Let’s be honest: school activities, events and trips are expensive! Whether you are a teacher or parent, knowing how to raise money for your students is crucial. Not every student can afford the trip to the All-State Concert Band Competition and not all schools can afford to pay out-of-pocket for updated lockers in Freshman Hall. If you have a child that’s involved in sports, then you understand the need for fundraisers! Football uniforms don’t fall in your lap cheaply.
Are you out of fundraising ideas? Don’t worry! We have compiled a helpful list of ways to raise money that will also teach your kids about worth ethic AND how to have fun at the same time. The result? You raise the funds needed, great memories are made, and lessons are learned. Let’s look at some creative fundraising ideas for schools!
1. Garage Sale
Most people have things in their homes that they desire to throw away or clean out. This will also teach the students that it’s good to give up excess and give to others. What is one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure, right? If you advertise the garage sale well in advance and host it on a Saturday, you can walk away with a thick stack of cash.
2. Lock Ins
Nothing excites students more than overnight lock ins! If you’re trying to raise money for a necessity such as band uniforms, these events are not only fun for kids but encourages them to donate for a good cause. It works something like this: set up a sheet for sign-ups and the donations to be made. The goal is for students to stay awake as long as they can. (Ensure that they have parents to pick them up the next morning. You don’t want students who drive to drive home sleep deprived.) Allow them to set up stations for board games and video games. Snacks and pizza are always popular at these events! Remind them to bring a sleeping bag as well. Many schools try different contests so do what’s best for you! Moreover, it’s a great idea to award the person who stayed awake all night OR who won the most board games as the winner of the lock-in. It’s the little things in life that bring much joy! These are memorable ways to raise money for your school’s organization.
3. Chess Tournament
Speaking of chess players, it’s a great idea to raise money with a chess tournament. Simply set things up in your school’s library or gymnasium and invite people to play for a small tournament fee! You can set up the tournament by age category, grade category or chess levels. To each his own!
4. Car Wash
A classic way to raise money are car washes! Many people would rather pay someone to wash their car than to do it themselves or ride through a machine-operated car wash that never does a great job. Be sure to advertise the car wash beforehand! Students often enjoy creating their own posters and flyers to place around the town for advertisements. On the day of the car wash, select students for the cleaning duties and students to stand alongside the street to advertise with posters. This will help bring the customers to your car wash AND help you raise the needed cash for your cause.
5. Host a Marching Band Competition!
If you can persuade other area schools to participate and cooperate, you can host a marching band competition at your school! Everyone enjoys the half-time shows so why not charge a small fee for folks to see the half-time shows minus the football? Just like other band competitions, you can offer an award trophy to the best performing band. It’ll become a night to remember and perhaps an annual tradition!
6. Student/Teacher Basketball Game
Not much is more exciting than competition between students and teachers. Why not host a basketball game between the teachers and students? We don’t recommend allowing the basketball team’s students to play; they would likely defeat the teachers. The key here is to have comedic relief. Place students in the game that aren’t on the basketball team but know how to play. Allow any teacher to play except for the basketball coaches. Then, charge a small fee for attending the event and have fun!
7. Flag Football Game
You can host a flag football game with the students and charge a small fee for attendance. There are many ways to create a fun game with this option! You can divide up one grade, you can have two different grades, or you can have the parents play each other! You can choose to set up a tournament system or keep it simple with one game. To draw people to the event, build their excitement by offering an award for the winner. Perhaps it can be a featured photo in the yearbook or a trophy. Regardless, it’s a great idea for raising money! You can also use events like this to sell concession foods, baked goods and more.
8. Have a Bake Sale
This is a classic way to have a fundraiser! Choose a particular day or days to have a bake sale and advertise it around your community and in your school. Bake sales offer an inexpensive opportunity to raise money as they don’t require much cost for operation. Simply provide a sign-up sheet for desired participants and instruct them to bake goodies such as brownies, cookies, cupcakes and more. If you successfully advertise the event, you’ll have a great turnout!
