The COVID-19 pandemic has turned many schools’ day-to-day operations upside down. With plenty of schools going at least partially remote, administrators have to go the extra mile to capture students’ attention, both in and out of the virtual classroom.
Involving students in your fundraising efforts can get them engaged in school
Fundraisers give you an effective platform to teach them about charitable giving benefits. But how do you make sure your students want to get involved?
While you’re creating your fundraising plan for the remainder of this school year, keep your strategies student-centered to teach these essential charitable lessons. Firsthand learning will allow them to see the power of philanthropy at work. Plus, you’ll raise the necessary revenue to help your school reach its fundraising goals, despite the obstacles 2020 has thrown your way.
In this article, we will explore school fundraising ideas boiled down to three major categories:
- Donations and Drives
- Remote Fundraisers
- Games and Competitions
Funds2Orgs’ school fundraising ideas guide explores more than 70 compelling ideas, but we’ve pulled eight of our favorite ones for those of you who are in a hurry to get started. Now, let’s dive straight into our first category: donations and drives!
Donations and Drives
Schools have long relied on fundraising drives to bring much-needed donations and supplies into their institutions. While there are classic ones that always do well, there are also more unique, highly engaging, and incredibly rewarding ideas. No matter what type of drive you host, you’ll find that students are willing to participate, because they can easily contribute while seeing the difference they’re making.
1. Shoe Drive Fundraiser
Our top classroom-friendly fundraising idea is a shoe drive fundraiser. Given its originality, this fundraising idea is sure to capture students’ attention. It’s an effective way to pull in funds while helping the kids and their families declutter their closets.
Best of all, this fundraiser is incredibly straightforward and easy to pull off. Here’s how a shoe drive fundraiser works, broken down into four easy steps:
- Partner with a shoe drive fundraising coordinator.
- The fundraising coordinator will provide collection materials to place around your school and/or community.
- Call on students and families to place their gently worn, used and new shoes into the collection bins.
- Notify the fundraising coordinator, who will pick up the shoes (contact-free!) and send you a check in the mail.
Kids love shoe drive fundraisers because it’s so easy for them to get involved. The students are fully in charge of bringing in the shoes for the fundraiser and can take responsibility for the event’s success once it’s over. The payoff isn’t only financial! While you raise money, you’re also teaching kids about charitable habits and the value of repurposing their unwanted belongings instead of tossing them out.
How many required-reading books do the kids at your school buy, read, and then never touch again? Put these books to good use with a book drive!
Book donations are another drive that helps get kids involved with charitable giving at your school.
Kids can bring in their old books they don’t need anymore. Then, the school can resell them to other kids at a lower price.
There are several benefits you can emphasize to promote a book drive to the kids. You could choose to:
- Congratulate kids for improving their reading levels, and encourage them to donate old books that they’ve outgrown for younger kids to buy and enjoy.
- Remind parents that the past assigned books will be donated to the drive, so they can save money and support the school by purchasing a used copy.
- Tell parents and kids alike why you’re raising money and all the benefits that will result from the drive. Will you buy new textbooks? Computers? Another resource?
To keep students safe while fundraising, gather books by placing collection bins around the school to drop their donations off while socially distanced from others. No matter which marketing strategies you use to appeal to the masses at your school, don’t forget to create flyers to hang up around the school. Style these flyers with the necessary date, time, and location, so everyone knows when and where they can participate.
Canned Food Drive
Here’s a classic fundraising idea! Canned food drives are a great way to clean out the pantry while collecting materials for your local food drive. For your next canned food drive, ask for donations in addition to canned food items from your students.
Asking for donations and/or cans from students takes some of the pressure off the parents. For instance:
- If a parent is more comfortable or finds it more convenient to give money, they save a trip to the store to buy canned food.
- If a parent is financially unable to send in a donation, their child can still feel like they’re contributing by donating an inexpensive can of food.
Try turning this fundraiser into a game or competition! Reward the class that donates the most cans with a pizza party. You’ll find that students are much more motivated to participate when some free time and bragging rights are on the line.
Due to the pandemic, it’s a smart move to host a fundraiser that’s entirely online because of ongoing health concerns. According to Snowball’s guide to virtual fundraising, a digital fundraising campaign boosts convenience on both the giving and the receiving end, encourages your community to participate from the comfort of their own homes, and allows for more flexible payment options.
Considering these benefits, we’ve pulled together three options that your team can easily implement to engage students.
4. Virtual Fun Run
Planning fundraising events in which your kids can participate puts the “fun” back in “fundraising” for everyone! Fun runs are a tried-and-true classic event idea for kids of all ages. Not only will a fun run raise money for the school, but it will also allow the kids to burn off some of their never-ending energy. And thanks to advancements in technology, you can now take this fundraiser to the virtual space.
To move your race to the digital sphere, all you need for this event is a registration form and a way to record the results. We recommend that students and other participants complete the race at their own location and record their results using a free smartphone app or a smartwatch.
To make the most of this event, other additions will bring the event to the next level, such as:
- Writing sponsorship letters to secure support from local businesses.
- Organizing different race lengths for different audiences (mile, 5K, 10K, etc.).
