In a perfect world, schools wouldn’t need to do fundraisers. But in the real world, they’re a regular fact of life. These fundraising ideas for schools will help you bring in money for field trips, special projects, classroom improvements, and anything else you need. (Looking for information on raising money via grants? See our big list of K-12 education grants here.)
Easy School Fundraising Ideas
Need a fundraiser that doesn’t require lots of time or effort? These are all terrific choices, and you can easily run more than one of these at once.
An Alabama high school seems to have been one of the first to try this concept, and it quickly went viral. Funny letters ask parents to simply donate money rather than contributing to a bake sale, buying wrapping paper, or any one of the other myriad activities schools usually try. See example letters and learn how it works here.
Caps for Cash
Offer students the chance to break the dress code for a day—for a price! For a single dollar, a student can wear a hat to school all day long. This is such an easy idea, and you can repeat it every few months.
This is like AmazonSmile but for a huge selection of shopping sites. It’s easy to set up the school in the database, so do that first. Then start including links to the site in future newsletters or mailings. Parents are usually happy to support efforts like these—they just forget they exist, so offer plenty of reminders. Learn about Goodsearch here.
These are some of the easiest fundraising ideas for schools. All you have to do is team up with the sponsoring restaurant and choose a day. Then, urge families and community members to eat there at the designated time. Your school receives a percentage of all the sales! Find 50+ restaurants that do fundraisers here.
Gift Card Fundraisers
Sometimes called scrip fundraisers, these are another simple option that doesn’t require much work on the school’s end, other than getting the word out. Sign up with a company like Raise Right, and invite people to buy gift cards from popular vendors like Target, Starbucks, or Panera Bread. Buyers don’t pay anything extra, and schools earn up to 20%. So easy!
Box Tops for Education
This program has been around for a long time, but these days it’s gone digital. Families simply scan their shopping receipts using the Box Tops app, and it automatically calculates the school’s earnings (usually 10 cents per qualifying item). This is easier than ever before.
The EcoPhones recycling fundraiser collects old cell phones, inkjet printer cartridges, outdated electronics (even if they don’t work!), and more. Schools simply put out the call for donations and collect them, then send them (postage paid) to the company. Each individual item isn’t worth much, but the effort is minimal and the items can add up.
These are popular at sporting events because they’re so easy to do. Donors buy a ticket for a chance to win half the money collected. The other half goes to the school. Simple!
Ask local businesses if they’d be willing to put bins by the cash register to college spare-change donations for your school. Arrange to pick up the funds on a regular basis. Even if it’s only a few dollars at a time, this one couldn’t be easier.
Creative Fundraising Ideas for Schools
These clever ideas are unique and fun! Tap into your school talent and come up with ideas that show you’re thinking outside the box.
Will your students pay for the chance to see the principal kiss a pig, get covered in silly string, or spend a night on the school roof? We bet they will! Some principals have raised a lot of money for schools with activities like these. Find more principal stunt ideas here.
School Art Auction
Each class works together to create a special collaborative art project. Then, all the projects are auctioned off at a gala event to raise money. Find lots of fun school art auction project ideas here.
School Staff Talent Show
Let your teachers, custodians, administrators, and other school staff show off their unique talents! Students love realizing the people they see every day have abilities they never dreamed of. (Tip: Offer video teasers during your morning announcements to drum up excitement.)
Mile of Pennies
How many pennies does it take to add up to a mile? Find out with this clever idea, inspired by a teacher in Illinois. (OK, we’ll tell you: $844.80!) This is a fun twist on a penny fundraiser. Challenge your students to bring in enough to go even further.
Stock up on wrapping paper and ribbons (plan ahead for next year by hitting after-holiday sales!). Then, offer a gift-wrapping service one weekend at your school. Students wrap gifts for donations per item, taking care of one of the holiday chores many people abhor. Set up a booth to sell hot chocolate and holiday cookies while people wait!
Hold a contest to find the best new design for a school spirit shirt. Then, make those shirts a reality, and sell them to raise funds. Find the best places to buy school spirit shirts here.
Family Photo Day
Find a professional photographer (or talented amateur) willing to volunteer their time, then arrange a day when families can gather and have their photos taken for a donation. They receive the photos digitally to do whatever they like with them, so all you need is the time of the photographer and a nice place to take the pics.
Dance-athon, read-athon, walk-athon, jump-rope–athon—the possibilities are endless! Students ask for pledges per minute danced, book read, steps taken, number of jumps, and so on. Be creative, and remember to provide options for those who have mobility challenges.
Students make a small donation to enter the tournament, then compete in heats until there’s one final champion. You can offer a cash prize or other options like homework passes, pizza for lunch, etc. Break it down like this: First, students compete in their classrooms or homerooms to find a winner in each. Then, those winners face off in a public competition assembly. The competition can be fierce!
Paint the Tiles
Chance are your school ceilings are made of those lightweight tiles. Turn them into works of art with this unique idea! For a donation, families get one tile to decorate any way they like. Put them back up, and you’ll have a colorfully decorated school in addition to some extra funds. Learn about this idea at Chaotically Yours.
Turn your school’s classrooms into a Halloween adventure. Students will have fun coming up with themes and decorations, and they can serve as guides or scary monsters too.
Teachers vs. Students Game
Whether it’s basketball, softball, or trivia, anything that pits teachers against students is sure to be a hit! Charge admission for the game, and don’t forget to set up a concession stand.
