60 Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Parent Teacher Organizations

60 Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Parent-Teacher Organizations: The Best School Fundraising Ideas for Any School 

Need to raise money for your school programs? The good news is that with all the new fundraising opportunities available today, your school and parent teacher organization can now host highly successful fundraisers in-person, virtually, or as a hybrid gala that combines the best of both worlds. Whether you are looking for an elementary school fundraiser idea, high school or middle school, the options are endless. 

What’s more, these traditional, virtual, and hybrid fundraising events can accommodate a wide variety of activities — including many you probably haven’t tried yet. From social media pet challenges to video game tournaments, there are plenty of new fundraising ideas (as well as some classic favorites) that are can be updated for today’s digital world.

If you’re ready to start hosting fundraisers that will attract hundreds of supporters and new donors, read on. We’re about to show you over 30 ways to build a lucrative fundraising campaign for all ages.

Importance of School Fundraisers: Exploring Cost-Earning School Fundraising Ideas to Raise Funds for School Students

School fundraisers are an essential aspect of raising the necessary funds for a school’s extracurricular activities and events. Without proper fundraising effort, potential works such as school trips, sports teams, and music programs may not be feasible. The good news is that by putting in some effort and getting creative, you can raise plenty of money to support your school programs. 

Finding cost-effective school fundraising ideas for schools is key to ensuring that enough money is earned to provide opportunities for school students. A successful school fundraiser can help raise significant amounts of money while also promoting a sense of community and school spirit.

A school fundraising idea that works great for one school may not work as well for another. For example, an elementary school fundraising idea may not be as effective for a high school fundraiser. It's essential to find a school fundraising idea that fits the school's needs and culture. By involving students, parents, and the community, a school fundraiser can be an excellent opportunity to raise money and promote a sense of community.

There are many school fundraising ideas available, ranging from selling gifts or hosting charity events to selling tickets or having a shoe drive. A popular school fundraising idea is a card fundraiser, where students sell cards to their friends and family members. Another idea is to host a pledge fundraising event where students collect forms and donations from their families and friends.

To ensure that school fundraising efforts are successful, it's essential to charge a fair price and communicate the fundraising process clearly to parents and families. It's also important to provide transparency about any fees or costs associated with the fundraiser. 

Additionally, involving teachers and classroom activities in the school fundraising process can help make it a fun and educational experience for students. By incorporating these ideas, schools can effectively fundraise and provide opportunities for their students.

The Importance of Setting Fundraising Goals and Tracking Progress

Setting fundraising goals and tracking progress is an essential part of any successful school fundraiser. Without clear goals and a way to track progress, it can be challenging to stay motivated and reach the desired fundraising goal.


One way to set clear fundraising goals is to determine the cost of the potential works the fundraiser will support. For example, if the school is planning a trip for students, the fundraising goal should be set to cover the cost of the trip. It's also important to communicate the fundraising goal clearly to parents and students, so everyone understands the purpose of the fundraiser.


Tracking progress is also crucial for a successful school fundraiser. It's important to keep track of how much money has been raised and how much is still needed to reach the fundraising goal. This can be done through regular updates on the school's website or social media pages.


By setting clear fundraising goals and tracking progress, the school can ensure that the school fundraising ideas are successful and provide the necessary funding for the school's extracurricular activities and events.

60 Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Parent-Teacher Organizations: Best Fundraiser Ideas 

Raise Money with a School Carnival

Here’s an old favorite. School carnivals are fun social events for children, parents, and faculty. And with people more eager to hang out with friends at enjoyable get-togethers, a carnival may attract more people than ever.

Of course, you’ll still have to consider current social gathering regulations and adhere to social distancing protocols. Even so, as physical gatherings become more of a possibility, holding a carnival full of games, attractions, and tasty concessions (don’t forget the funnel cake!) may offer a very popular fundraising opportunity.  Consider creating a unique card that students can take home with them to share with their family and friends. A nicely designed card is a great way to market your school carnival. Families can share the carnival card with their church, work and inner circle friends. As with any fundraiser, you have to weight the cost earning pros and cons, but clever marketing tactics can be both affordable and highly lucrative!

Host a School Fundraising Event: Pajama Party Day

Remember when your school offered fun events like “Silly Hat Day” or “Crazy Hair Tuesday”? These events helped add some levity to the school day and got students excited about participating in a school activity.

Well, Pajama Party Day is a fun and easy throwback to those fun days. Just let students buy tickets for a couple dollars to wear their pajamas to school for the day. The kids can hang out in their comfortable loungewear and the school gets to raise money. Win-win!   

Text-to-Give Money Fundraising Idea

You know all of those smart phones that students (and for that matter, faculty) are constantly looking at? Here’s how to take advantage of that in your fundraising campaign. Just create a text-to-give fundraising campaign using your school’s text-to-give phone number. Parents, supporters, and even older students can easily donate to your campaign by simply texting a keyword like “Donate,” filling out a simple online form, or just making a donation with a few clicks. 

School Branded Face Masks for Students

Face masks are a part of everyday school life these days — so why not include them in your fundraising efforts? Just create custom face masks that feature your school logo or mascot and sell them at your fundraising activities. Not only will this help promote health and safety, you’ll also gain a new way to increase brand awareness of your school.

School Talent Show Fundraiser

Talent shows have been popular school fundraising events for decades. But today, schools have more options for how to host their next student talent show. Students can perform in traditional in-person live shows or you record their performances for a virtual talent show that can be shared online to a wider audience (and potential donors). Just share the video on an online fundraising platform like PayBee that lets you create and showcase “Donate” buttons near the video.

Alternately, you can live stream the talent show and share the event with both an in-person audience and online attendees, creating a hybrid talent show. It’s a great way to increase the size of your audience and encourage more donations.

School Fundraising Picnic

What’s better than lunch period? How about a school picnic that gets students out of the building and lets them enjoy a day at the park complete with sun, snacks, and fun activities? You can charge students a small fee for this fundraiser and offer an extended lunch period. The nice thing about this activity is that it’s easy to practice social distancing outside while making sure the kids all have fun.

Haunted House: Unique School Fundraising Ideas

Haunted houses aren’t just a fun fundraising activity for Halloween (although October is the ideal month for such an event). You can add haunted houses to your school carnival or other party events. This is a fun way to get students to volunteer as “scare actors” and play their favorite spooks and monsters.

Take care to observe proper social distancing guidelines (or wait until large gatherings are more feasible). Scare actors traditionally aren’t allowed to touch haunted house guests but you’ll need to ensure your venue doesn’t become too crowded. Also make sure your volunteers carry plenty of water — staying hydrated is the number one rule for running a successful haunted house.

Reading Challenge School Fundraisers

Schools and libraries love to encourage kids to read, so why not capitalize on this by hosting a reading challenge fundraiser? These “read-a-thon competitions” enable students to recruit sponsors to pledge donations based on the number of books they read in a set period. Both the school and the sponsors can offer prizes for students who meet set reading goals, creating greater incentive to participate.

If you really want to spark some competition, make your reading challenge a contest between different classes or grades to see which group of students can read the most books. You’ll raise money for your school, and help encourage the next generation of readers!

Scavenger Hunt

Who doesn’t enjoy a good scavenger hunt? Your event team can create a fun activity full of clues that send teams of students around the school to collect the required items. To raise money, have each team sponsored by a business or individual supporter who pledges to donate a certain amount of money if their team wins.

These days, scavenger hunts can even extend into the online world. Offer clues that require students to search the Internet for unique images and web pages. They can take screenshots and add them to their collection of scavenged items.

Video Game Tournament 

This one will really get the gamer enthusiasts in your classroom excited. Frankly, considering how widely gaming culture has spread, the parents and your faculty will want to participate as well. Video game tournaments are excellent events to host virtually on Twitch and other live streaming platforms.

Your gamers can raise money for your school by requesting pledges from viewers who enjoy watching them play favorite video games, set gaming records, or compete against other gamers. There are plenty of ways to exercise this “geek philanthropy” — and the gaming students in your classrooms will be more than happy to participate.  

Fun Runs Fundraising

Fun runs are great activities to get teachers, students, parents, and community members involved in raising money for your school or PTO. Once again, participants can collect pledges from sponsors who will donate a promised amount of money to the school.

Virtual and hybrid fun runs are another fun variation of this traditional fundraising activity that have really been catching on. Not only do these events help with social distancing, they can also be conducted from different spots in the state, country, or even the world, allowing more supporters and donors to participate.

Just arrange to have participants download a mobile app that will keep track of the miles they’ve walked or run. Their progress can be shared on a website (along with comments and photos) making this a fun and lucrative fundraising event for your school.

Live Auctions School Fundraiser

Odds are, you have fond memories of participating in school auctions. Back then, teachers and school supporters donated boxes of books, toys, treats, and other goodies for parents, students, and faculty to bid on and raise money for the school.

Well, guess what? These days, the tools to build a lucrative auction have become more sophisticated — and fun! Hold a virtual auction that allows anyone with access to the Internet place bids on your items, encouraging “bidding wars” and raising more money for your programs. These auctions work best if you invest in a professional virtual auctioneer who knows how to get bidders excited even through their laptops and smart phones.

Alternately, you can hold a silent auction that lasts for days. People can visit your website, see images and descriptions of your auction items, and place bids on what they want. Fundraising platforms like PayBee even offer a “Buy It Now” option, enabling bidders to purchase the item for a price you set, giving you an additional way to earn money.

Bear in mind that your auction items should appeal to your target bidders — who can be parents, faculty, or other community members. Feel free to chat with PayBee’s team of experts to learn how they helped host hundreds of successful auction fundraisers.  

Funny Video Challenge

Let’s be honest: a lot of your social media time is spent watching and sharing funny videos of animals and people doing silly things. Given how popular funny videos are — and how easy they are to share these days — why not turn this into a fundraising activity?

Invite students, teachers, and parents to participate in silly but safe challenges that they can record and post on your fundraising page. Be sure to have your Donate button prominently displayed for visitors to support your school programs. Given the traffic funny video clips can generate, you can attract a lot of potential donors. The clips can even be used to advertise your main fundraising event on social media.

Used Textbook Sale: Fundraising Ideas

This is a particularly effective fundraising event to hold in colleges where students are always keen to buy more affordable textbooks for the coming semester. Simply have your student volunteers donate their textbooks and offer them for sale at reduced prices at your event. You can also accept donations of other popular books like novels, cookbooks, and popular nonfiction, and offer them for sale as well.

If you find you can’t sell all of your books, don’t despair. Online price comparison resources like Bookscouter can connect you with dozens of online buyers ready to pay you cash for your books. Many of these buyback companies will also pay for shipping, making it easier for you to make money by selling used books online.    

Pet Photo Contest

We all know it — the Internet is full of photos of cats (and dogs, and birds, and fish, and the odd pet chameleon). So, why not target your next fundraiser at the enormous audience for these pet photos? This is a very successful fundraising activity for animal charities and pet shelters.

To adapt this for your school, have students, parents, and teachers submit pictures of their pets under different categories (like “Cutest Kitty” or “Most Manic Puppy”). You can charge a small entry fee and/or use the winning photos in a printed calendar that can be sold at your fundraising events. Don’t forget to offer the winners (and their pets) prizes!  

Karaoke Party

Yes, yes — well all know just the word “karaoke” can cause a lot of people to groan. But the fact remains, karaoke parties are incredibly popular and great ways to get people together to socialize, have fun — and raise money for your school and PTO.

All you need is a karaoke machine which you can purchase or rent for affordable prices. Your auditorium or gymnasium provides a good place to host the event, and karaoke parties are great add-ons for other fundraisers like a school carnival. Alternately, you can host a virtual karaoke party where smaller groups of online guests showcase their singing talents from multiple locations.

Lip Sync Challenge Fundraiser Idea

For students who might be too shy to participate in a karaoke party, a lip sync challenge offers a different avenue to strut their stuff. Once again, you can use your gymnasium or auditorium as an event venue and invest in a good sound system, and your students will have the perfect stage for a lip sync battle.

To raise funds with a lip sync challenge, you can sell tickets to your event or have students recruit sponsors for them to appear in the challenge. Audience members can also purchase raffle tickets at the event. Alternately, you can record the event and use the video clips as incentive for supporters to visit your fundraising page (or have the performers pay a fee so the clips never see the light of day).

Dance-a-thon School Fundraiser 

Student competitions are excellent ways to build pledge fundraisers, and dance-a-thons are a proven fun activity for raising money. Create peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns enabling students and other participants to invite friends, classmates, relatives, and more to sponsor them as they participate in online dance challenges that can be live streamed during your virtual fundraising event.

Email Campaign

This one’s more of a strategy for promoting your fundraiser (although email campaigns can include helpful links for donations).

The fact is, email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective forms of digital marketing, with many businesses and organizations enjoying a return of $42 for every $1 they spend on email campaigns. These campaigns are particularly effective if you already have a large subscriber list attached to an existing school e-newsletter full of interested parents and community members. Be sure to offer regular updates on the status of your upcoming fundraiser to ensure interest in and awareness of the event remain high.  

Crowdfunding Campaign

With crowdfunding campaigns, your event team sets up an online fundraising page that shows real-time updates on your fundraising goals. This can be in the form of a fundraising thermometer that fills up as the donations pour in. It might also be in the form of photos and videos that showcase your participants’ progress. Regardless of how you choose to structure your crowdfunding campaign, make sure your parents and students share your web page on social media and leave nice comments to generate buzz.

Parents’ Party 

Many of the activities on this list are geared toward students and faculty. But let’s not forget about the hardworking parents of the PTO who put in a lot of time to ensure their kids get a good education. Don’t they deserve some fun of their own?

Yes, they do — and what better way to give them that fun than to throw them a party built on your latest fundraiser? You can sell online tickets to parents for a virtual cooking class, bingo night, or even a virtual happy hour. To really get on your parents’ good side, have some supervised online activities for their kids planned so the parents can really enjoy their party.

Student Movie Night

Sure, we know streaming movies on your laptop or smart phone is the way many people are watching films these days — but there’s still something special about gathering to watch a movie with friends. And given how virtually all movie theaters had to close in 2020, more people than ever are hungry for an old-fashioned movie night.

Students will gladly pay a few dollars for a movie showing that will take over a class period. Don’t forget to offer some concessions like popcorn and soda to sweeten the pot!

Goofy Principal Challenge

Principals can have a reputation as serious, aloof faculty members — so plenty of students (not to mention parents and teachers) will happily donate money to see them do something silly. Come up with a silly and fun (but safe) activity for your principal to engage in (like dying their hair or getting hit by a pie) to encourage students to donate toward this fundraising goal.

To really build excitement and anticipation for this challenge, set up an online fundraising page with a virtual thermometer that shows how close the school is to its fundraising goal (and the principal’s goofy challenge).

Bake Sale

Another tried-and-true fundraising activity, the bake sale has been a proud tradition of the school fundraising committee for generations. Parents will be more than happy to contribute delicious cookies, cakes, pies, and other treats to the sale, while their students can also help bake and sell the goods during lunch period or recess.


Large, in-person concerts might be ambitious events to host, but a virtual concert can be live streamed from a smaller venue for a lower cost (and potentially bigger audience). Recruit some popular local bands to perform in a live concert that can be broadcast online to your paying virtual audience.

Of course, if you do have the means and infrastructure to put on an in-person concert, you might consider taking it a step further and hosting a hybrid concert that can be live streamed and performed before a live audience simultaneously. Hybrid concert galas are popular events and have been known to raise a lot of money.  

Cooking Classes

The parents in your PTO might love to sign up for a virtual cooking class, which can be both a social event as much as a learning experience. Arrange to have the proper ingredients and cooking tools delivered to your participants and entice your audience by promising a cooking lesson held by a professional (and ideally well-known) cooking instructor.

After the online class, your participants can continue socializing in a virtual dinner party where they eat their creations and chat online with each other.  

Craft Challenge

Online or in-person crafting classes can be a big draw for the DIY enthusiasts in your PTO as well as your students. Make sure to plan the logistics of this event well in advance (making sure you can deliver and/or provide enough crafting materials for everyone who buys a ticket to your fundraiser). From pottery to jewelry to origami creations, there are a wealth of craft opportunities you can provide your supporters.   

