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Fundraising for Schools: 6 Stress-Free Strategies

By Clay Boggess on Oct 16, 2021
Fundraising for Schools

Simple ways to keep the money coming in all year long.

Fundraising is essential for your school to supplement its budget and improve students’ educational experiences in various ways, from offering extracurricular activities to providing classroom resources. However, many popular school fundraisers have a lot of moving parts. From coordinating event logistics to creating community outreach materials, it can sometimes feel like you’re spending more time planning your fundraiser than actually hosting it.

Fortunately, some school fundraising strategies are effective, easy, and engaging! While larger, more complex fundraisers still have their place, supplementing your existing activities with a few easy ideas keeps revenue coming in year-round without adding to your fundraising team’s stress.

To help you get started, here are six of our favorite stress-free school fundraising ideas:

  1. Online Shopping Fundraisers
  2. Gift Card Sales
  3. Product Fundraising
  4. Talent Shows
  5. Shoe Drives
  6. Matching Gifts

Fundraisers for schools take many forms, and some ideas may be a better fit for your school than others. Assess your school’s strengths and resources, then choose strategies that build on what you’re already doing well. Let’s dive in!

1. Online Shopping Fundraisers

Online shopping and virtual fundraising have both grown in popularity in recent years, and your school can combine these two trends with an online shopping fundraiser. These fundraisers allow supporters to contribute a portion of the proceeds from their everyday online purchases to your school at no additional cost to you or them!

ShopRaise’s guide to shopping for a cause outlines how schools can get started with these fundraisers in three easy steps:

  1. Partner with an online shopping fundraiser platform. These platforms have access to a wide network of popular online retailers and will handle all business negotiations for your school. Their fundraising experts will walk you through a simple onboarding process and answer any questions. They also provide the app and browser extension community members use to support their school shopping online.
  2. Spread the word. Marketing is essential to a successful online shopping fundraiser because many of your supporters probably won’t have participated in one before. So, they’ll need instructions to get started and regular reminders to shop for your cause. The platform you partner with can help with this step by providing custom email templates, flyers, and other branded promotional materials for your school.
  3. Track your results. You can view real-time data on your fundraiser, allowing you to hone your marketing strategy over time and thank your top supporters individually. To protect supporters’ privacy, your school will see their names and fundraising totals—only the shopper will know exactly what items they purchased.

When community members participate in your school’s online shopping fundraiser, they’ll pay the same prices and have access to the same discounts they normally would. The only difference is that they’ll purchase through the fundraiser platform’s app or browser extension. Online shopping fundraisers can be run year-round, and the small contributions from each purchase will add up over time to make a significant difference for your school.

2. Gift Card Sales

Another way community members can support your school through shopping is by participating in a gift card fundraiser. Similar to the online shopping fundraiser idea above, your supporters will go through a dedicated platform to purchase digital gift cards from their favorite retailers, and a portion of each sale will go directly to your school.

The unique advantage of gift card sales is their versatility. Supporters can use the gift cards for online or in-person purchases and share them with their friends and family members for special occasions throughout the year. If one of these two fundraising ideas works well for your school, consider trying the other to maximize the revenue you bring in.

3. Product Fundraising

Product fundraising is a school classic! It’s perfect for engaging students in the fundraising process, and supporters receive an item for themselves in exchange for their contribution.

Your school could sell a wide variety of products to fundraise, including:

  • Snacks and treats like gourmet popcorn, candy, or cookie dough
  • Discount cards or coupon books.
  • Holiday-related items like decorations and wrapping paper.
  • Household goods, whether as small as candles or as large as mattresses.

Your school can leverage an in-person or online product fundraiser to generate significant revenue by working with the right providers.

4. Talent Show

If you’re looking for an easy event to add to your school’s fundraising calendar, look no further than a talent show! Talent shows are particularly effective for performing arts programs, but you can use them for fundraising more generally for your school.

You can create a memorable night for your students and their families with minimal setup. For many schools, all you’ll need is:

  • A stage. If your school has an auditorium or gym, you likely have the space to host a talent show. If not, consider contacting a local community center to rent a space for the night of your talent show.
  • A group of students that’s ready to perform. Hold auditions before your talent show to generate interest in your upcoming event and allow students to practice beforehand.
  • A fundraising strategy. Charge a small admission fee and sell concessions during intermission to raise funds. You could also design and sell a talent show t-shirt at the event.

You might choose to make the talent show competition by asking the audience to vote on their favorite acts and presenting the winners with awards. Or, you could use the event to showcase students’ special abilities. Either way, talent shows have strong potential to become an annual event for your school.

5. Shoe Drives

Easy school fundraisers incorporate the resources schools already have and make the most of their natural advantages. This is why many schools succeed with a shoe drive—students tend to outgrow their shoes quickly.

Funds2Orgs’ school fundraising ideas guide explains the steps to get started with a shoe drive fundraiser:

  1. Partner with a shoe fundraising program. Reach out to their team to learn more about the specific shoes they’ll accept and how much they’ll donate in exchange for the shoes you send.
  2. Collect new and gently used shoes. Promote your fundraiser to students, parents, faculty, staff, and other community members to generate as much participation as possible. Set a deadline and designate locations where shoes can be dropped off.
  3. Send your shoes to the fundraising program. Your fundraising partner will provide you with pre-paid bags to ship your shoes in, and they’ll send you a check once they receive your shipment.

Shoe drives are especially effective for sports team fundraising. In addition, they can easily be paired with other active fundraisers such as walk-a-thons and 5K races to supplement the revenue you bring in from those events.

6. Matching Gifts

Matching gifts allow your school to double many of the monetary donations you bring. When a supporter who works for a business that matches gifts to K-12 schools contributes and submits a match request, their employer will also donate, usually matching the original gift at a 1:1 ratio.

A matching gift database allows donors to check their eligibility simply by searching for their employer. Some databases even have auto-submission functionality that allows supporters to fill out and send their match request simply by entering their work email address, making matching gifts a quick and easy fundraiser for your school.

The ideas in this guide are just six of the many possibilities for stress-free fundraising your school could try. No matter which fundraisers you choose, thank each of your supporters for their participation and contributions. When you show gratitude in a personalized way, community members feel valued and are more likely to continue supporting your school long-term.

Are you looking for more fundraising tips and advice? Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, where we share our expertise in school fundraising best practices and other helpful information.

Guest Author Bio Korri Piper, Author

Korri Piper, Sales and Marketing Consultant & Director of Vendor Relationships at ShopRaise - Bio

Relationship director, project manager, writer and general life enthusiast. Let me tell you how online shopping can solve the world's problems.

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