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The ultimate school fundraising guide: 20 creative ideas for every age group

Get educated on the most effective school fundraising methods with this guide. We’ll share fun ideas for everyone from elementary students to the PTA.

Kylie Davis
June 16, 2022
Nerd Mr Butter

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Most schools in the United States face funding challenges.

Research shows that K-12 public schools are underfunded by $150 billion annually, which breaks down to an average deficit of roughly $5,000 per student.

A lack of funding means a lack of supplies, uniforms, extra curriculars, student clubs, or staff to ensure children get the education they need to succeed. Fortunately, school fundraising can help close the financial gap for today’s students.

Below, we’re offering a number of school fundraising ideas to implement at your local elementary, middle, and high schools.

5 elementary school fundraising ideas to hit your goal

School fundraising: bored student in class GIF

Elementary schools need extra funding to offer art and music classes, pay for sports equipment, and buy updated technology for students. To ensure your local elementary school has the funds it needs, try hosting one of these events:

  1. Cookie dough sale 🍪: Cookie dough can be purchased in bulk and it freezes easily—therefore, supporters can purchase now and enjoy later on. Bonus tip: If you don’t sell out, simply freeze your extras and host a bake sale later on in the year.
  2. TikTok dance-off 💃: TikTok dances are going viral with the younger generation. Challenge students, staff, parents, and other supporters to a TikTok dance-off, encouraging people to donate once they post their video on their respective social media accounts.
  3. Game night 🎲: Want to host an all-ages-welcome fundraising event? Invite families to participate in a pay-to-play tourney of Fortnite, Guitar Hero, Mario Kart, or other popular apps.
  4. Movie night 🎥: Schools have auditoriums, parking lots, and other large spaces that often go unused. Take advantage of this vacant real estate to host a movie night for your community, charging an entry fee to raise funds.
  5. Battle of the bands 🎸: Allow students to showcase their musical talents with a battle of the bands competition. Ticket purchasers can vote on their favorite performers, and you can offer a grand prize to the winning band.

5 school fundraising ideas to support your middle school students

Between class field trips, sports team uniforms, and other necessary supplies, middle schoolers are often scraping to collect the funds they need. To ensure students have adequate funding throughout the school year, considering implementing one of these fundraising ideas:

  1. Dance-a-thon ✌: Tweens love to dance, so why not host a dance-a-thon to raise funds for a good cause? Hire a DJ or put together an upbeat playlist, rent out your school cafeteria, and collect pledges to dance the night away.
  2. Principal challenge 👔: Most students don’t mind seeing their principal sweat a little. Set an online fundraising goal, then have your principal complete a specific challenge if you hit it (e.g., wear a costume, dye their hair, or take a pie to the face).
  3. Read-a-thon 📚: Here’s a fundraising campaign that teachers, parents, and students will love. Have students collect pledges from friends or family members every time they crack open a book (e.g., have a supporter donate $5 for every book completed).
  4. Tag day 🏃: Here’s a fun fundraising idea that involves your whole community. Have students post up at various local businesses, then “tag” supporters—if you get tagged, you make a donation (although, let’s face it, most community members will donate no matter whether they get caught or not!).
  5. Teacher spelling bee 🐞: See if teachers, coaches, and other administrators can pass their own spelling tests! Charge an entry fee to watch the adults throw down in this friendly competition. (Pro tip: If a participant spells a word wrong, allow them to poll the audience, phone a friend, or make a second attempt in exchange for a small donation.)

5 fundraising strategies for high school students

Looking for a few creative fundraising programs a group of teenagers can successfully pull off? To bring in donations while showing off your school spirit, try one of these successful fundraisers:

  1. Haunted house 🎃: Ready for a spooky fundraiser that’s fit for students of all ages? Transform your high school hallways into a haunted house, then sell tickets to hit your fundraising goal.
  2. Color run 🎨: Give the typical charity fun run/walk-a-thon a unique twist by hosting a color run in your community. Charge a race entry fee, then throw paint as supporters run throughout the race course.
  3. Pizza party 🍕: Offer students a drool-worthy incentive to raise funds for their school community. Host a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign where each “team” is a high school class. The class that raises the most funds for the school is awarded with a pizza party.
  4. Pajama day 💤: What high school student wouldn’t love to show up for class in their PJs? Host a pajama day where students contribute a small online donation to wear their pajama bottoms and T-shirts to class.
  5. Talent show 🎭: Give students the opportunity to showcase their many talents. Make the call for the best comedians, dancers, and rockstars of the school, and have them perform on stage.

5 crowdfunding ideas for your parent teacher association (PTA)

School fundraising: 2 people raising their hands in class

Parent teacher associations make a huge impact in the lives of students. A PTA can help raise desperately needed funds to pay for school supplies, field trips, and other initiatives. To ensure your PTA fundraising efforts are successful, consider implementing one of these ideas:

  1. Matching gift campaign 🎁: A matching gift campaign is incredibly simple to implement. Ask your PTA members to speak to their employers about matching any incoming donations, up to a certain dollar amount—thereby doubling your contributions.
  2. Field day 🏅: Allow students, teachers, and other community members to come together in a competitive field day. Charge an entry fee for spectators and competitors alike, allowing participants to run through obstacle courses, partake in sports games, or speed through a scavenger hunt.
  3. School auction 💰: Rally local businesses to contribute gift cards, one-of-a-kind experiences, and themed date nights to auction off. Psst! Online auctions are coming soon to the Givebutter fundraising platform!
  4. Dinner and movie night 🍔: Partner with a local restaurant to cater a dinner-and-movie night at your school. Then, have ticket purchasers pay a certain donation amount to enjoy their night out.
  5. Grab bags 💍: For a unique product fundraising idea, reach out to local businesses and ask them to contribute various in-store merchandise. Then, combine the merchandise into unique grab bags—filled with face masks, raffle tickets, ball caps, school supplies, or cosmetic samples—to sell through your fundraising page.

Throw the best school fundraiser yet with Givebutter

Right now, schools across the country are facing a funding shortage.

Fortunately, teachers, parents, and other supporters have the power to help raise funds, thereby giving students the education they need.

To help raise funds for students of all ages, you can host a unique school fundraising campaign on Givebutter. Rather than host yet another car wash or T-shirt sale, you can get creative with teacher spelling bees, principal challenges, grab bags, dinner and movie nights, and other fun ideas.

To accomplish all of the above, host your campaign on Givebutter. Givebutter is the all-in-one fundraising platform built for schools, nonprofit organizations, sports teams, and other community groups. Givebutter’s donor-centric platform includes 130+ fundraising tools, a built-in CRM system, and marketing automation, with no platform fees and industry-low payment processing fees.

Ready to see how Givebutter can make your next school fundraiser a success? Take a tour to get started.

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