40+ School Fundraising Ideas

40+ More School Fundraising Ideas

When it comes to raising money for your school, the number of fundraising ideas is truly limitless today. Thanks to the versatility offered by online fundraising platforms like PayBee, you can hold your fundraising galas online, in-person, or in hybrid settings that offer the best of both worlds.

Even better, by taking advantage of today’s online tools, you can put new spins on old classics, letting your donors and supporters experience favorite activities like talent shows and shoe drives in a new light. There’s no end to the way you can use digital technology to either enhance your galas or build entirely new fundraising activities.

We’ve already created several articles on great fundraising events to hold for schools. To get your creative juices flowing, we’ve assembled a detailed list of over 40 school fundraising ideas that reveal the benefits of investing in an online fundraising platform. You can use these fundraising ideas as described in your next gala or, better yet, use them as a basis for your own ideas.

Ready to get started? Here are our best ideas for school fundraisers.

Best School Fundraising Ideas for In-Person Events

Sometimes, there’s really no substitute for good old-fashioned in-person fundraisers. From carnivals to talent shows, parents, teachers, and community supporters still have a perception of school fundraisers as face-to-face gatherings.

Still, just because you may be throwing a classic school fundraiser doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it with some cutting edge twists to make it more convenient for your guests — and your event staff. Here are our fundraising ideas for in-person school events.

Luncheon Fundraiser

Here’s a classic school fundraising idea that never goes out of style. School luncheons are the perfect gatherings for parents, teachers, families, and other supporters to get together, enjoy a nice meal, and donate to your school programs. And these days, thanks to online technology, it’s easier than ever to organize a massive guest list without sacrificing a personal touch for each guest.

Use PayBee’s guest management software to create a more accessible database that covers each guest’s personal preferences and tastes. This can include getting information on guest dietary restrictions, preferred meals, and even favorite colors. Our system then organizes all of this information so you can be sure you order enough food for each guest, serve everyone the meal they desire, and even print their name tags on cards of their favorite color.

Plus, it goes without saying that we’ll make sure everyone gets seated at the right tables — and that everyone gets reminded of your event so you’ll enjoy a good turnout.

Themed Festivals

Carnivals and fiestas are fun fundraising events to host for any educational institution, from elementary schools to universities. One nice way you can make yours standout is to theme your festival around a specific holiday or time of year. Depending on what’s popular in your area, you can offer harvest festivals, Christmas-themed events, or spring charity carnivals.

Food-themed events such as chili cook-offs, barbeque events, and pie-paloozas can draw families and offer great opportunities for community members to get involved. Be sure to adhere to any social distancing requirements if they still apply to the schools in your area. And be sure to factor all expenses into the tickets you sell.

PayBee offers great online tools to help get the word out on your school festival fundraiser. Build a fundraising website with our platform and use our social sharing links to share your campaign across your favorite social media sites.

Pet Party Fundraiser

Do you have a lot of pet lovers in your community? Then give them an opportunity to show off their dogs, cats, and other pets at a pet parade, pet treat bake-off, or even pet costume contest if you’re looking for something more holiday themed.

Pet parties offer a great opportunity to partner with your local animal shelters, veterinarians, and pet treat shops. These community organizations can sponsor your fundraising event while also promoting their own businesses. Shelters can even bring pets who are up for adoption while dog bakeries can provide samples of their favorite dog treats to stimulate business.

And PayBee provides a way to organize your entire fundraiser. Offer advertising opportunities for your sponsors on your website. Sell raffle tickets and hold a silent or hybrid auction during your fundraiser with pet-themed auction items. Pet parties inevitably lead to good photo opportunities, so make sure your social media channels showcase cute photos of past pet party events to encourage families to attend.

Dog Wash

Here’s a fundraising activity you can hold in tandem with your pet party or any other outdoor school fundraising event. Dog washes provide a way for your volunteers to have some soapy fun while giving families a break from taking care of their pets.