Ask students and their families to contribute their favorite recipes, then combine them into one big school cookbook to sell. Make it even more special by asking talented students to illustrate some of the dishes, or include photos instead.
Rubber Ducky Race
You’ll need a moving body of water for this fun fundraising idea, and a whole lot of rubber duckies! Participants purchase a duck and write their name or number on the bottom. Then, all the ducks are set loose at the beginning of the course. The first one to cross the finish line wins! Offer a cash prize, or get a local business to donate a prize instead.
Gather up your students’ best writing into one beautiful volume, and offer it for sale to parents, families, and the wider community. This is a lasting way to share students’ talents and gifts, while raising money for your school at the same time.
Community Fundraising Ideas
Go beyond parents and grandparents and invite the whole community to participate! These events can also be a great way to show off your school to neighbors and families without kids.
Pub quizzes are really popular, so set up your own version in the school cafeteria or a local restaurant. Charge admission for teams to enter, with cash or donated prizes as incentive to enter.
This is an old standard fundraiser, but it remains popular for a reason. Make yours special by raffling off something unique, like dinner with a local celebrity or a VIP experience at a local attraction.
Invite the community to join you for a pancake breakfast, spaghetti supper, or chili dinner! These are especially effective when you hold them right before a major event like a football game. Get students and parents involved in the preparation and cleanup, and ask local businesses to donate ingredients and other supplies.
Have students make crafts as part of their art class or classroom activities. Then, hold a sale so the community can come and buy their wares! Try these around the holidays, when kids can make tree ornaments, or as a school spirit fundraiser with items made to celebrate your institution.
This is another standard favorite, one that’s perfect for the warm days at the beginning or end of the school year. Here’s another idea: Set up a self-cleaning station near your school’s pickup/drop-off line. Provide trash cans, a shop vac or two, and some window cleaner and cloths. Parents can give the inside of their car a once-over while they wait for their kids, and donate a few dollars when they do.
Silent auctions are fun, and generally much easier than a live auction because you don’t need an auctioneer. Gather a variety of items from donors, then set up them up on tables with bidding sheets nearby. Participants have a set amount of time to circulate and make their bids, perhaps while enjoying snacks or entertainment. When the time is up, the highest bidder on each item wins.
This is a nice way to bring in some extra cash and celebrate your community’s diversity at the same time. Students can display their own culture’s favorite foods, customs, music, dances, and more. Charge admission for entry, or have booths where guests can buy treats or souvenirs.
The classic kids game takes on a whole new personality when you pair it with exciting prizes! Make money from this popular entertainment by charging participants by the card.
Show a movie in your auditorium, or host an outdoor screening in nice weather. Charge admission, and sell concessions like popcorn, candy, and other treats too. (You may need a license for this fundraiser; learn more here.)
Whenever groups gather, set up a concession stand nearby! Think athletic events, concert intermissions, and even PTA meetings.
Donor Wall or Fence
Local businesses make a donation and earn a spot on your donor wall or fence. They can hang a banner, paint a brick, or add a stepping stone—whatever works for your location.
Community Yard Sale or Farmers Market
You can do this in one of two ways: Collect items from donors, then get students to volunteer to help sort, tag, and sell them at a massive sale. Or sell individual tables or spaces for a small amount ($10–$25 each). Participants bring and sell their own items, taking home any extra profits for themselves. (Tip: This is a great way to get rid of items that have built up in the school lost and found!)
Bake Sale and Bake-Off
This is an old standby, but many people still love them. Make it even more exciting by combining it with a bake-off event. People buy tickets that allow them to sample the goodies and cast their votes. Yum!
We won’t lie: This takes a lot of work. But it’s so much fun! Turn each classroom into a different “carnival booth,” with food for sale, entertainment, or games with small prizes. Sell tickets that folks can use to visit each room, or charge admission at the door to cover all the activities.
This is the ultimate in sponsorship—the ability to name an auditorium, sports field, library, or other school facility. This can be for a year or for all time. Just price your sponsorships accordingly. Open it up to businesses, organizations, foundations, or families.
Many businesses are happy to make tax-deductible donations to nonprofit organizations, but you have to be willing to ask. Check out this how-to guide on asking for local and national corporate donations for your school.
Invite the community to join in on a school fundraiser fun run. Set a distance like 5K, and ask for donations from those who wish to participate. Set the course, and let the race begin! For even more fun, choose a theme and have runners dress up to match it.
Students volunteer their time to complete chores or other activities for bidders. For instance, a student might offer up three hours of yard work, an afternoon of housecleaning, five beginner piano lessons, or a night of babysitting. This combines service learning with fundraising and gives students a sense of ownership.
Start plants from seeds, or purchase them wholesale from a local grower. Then spend a spring day selling those plants to raise money for your school. (You can also sell poinsettias during the holidays.)
Help your whole community nurture a love of reading with a used-book sale. Collect gently used books of all types, then have students help sort and price them (or simply charge $1 for paperbacks and $2 for hardbacks). Hold your sale on its own, or pair up with sporting events or other activities.
Sales Fundraising Ideas for Schools
Get those order forms ready! Fundraising sales teach kids important interpersonal skills, so encourage them to do the legwork (instead of their parents). Here are some ideas for popular fundraising companies for schools to try.