Celebrity Encounter

Time was, only schools with big budgets or really good connections could afford to have a celebrity come to their classrooms and auditoriums to chat with the students. But now, virtual fundraising has made encounters with your favorite celebrities more possible than ever.

Since celebrities don’t actually have to physically travel to your school to interact virtually with your students, the cost of having a famous actor, singer, or media personality spend an hour with your kids is much more manageable. Plus, there’s something about interacting with celebrities from their homes via live streaming that feels surprisingly intimate and helps students feel more connected with their favorite stars.

You can use your celebrity encounter as a draw for selling tickets to your main fundraising event (making sure to prominently display the celebrity’s name and face on your marketing materials). Alternately, the celebrity encounter can be the main event, providing plenty of incentive to buy event tickets.

Brand Design Contest

Perfect for the art students and creative minds at your school, a brand design contest is a great way to raise money for your school and encourage young talent.

Task students with artistic and/or design abilities to come up with new brand designs for your school. These can be new logos, T-shirt designs, art for a new school sign, or even face masks. The finalists can have their entries showcased on your fundraising page where their classmates can vote on their favorite designs (while leaving donations) — and the winning designs can be used on new merchandise that gets sold at your next fundraising gala.

Dog Walk-a-Thons

What’s more fun than a fun run? How about a dog walk-a-thon? Much like a traditional walk-a-thon, this activity enables students to raise money by recruiting sponsors. Of course, since there’ll also be plenty of opportunities to share photos and videos of kids walking and playing with cute dogs, this fundraiser was made to be promoted on social media.

Concession Stand

We’ve mentioned concessions at various points in this article, but this fundraising idea is so lucrative, it deserves its own entry.

The fact is, concessions are one of the main sources of income for many big event places, from movie theaters to sports stadiums. As such, it makes sense to include one at all of your fundraising events that don’t already revolve around food or drink. You could have your volunteers man the stands at different points in the day and even arrange for snacks and drinks to be donated or supplied by sponsors. Price your concessions reasonably, and you’ll have another steady source of income throughout the year. 

Costume Party

Who doesn’t like a good costume party? Again, while Halloween may seem like a natural time to host this activity, you can easily create themed costume events for different times in the year. Offer students a chance to dress up as famous historical or literary figures, allowing you to tie your party into current lesson plans.

You can easily make your costume party a virtual or hybrid event, enabling some students to show off their costumes online and via social media posts. In addition to admission, you can create paid raffles and costume contests to take in more money for your fundraiser.

Trivia Tournament

Trivia game nights are fun events that attract plenty of participants. You can build your trivia tournament around subjects being taught in your classes, giving students greater incentive to pay attention during lessons. Trivia teams can be divided by grades or classes. Just make sure your sponsors provide plenty of fun prizes for the winners!

Again, there can be an online entry fee for participating in the tournament. Since game questions can be posted on your online fundraising platform, it’s easy to host a virtual trivia tournament. Alternatively, you can create a hybrid trivia tournament where online teams compete against in-person participants. Just make sure your livestream capabilities keep the players in sync with each other and you’ll deliver a winning game. 

Awards Ceremony

Offering an awards ceremony to recognize your donors is always a great way to promote morale. These events are also great places to promote your school programs and build your brand image as a school that supports its parents, students, and donors. And by recording key moments in the ceremony, you’ll have a wealth of video clips and photos you can use to promote your other fundraisers and school activities.

Make sure to create plenty of award categories to ensure everyone is recognized. In addition to your top donors, you’ll want to award the leaders on your team for keeping your fundraisers running smoothly. You can also offer “People’s choice” awards and even name certain awards after big donors. All of this helps create better relations between your school and your supporters, ensuring they continue donating for the long term.

Bingo Tournament

Bingo is one game that never goes out of style. And thanks to online fundraising platforms, you can play this game at both a virtual and hybrid fundraiser. Incidentally, while students will want to play, this may be an activity with more appeal for parents, teachers, and community members.

What’s more, there are plenty of variations on the traditional bingo game that you can offer at your tournament. Offer prizes for players who can fill in all four corners of their cards, create an “X” image from their squares, or any other unique pattern you can think of. With so many winning possibilities, people will be willing to donate to participate in a fun tournament that will give them hours of fun.