Spend time organizing your event to make sure you have enough dog shampoo, towels, and other washing materials on hand (as well as an adequate number of volunteers). Attract more guests by offering dog treats as gifts (which can be provided by dog bakery sponsors), as well as drinks and concessions for all the humans waiting in line. As always, take photos and use them to advertise your event in advance on social media. 

Plant Sale

Practically every home could use some brightening up with a potted plant, so a plant sale is an great fundraiser to offer alongside other school fundraising events like bake sales or school carnivals. Partner with local plant nurseries to offer flower bulbs or pre-potted plants to your guests. (Quick tip: highlight indoor plants that thrive in low-light conditions — you may be able to generate interest from folks who like plants but don’t consider themselves outdoor gardeners).

If you’re offering your plant sale during a holiday or at a holiday-themed event, this provides you with a great opportunity to sell Valentine bouquets or Christmas garland wreaths for a fair charge. Families will be wanting to buy these plants to give as gifts, so why not give them a way to get what they want and support your school at the same time?

Best School Fundraising Ideas for Virtual Events

Virtual school fundraisers are becoming increasingly easier to host and can be a great source of revenue, particularly if your school is already entirely virtual or educates students in an online long-distance classroom. Many of the activities listed here have an in-person counterpart, but can easily be turned into an online event or activity with a fundraising platform like PayBee.

Virtual Cooking Classroom

Your school likely offers an online classroom (or became familiar with this format during the COVID-19 pandemic), so why not use your online teaching skills by offering fun virtual classes like online cooking courses?

This could involve having teachers offer an adult cooking class for the parents or adult students at your school. You could partner with a local restaurant that can have one of their professional chefs teach a signature dish to students via video call.

Be sure to plan for the logistics of this event, including factoring in the cost of all the ingredients and including them in the registration fee you’ll charge. Participants should also have all the cooking tools and utensils required for this dish ready in advance and pick up for have their meal ingredients delivered to them.

Done successfully, a virtual cooking night offers a fun way for adults to add to their skillset and prepare a great meal for their families right from the comfort of their own home. Consider sharing the proceeds from the event with the restaurant to build a partnership with them, especially if you’d like to make this virtual fundraiser a regular event.

Virtual Celebrity Meeting

Here’s a fun fundraising event that may actually be easier to host online than in-person. Celebrities like popular authors, music bands, and actors may not have the time to schedule in a face-to-face visit, but they can easily make a virtual appearance to a school classroom through livestreaming technology.

This could involve doing everything from a live reading to a virtual concert. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure to use a reliable livestreaming service for your virtual event — and PayBee integrates seamlessly with all live-streaming platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and others.

In general, it’s easier to get a local celebrity (such as a local news anchor or TV personality) involved in this type of event. However, if you have access to a more well-known movie or TV star, this can attract more attention. Celebrities also tend to charge lower fees for virtual appearances, and of course you can always have your celebrity encourage donations from your audience during the event. 

Online Shopping Fundraiser

These days, families do a great deal of their shopping online — so why not make this work for your fundraiser? Online shopping fundraisers involve partnering with retailers who agree to contribute a portion of their sales total to your school. You can then promote a program app or browser extension on your fundraising page for parents and other supporters to download. Once this is done, a percentage of their sales total will be sent by the retailer to your school.

This is a great way to partner with popular retailers in your community, especially during big events like back-to-school sales. PayBee also offers you the option of promoting your partner retailers on your fundraising page, so everyone knows what businesses are supporting your school.

TED Talk

TED talks are extremely versatile events that play well online. These virtual conferences can be on a number of different topics, from effective teaching techniques to the importance of arts programs to ways to provide more educational opportunities for students. Choose a topic that resonates with your community and support network. Hire a charismatic and articulate speaker with some important points to make, and you have the makings of a virtual classroom event many people will want to attend.

In terms of fundraising, you could raise money two different ways. The most typical is to charge a small attendance fee (which you can collect through a PayBee ticketing campaign). Alternatively, you can offer free tickets and request donations at the end of the talk. Either way is effective — just make sure you use a reliable livestreaming platform to broadcast your TED talk online.

