Top 20 Back to School Fundraising Ideas for Kids

Fun and easy ways for kids to fundraise for their school groups

Keep kids active, engaged, and involved this fall semester with back to school fundraising. Deciding on a fundraiser that lets kids take the lead can be tough – it must be age appropriate, keep their attention, and appeal to the people they can reach.

Working with a fundraising company like Big Fundraising Ideas (BFI) can simplify the logistics of kid-led fundraisers. We help by enabling groups to sell products online with no inventory, providing tips and tricks, and keeping youth leaders updated on school fundraising trends.

Still, DIY fundraising activities can be a huge hit. Nothing can replace the classic penny war or bake sale which holds a precious place in the hearts of all ages. We put together this list of both DIY and product back to school fundraising ideas for kids to spark inspiration and get your school back in the fundraiser groove.

1. Smencils

Our smencil fundraising products feature a variety of scented pencils and pens made from 100% recycled newspaper and plastic. Smencils and Smens make great fall school fundraisers as students stock up on school supplies. With so many themes, it’s easy to see why schools sell them around seasonal events and holidays like Halloween.

Smencils make the perfect money maker with groups being able to earn up to 45% profit. They’re fun to sell, environmentally conscious, and kid friendly.

2. Custom T-Shirts

T-shirt sales are a great way to foster team spirit at the start of the school year. DIY puffy paint shirts and professional printed gear can easily include the school’s mascot or logo. Some vendors even offer online custom shirt sales with no inventory required.

Looking for a crafty team building activity? Consider making tie dye shirts as a team in your school colors. Dye shirts with fun patterns like a heart, rainbow, or bullseye using easy folding techniques.

3. Talent Show

A talent show fundraiser brings together the students, parents, teachers, and staff for a good cause. Raise funds by selling tickets and charging an entry fee. If hosting a competitive talent show, ask around for businesses or crafty parents that can donate prizes for the top three winners.

Keep in mind that talent shows require a lot of preparation and lead time. Student councils at all age levels can participate in the planning and advertising, but adult support will be required to ensure a seamless event.

4. Shoe Drive

Kids can help the environment while raising money for an important cause by organizing a shoe drive. This popular school fundraiser allows families to collect used shoes to be recycled for no cost.

When you collect gently worn, used, and new shoes, Funds2Orgs provides inventory to 4K+ micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries who sell the shoes to support their families. In turn, they have an opportunity to help themselves out of poverty.

5. Bingo Night

Get kids excited to fundraise with a bingo night with friends – set up indoors by the fire, prepare apple cider, and make fall themed bingo cards. Younger kids love decorating for the party and calling the numbers.

Raise money with bingo night using one of several fee approaches, such as charging a small amount per game or giving players the option to win bigger prizes with higher entry fees. Just decide on your fundraising approach, set up the tables, and invite your friends.

6. CW Home

Your group raises money as your participants take orders from friends and family. BFI offers several catalogue fundraisers for all seasons.

One of our favorites for the fall is CW Home which features stainless kitchenware and home accessories, tasty goodies, personalized gifts, and signature Ultra-HeavyTM gift wrap. The fall semester is a perfect time to promote CW Home while families prepare for the winter holidays.Students and parents love this fundraiser because of the home delivery, online fundraising option, and profits of up to 40%.

7. Theme Party

Who doesn’t love a good theme party? It’s the perfect time to start planning a Halloween fundraising party for your school club or sports team. Sell event tickets to friends and classmates and secure additional donations by charging for special activities or treats.

Halloween party activity ideas abound! Consider incorporating a haunted house, pumpkin carving, zombie race, pumpkin spice latte workshop, horror movies, spooky trivia, or ghost stories.

8. Drink Stand

Set up a hot apple cider or hot chocolate table for a twist on the classic lemonade stand. Incorporate fall décor to grab the attention of passersby and create a cozy ambiance. Charge by the cup or simply ask for a donation of any amount.

For inspiration, look to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Alex Scott hosted a lemonade stand in her front yard at age 4 while battling neuroblastoma. She raised $2K at her first stand to help find a cure for all children battling cancer.

9. Yard Sale

Get your house ready for the holidays and clean up the summer mess by hosting a yard sale fundraiser. Maximize your earnings by organizing a group yard sale with your neighborhood, school, or faith community. Fundraiser Help suggests picking a Saturday and high-traffic location for the greatest attendance.

Kids and teens of all ages can get involved. Younger kids can participate by picking out unused toys and clothes from their closets or decorating signage, while teens can take the lead on orchestrating the yard sale and spreading the word.

10. Gift Wrapping

It’s never too early to prepare for the holiday season. Get started now by talking to your team about a gift-wrapping fundraiser. Double the fundraising potential by both selling gift wrap and offering a gift-wrapping service.