Business Fair

This is one activity that might be more appealing for high school and college students looking to build up their list of professional contacts and show off their resumes. Business fairs are a great way for schools to connect with the community and provide students with opportunities for real-world work experience.

Since local businesses will have a chance to promote themselves at your fair, this gives you an excellent opportunity to build new sponsorship partnerships with them. Likewise, you can hold many fundraising activities during a business fair, from raffles to auctions to virtual seminars with recognized experts in different business fields.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a multi-tiered form of crowdfunding that was made for online supporters. Students, teachers, and parents can build their own personal fundraising pages on your school’s behalf using a shared online platform like PayBee. From there, each individual fundraiser can request online donations from friends, family, and community members. This is a great way to widen your current pool of donors and gain new supporters who can participate in future fundraising activities.

TikTok Fundraising Challenge

TikTok videos are extremely popular today, so why not use this to your advantage in a TikTok fundraising challenge? Students, teachers, parents, and families can all participate by creating short TikTok videos of themselves dancing, telling jokes, or engaging in different types of silly behavior. Each video can then be linked to a fundraising page where community members can donate money to their favorite TikTok video.

You can create different winning categories for participants who raised the most money, got the most positive votes, best comments etc. In this age of social media, this is one fundraising activity that can get everyone involved!

Toy Drive

Toy drives are always fun fundraising activities that do well particularly around the holidays. To take toy drives into the digital era, however, don’t just promote them with the usual flyers and word-of-mouth. Create websites for the drive and advertise them in your school e-newsletter.

Be sure to showcase your toy wish lists and the drop off locations. And make sure to document this event with plenty of photos — they’ll make great visuals when you promote your other fundraisers!

Food Drive

Food drives are a great way to collect both non-perishable food items and monetary donations for community members in need. This also grants schools an excellent opportunity to build stronger relationships with community organizations and offer students a chance to engage in civic-minded activities. As with toy drives, these fundraisers can be organized and promoted online, making it easier to communicate your fundraiser’s needs to a larger audience of participants. 

Matching Gift Drive Fundraisers

Successful fundraisers are often built around strong partnerships between multiple organizations. If your school has a link to a local business or corporation, it’s possible some of these businesses would be willing to match the donations of your individual supporters. This not only raises more money for your fundraiser, it also encourages your individual donors to give more since they know their efforts will be compounded.

To offer further motivation, be sure your campaign progress gets shown on your fundraising website. Place a “fundraising thermometer” on your main page that climbs higher and higher with each donation, showing how much money you’re raising and how much your partners will be matching. 

Tribute Giving Fundraiser

Tribute giving fundraisers are excellent ways of collecting donations in honor of an important member of your school. While many people equate this with donating in memory of a popular teacher or staff member who passed away, tribute giving programs can also be built around people with a strong link to your cause. For instance, you can name your fundraiser after recently retired teachers who devoted their lives to the sciences or arts, giving greater incentive to students and community members to donate.

Again, these fundraisers can be hosted and promoted online via a virtual fundraising platform.

Giving Day Fundraiser

It’s no secret that people become more generous during Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Giving Tuesday. But thanks to online fundraising, you can create your own “giving day” regardless of the time of year.

This does require some advance planning, particularly with the social media marketing necessary to promote your upcoming giving day. Offer plenty of posts on popular sites like Facebook and Instagram. The giving day itself can offer a fun carnival, concert, or other activity to get people excited about coming (and keep the tuned in to your social media and email updates).

Webinars and Conferences

Great for the older students in your school, webinars and conferences can be a good way to entice people to donate money for tickets — particularly if your speaker is a famous person with a lot of specialized knowledge about a subject.

Take some time to consider the interests of your target audience. Would students, parents, and community members pay to listen to a local business leader? A famous inventor? A video game designer? In this digital era of Zoom conferences and online webinars, there’s really no limit to the type of people you can connect with to speak at your school, so take advantage of this by promoting some truly unique talks for your school.

