunteer to host a one-off class or full-blown series.

Set up at your preschool kitchen or look for a free or low-cost offsite location. Sell tickets online and then guide participants through three to five meals with prep times under 10 minutes. No-cook and no-bake recipes are also crowd-pleasers.

You can even see if a bookstore will donate some parent-ready cookbooks that you can sell after class. Make it a fun-filled parents’ night out by providing babysitting services and selling wine or other drinks.

3. Community resource fair

Helpful Bill Murray GIF by Space Jam

A resource fair is a win for everyone involved, and it’s one of the best preschool fundraisers around if you have a large financial goal. Local businesses — and some national brands — will jump at the chance to get in front of a crowd of interested parents and curious community members.

To raise money, you’ll reserve a space (your school could work) and sell booths or tables to vendors and service providers, such as:

  • Clothing stores
  • Bookstores and libraries
  • Babysitting and daycare services
  • Tutoring services
  • Summer camps
  • Electronics stores
  • Gymnastic schools
  • Home maintenance services
  • Insurance companies

Set up your fair in your building on a weekday evening or weekend and invite your community to come browse the offerings.

4. Trike-a-thon

Young girl riding a bike GIF

Rev up the tricycles and break out the training wheels for a bite-sized bike-a-thon. Create an exciting race course in a safe, open area in your neighborhood. An indoor gym or a reserved parking lot can work well. Use tape or cones to mark off the track, and then let your participants peddle to the finish.

Keep your preschoolers motivated by setting up fun race checkpoints where they’ll stop to collect stickers, bracelets, lollipops, and other portable prizes. There are lots of ways to raise funds, too. Have family members and friends sponsor racers by making a donation on their behalf, or make money by providing post-race games, raffles, and snack booths. Check out this trike-a-thon donation page for inspiration.

5. Corporate matching gift drive

A corporate matching gift drive is a simple but powerful preschool fundraising idea. Many employers already have philanthropy programs in place and are committed to matching a certain amount of employee donations each year.

This campaign automatically gives you a way to earn two, three, or four times your typical fundraising amount and costs little to nothing to launch.

Your job is to educate and mobilize your community. Organize an awareness campaign that utilizes social media, email, parent handouts, and the other channels your audience uses. Include a brief overview of corporate matching, and ask your supporters to donate and request an employer match before your campaign deadline.

Our guide to getting a “yes” to donation requests is packed with helpful tips you can use to write your fundraising appeals.

6. Takeout fundraiser

Eating out is convenient for busy parents and picky preschoolers, so a restaurant fundraiser is a no-brainer. But when every family is on a different schedule, it can be hard to get a good turnout for in-person events, especially at meal time. Don’t worry! Switch things up and host a takeout fundraiser instead.

Reach out to a popular local eatery and see if they’ll donate a portion of each food and drink sale back to your school. This could apply to only your supporters’ purchases, or every purchase that day. They’re more likely to agree if it’s a slow day, so have some flexibility.

It’s common to receive 10-20% from local restaurants, but national chains like Chipotle and Panera typically donate more. From there, all your supporters have to do is order in, mention your preschool, and chow down when they’re ready.

7. Grown-up bake sale

ferrero rocher chocolate GIF

Speaking of good eats for a good cause, a grown-up bake sale is another inexpensive way to drive donations. Yes, classic fundraising products like cookies, cupcakes, and brownies get the job done. But “grown-up” treats will help you stand out from the crowd.

So, dole out gourmet goodies like chocolate croissants, mini rum cakes, fruit tarts, and raspberry macarons. You can request small donations from local bakeries, cafes, patisseries, and grocery stores. Wrap your treats nicely, and they’ll work as low-cost birthday and holiday gifts with a high-end feel. Your supporters won’t miss the usual cookie dough fundraiser with this bake sale in town.

8. Celebrity breakfast

Our final entry on the list of preschool fundraising ideas is an event no child will want to miss. Invite a beloved children’s character for a celebrity breakfast at the school. Between TV, books, songs, and movies, the possibilities are endless. Consider superstars like Elmo from “Sesame Street,” Doc from “Doc McStuffins,” The Cat in the Hat, Moana, or Baby Shark.

Have a teacher dress up in costume, or hire a costumed character in the area.

Make a simple breakfast like pancakes and bacon, or draw inspiration from your character’s story (green eggs and ham). Don’t forget a photo booth! Raise money by selling different types of tickets, like a breakfast-only ticket or VIP (Very Important Preschooler) passes that include a special meet-and-greet, book, toys, and more.

Need more fundraiser ideas for kids?

The 8 fundraising ideas we’ve provided above will help you keep your preschool cool all year long, but we’ve got plenty of other ideas, tips, and tricks for you to try out. Discover more school-friendly campaigns now:

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