Online Giving Day Fundraiser

Lots of schools take advantage of holidays to throw fundraising events, but did you know there are specific days in the year geared toward giving gifts to a good cause? Giving Tuesday, for example, falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year. This day was founded in 2012 as a day to encourage people to do good.

Nonprofit organizations focus a lot of their fundraising events on this day since they know that many people set aside money specifically to donate money and learn about good causes on Giving Tuesday. This is also a great time for nonprofits to recruit new volunteers, find new supporters, and increase their brand awareness.

Your school can also take advantage of Giving Tuesday. Simply build a fundraising webpage or online donation form and promote your online giving day on Giving Tuesday. Be sure to share your event in advance on social media and e-newsletters so your supporters know to allocate their donations to your school.

Best School Fundraising Ideas for Hybrid Events

Hybrid galas offer new opportunities to try out new fundraising ideas. You can also modify your most successful in-person and virtual fundraisers to cater to a larger audience. Because hybrid fundraisers enable both in-person gatherings and online guests to contribute to your cause simultaneously, they provide a great way for your school to earn even more money for your programs. Here are some of the most successful hybrid fundraising ideas we’ve seen in action.

Hybrid Auction

Hybrid auctions combine the best of traditional and virtual auctions. It’s no secret that charity auctions are a classic way for any fundraiser to earn money. However, hybrid auctions increase your earning potential by letting you hold your auction in an in-person gathering while also allowing online guests to place bids simultaneously. Coupled with a skilled auctioneer, you can generate a lot of excitement and bidding wars, resulting in high winning bids.

To ensure your hybrid auction runs smoothly, be sure to invest in a proven online fundraising platform like PayBee. One of the trickiest things about these auctions is making sure your virtual guests can place their bids in real-time (and that your in-person bidders can see these bids, making sure neither group has an unfair advantage or disadvantage). Hosting your hybrid auction with PayBee and a good tech support team allows all your guests to have a good time.

As with all auctions, you’ll want to take the needs of your bidders into account. Make sure to offer auction items your guests can afford and want to bid on. Knowing your guests’ interests is key. Offering an expensive trip to Jamaica might look good on paper, but it won’t benefit you if it falls outside your bidders’ price range. Likewise, auctioning autographed sports memorabilia won’t appeal to everyone, but if a lot of parents in your audience are sports fans, they might be your most popular items.

Hybrid Talent Shows

Talent shows have been a popular school fundraising event for a long time. Parents and teachers are always eager to see their children and students perform on stage. While these fundraisers are typically performed in-person, with modern video conferencing software, there’s no reason you can’t turn this into a hybrid event that expands both your performers and your audience.

Livestreaming and video conferencing can assist in every stage of this fundraiser. For instance, students can audition from their homes by dancing, singing, or performing standup before cameras. Many students can even perform in the actual show via video conferencing, which helps include distance learning students in school activities.

By making your talent show a hybrid event, you can also sell tickets to people who might not be able to attend otherwise — like grandparents, friends, and family members who live out of state or in other countries. An online fundraising platform like PayBee can accommodate many livestreaming platforms that allow you to share your talent show with a worldwide audience, and make recorded versions available to those who can’t make the live show.

Hybrid Poetry Slam

Here’s a low-cost fundraiser that plays well with high school and college students. A short poetry contest invites students to read their original poems in front of an audience who can vote for their favorites. By making this a hybrid event, you can welcome students comfortable performing in front of a live audience as well as students who would prefer sharing their poetry from home.

Charge a small entry fee for students to participate. Likewise, audience members can attend from home or in-person, giving you additional opportunities to collect donations through online donation buttons or in-person methods.

Hybrid Job Fair

This fundraising idea will probably work best in college settings, although some high schools may also appreciate it. Hybrid job fairs (or hybrid career fairs) enable students to connect with businesses and learn about all the career opportunities available to them. Since they’re held in both face-to-face and virtual environments, they can reach a lot more people and attract a larger audience — which is great for your fundraising opportunities.