- Promising prizes for the winner of each age group.
- Designing a race t-shirt to sell.
Try to get the families of kids involved in these extra activities. Parents who own businesses might become sponsors of the event, and other parents may choose to volunteer to hand out water or prizes.
As a bonus idea, set up a shoe drive fundraiser if you’re hosting this event in person. Kids and adults alike can toss their old running shoes after they finish running, and your profits will increase dramatically! If you’re hosting this remotely, offer a reduced entry fee in exchange for a pair of gently worn, used or new shoes that they can drop off in a collection bin.
5. Online Talent Show
Organize a talent show so your school’s students can show off their hidden talents! From dancers to singers, jump ropers to karate masters, and everything in between, you’re bound to be surprised by the creativity and skills of your students. While this is undoubtedly an effective fundraiser that can be hosted in person, there are also options for moving your talent show online.
To bring this idea to life, simply use live streaming tools to broadcast your students’ performances. Once it’s time for your virtual talent show to go live, share the link with attendees, and promote the concert for viewers to join and enjoy.
Supercharge your school’s talent show by employing additional fundraising methods, such as:
- Selling tickets to see the show. This is the most common way to make money with a talent show. Sell virtual tickets well in advance, and parents will be excited to watch their kids steal the spotlight.
- Setting up a concession stand. At a traditional talent show, you’re able to sell popcorn, drinks, candy, and other snacks to parents for them to munch on while they wait for their child to take the stage. Stick to this tradition by shipping the snacks to attendees instead.
- Recording the show and selling that video to families. You’re not just creating a video—you’re developing memories for parents to look back on and reminisce, especially as their kids grow up.
Students will enjoy showing off their talents while simultaneously raising money for your school, and parents will enjoy seeing their kids shine. Whether in-person or in the digital sphere, this fundraiser gets everyone involved!
6. Product Fundraiser
Product fundraisers tend to be highly profitable since supporters get a tangible item in return for their generous contributions. Plus, these campaigns are incredibly easy to take to the digital space, so long as you’re backed by a sufficient platform that allows you to create an online storefront.
There are two primary directions you can take with this type of campaign:
- Apparel fundraiser: Selling custom school t-shirts and other branded apparel to your students is a great way to raise money, encourage school spirit, and provide a lasting memory. Deepen student involvement by hosting a design competition. Then, put the most eye-catching designs up for sale.
- Food sales: Encourage students to take on the responsibility of fundraising with a food sale. The great part about this product fundraiser is they’re very cost-effective, and there are endless options, ranging from popcorn and candy bars to beef jerky. Spark motivation by turning it into a competition and offering a prize to the students who sell the most.
You may even consider combining this with other fundraising events to maximize profit and amp up excitement for other aspects of your school. For instance, your school’s sports teams can host a food sale as an annual fundraiser or sell t-shirts to commemorate a big championship win. Get creative, and you’re bound to secure some fundraising dollars.
Games and Competitions
Nothing amps up students’ excitement quite like some friendly competition. Bring this element to your fundraisers to maximize profits. There are quite a few options for doing so, but let’s take a look at two of the most commonly hosted competition-based fundraisers: board game nights and field days.
7. Board Game Nights
Host a board game tournament for some good ol’ family fun. This tournament is incredibly easy to set up and super entertaining for families. Kids will enjoy competing with their peers and loved ones, while their parents will treasure the memories brought back by their old favorites.
To host one of these tournament fundraisers, all you need to do is:
- Encourage your students to bring in their favorite board games to play with their friends.
- Sell tickets to families so they can enjoy the activity together.
- Set up tables and a scoreboard (if you want one).
- Start playing!
To make a little extra profit in addition to the ticket sales, try setting up a concession stand or a shoe drive fundraiser collection box at the tournament. Combining these fundraisers will help to keep everyone engaged while earning some additional revenue.
This classic fundraiser will keep your students active while raising money for their education. Talk about excellent benefits!
With a field day fundraiser, this fun outdoor activity involves setting up all sorts of physically challenging, yet entertaining, games for kids to play.
It provides time for students to step away from technology and get some fresh air.
Some of the activities you may choose to include in your field day include:
- An obstacle race
- A water balloon toss
- Sack races
- A hula-hoop ring toss
Sell tickets to participate in these games in addition to spectator seats. Families can come and cheer on their kids, making it an afternoon for everyone to enjoy! Similar to a fun run, you can coordinate this event with a shoe drive fundraiser and encourage students to donate their gently worn, used or new shoes in exchange for a reduced entry fee.
If you’re looking for even more fundraising ideas, check out this resource that offers over 100 unique suggestions that are sure to engage your entire community. You may even encourage students to get creative and come up with a few themselves. You never know how far their imaginations will take them. If you choose one of their ideas, this will naturally invest them further into making the fundraiser a success.
While all of these fundraisers can be conducted while social distancing, they’ll still be effective once the pandemic and social distancing guidelines dissipate. Now that an army of ideas backs you, it’s time to pick your favorites to try this school year. Now, go out and get to fundraising!
Guest Author Bio
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations.