8 Fun and Safe Ideas for Your PTA’s Next Fundraiser

As a member of your school’s PTA, you’re familiar with the difficulties that accompany any school fundraiser, whether you’re working to give your school a general boost or fund a specific project or program. 

However, COVID-19 created even more challenges for school fundraisers. As we emerge from the pandemic, your PTA still has to work hard to create fun, engaging fundraisers while keeping your supporters and students safe and healthy. That means you have to get creative with your fundraising ideas, offering safe in-person fundraisers as well as virtual and hybrid opportunities too. 

The good news is there’s no need to be overwhelmed if you’re in search of a fresh fundraising idea. We’ve come up with eight fun and safe ideas for you: 

  1. Shoe Drive Fundraiser
  2. Virtual Treat Sale
  3. Walk-a-Thon
  4. Hybrid Teacher Talent Show
  5. Cutest Pet Contest
  6. Outdoor School Olympics
  7. Drive-Thru Car Wash 
  8. Principal Challenge 

As you work as a PTA team to choose a unique fundraising idea for your school, be sure to consider your local and state COVID-19 guidelines. These restrictions will inform what you are and aren’t able to do, but know that you can accommodate any of these ideas to your school’s safety needs. 

Remember to remain flexible as you plan and to anticipate the need to move any in-person events to hybrid or entirely virtual formats. We’ll offer plenty of suggestions on making each fundraising idea run smoothly, no matter which one you choose, so let’s get started with our first idea!

  1. Shoe Drive Fundraiser 

Shoe drive fundraisers are fun and super easy for your PTA to facilitate. Nearly every student (especially elementary school and middle school students) has outgrown a pair of shoes recently, so you’ll be able to maximize the number of students who participate in your fundraiser. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • First, partner with a fundraising provider like Funds2Orgs, who sets your PTA up with a coaching team and starter kit. 
  • Next, collect gently worn, used and new shoes from your school’s students at set collection stations. 
  • Finally, your fundraising provider picks up the shoes you’ve collected and then sends your PTA a check. 

A shoe drive fundraiser allows many students to get involved and teaches your school community about the importance of recycling and environmental mindfulness. 

Shoe drive fundraisers can be easily contactless, too. Simply have students drop shoes off at a collection box in the school office or the school’s front doors. Your PTA and fundraising provider can handle the rest!

  1. Virtual Treat Sale 

Fundraising is always more fun for students and their families when they get a little something in return. One excellent way to raise money virtually is to host a treat sale. Your PTA can create a simple order form that it can email to parents. From there, parents and students can select the treats they want to buy and place their orders. 

And where will those treats come from, you ask? While you could tap into the baking talent within your PTA to make the treats, you could make the process even easier by opting for a more traditional product fundraiser and sell items like cookie dough, gummy bears, coffee beans, or pretzels. Some schools will likely be more open to this second option, as it helps you do more to prevent the spread of germs. 

Students and their parents will have fun picking the treats they want to order and anticipating their arrival, and your PTA can collect the profit. 

  1. Walk-a-Thon 

A walk-a-thon (or any a-thon event) can help your PTA expand its fundraising reach in a fun way, because your participants get their personal networks involved. After a participant registers for the walk-a-thon, they encourage their friends and family to pledge a fixed amount of money for each unit of the distance they walk during the event. 

There are a lot of additional benefits to choosing a walk-a-thon fundraiser, too. According to 99Pledge’s walk-a-thon guide, walk-a-thons “bring your community together, promote an active and healthy lifestyle, can be connected to the cause you’re supporting, and invite participation from people of all ages.” 

So, what does your PTA need to do to plan a walk-a-thon? First, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to host an actual walk-a-thon event or have participants complete the walk-a-thon at home with their families. If you choose to plan an in-person event, make sure you pick an optimal time, date, and location for the walk. 

Note that if you’re hosting an in-person event, some people who are willing to participate might not be able to because of time and location constraints. Offering an at-home walk-a-thon option could allow more students and parents to participate and helps you avoid hosting a large gathering if that’s a concern in your local area. 