Pledge Drives

We’ve already covered activities like fun runs and dog-a-thons that can raise money through pledge drives where participants get community members to pledge future donations if they reach key goals in the event. However, pledge drives can be built around multiple tasks from playing video games to solving logic puzzles to memorizing entire monologues from Shakespeare’s plays. With a little creativity and some good online publicity, you can make your fundraising pledge drives a fun and regular occurrence. 

Virtual Book Club

This fundraising activity might be most appealing for parents who’d like to get together more socially. You might also be able to attract a lot of teachers based on the reading lists you come up with. Be sure to take into account your group’s interests and personal goals and offer to discuss books that everyone would like to read.

Alternatively, you can use your virtual book club as a way to plan future fundraising ideas. Your event team and volunteers can get together either in person or online (or both if you want to create a hybrid book club) and discuss books that outline award-winning fundraising strategies. Either way, book clubs help further your fundraising goals. 

Virtual or Hybrid Hikes

There was a time when schools would take students on field trips or even camping activities that would get them out of the classroom and interacting with nature. These days, you can accomplish these classic activities the traditional way or with a few high-tech twists.

Certain groups have offered “virtual hiking” fundraisers that simply have participants view the hiking videos you can find on YouTube while walking on a treadmill. These fundraisers function much the same way as a virtual fun run, with participants measuring progress based on distance and collecting pledges based on what key goals they hit.

Of course, a more fun way to offer this activity is to organize an actual outdoor hike students can pay to participate in. This works best if you live near some great hiking trails and have some experienced hikers to act as guides. Be sure to share photos and videos of your hike to entice future participants!

Virtual Tours

And speaking of field trips — why not offer some tours of popular museums, art galleries, or aquariums to students eager to have a break from the classroom? While an in-person tour would be great, if this isn’t possible, you can arrange to have a virtual tour via livestream or online videos.

What’s great about virtual tours is that some of them offer a behind-the-scenes tour of a museum or business that regular in-person guests don’t get to participate in. This is a fun and educational activity that offers something different from the usual classroom activities.

Digital Download Rewards for Donations

You can link this activity to a variety of other fundraising events, including raffles and contests. Basically, this allows you to offer digital rewards from your donation page, including eBooks, discount codes, video downloads, and audio files. More ambitious rewards programs might offer an exclusive webinar or access to a virtual concert.

Since it’s cheaper and easier to offer digital download rewards instead of the usual physical prizes, you can save money by offering these gifts to parents, students, and other community participants.

Fun Online Classes

Wait a minute, aren’t we already in a school? Well, yes — but that doesn’t mean the students won’t want to donate money to attend some really unusual classes that teach unique skills. We’ve already covered cooking classes and craft challenges. But what about a class on close-up magic? Or folding origami? With all the virtual classes being offered online today, it’s a sure bet you’ll find a bunch of classes students will want to attend (and that aren’t being offered on your current syllabus).

Prom Dress Drive

Perfect for high schools, prom dress drives are great ways for parents and students to donate gowns, dresses, accessories, handbags, and shoes to make sure a new generation of teenagers have fun at their prom. This is a great way to build a sense of community and show support to others. Be sure to create a fundraising web page to organize the dresses collected, donation areas, and the recipients of the donations.

Shoe Drive

Along with toy and food drives, shoe drives are a fantastic opportunity for your students to engage with the community and benefit those in need. Grade schools may actually be able to repurpose more shoes given how fast kids outgrow their footwear. And if you’re so inclined, why not go all the way and turn this into a complete clothing drive? You’ll raise a lot of goodwill from your community that will be very helpful for your other fundraising activities.

As always, organizing and promoting your drive on a formal fundraising website is best. Be sure to offer a wish list complete with the types of shoes needed (size, style, gender etc.) and where to drop them off. 

Device Drive

This is a particularly relevant event to hold today. 2020 showed that virtual learning is becoming a necessary part of modern education. However, not all students have access to the laptops, tablets, and other online tools needed to interact with their virtual schools.

Why not help by connecting with your community and asking for donations of gently used laptops and other needed technologies? You could also find business and individual sponsors who can purchase new products for students as well as high-speed WiFi service.