9. Chocolate Bar Sale
This has always been a popular way to raise money and for good reason! People love chocolate bars; especially the caramel chocolate bars. This encourages students to delve into the world of sales and business. You can award the highest selling students with incredible toys are trophies. In sale fundraisers such as this one, awarding the winners with popular toys and gadgets provides a better incentive than trophies. In most areas, communities anticipate the sale of chocolate bars! They aren’t available anywhere else and are delicious.
10. Talent Show!
Every school hosts a talent show once a year. Who said that you can’t host a second talent show? With this one, turn it into a popular, money-making ordeal by asking students and teachers to contribute monetarily towards a specific goal. This goal should be something exciting! For example: You can reveal an unexpected talent from a teacher. The funnier the talent, the better! If you can pull in more than one teacher, do so! You can invite students to perform their talents until you build the show toward the comedic relief in the end. It’s the special goals that make this talent show stand out from the yearly talent show.
11. Breakfast at School
How many kids come to school early? You can raise easy money by selling breakfast to the students and faculty that routinely arrive to school early! If you prefer to advertise for one, singular event, then you can encourage people to arrive early for chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, eggs, bacon, biscuits, bagels and more! This would be an easy way to earn money and will provide a memory-making event for the kids.
12. Easter Egg Hunt
The younger kids love to hunt for Easter eggs. You can plan the egg hunt on a Saturday and charge an entry fee. We recommend hiding the eggs in the playground area as that makes for an exciting and fun experience! You can time the hunt and give an award to the child that found the most eggs. Most kids love to be awarded with candy and a certificate for events such as this. In addition to this, kids love to play at school on non-traditional school days!
13. School Movie Night
Students will snub the movie theater if they are offered movie night at school! It’s unique and different to them. Choose a popular movie that is appropriate for children, set up pizza, popcorn, nachos and sodas and pull out the pillows! You can earn money by selling homemade tickets to the event. Many schools choose to set the movie screen up in the gymnasium so everyone can spread out on their pillows and blankets and have plenty of space.
14. Sell Candy grams for Valentine’s Day
This is a popular fundraising event for many high schools. By the time students reach high school, they start to find their sweethearts. Valentine’s Day is often celebrated at school, so why not sell paper candy grams? They are Valentine-themed cards filled with a sweet, small message and candy cane from a sweetheart. Some candy grams are anonymous while others are not. Many students like to buy them for their friends and favorite teachers as well. You will only need red and pink construction paper, pens and candy canes!
Other Top School Fundraising Ideas Include…
15. Water Dunking Tank
What better way is there to get back at teachers? Dunk them in a water tank! This is often seen in school festivals and fairs. However, you can charge a small fee and make it a fun, singular event! (It won’t be much fun for the chosen teachers, but the students will gladly pay to participate!) Students can take turns throwing bean bags at the target until it dunks the teacher. Better yet, if you don’t want to charge a participation fee, you can charge a fee for every dunking attempt!
16. Host an Auction
This event is a great way to get the entire community involved. Many local companies may also be interested in participating in this event! Ask people to donate items and with all items that are sold, you will receive the profit.
17. Fall Festival
Host a fall festival! Everyone loves pumpkins, hay bales, caramel apples, scarecrows, hot apple cider and pumpkin spice pies! On the school property, you can set up carnival games such as apple bobbing and corn hole toss. Costume contests are also a fun activity for fall festivals! Folks can dress up in overalls and straw hats and you can judge who does it best! Other ideas for fall festival activities include tractor pulls, hay rides and square dancing.
18. Penny Jar Wars
This is another fundraiser favorite for schools! Everyone has spare change that usually ends up, well, everywhere! Everyone has spare change that usually ends up, well, everywhere! If you’re a teacher, place a large glass jar in the classroom and instruct the students to place their pennies in it. Encourage them to find and collect as many pennies as they can and place it in the jar. The classroom with the most pennies wins the penny jar war! You can allow the penny collection for as little as a week or for as long as a month.
19. Christmas Gift Wrapping
You can send a letter home to the parents about having one Saturday devoted to wrapping Christmas gifts. (Be careful not to let children see their unwrapped gifts from Santa!) Many busy families would happily pay someone to wrap their Christmas gifts. Teachers have all the tools needed to wrap gifts and turn the event into a fun experience! Place out flyers to let the community know about the gift wrapping day, turn on some Christmas music and get to work! You can charge an overall fee for all gifts, or you can charge by gift quantity and size. It’s up to you!