Hosting a hybrid job fair also attracts more recruiters and hiring managers to your event. Local employers can connect with students in the physical setting and make in-person presentations. Other companies can chat with job seekers through video calls while learning about the business through online presentations. All this makes a hybrid job fair a potentially lucrative fundraising idea since you can generate revenue from the companies appearing at the fair. Some job fairs also sell tickets to the job seekers, but you may want to keep this fundraiser a free event for your students.

Hybrid Dance-a-thon

Dances are always fun events at schools, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, some organizations have been letting them enter the digital age by holding virtual dances. Guests attend through livestream broadcasts where they interact with each other through video conferencing software like Zoom. Some virtual dance parties go all the way with costumes, a DJ, music videos, and karaoke competitions.

These days, you can combine traditional and digital dance parties into a single hybrid event where dance parties from multiple locations can interact with each other online. To make this event a fundraiser, turn your hybrid dance party into a dance-a-thon where supporters can make pledges for the number of hours guests dance the night away. You’ll want to use a reliable livestreaming platform and may want to invest in a live host who can keep the dance-a-thon energy going up for maximum fundraising.

If your dance-a-thon goes over well for your supporters, there’s no reason you can’t reuse this fundraising idea in a variety of fun ways. Consider holding a walk-a-thon, a read-a-thon, clean-a-thon, or any other “thon” activities you can imagine. Collect pledges based on the number of pages read, miles walked, or even pieces of dirty laundry cleaned.

Elementary School Fundraiser Ideas

Fundraising ideas that work well for elementary school tend to be very hands-on. Focus on activities that children will enjoy being involved in — and don’t forget to take the needs of their parents into account. Here are some of our favorite elementary school fundraising ideas.

Bake Sale

Here’s a fundraising classic that never seems to go out of style. Bake sales can be offered with practically any fundraising event, from school carnivals to charity balls to pet parties. Depending on your students’ baking expertise, you could offer home-made goodies or partner with a local bakeshop and ask them to share the proceeds from their bake good sales on the day of your fundraiser.

You can even make this fundraising event completely virtual by selling baked goods online and then arranging for a pick-ups at a designated location at a specific date and time. All the logistics can be communicated through your online fundraising page (which you can easily build with PayBee’s online fundraising platform). Make sure to advertise your bake sale on multiple social networks, your e-newsletter, and through physical flyers to attract more donations.

Calendar Sale

Posting student artwork on a wall or a refrigerator is a time-honored tradition for elementary schools and families of young students. So, why not use this artwork for your fundraisers?

Creating and selling school calendars is a great fundraising idea that you can use and re-use for multiple events, like bake sales and festivals. You can select pieces of student artwork from different grades and classrooms and use each drawing to illustrate a different month. Alternatively, you can create calendars themed around class photos, school sports, or even your past fundraising events.

Assembling a calendar does take time, so make sure to plan out all logistics in advance. Work with a reliable vendor and give your staff adequate time to select art pieces and print your calendar. You’ll also want to advertise the upcoming calendars on email campaigns — parents whose kids’ artwork and photos appear in the calendar will definitely want to purchase copies!

Scavenger Hunt

Here’s a fundraising activity that can be fun for all ages — but especially for the younger crowd. You can sell tickets for a scavenger hunt during other larger fundraising events such as a festival or field day, giving your students and other guests more fun activities.

Customize your scavenger hunt to whatever environment your fundraiser happens to be in. For instance, if you’re holding an event at a museum, you could have kids take photos of key exhibits. On the other hand, if you’re holding an outdoor event, it might be fun to have kids collect items or images of local wildlife.

Have students register as teams and compete in a timed scavenger hunt to increase the excitement. Oh, and be sure to promote a great prize for the winning team so everyone has something to look forward to!

Shoe Drive

Shoe drive fundraisers may seem like an unusual school fundraising idea, but they have the potential to raise thousands of dollars for many school programs. By hosting a shoe drive, you not only raise money for your school, you also send the donated shoes overseas to developing countries where people rely on a good pair of shoes to get around.

