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25+ elementary school fundraising ideas

Repeating the same fundraising events every year can leave everyone uninspired. Use these school fundraising ideas to shake things up, raise school spirit, and fund your project — all at once.

Rachel Mills
June 10, 2020
Nerd Mr Butter

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When you’re raising money for your school or charity, you need an idea that excites students, parents, teachers, and community members. Repeating the same fundraising events year after year, however, can leave everyone uninspired. Use these 27 school fundraising ideas to shake things up, raise school spirit, and fund your project — all at the same time.

27 exciting elementary school fundraising ideas

Little girl in pajamas holding a pillow up

Whether you want to buy team equipment or help those affected by COVID-19, a school fundraiser is a fun and effective solution.

We’ve compiled a list of ideas that will motivate elementary schoolers and can be easily adapted for students of all ages.

And if you’re a parent or member of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), you can raise money on behalf of your student or school any time of the year with the ideas below. Here are the school fundraising events and activities we give an A+.

1. Cookie dough sale

Cookie dough is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s affordable and easy to purchase in bulk, and your donors can enjoy it all year long. Another great tip? If you stock up on cookie dough in advance, you can put on a bake sale later in the year. Or, run both fundraisers at the same time to see which version is more popular.

2. TikTok dance-off

This idea is ready-made for virtual fundraising, and it builds off a trend already popular with young students: TikTok dance challenges. On TikTok, users quickly learn and perform choreography that’s paired with catchy songs. You can bring this energy and enthusiasm to your next campaign.

First, create a challenge. Select a top 10 song or funny remix — or make up your own dance entirely. Next, tap a few students, teachers, and administrators that are game to get the ball rolling. Have each person post their video to the social platforms your supporters use most. Finally, each person has to tag someone and donate once they’ve completed the challenge. If the tagged friend doesn't participate, they have to double their donation.

3. Bake sale

Treats as tasty as cookies, cake, and brownies practically sell themselves. Bake goods from scratch with inexpensive raw ingredients or box mixes. Or, get the community involved and ask the PTA, friends, and family to donate their own baked creations.

Sell your sweet treats in the halls, after school, or online, like this cookie kit delivery fundraiser. And you don’t have to stop at cookies. Try a candy sale or curated dessert box at Valentine’s Day or Halloween, for example. Buyers will be happy to support your good cause while satisfying their sweet tooth.

4. Game night

Need a fundraiser that’s popular with students of all ages? Game on. Host a pay-to-play gaming tournament with the hottest video games or apps, like Fortnite, Guitar Hero, and Mario Kart.

If you livestream the contest on Twitch or YouTube, players and viewers can participate no matter where they are. And everyone can donate in support of their favorite players — and craziest moments.

For non-gamers, don’t forget card and board games like UNO, Scrabble, and Taboo. Lower costs by asking families to lend games for the day.

5. Lemonade stand

The time-tested lemonade stand remains a great fundraiser for elementary school and middle school groups. And people love to support cute kids whipping up juice. Make sure “business” is booming by sharing your hours of operation on social media. You can even add a mini bake sale onto your lemonade stand for increased revenue. To keep the line moving smoothly, integrate with Venmo to accept payments (and donations).

6. Car wash

Younger students can host a car wash as a fun way to support school fundraising efforts. Collect a few buckets, some sponges, and soap, and you’ll hit your fundraising goals in no time. Set up shop in the school parking lot or partner with a local business. Have students hold signs with your campaign’s text-to-give phone number so passersby can donate too. Just keep an eye on the weather forecast!

7. Movie night

Watching Episode 17 GIF

Open up the school parking lot, auditorium, or nearby park for a makeshift theater or drive-in. Ask for a donation amount per person or car for a great fundraiser that everyone can enjoy.

Thinking of hosting a virtual movie night? Proceed with caution. You can’t simply use your DVD copy or Netflix account to show a film or cartoon. To avoid a copyright claim online, make sure you pay any licensing fees before your screening.

When it comes to picking a movie, know your audience. You can’t go wrong with family-friendly Disney movies. Raise additional funds by offering tickets to a watch-along trivia contest.

8. Talent show

Kids of all ages love to show off their skills and friends and family love to support them. Put it all together, and talent shows are naturally fun and reliable fundraisers, in person or online! You can even enlist your school’s performing arts directors to help plan an exciting show.

As for funding, it’s common to charge an entrance fee for each performer. Attendees can be charged a ticket price as well. Or, leave it open for the audience to make a donation at any time during this memorable school event.

9. Dance marathon

These dance-till-you-drop fundraisers raise millions each year. With only a DJ, speakers, an open area, and plenty of water, you can host a successful dance-a-thon. Have attendees donate money per minute or per song danced. Avoid an empty dance floor by encouraging team registration and playing group dance songs like the “Cupid Shuffle.” Here’s an example of how to set up a dance marathon campaign step by step.

10. Battle of the bands

Smells like pre-teen spirit! Get the band back together with a Battle of the Bands competition. Student teams show off their musical ability and share their passion. And ticketholders get to vote on their favorite band performance throughout the high-energy night. Set a fundraising goal and create a personalized fundraising page for each band participant. Consider giving a grand prize to the winning band.

11. School karaoke

Beyonce Singing GIF

If the idea of planning a full-fledged talent show is too intimidating, try school karaoke as a fundraiser. Students can buy a raffle ticket to sing karaoke over the school’s P.A. system during morning announcements, in between bells as students are changing classes, and during afternoon announcements. This is sure to be a silly and fun way to raise funds. Make sure the songs are radio-friendly and high-school appropriate before approving any performances!