  1. Hybrid Teacher Talent Show 

For students, there’s nothing more fun (or, sometimes, hilarious!) than seeing their teachers perform on stage. To make a teacher talent show into a successful hybrid fundraiser, here’s what you’ll need to do: 

  • Get your teachers on board. Find a few teachers in your school that are willing to share their talents or their amusing attempts at clowning around on stage. 
  • Pick a venue. A school gymnasium or auditorium is the perfect place for these volunteers to perform. 
  • Host a dress rehearsal or run-through. The most challenging part of hosting a talent show is ensuring it will go smoothly, so make sure to iron out the lineup for the evening and have your teachers practice walking on and off the stage. 
  • Send out invitations and a virtual event link for families who want to attend at home. To host a hybrid fundraiser, you can have attendees come to the venue on the day of and offer families the option of watching the show from the comfort of their own homes. Charge a small entrance fee at the door or for access to the live event link. 

The hybrid teacher talent show is a great fundraiser because it allows families to participate safely and comfortably. Plus, students and their families will enjoy having a fun event to look forward to that will result in both laughs and standing ovations!

  1. Cutest Pet Contest 

People love to show off their pets. Tap into your school’s love of animals by hosting the cutest pet contest, either in-person or online. 

An in-person contest will require more footwork on the part of your PTA, but can be a ton of fun for participants and voters. Plan the event outside and have students either bring pets or a picture to be judged by the attendees. You can offer fun pet-related activities at the event, like a dog meet-and-greet or show-and-tell for smaller pets like lizards or hamsters that will likely attend in cages or tanks. Have attendees vote for the pet they think is the cutest by giving a small donation, and make sure to offer a tempting prize for the winner (and their owner!). 

You can host the cutest pet contest online, too. Have students submit a picture of their pet and either pay to register for the contest or to vote for their favorite pet. 

  1. Outdoor School Olympics 

An outdoor school olympics day is an exciting pick if you’re considering sports fundraiser options. School olympics are a fun way to get everyone in your school’s community moving, running, playing, and having a great time. 

Arrange to host the olympics on your school’s field or at a nearby park. When students and families arrive, they will pay to enter the event to watch or donate to participate in each activity (whether it’s a game or a race). You can even get the athletes and coaches at your school involved by asking them to design, facilitate, and coach each sport. 

Because this event is hosted outside, you’ll already be taking some precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But don’t forget to offer hand sanitizing stations and encourage participants to socially distance themselves as needed. 

To keep your PTA’s costs down, use equipment your school already has on hand or make sure the events offered don’t require any specific gear. Set up a winner’s podium for the end of the day, and plan to offer some fun prizes to incentivize parents and students to perform like real Olympic athletes in each activity. 

  1. Drive-Thru Car Wash 

Who doesn’t love going through a car wash? This fundraiser will take some grunt work from your PTA, but it’s a great way to get entire families participating in your fundraiser, especially if your school’s students can’t drive yet. 

Simply set up a car wash in your school parking lot and charge a small fee for each wash. Be sure to bring energy and enthusiasm to every interaction with students and their families, so it’s a fun experience for them to be sprayed down with soap bubbles and water! 

  1. Principal Challenge 

According to the Funds2Orgs guide to school fundraising ideas, students love to see their principal doing something silly. Whether it’s dying their hair purple, shaving their head, or subjecting themselves to a dunk tank, students are always eager to get a good laugh alongside their principal. 

You can use a principal challenge as a reward for students to meet fundraising goals. For example, students who donate a pair of shoes during a shoe drive fundraiser could be invited to take a shot at dunking the principal in the dunk tank or be present when the principal shaves their head. You can also stream the principal challenge online to get even more students and parents to watch the hilarious results.

Though COVID-19 caused stress for your PTA, you don’t have to let it throw a wrench into your fundraising plans. With these amusing and lucrative fundraisers, you can stay safe and still raise the money that your school needs, whether you have to pivot to a different fundraising format or not. 

Remember when planning your fundraiser, also plan for how you’ll thank your donors. Showing appreciation for students and parents for participating in your fundraisers will ensure that they’ll be ready and eager to support future PTA initiatives as well. 

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Wayne Elsey

Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations.

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