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The 3 Most Successful Fundraising Ideas for Schools

By Clay Boggess on Apr 8, 2023
School Fundraising Ideas

Three common types of school fundraisers explained.

The best way to innovate fundraising ideas for schools is to examine the standard campaign methods. According to PTO Today, a primary resource for PTO and PTA leaders at K-8 schools nationwide, school groups raise more than $1.5 billion yearly selling various products.

Let’s discuss the big three, brochure, online, and direct sale fundraisers, plus their advantages and disadvantages. Along the way, we’ll discover ideas for each school fundraiser type.

Brochure Fundraisers

A brochure fundraiser, also called a catalog fundraiser, is one common campaign type used by schools aiming to raise funds. Examples of goods sold in brochure fundraisers include flowers, jewelry, candy, and home goods.

What Is A Brochure Fundraiser?

The brochure fundraiser for schools consists of a paper or digital catalog or brochure which lists several goods available for sale, typically including photos. Customers purchase the goods through the catalog, and a portion of the proceeds go towards your school’s cause.

Pros and Cons of Brochure Fundraisers:

Implementing a brochure fundraiser has several pros and cons.


  • There is a large selection to choose from.
  • Customers can see a photo of the product before purchasing. 
  • Students don’t have to carry products around while selling.


  • The customer must wait for the item to be delivered.
  • Sellers must visit their customers twice- when ordering and when delivering.
  • The actual product may look different from how it appeared in the brochure.

Online Fundraisers

As of late, online fundraisers have been taking off. Examples of online fundraisers for schools include events, community classes and workshops, product sales, social media campaigns, and peer-to-peer fundraising pages.

What Is An Online Fundraiser?

An online fundraiser is just that- a fundraising campaign held entirely online. As listed above, various options exist when launching an online sale.

Pros and Cons of Online Fundraisers:

Hosting your fundraiser online has several advantages and disadvantages.


  • There are no paper brochures or order forms to manage.
  • There is no physical exchange of money.
  • Online fundraisers commonly increase sales due to easy access and increased market size.
  • Both group sponsors and students can track their sales in real time.
  • No handling of the actual product, which means no school deliveries.


  • There is little opportunity to network with your market/supporters, which can feel impersonal.
  • Donors can only see the product in person after purchasing it.
  • Less in-person seller motivation and accountability by their sponsors.

Direct Sale Fundraisers

Direct sale fundraisers can take many shapes. Products offered are often snack and food items, but they can also be discount cards, school merchandise, or holiday items.

What Is A Direct Sale Fundraiser?

A direct sale fundraiser means your school buys the product outright, typically at a premium, and then sells the product directly to the consumer. The revenue made represents funds secured.

Pros and Cons of Direct Sale Fundraisers

Like a brochure and online fundraiser, direct sale campaigns have pros and cons.


  • Funds brought in through purchases are accessible immediately.
  • Customers can see products in person before purchasing.
  • Items are available on-site- no wait time for customers.


  • Schools must buy the product upfront out of pocket.
  • The school must store leftover items.
  • There is the possibility of a surplus.

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Author Bio Clay Boggess, Author

Clay Boggess has been designing fundraising programs for schools and various nonprofit organizations throughout the US since 1999. He’s helped administrators, teachers, and outside support entities such as PTAs and PTOs raise millions of dollars. Clay is an owner and partner at Big Fundraising Ideas.

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