Here’s how a shoe drive works. Shoe drive fundraising companies like funds2orgs provide your school with free packing equipment and marketing materials needed for hosting a shoe drive. Your students, volunteers, and staff then reach out to their support networks — which can include friends, families, or a local church, and ask for gifts of gently worn or unused shoes. This request works great for elementary schools since kids grow out of shoes very quickly.

Your school will then arrange to have all the shoes dropped off, packaged by volunteers, and then collected by your partner organization. A successful shoe drive can collect hundreds of shoes and can earn your school thousands of dollars in revenue. To learn more, watch the Funds2Orgs video on hosting shoe drives.    

Parents Night Out

Parents with elementary school-age kids can often feel overwhelmed with school responsibilities, so holding a party specifically for them is a nice way for schools to show how much they’re appreciated. This is an excellent way for parents and teachers to mingle and get to know each other — ideally near the beginning of the school year so they can network with other families.

While a parent party does offer your school an opportunity to fundraise, an even better idea would be to share your upcoming fundraising events with parents. This shows parents how your fundraising events will support their children’s education and learning opportunities. This also provides you with a way to see if any parents would like to volunteer or participate in any future fundraisers.

If you’d like to raise money from your Parents Night Out, one good way is to hold your event at a local restaurant. By partnering with the eatery, you can arrange for a percentage of the event proceeds to go toward your school programs.

Middle School Fundraiser Ideas

Middle school is a time when kids start getting a bit more independent and a lot more tech savvy. This means some of the best middle school fundraising ideas tend to involve students in digital fundraisers. You can also appeal to the competitive spirit of your students and involve community organizations in your fundraising ideas.   

School Spirit Photo Contest

Students already spend plenty of time on social media, why not make this the platform for your next school fundraising campaign? School spirit photo contests once used to be held in art classes or a display cabinet, but now they can be shared with the entire Internet thanks to social media.

Take advantage of this! Create a contest where the student with the most eye-catching school spirit photo will win a prize. Photos can be posted on your social media channels, a peer-to-peer fundraising website, or your own school website. Make sure to establish a rule where all photos must include a link to your online donation form. This will help spread the word out about your fundraiser and increase the likelihood of donations.

This is a nice contest to hold during a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, a crowdfunding campaign, or even during the marketing phase of your main fundraising event. Online photos get a lot of attention, so include information on your upcoming fundraiser to let interested parties know what to do next.

Text-to-Give Fundraising Campaigns

These days, parents, students, teachers, and most community members are constantly on the go. This makes convenience a very necessary part of fundraising activities. Fortunately, with smart phones now a part of everyday life, giving people a fast, efficient way of contributing to your school programs is easier than ever.

Text-to-give tools allow supporters to quickly donate money to your campaign simply by clicking on a link that your staff texts them. PayBee users can text a link to your school’s online donation page, enabling recipients to donate with just a few quick clicks.

These campaigns can (and should) be incorporated into most of your in-person and virtual fundraisers to offer an additional opportunity to donate to your causes. Students and parents should, however, know how your school’s mobile donation system works in order to donate efficiently.

Battle of the Bands

Who wouldn’t want to hear two great bands rock out next to each other? Hosting a “battle of the bands” concert is a great fundraising idea that lets you reach out to local musicians and bands and see if they’re interested in building their brand recognition by performing for your school.

You could also look closer to home and discover if your school bands or choir groups are able to perform in a fundraising concert. Since virtual concerts can now be broadcast over livestream platforms for anyone with Internet access to enjoy, this can give student bands an excellent shot at exposure.

Depending on your preference, you can sell tickets to your virtual or in-person concert before your fundraising event. Or you can make your battle of the bands a free event that requests donations during and after the concerts.

Yearbook Ads

Here’s a classic fundraising idea that works well for both middle schools and high schools. Yearbooks offer a nice memento of your students’ school experience but can be expensive to produce. You can cover this expense by offering advertising space for local businesses in the books.