20. Sell Hot Chocolate during School Hours
When the winter months come around, the classrooms can get chilly rather quickly. Nothing would excite the kids more than to pay 50 cents for a cup of hot chocolate! You can set this fundraiser one day a week and earn a little money for the school.
21. Create Custom-made Christmas Cards
Have your students pull out their art tools and teach them how to create Christmas cards! This can be a fun hour everyday in the classroom with Christmas music and laughter. Once your students have made enough Christmas cards, sell them to the public. Children’s artwork has a way of bringing smiles to saddened faces. Christmas time is often filled with sad and lonely people. This would be a worthy cause as well as a great opportunity to raise money.
22. Host a Valentine’s Day Dance
For middle school and high school students, you can host a Valentine’s Day dance. This allows students that have sweethearts to create memories that will last a lifetime! This gives students the chance to get fancy on a Friday night. We recommend passing out candy grams during the school day so the moment will build into the dance. You can raise money by selling tickets in advance!
23. Creative Fashion Show
If you want to get creative, let your students create fashion outfits and then wear them in a school fashion show! Students can make outfits from paper, cardboard boxes, material and more. The funnier, the better! You can advertise a few months in advance so the students have time to work on their outfit projects. You can raise money by selling tickets for the event. There’s plenty of fun twists that you can use with these hilarious fashion shows!
23. Host a Book Fair
Book fairs are also a popular way to raise money in schools. Ask local businesses and families if they would like to donate books for the cause. Once you have a large collection of books, open your doors for the sale!
24. Color Run
Color runs are becoming more popular every year! Kids love them because of the bright colored powders that rain on them during the run. If you’ve ever needed motivation to get your students to exercise, a color run would be one of them! You can sell the basic white shirts to all participants and charge a small participation fee. All participants gain new memories, and you raise the money necessary for the school. It’s a win-win!
25. Timed Obstacle Course
Who doesn’t love a good obstacle course? Make it even more exciting by timing the participant in the obstacle course! Reel in the teachers and parents for an exhilarating experience on the timed obstacle course! The person that completes the course in the fastest time, wins the trophy. You can also allow students to participate if the course is kid-friendly.
26. Trivia Competition: Who’s the Smartest Teacher?
For fun, you can host a trivia competition during the school day that will entertain students and offer a break from their studies. Test the knowledge of teachers with basic trivia questions! The winning teacher awards her students with a week of no homework. This gives students the incentive to buy tickets!
You can also do this for students and charge a small fee for the public to view the competition. The winner would win a certificate and anything else of your choosing.
27. Host a Kid-Friendly Concert!
If you have access to a local band or a popular band, invite them to play at your school! Concerts tend to attract large crowds so raising money from them are usually a big success. Offer food and drinks while folks enjoy the music!
28. Coloring Contest
Charge a small participation fee for students to enter a coloring contest. Give them copies of a coloring page and let a panel of judges decide who did the best job with their coloring skills. It’s a wonderful way to challenge students to do their best at all things.
29. Lemonade Stand
Here’s a classic way to raise money: a lemonade stand. If you set up a lemonade stand during lunch hours in the cafeteria, you’re guaranteed to raise money! Everyone loves lemonade. It also provides a students and teachers a change from the usual cafeteria drinks such as milk, tea and water.
30. Debate Competition
Debate competitions are popular in high school and college. They’re also great ways to raise funds for important causes and needs. Let students sign up in advance so that you can determine the main topics for debate. Folks will buy tickets to see the tension on the debate table and to learn both sides of a single topic. It’s an overall fun experience! Besides, everyone needs to learn how to get along despite opposing views.
