How to turn your campaign into a communitywide fundraiser
From elementary to high school, your students deserve to have every option open to them. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to make that a reality when you have a lot of students and little funding. This is why fundraising for schools is so important.
Getting your community involved in giving back to its students, who are the future of the community, is crucial but can be difficult — especially if you’ve done the same three fundraisers for the past several years. Excitement and involvement can drop off very quickly if your calendar becomes repetitive or boring. While you’ll always want to follow a few best practices for school fundraising, you don’t have to host the same types of events all the time.
There are tons of ways to raise money or to adapt old fundraising techniques to make them more exciting. We’ve included 10 exciting ideas for school fundraisers to get you started and make this your most successful fundraising year yet!
This fundraiser is exactly what it sounds like. Participants text in their donations directly from their own phones. While this method may seem very new, it has actually been a popular choice since 2010 when The Red Cross collected relief funds for Haiti via text. As long as you choose a reputable text-to-give platform, all transactions will be secure and you can start collecting donations immediately.
The ease of text-to-give (and the prevalence of cellphones) makes this the perfect fundraiser to do among parents or even among high school students. Snowball’s guide to text-to-give can help you run a successful first text fundraiser.
Social media fundraiser
It should be no surprise that many students middle school-aged and up, as well as their parents, are on social media. Your fundraising efforts can take advantage of this! There are lots of fun ways to get students to raise money on Instagram specifically. You could keep it simple and have them spread the word or you could get more creative.
For some fundraisers, individuals post a virtual “scratch-off” on their Instagram stories and then do something funny, like posting an embarrassing childhood picture, every time someone donates X amount of money, effectively “scratching off” part of their virtual scratch off. You can get as creative as you want!
Auctions are one of those tried and true fundraising methods that can be adapted to your needs. You can run an auction with auction items donated from local businesses, donated services, or even handmade projects from students. Particularly at smaller schools, having classrooms collaborate on a project that will be auctioned off is an easy way to promote creativity and teamwork. The students will enjoy working on a unique project that parents want to take home. Snowball has even more ideas for how to procure auction items.
Another bonus to an auction fundraiser is that it can easily be made virtual or even hybrid with the right tools. While many people are craving in-person events, the right software can allow you to offer an option that works for everyone.
This is a great fundraising activity for parents and kids to do together. Fun runs are also another fundraising idea that can be done in a hybrid or virtual format to accommodate everyone. Consider offering families the option to do a virtual fun run around their neighborhood or local park while tracking their time.
Fun runs are usually either pledge-based or raise funds through an initial registration fee. Either way, tallying the total hours run is a motivating metric of how your participants did.
For younger children, it might be a good idea to make the event less focused on time or distance. Instead, consider setting up fun activities or obstacle courses at intervals with running in between.
Balloon pop party
A balloon pop party is a unique idea that your students will love. The way it works is that you put a prize, like a homework pass, a treat, or whatever else you’d like, into each balloon. You then allow students to select a balloon, buy it, and then pop it to get their prize.
The entertainment and anticipation of revealing the prizes will keep the energy high, while easily raising funds as more and more students want to participate. This can be done as its own event or folded into another fundraising event as an activity and additional fundraising project.
Host a drive
The possibilities with a drive are endless. A few types of drives are classics, like shoe drives or canned food drives. But you can do drives for all kinds of things. For example, a drive of classroom supplies if your teachers are in need of help stocking their classrooms is an excellent choice.
If you’re hoping to raise funds rather than items, you could turn a book drive into a book swap where students (and their parents) buy the gently used books that have been donated. This type of drive can also be done in lots of different ways with toys, clothes, and more.
Talent shows are excellent school fundraisers because they’re fun for all ages, kids love to show off their talents, and parents love to watch them. There are several ways to make talent shows a profitable school-friendly fundraiser. Entry tickets are probably the most evident way to raise funds, but you could also consider charging a participation fee, running a concession stand, and filming the talent show to sell copies to parents.
This is another type of event that can easily be made virtual with kids performing their acts at home and sending in recordings to be livestreamed during the event.
A pledge-based fundraiser
Similar to a drive, a pledge-based fundraiser can take many forms. Read-a-thons are a popular choice, as are basketball shoot-a-thons, where pledgers donate a dollar amount for every basket a kid shoots. However, you don’t have to stick to these ideas. You can turn almost anything into a pledge opportunity if it can be measured in time or amounts.
If your school has lots of clubs, have each club set up pledges for their individual activities. From chess games won to hours spent dancing or knitting, everyone can collect pledges for things that they already love doing.
Thanks to all of the scenes of a pie to the principal’s face we’ve seen in movies, these always feel a bit goofy. However, they can be very successful if your principal is willing to have a little fun. The way these work is that the principal agrees to do some sort of challenge (think dunk tank or pie to the face) if you reach a certain fundraising goal.
If your principal is really into it, you can set different levels of fundraising goals that are associated with different challenges. Kids won’t want to pass up the opportunity to see their principal get a pie to the face, or whatever the challenge may be. Their excitement for this kind of fundraiser is sure to bring in donations!
Giving Day livestream
A giving day is simply a designated day where an organization, or school, is collecting donations all day. Often, a fundraising thermometer is used to monitor the progress and share how much has been raised. Because many companies offer programs to match employees’ donations, it’s likely that a large number of your parents can double their donations on giving day instantly. They may not even be aware that their gifts get matched! This makes a giving day a great idea to easily collect funds as well as an opportunity to encourage your parents to check their company’s policies.
While it may seem like there’s nothing inherently exciting about a giving day, a livestream can change that. Your livestream can update parents on the progress and include messages from the administration and the PTA. Including a livestream makes it more interactive for parents at home or work while allowing you to update your progress in real-time to keep the momentum going.
Remember: Promotion is one of the most important things you need to do for any fundraising event. Not promoting events enough is a fundraising mistake that can cause even the best event idea to fall flat. If you don’t properly build up excitement leading up to the event and give people time to sign up or make plans to attend, it won’t matter how well you planned the actual event.
Additionally, you should be prepared to be flexible regardless of what kind of fundraisers you choose to do. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that things can change very quickly. Coming up with a backup plan is always a good idea, and it’s especially important now.
Having a virtual version of your fundraising event-ready or offering virtual accommodations to make it hybrid is important for ensuring everyone’s comfort.
One of the biggest benefits of fundraising for a school is that your donors are usually already invested in your success since it directly impacts their children and their community. The challenge is in finding exciting ways to engage this community for multiple fundraising events throughout the year.
The key to maintaining dedication and involvement in your fundraising events is to always be innovating and coming up with new types of events. These 10 additional creative school fundraising ideas are more events that your school can host to reach your fundraising goals. With some strategic planning at your next PTA meeting, you’ll be well-positioned to have your best fundraising year yet.
Guest Author Bio
John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations.
Snowball was one of John’s first public innovations; it’s a fundraising platform that offers text-to-give, online giving, events, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofits. By making giving simple, Snowball increases the donations that these organizations can raise online. The Snowball effect is real! John founded Snowball in 2011. Now, it serves over 7,000 nonprofits and is the #1 nonprofit fundraising platform.