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Back To School Fundraising Ideas for All Ages

By Clay Boggess on Sep 9, 2023
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School Fundraising Ideas

How To Fundraise for Your School: Elementary Through University.

Matching your school fundraiser choice to your students' age is critical in student participation. For example, you'll have little to no student participation if you choose an online fundraiser for 1st or 2nd-grade students. While they may have computer skills at this age, their capabilities will be limited, and parents may not support their involvement.

You should consider the students' age when determining how engaged students will be in fundraising. Typically, the older the students, the more they can do to help earn funds for your school.

Fundraising Ideas for Schools

In the following section, we break down 15 fundraising ideas for schools by age group, including elementary school fundraising, high school fundraising, and university fundraising.

Five Fundraising Ideas for Elementary Schools

Consider the following five ideas for your next elementary school fundraiser.

1. Cookie Dough Sales

The sweet tooth is at its prime in elementary school, and kids will go crazy for cookies. The anticipation makes them happy, enthusiastic, and often successful sellers. Kids can sell cookie dough door-to-door with a parent chaperon or ask family members to take the brochure to work.

2. Lemonade Stand

Students can set up lemonade stands near the school, in front of businesses, at their homes, or a pick-up and drop-off location in the school parking lot. The lemonade stand can be a slower-moving fundraiser, but your students will be eager to participate and proud to raise funds for their school.

3. Host a School Movie Night

Sell tickets to a school movie night for students and parents. Pick an age-appropriate movie that both kids and adults will enjoy.

4. Daddy-Daughter / Mother-Son Dance

Hosting a parent-student dance is a fun way to earn funds for your school while creating lasting memories for your students. Ticket sales, photo booths, snacks, and refreshments can all bring in the necessary funds.

5. Popcorn Day

Sell this tasty treat to raise funds for your school. Parents can purchase at pick-up and drop-off, and students can purchase at lunchtime or a designated snack break during the school day. Sell traditional popcorn or mix it up with fun flavors like caramel corn.

Five Fundraising Ideas for High Schools

Draw inspiration from the following five fundraising ideas for high schools.

1. School Dance

Host a school dance to raise funds for your schools. Students will be excited at the opportunity to get dressed up and have a fun night out with their friends. You can raise money through ticket sales and concessions. Double up this fundraiser with a formal wear drive to help students purchase affordable outfits for the dance while bringing in even more bang for your buck with this high school fundraiser.

2. Read-a-Thon

Encourage students to get their read on with a read-a-thon fundraiser, which encourages learning and exploration into what the student is interested in outside of formally assigned reading lists. Sponsors donate a specified amount per book read to help a student while additionally helping the school.

3. Trivia Night

High school students love events, so why not host an event fundraiser? Host a trivia night with a buy-in to be split between prize money and donations for the school. Invite students, parents, faculty, and alums.

4. Social Media Fundraiser

High schoolers are the perfect group for hosting a social media fundraiser. Nearly all kids this age are on the web, and many have extensive networks to reach out to. A social media campaign can be highly profitable for this age group.

5. Text-to-Give

If there is anything more popular than social media with high school students, it's texting. Ask students to participate in a text-to-give campaign. They provide a phone number and donation code to friends, family, and community members, who can text the amount they want to donate. They can do the entire process from their mobile device!

Five Fundraising Ideas for Universities

These five fundraising ideas are great for university and college-level students.

1. Philanthropic Fundraising

Give back to the community while raising funds for your college. Offer community services and volunteer hours at local nonprofits and other charitable organizations in exchange for donations directly from those organizations or a third-party sponsor.

2. Direct Sale Fundraising

College students are independent and can manage a fundraising booth or table without supervision. Set up on campus, in the community, or at events. Items to sell include gear, food, clothes, and more. For more information, check out these direct-sale fundraising ideas.

3. Solicitation

Students can participate in soliciting donations by calling, emailing, or meeting with potential donors. They can share their involvement in the fundraiser and how a donation will make a positive difference in their college or university experience. Direct solicitations at alums or partnering organizations.

4. Date Night

Host a date night where you can auction a special night out for dinner, dancing or another fun activity in exchange for a school donation. Limit this event to students; sit back and watch the magic unfold. This event is viral for Greek Life fundraising.

5. Sell Your Talent

Students can volunteer their skillsets and talents in exchange for funds for the university or college. Creating art, consulting on a business startup, and tutoring are all examples of talents that can raise funds.

School Fundraising FAQs

Below are a few commonly asked questions regarding fundraising by students' age.

Is Student Participation Important in School Fundraising?

Yes, student participation is critical to success. Donors like to see students involved in your cause. Additionally, the more sellers and hands on deck, the more likely you are to reach your goals.

Are There Fundraisers That Work for All Ages?

There are fundraisers better suited to one age group than another, but with careful planning, you can use any fundraiser for any age group. Great fundraisers that work across various age groups include community events and product fundraisers, including popcorn and cookie dough.

How Can Schools Find Help Planning Fundraisers?

There is ample information on the web to help schools begin the planning process for their next, or first, school fundraiser. Another option is to partner with an experienced fundraising company that can guide your school through the process and connects you with their trusted suppliers.

To learn more about school fundraising, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, where we share fundraising best practices, advice, and inspiration.

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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