12. Parent-child dance

This elementary school fundraising idea or middle school fundraising idea is a shoo-in for raising money. Parents can’t resist the opportunity to take their little one to their first school dance. Sell tickets to the dance per couple or per family, and this fabulous school event is ready. You can even add a raffle to the dance and sell raffle tickets for an age-appropriate prize. (Think tickets to a major league sports team, toys, and crafts.)

13. T-shirt design contest

Hold a friendly competition to pick the best school spirit wear. Let students submit designs for T-shirts online over the course of a few weeks or months. Then, the entire school will vote on the best design via social media. Sell the top T-shirt choice (and any honorable mentions) to students, staff, and community members. For an example, see how this T-shirt fundraiser promoted solidarity and raised money for local businesses.

14. Pie in the face

Pie Face Clown GIF by Big Brother Canada

Nothing motivates students like a chance to see their teacher or principal do something silly. A pie-throwing booth offers students the fun of a dunk tank without the rental costs. Set up a booth on school grounds and charge a fee to throw a pie. Tap a few willing teachers or community members to participate. And there’s no need to waste baked goods. The “pie” can simply be a tin full of whipped cream.

15. Pajama day

Pajama day is usually top of the list when it comes to fundraising ideas for schools. Elementary schools and middle school students go wild for school spirit themes, and pajama day is no exception! For a small donation, students can come to school in their pajamas. With an easy setup and little to no costs, everybody can cozy up to pajama day.

16. Free-dress day

Let students escape the humdrum routine of uniforms and wear their weekend clothes to school. Sell passes for a day out of uniform or a day in jeans. Allow parents to pre-pay by setting up an online fundraising page or text-to-donate purchases.

17. Peer-to-peer fundraising

Giving is personal. With peer-to-peer fundraising, you recruit your most active supporters to host individual campaigns. Each person reaches out to their network of family, friends, and coworkers to solicit donations for your school. The benefits are clear. For campaigns that raise over $10,000 on Givebutter, the average peer-to-peer campaign member actually raises over $1,300 from new donors.

Before launch, offer fundraising tips and tricks. Coach participants through the “ask” and provide handy scripts. When it’s time to fund your next project, call on your community.

18. Penny wars

For this fundraiser, students compete to collect the most pennies. Establish teams by classroom, grade level, student groups, etc. Then challenge each team to bring in the most pennies. Pennies earn points, while silver coins deduct from the total. This easy school fundraiser just requires a few jars and change found around the house. To add to your donation, ask friends and relatives to make an online donation to match!

19. Restaurant partnership

There are plenty of ways that businesses can support your school. Community restaurants are often willing to donate a portion of their daily sales to a good cause. This could be on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Encourage student families and local residents to show up on a spirit night at the restaurant to raise funds.

20. Silent auction

A silent auction can feel a bit stuffy for school fundraising, so jazz it up. Come up with a creative theme for the auction. Collect donations of items, gift certificates from local businesses and stores, and theme them specifically for elementary school, middle school, or even high school students. Set up in the school cafeteria and let the silent auction run throughout spirit week.

21. Discount cards

Oprah Discount GIF by BAWSS

Popular in many cities, discount card coupon books are full of deals to local restaurants and local businesses. They’re inexpensive in bulk, making it a great solution for a tight budget. Students sell discount cards to family members and community members, and everyone saves money.

22. Yard sale

Community members can chip in with this low- or no-cost fundraising idea. Ask local residents to host a yard sale and donate some or all of their proceeds to your fundraising campaign. People will be happy to rid their homes of things they no longer need, freeing up funds for a good cause.

23. Rent-a-kid

Raffle off your school's best and brightest. Kids can be rented for community member leaf-raking, garage cleanups, babysitting, and more! This is an easy fundraising idea for individuals or school groups with time and willingness to help out. Set up an online collection page using Givebutter’s platform to make job-by-job donations seamless for everyone.

24. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts can be a fun way to boost school spirit and get the adrenaline pumping. Charge an entry fee for participants to find the items and come up with a fun prize donated by a local business for the winners. It’s easy to adjust the difficulty based on grade level and the number of people participating.

A livestreamed scavenger hunt offers just as much excitement. Choose common household items like baseball caps, toothpaste, and headphones. Or pick a theme that matches your project, like all music-related items for a choir trip fundraiser. Participants can proudly display their finds — and donate — over Zoom.

25. Haunted house

Haunted Castle GIF

You can raise funds if you’ve got the props, the costumes, and the will to scare! Recruit parents, teachers, and other volunteers to build the set and staff the haunted house. (Students can volunteer as scarers, too.) Promote your school fundraiser on social media and let Givebutter take care of ticket sales and registering volunteers.

26. Read-a-thon

This is one school fundraising idea that everyone can feel good about giving to. Select a week where students pledge to read a certain number of minutes each day. Have students set up a fundraising page to collect pledges for each minute they read, or a flat rate. These small donations add up to big dollars for your school's fundraising campaign.

Want to add a virtual twist? Ask charismatic community members to host a live reading of a popular children’s book. (Take a page from this star-studded “Coraline” read-along.)

27. Field day

Obstacle course! Water balloons! Pie in the face! Dunking booth! Raising money has never been more fun than field day. And when it comes to the activity lineup, the choice is yours. This fun event requires lots of volunteers to pull off, so rally community members to host stations by donating their time.

A grade above the rest 🎓

Exterior of school building

A fundraising platform like Givebutter makes it easy to meet your school’s fundraising goals. Create campaigns, sell tickets, collect donations, and thank donors from one user-friendly tool.

Discover why Givebutter is a grade above the rest for school fundraising! Explore our solutions for everyone from student groups and sports teams to large organizations and nonprofits.

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