School Fundraising Ideas Continued…31. Raffle: Selling raffle tickets to win a prize is always exciting for just about anyone (especially if the prize is good!) The prize could be anything and it would be a great idea to reach out to local businesses for prize donations as they can in turn use it as a tax write off. The bigger the prize, the better the raffle. I would think travel, memberships, or year long gifts. 32. Sell Gift cards: Reaching out to local businesses and getting gift cards for all kinds of products or services. Agreeing with the business that a portion of the sales goes back to your event or charity. 33. Bingo: It is an old game, but still fun to this day. Ask local Businesses to donate prizes and then charge to play to win the prizes. Simple concept and fun to play with the whole family. Take it to the next level and include food in the deal as well! 34. Pancake breakfast: Another classic idea and fun as well. Sell tickets ahead of time as well as at the door. Set up seating in the cafeteria or in the school gym & serve the community a wonderful breakfast! Communities love gatherings and breakfast food. 35. Popcorn sales: Go out and rent a commercial popcorn machine and make a variety of popcorn. Carmel corn & kettle corn are always hot sellers at football games or school events. Check with school officials and have it at basketball games as well. 36. Winter carnival: Put together a team of volunteers that want to help run an assortment of activities & games for kids and families to enjoy. Sell your tickets ahead of time & make it a winter-themed event. Have your tickets be entry tickets where each activity in the event costs a certain amount of tickets. Example: hot chocolate will cost 1 ticket, a booth like snow bowling will cost 3 tickets, and so on. 37. Summer carnival: Very similar to the winter carnival event, brainstorm some fun outdoor activities that will appeal to your community. Just like in the winter event, sell your tickets ahead of time and have each booth or activity cost at a certain number of tickets. Example: a balloon toss would cost 1 ticket, a cake walk would cost 3 tickets, and so on. 38. Flower sale: Simply sell flowers/ bulbs to the local community right before spring. Target holidays like Valentines day or May Day. 39. Halloween bake sale: Hype up a bake sale by giving it a theme. Pumpkin cookies, Pumpkin pie, candy corn cake, you name it, people will love you for it. 40. Chocolate sales: Chocolate sales are great around Valentine’s Day. Theme out your event and offer local delivery before February 14th! 41. Pizza day: Create a pizza day where classrooms can order ahead of time for the pizza of their liking. Work with local pizza joints to split the proceeds for your event. 42. Flea market or rummage sale: Let local families and friends know about your charity or event and give them the opportunity to help by bringing in items they want to get rid of from home like old toys, books, or household items. 43. Craft sale: Get students & their parents to create crafts for public purchase. Have classrooms create different crafts to contribute for public sale. 44. Coupon book sale: A very popular option for schools. Get together with your local businesses & sell books of coupons for free bees or savings from restaurants, vendors, & even hotels. The school keeps the sales of the coupon books and businesses get more business. It’s a win win and very popular way to raise money. 45. Holiday wreaths: Stoke up the holiday spirit by making and selling wreaths to students and their families. A good time to do this is in November for Thanksgiving and just before Christmas. 46. Dance-a-thon: Get students & their families to participate in a dance-a-thon. Get pledges for locals based on how long they can dance & stay on the floor! Create a great list of songs as this one can go for a while. Also make some side money by selling refreshments & snacks at the dance. Top it off with a 50-50 raffle to really stack the event. 47. Talent show: Show off students talents by offering a talent show. Allow both individuals & team entry. Offer tickets to friends & family to come and watch the event. Have snacks and drinks as a side income as well. 48. Gift basket auction: Ask locals to donate items from their businesses to help create local business gift baskets that parents & students can bid on. A great example would be a “Movie” basket that has theatre tickets, a gift certificate for popcorn, and an assortment of classic movie candy. 49. Silent auction: Put together some donated items from local businesses or even create vouchers for student services & have a silent auction in the school cafeteria or gymnasium. Bidders are allowed to walk around to different stations for a limited time & write down an offer price down on whatever item piques their interest. 50. Cake walk: Get volunteers to bake any kind of cake they like for the event. Sometimes the crazier the better. Put the donated cakes in a giant circle with a designated number on each one. Participants will start walking around the circle of cakes to music (like musical chairs). When the music stops, a random number will be drawn from a pot & the person standing in front of that number wins the cake. People will pay or buy tickets for entries into the cake walk.