This creates an additional way to develop close ties with local businesses and community organizations. Family-owned businesses run by the parents of students may appreciate advertising their stores, restaurants, and services in a yearbook. Likewise, businesses that are already popular with students — like a burger shop, music store, or sporting goods store — can run ads to remind students and parents of their existing connection with your school.

School Library Fundraiser

It’s always fun getting students directly involved in your fundraisers, and a school library fundraiser allows kids to support their school’s own literacy programs.

This is a good opportunity for students to leverage their website building skills and social networks. Give students access to PayBee’s peer-to-peer fundraising tools to create online donation pages they can share with family and friends online. As each classroom hits key goals in the fundraiser, they can be awarded with prizes.

The prizes themselves can be related to literacy. Let students choose from a selection of donated books, including graphic novels, chapter books, fun non-fiction etc. If you’re able, digital eBooks and audiobooks also make excellent prizes for this fundraiser.

High School Fundraiser Ideas

High school is a time of greater independence for students who are starting to discover what they enjoy doing. The following fundraising ideas involve both students and the community in school programs, letting everyone give back in more ways than one.

T-Shirt Contest and Sale

Odds are, you have some excellent student artists who consistently win prizes at fairs and art shows. Why not give them an opportunity to share their art with a wider audience by getting them to design custom T-shirts for your school fundraisers?

Finding a T-shirt provider who can take an original design and incorporate it into a T-shirt is easy these days. And once you have a supply of eye-catching shirts, you can sell them at multiple events, from end-of-year parties to crowdfunding campaigns to sporting events. T-shirts give students a chance to show their school spirit, and parents will appreciate the way students are involved in this fundraising activity.

Limit Computer Time Challenge

By high school, many students are spending a lot of time on their smartphones and laptops. While this can be a hassle for parents and teachers, it also opens the possibility for a unique fundraising idea — an anti-screen challenge!

Interested students can collect pledges from friends, family members, and their social network who will donate a set amount for every hour students spend away from their tablets and other electronic devices. To create incentive to go “screen-free” for the next several days or weeks, be sure to offer good prizes to the students who raise the most money.

Ironically, to reach the most people, you’ll want to create online donation forms for people to pledge their support and donate money. Still, PayBee’s online fundraising platform makes this process quick, so you won’t have to spend any unnecessary time on your computers. 

Food Trucks

Who doesn’t like buying a tasty lunch or snack from a food truck? Food trucks offer an excellent way to make more money for your school carnival, concert, or other outdoor event. And by entering into a partnership with a local food truck business, you could arrange for a percentage of their profits to go to your school programs.

It’s a win-win — the food trucks get to enjoy more business by supplying food at your fundraisers and outdoor events while your school gets to raise more money. You should also post their logos and thank them for their participation on your fundraising websites (something that’s easy to do with the PayBee system), to improve their brand recognition.

Car Decal Challenge

Similar to the T-shirt contest and sale, a car decal challenge lets the artists in your school exercise their creativity by designing custom car decal signs for your school. Contest winners can see their designs on official school decals which can be sold at future events.

This is a particularly great fundraising idea especially if you hold student car washes later in the year. Include an original car decal as an add-on option for school supporters and let your donors promote your school on the road!

Uniform Free Day

High school is a time for students to discover and showcase their own identity, which can sometimes be difficult if your school requires uniforms. Give students a chance to dress in comfortable, casual clothing (that still fits school guidelines) by offering uniform free days at various intervals in the year. Students can issue small donations that allow them to dress in their preferred outfits.

College and University Fundraising Ideas

Higher education programs are getting more expensive and students often need additional equipment to help with their studies. College is also a stressful time for many, especially around finals, creating a need for places to deal with stress and anxiety. These fundraising ideas take these needs into account.

Device Drive

Here’s a fundraiser that will offer direct benefits to your students. As online learning becomes an accepted and even necessary part of education, making sure your students have access to laptops, desktops, and tablets is becoming more of a necessity than ever.

