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5 Ways to Inspire Student Engagement in School Fundraisers

By Clay Boggess on Oct 9, 2021
5 Ways to Inspire Student Engagement in School Fundraisers

Inexpensive ways to encourage kids to participate in fundraising.

Student excitement can make or break a school fundraiser. Schools nationwide have found that offering incentives for little or no additional expense can drive incredible fundraising success.

The principal of St. Anthony Parish School in Wisconsin, Lucy McCarthy, promised to kiss a goat and sing karaoke if the students raised $60K. Guess what? The school’s annual fundraiser brought in $68K, nearly three times the amount of the previous year!

Students at Rehoboth Elementary School in Delaware raised $40K+ from gift wrap sales after Principal Mike Dmiterchik agreed that students duct tape him to the wall if they met their target. The top 25 sellers had a blast taping Dmiterchik several feet above the floor and decorating him in pink ribbon.

Silly, creative, and unusual incentives can inspire kids to challenge themselves. Check out some of our favorite reward ideas to get students pumped up about fundraising:

1. Kiss an Animal

St. Anthony Parish School is not the only school to break its fundraising record with an offbeat fundraising incentive. Principal Christina Giguiere from Canyon View Elementary kissed a potbellied pig when the PTA met its goal. Other schools have been in the news for principals kissing cows, donkeys, and fish.

2. Sleep on the Roof

Are you looking for an attention-grabbing fundraising incentive? Get kids excited and laughing by offering to put the principal or other school “celebrity” on the roof for a night.

The students at Asotin Elementary School raised $22K for the PTO’s first fun run, smashing their $10K goal. Principal Wes Nicholas headed to the roof with a sleeping bag and tent in the middle of October. Students got a kick out of watching Nicholas emerge from the tent in his pajamas carrying a giant stuffed animal during the pledge of allegiance the following day.

3. Host a Big Party

Other schools have had great success with student engagement by enticing with a magic show, reptile adventure, splash party, and inflatable games. Our big event prizes can be free, and we will bring the party to you.

Because these prizes are actual events, some schools schedule the reward after school or on weekends. Other schools schedule during the day to maximize attendance and further incentivize with time away from class.

4. Traditional Prizes

High schoolers are more likely to be motivated by traditional fundraising prizes - cash, cookie dough, technology, sports gear, and games. Pick from six prize catalogs, two school spirit options, or cash prizes, and Big Fundraising Ideas handles the rest. Best of all, our prize incentives cost schools nothing!

5. Homework Pass

What student isn’t motivated by a “get out of homework free” pass? The top student fundraisers can receive a coupon from their teacher for one or two nights without homework.

This incentive works excellently for all ages, but middle and high schools must coordinate the passes across classes and grade levels.


The results of incorporating incentives are well worth the little extra time or money to inspire students.

For more ideas, check out Additional Fundraising Incentive Ideas, Fun Principal Incentives to Motivate Students, and Low-cost Fundraisers Can Mean Big Fun.

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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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