Teach kids how to wrap presents like a pro, and they can have an in-demand service up and running in no time.

11. Popcorn & Movie Night

Gather your friends together for a cozy movie night on the lawn with pillows, blankets, and pajamas. Parents can help pick a film with a meaningful theme that connects to the cause.

This idea includes multiple ways to raise money at a single event. BFI offers gourmet popcorn fundraisers that allow groups to make up to 55% profit. Flavors range from the classic kettle corn and sea salt to creative combinations like jalapeno blue cheese and cake batter.

Kids can sell movie “tickets” and pre-ordered popcorn for movie-goers to enjoy during the show. In addition, they can promote online popcorn orders that can be shipped right to the supporter’s house.

12. Used Book Sale

Books are in season right now with the start of the school year. Dust off your bookshelves, and encourage your friends to do the same for this fundraiser. Display the books in a high-traffic area, like your school library, for optimal reach. Charge a set fee per book and offer a discount for the prolific readers who buy 5 or 10+ books.

Alternatively, create a Little Free Library with a donation box for an educational cause. These tiny neighborhood libraries encourage community building, book access, and readership for all ages. Join the 100K+ libraries worldwide with this fundraising idea.

13. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding allows students to reach a large volume of people and tell their story from the safety of home. In 2020 even in the face of the pandemic, donors gave $17.2B across North America.

Although we do not recommend crowdfunding for elementary schoolers, middle and high school students can participate in a variety of ways. Students should tell their story via video and a written summary and then tap into their social media networks to spread the word.

14. Leaf Raking

Your neighbors will love this one! Raking gives kids a productive outlet for their energy on the off season and helps keep the neighborhood clean. Charge a fee to rake leaves based on the size of the yard or time needed to rake.

Many cities and towns offer organic material disposal, especially during fall. Incorporate any associated fees into your hourly rate to ensure fundraising success. Bare Hill Rowing has a great example of how to organize and advertise a leaf collection fundraiser.

15. Letter Writing

This list would not be complete without the timeless donation letter. In addition to fundraising for a cause close to your kid’s heart, letter writing helps kids practice their penmanship and reconnect with family and friends after the summer break. Who doesn’t love getting a handwritten letter from a kid they love?

16. Silent Auction

Consider a silent auction during your school’s fall carnival, for example. It’s a great way to raise supplemental income. As people walk by to view the items, they put their name, contact information, and how much they’re willing to pay on the bid sheet. Of course as the list grows the dollar amount does too.

Your team of volunteers can be in charge of soliciting a certain number of local businesses to donate items. Agree upfront that everyone will reach out to “x” establishments and obtain “y” agreements. This can also be great publicity for the businesses. Be sure to announce the winners and what they’ve won.

17. Spaghetti Dinner

The spaghetti dinner is a tried and true way to fundraise. Most people love it and food’s a great way to bring everyone together. You will want to sell tickets in advance to give you an idea of how much spaghetti you’ll need to prepare. Then charge a little bit more for the procrastinators who decide to show up at the door. Be sure to advertise the reduced cost of purchasing a ticket in advance.

18. Pledges

This is where your walk-a-thon, or jog-a-thon comes into play. Ask students to ask friends and family to donate a certain dollar amount for each lap they compete. Let the donor decide on the dollar amount.

Prepare a sheet that students can use to write down names, contact information, and the dollar amount the donor agrees to donate. It’s a great idea to have your group name and purpose at the top of the sheet to help sell your cause.

19. Raffle

The raffle can be a fun and effective way to raise money for your cause. Consider announcing the winner as the grand finale to your silent auction. People will thus stick around and spend more time bidding on the other items. This also means that you’re probably going to need an even bigger grand prize.

Getting a local business to help in exchange for some nice publicity is an effective strategy. People know other people so you never know who’ll step up. In addition to the actual prize, the key to getting people to show up to your event is promoting your cause. Get students to sell a certain number of tickets before the event to friends and family.

20. Cook Off

Cook Off fundraisers can be a blast. Especially when many people are confident that they make the best chili, pie, or barbecued _________. Competition can bring out the best in us. If you’re going to allow for multiple food options be sure to have each category in different sections at your event with signs posted. Variety can also bring more people to your event.

Make sure to set up the categories in advance otherwise you’ll have people bringing a little bit of everything. For example, you can have a “Chili & Pie Cook Off”, or just one or the other. The key to raising money is to advertise and sell lots of tickets to your event ahead of time. The nice thing about a cook off is that competitors ‘bring their own meat’. This will increase your net profit margins.

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Try the ideas above for proven success with easy, creative, and fun activities. Need even more suggestions? We have you covered with our own list of 100 fundraising ideas for kids. Pick fundraisers that work well with the season and give kids a chance to strengthen their leadership skills.

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