Thus, a device drive offers a way to build bridges with community members and organizations and ask them to donate gently used electronic devices that students can use. You could also make the device drive part of a greater fundraising event used to raise donations for high-speed WiFi for students.

For a fundraiser like this to succeed, you need to get the word out. Take advantage of PayBee’s social sharing links to publicize your need for donated devices on multiple social media networks. Offer sponsorship opportunities to local businesses and Internet providers, and promote their companies on your fundraising website and at your event. The PayBee system also provides your donors with several ways to donate money to your cause, including credit card, check, PayPal, and even Apple Pay.

Viral Video Contest

A viral video contest allows students to exercise their skills in producing popular TikTok and Instagram Reels for their school. Students can film themselves performing different challenges related to the school program they’re supporting. For instance, they can show themselves doing 20 pushups in 60 seconds to support a sports or fitness program. Or they can videotape themselves volunteering at a food bank or highway cleanup and tag others to do the same. Students can then earn prizes for the videos with the most hits or likes.

Viral videos are an excellent low-cost way to get the word out about your upcoming fundraising event too. Require students to include links to your fundraising website as well as a direct link to your online donor form to let viewers know about your future events and activities. 

Pet Therapy Room

This unique fundraising idea takes the stress and anxiety college kids can experience into account. Pet therapy dogs and cats can do a lot to relieve student stress, and many young adults will offer reasonable donations to play with therapy pets for a set amount of time — especially around finals.

To make a pet therapy room available to your students, partner with a local shelter or pet therapy organization. This fundraising idea offers a great opportunity to work with mental health or animal-related charities and nonprofits who can share their own resources with yours.

Giving Kiosk

Today, there are plenty of fast, easy ways to donate to good causes. PayBee provides many online tools to help make the checkout process at our fundraisers much smoother. These include mobile apps that let guests donate from their smartphones, QR codes that direct guests to online donation pages, and physical credit card readers that let guests make fast credit card donations.

With so many donation tools available to you now, why not create a giving kiosk at your college where students can make quick donations to good causes? Your kiosk can function as a place where volunteers inform visitors of the school programs benefiting students, recruit new volunteers, and raise funds. This is an excellent fundraising idea for staying in constant contact with the student body. 

Discount Card Fundraiser

A discount card fundraiser involves partnering with multiple local stores, restaurants, and retailers in your community by getting them to offer a discount (usually in the 10-15% range) to anyone who presents your school’s discount card at the business. Your school can then sell those discount cards to your students (often for anywhere in the $5-$50 range) and use the money to fund your programs.

Done correctly, a discount card fundraiser not only raises money for your school but also helps increase business in the community by incentivizing your students to shop at local restaurants and stores. However, you’ll need to organize your fundraising team well by delegating which volunteers will be responsible for working with local businesses, printing professional cards, selling the cards to students, and working out how many discount cards you need to sell in order to make this fundraiser profitable.

Offbeat Fundraising Ideas

Sometimes the weirdest fundraising ideas are the best. The following school fundraisers offer an offbeat approach to raising money for your school. From community-minded service projects to cuddly new uses for a sports mascot, here are some more unusual school fundraisers to consider.

Fundraising Campaign Competitions

Peer-to-peer campaigns are some of PayBee’s most effective fundraising events. These digital fundraisers allow your volunteers or staff members to build a fundraising website of their own. Staff and volunteers can share their websites with their own social networks and raise money for your cause. The PayBee system allows participants to not only build websites easily but also manage all the donations, so your school receives all the proceeds.

To make these campaigns even more exciting, why not turn them into a competition between donors? Just create a goal for how much money you want to raise and build a separate online donation page that displays each peer-to-peer campaign’s progress toward that goal.

You can offer even more incentive for donations by offering a prize to the winning peer-to-peer campaign (or the person who donates the most toward a single campaign’s goal). Friendly competitions regularly motivate people to donate more generously, so take advantage of this!

Digital Treasure Hunt

Earlier, we placed the spotlight on scavenger treasure hunt fundraisers. But did you know you can use this fundraising activity in a completely virtual fundraiser?

