Best High School Fundraising Ideas for 2021

Motivate your high school students to reach their goals in 2021

Of all the age groups, coming up with effective high school fundraising ideas can prove to be the most challenging. However, if approached correctly, it can prove to be the most rewarding as well. Students at this level are dealing with many challenges. Incoming freshmen may feel overwhelmed as they’re forced to navigate their way around a much larger school. And being the youngest once again in an environment where many students are already preparing for college and their careers can be intimidating.

Every high school student, regardless of age, is most likely dealing with issues like peer pressure or learning how to balance a busy schedule.

So how can group sponsors, who need to raise money so their group can function, convince already busy high school students to add one more thing to their plate with a fundraiser? This has proven to be the million dollar question for many.

It all comes down to whether your group is a priority to your students or not. Some organizations have less of an uphill battle than others. Football and cheerleading are 2 examples. Many high school students want peer recognition and both of these activities offer high visibility.

Football head coaches have been known to pass our discount cards and tell his players that they have 5 days to sell them and bring back the money. If you want to be in the coach’s good graces, what high school student is not going to follow through? Cheerleaders need to raise money for expensive uniforms and competition. They don’t have much of a choice either. They’re probably going to be motivated to fundraise.

But what if you’re sponsoring the sophomore class? True, you may have a lot of students. Yet how can you get more participation? That can prove to be much more of a challenge.

On one hand, it’s important to be empathetic. You must have a good understanding of what your students are already dealing with outside your group. Students are much more likely to respond if they know you care about them and respect their issues.

On the flip side, you have to come across as strong and convincing. Effective leaders are able to persuade and influence others regardless of the potential obstacles. They’re both positive and forward-thinking. Being able to paint a picture in the minds of your students of how the group will be better off once the money has been raised is crucial.

Here are 3 practical high school fundraising ideas that have been proven to improve student involvement and help your group reach and even exceed its financial goals in 2021 and beyond:

1. Solidify Your Why with a Kickoff Meeting

Back to our previous question. How do you get your students to make raising money for your group a priority?

It all starts with solidifying your why. How will the money raised benefit the group, and more importantly, each of your students? If you can somehow get into the minds of your students and communicate your mission effectively, your sale will benefit. But to accomplish this, you’ll need to take the time to meet with your students before your sale starts. This is your opportunity to “rally the troops” and establish group cohesiveness.

The kickoff meeting is an opportunity to establish a strong foundation and get your sale off to a strong start. Many schools require groups to book their sale according to a fundraising calendar. This may be your only opportunity for your organization to raise money. Why not put everything you can into making your one opportunity a big success?

Your kickoff meeting needs to be treated like a lesson plan. Communicating your why requires preparation and presentation time. If you give it priority, so will your students.

Learn our 5 steps to a successful sale: Your Complete High School Fundraiser Kickoff Guide

Unfortunately, many sponsors will simply make a general announcement that if any students are interested in helping out, they can stop by their classroom to pick up fundraiser materials. What kind of response do you think this usually gets? Sponsors that employ this strategy often don’t know any different. They’re grateful for whatever comes in. And since these groups usually don’t raise enough money the first time around, they end up having to get by on what they have.

We get it. Not only are students busy, so are sponsors. You can’t assume that your students already understand the group’s mission. Meeting with your students is a time to solidify group unity and encourage your students to do their part.

So make your meeting mandatory. If you want to be a part of the group, you need to attend. Why? Because fundraisers are necessary in order for the group to flourish. This is where you’ll need to convince your students that participation is vital. It’s your job to sell them on why selling is expected.

A good kickoff meeting is the first important step to successful high school fundraising.

2. Track Sales Progress Throughout

Once you have your students on board, your next task is to keep the momentum going. It’s been demonstrated that the first 3 to 4 days are when the majority of catalog sales are made. Let your students know that you will be holding them accountable to sell. This needs to be communicated from day 1.

It will also be important to set a seller goal. Students need to know what’s expected of them. Simply telling them to ‘sell as much as they can’ is vague at best. Every student will have a different interpretation of this phrase. As the group sponsor, you should already know how much money the group needs to raise. Here is a simple formula that you can use to determine what we call an ‘item goal’:

Calculation Steps:

  1. Money Needed ÷ Total Students = Profit / Seller
  2. 2. Profit / Seller ÷ Profit / Item = Item Goal


  1. Let’s say you need to raise $2,000 and you have 50 students in your group. The money each student would need to raise would be $40.
  2. To raise $40, each student would need to sell 8 items. (The profit per item is about $5 in the typical catalog at 40% profit).

For more information see our Fundraiser Goal Setting Guide

Once you’ve determined how much your students need to sell, you’ll need to meet periodically and track their progress. If your students know in advance that you plan to track their sales, they’ll be more apt to keep up with the selling. This also teaches your students that successful selling is actually the sum of smaller more manageable daily goals.

One idea that we’ve found works well with high school groups is to incorporate our money game into 3 different check in days. The great thing about the game is not only does it encourage more selling; it make the entire process fun for the students.

Learn how to track student sales progress

3. Good High School Fundraising Ideas Are Competitive

With the right incentives, the sales will follow. High school students become more motivated if you introduce fun and exciting selling incentives. Consider dividing your group into smaller teams so you can offer special rewards or privileges to the top selling team. You can do this throughout your sale, not just after the sale.

For instance, you can tie your rewards to activities that your students already perform as members of the group. If you are a sports team, the team that sells the most after the first day doesn’t have to put equipment away, or is exempt from running at the end of practice. As a sponsor you should already know what will motivate your group. And the great thing is, if you’re creative, you’ll come up with ways to increase your profits without having to spend extra money.

It all comes back to what we’ve said from the beginning. Successful high school fundraising happens as the result of your students understanding why they're selling and how they'll benefit.

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