Sell Yearbook Ad Space

Forming good relationships with business sponsors is becoming an increasingly important part of running successful fundraising campaigns. So, it’s to your benefit to find opportunities for your sponsors to promote themselves — including in the pages of your annual yearbook. Middle schools and high schools can sell ad space within their yearbooks to local businesses and companies. Not only will the funds help pay for printing the yearbooks, the good relations you develop with new sponsors will also come in handy for future fundraisers! 

Jelly Bean Count

Okay, okay — a jelly bean count might sound like a throwback activity to the olden days. But there’s a reason why this fundraiser has lasted for so many years. It’s fun! Just charge students and community members a small fee to place their guess on how many jelly beans (or any other kind of candy) are in a jar. Have an amazing grand prize ready to award the winner, and you’ll be amazed by all the entrants that come in. This is a great low-tech fundraising activity that you can roll into almost any of your other events!

Bottle and Aluminum Can Drive

And following up with our “oldie but goodie” fundraising ideas — the bottle and aluminum can drive is a great way to teach kids how to develop eco-friendly habits while raising some money for the school. The great thing about this activity is that it doesn’t have to be a one-time event — just have a bunch of designated drop-off locations available at your school and make sure to keep promoting them via your email newsletters and other online marketing channels.

You’ll earn money by taking the bottles and cans to a local recycling plant — and you can also increase your usual donations by hosting a formal recycling drive at different points in the year. Make it a competition between different classes or grades and watch the recyclables come in!

Design Car Decals

The creative artists at your school will love this one. Host a design contest for car decals on your school’s fundraising website. The decals can promote the school or another school-related activity like a sports team. Winning designs can be printed off in mass quantities by online businesses that create custom decals, showing your winning student(s) how valued their work is. Even better? You can offer the decals as giveaways during your car wash to increase brand awareness of your school!

Photography Contest

Time was, a photography contest was limited to students who owned their own cameras and developed their own film. But thanks to today’s smartphone technology, a modern photography contest can attract hundreds of contestants who can display their entries on a fundraising website viewed by thousands.

Build your photography contest around multiple themes like “pets,” “after school activities,” or “nature scenes.” Students can enter several times for a small donation to your fundraiser, and your sponsors can offer a nice prize as incentive. Even better, all those fun images can help promote all your other fundraising campaigns — so theme your categories around future planned events!  

Art Auction

This activity can be easily merged with your other live or silent auctions, or you can hold it as a separate event. The art projects can include paintings, sketches, collages, photographs, sculptures, and even videos. This enables art students of every field to contribute something — and it’ll be a great boost to student self-esteem when their pieces sell to help support the school.

As with your silent auction, you can promote each student’s contribution by including an image and description on the auction page of your fundraising website. Be sure to advertise this event and leave plenty of time for bidding!

Car Wash

Here’s an old classic. Have students volunteer to wash cars! This is a fun, team-building activity that connects students directly with the local community.

Car washes do have several logistics you’ll need to take care of. Your event team will need to come up with a supply list (hoses, buckets, sponges, dry towels, soap, windshield cleaning fluid, squeegees, washcloths etc.) and make sure volunteers have all the equipment they need. You’ll also need to plan your event near an area with plenty of traffic.

Be sure to advertise your event. Take advantage of digital marketing tools by promoting the car wash on social media and your e-newsletter. Physical flyers and posters are also good — especially when leading drivers to the car wash. Once all the elements are in place, your volunteers will be ready to raise money and have fun.

Hosting a Winning School Fundraiser

With all the new opportunities offered by virtual and hybrid fundraising — not to mention all the new in-person school fundraising activities you haven’t tried yet — your future school and PTO fundraisers are poised to be more exciting and profitable than ever.

Of course, new fundraising opportunities also means it’s important to know how to use the new tools available to you. From building campaigns to promoting your event to running the actual fundraising gala itself, you now have a whole wealth of online tools to help you create practically any fundraiser.

To use these tools in the most effective way possible, sign up for a free demo of PayBee’s online platform. You’ll be able to see and participate in an actual virtual auction and test out their easy-to-use online platform yourself. You’ll also be able to chat with the PayBee experts and ask them questions about the best practices for your upcoming fundraiser. The PayBee team has helped host hundreds of successful fundraisers over the years, so take advantage of their experience by signing up for a free demo today!

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Charity Fundraising
Online Fundraising
Michael Jung


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