Top School Fundraiser Activities Continued…51. Haunted house: Everyone love a Halloween event. Offer tickets for locals, students, & parents to a haunted house. Put this together in the gymnasium or even a local event center. Get plenty of volunteers to dress up and scare a few people. 52. Teacher charity game: Create excitement in school by setting up a teacher charity game that is made up of teams of teachers & faculty from your school. Offer tickets to the event & make a little extra money by having a concession stand as well. Consider it casual or a serious game, either way, it should be fun. 53. Teacher charity concert: Get your teachers to perform a musical concert for the community or even just the students! Offer tickets to watch the event. Teachers can perform solo or in groups, it makes no difference. They could get really creative & perform with well-known artists to join them. 54. Recycling round up: Make money with pop cans! Get students and families alike to bring in their pop cans for you to make money for your event or charity. Also accept donations in general for people who just want to support the cause. 55. School supply lists: Sometimes office supply stores offer to give a portion of proceeds back to your school. Be sure to check with local retailers to see if they offer a program like this. 56. Gift-wrapping station: During big holidays, offer a gift-wrapping station that students & parents can bring their presents to get wrapped at a nominal to low cost. 57. Read-a-Thon: Much like a dance-a-thon, students will read during a limited period of time. Ask local patrons to sponsor you for money based on how long you can read. 58. Food drive: Have the community pitch in and create a drive where they can bring no-perishable foods for local food banks or charity 59. Spa Night: Get local spa professionals to offer an evening of pampering for people! This can be everything from nail technicians, to hair stylists, to make up artists, or even massage therapists. They can discount or even donate their services for your schools benefit. 60. Fashion show: Reach out to local retailers who can provide clothing that students can wear to put on a fashion show. Get ticket sales ahead of time or just sell them at the door. 61. Multicultural fair: Showcase the many cultures that make up our communities thru delicious foods & talents by students. They can host an event where cultural traditions are encouraged and will give locals a taste of something exciting and new. 62. Recipe book: Every family typically has family recipes that are handed down for generations. Use some of these to create a school recipe book. Offer the book to locals & parents to enjoy for years to come. 63. Charity ball: Put on an evening ball for locals and students alike. Give the ball a theme and have local businesses help out with catering and decorations. 64. Online crowdfunding: Online crowdfunding is a great way to raise money for you charity or cause. Creative incentives or gifts for people who donate. If you get creative and offer big incentives, you are likely to raise a lot of money. Ask local businesses for donations as well. 65. “Give It Up” challenge: Have students and their families give donations big and small towards a goal or event. When the goal is achieved, teachers or faculty will commit to give up something such as sweets, coffee, or something to that affect. Some schools make this a weeklong event with increasing daily goals. 66. Art exhibition: Showcase student artwork and set up an art gallery for it in the school. Locals can come and bid on all the students artwork offered. The school can then give a portion the proceeds to a community group or local charity. 67. Live auction: Source some local high priced items or even sentimental school items that can be auctioned off for charity or an event. Guests will compete in a live event for the highest bid on the items. Even better, make it a dinner auction and make money on the food as well. 68. Battle of the Bands: Create a fundraising concert when local talent can showcase their skills and battle it out for first prize. Bands may just perform for the publicity alone. The winner will be decided by attendees voting on their favorite band. Offer drinks and concessions for extra profit. 69. Principal challenge: Ask your principal or even just a favorite teacher to do something shocking or drastic if you reach your fundraising goal. An example might be that they shave their head or dress a certain way for a week. You can get creative with this one. 70. Rubber Duck Race: A classic event in its own right. Simply sell some yellow rubber duckies and give each duck a number. Then race the purchased dusks either in a pool or down a local river and designate a “finish line.” to determine a winner. Check the number on the winning duck & hand out donated prizes accordingly.
We have given you 30 ways to raise money for your school! This list is not an exhaustive one as there are many creative ways to host fundraisers. However, these fundraiser ideas are favored among many students and teachers! Whether you’re hosting a goofy talent show, baking brownies and cookies or running through a timed obstacle course, you’re guaranteed to create lasting memories for a lifetime. Students never forget their days in school as that’s where they learn to grow, laugh and cry.