The main difference here is that a digital treasure hunt sends student participants all over the Internet to find online “treasures” such as key images, gifs, or links to online videos. You can hide clues in your online donation page (incentivizing visitors to donate to your cause while you’re there). You might also include a Zoom conference call or text messages during the hunt to give participants clues.

To raise money with this digital fundraiser, you can either have teams of students pay a flat fee to participate. Alternatively, students might be able to make individual minimum donations to your campaign to take part in the hunt. PayBee’s system can accommodate a variety of payment methods, so choose the one you feel your participants will appreciate the best.

Grocery Delivery

More and more people are using grocery delivery and meal delivery services. You can create a grocery delivery service of your own to use as a fundraising activity. Delivery would be done by your volunteer network and all proceeds would go to your school program.

This is an excellent fundraising campaign to promote on your school’s e-newsletter. Parents of students may appreciate a reliable grocery drop-off service (especially if you charge a reasonable price in comparison to your competitors). In addition, your service can attract grandparents and other community members who find grocery shopping a challenge due to health or other physical issues.

Video Game Tournament

If you think playing video games won’t raise a lot of money for your school, think again. There’s an entire group of “geek philanthropists” who have been raising millions of dollars for charities and nonprofit organizations by exercising their gaming skills.

Here’s how it works: your school partners with gamers who specialize in producing entertaining livestreams of their gameplay that video game fans enjoy watching. As they watch, your online fundraising platform encourages them to donate to your school through donation buttons, raffles, and other incentives.

Some gaming fundraisers collect pledges from viewers who agree to pay money to your school based on how long a gamer plays, the levels they reach, or the records they break. There are many gamers with large followings who enjoy creating charity livestreams that benefit nonprofits, charities, and schools. If you’d like to learn more, our article, “Level Up Your Nonprofit Virtual Fundraisers with ‘Geek Philanthropy’” offers a more detailed look at this fundraising idea, which can be supported by the PayBee system.

School Mascot Sale

Here’s a fun fundraising idea that helps raise school spirit while also building your merchandising opportunities. Many online companies now build customized stuffed animals based on your specifications. You can have a cuddly toy version of your school mascot made and ready to sell at sporting events, fundraisers, luncheons, and more.

This works best if your mascot is an animal of some kind, but honestly any type of mascot will work well. You can offer these mascot toys as gifts or prizes — and definitely promote them on your fundraising website and promotional materials!

Low Cost or Free School Fundraising Activities

One great thing about modern fundraising events is that they can fit any budget. Even if your fundraising committee is operating on a shoestring, there are profitable events and activities that can be held for free (or for a very low cost). Here are some of our favorites:

Spend-nothing challenge

Here’s a fundraising idea that works well for schools with large support networks. Challenge your supporters to spend no money for a single day. This means each supporter forgoes their daily Starbucks coffee drink, skips restaurant meals in favor of home cooking, and doesn’t download any paid movies. All these usual expenditures can then be tallied up and donated to your school.

Make this a fun challenge that you advertise in advance on social media and your e-newsletters to help parents and community members prepare. Some spend-nothing challenge even issue a double-or-nothing challenge where participants who do spend money get to donate double that amount to your school!

Naming contest

Here’s a fun way to let your supporters leave their mark on your school. Host a fundraising contest where the prizes involve naming aspects of your school. This could involve allowing contestants to name the cafeteria, a new school mascot, the library etc. You can use any contest for this (selling raffle tickets, hosting a photo contest etc.) and of course you’ll want to issue guidelines so the final name is appropriate, but this will still be an entertaining way to collect donations from your supporters and leave them with memorable (but free) gifts.

Invent a new ice cream flavor

This one’s particularly fun for elementary school students. Partner with a local ice cream shop that makes customized ice cream dishes. Every child in your school then writes their own unique recipe for a new ice cream flavor and everyone votes on their favorite creation. The winner(s) get their ice cream flavors made by the ice cream shop — which then donates a percentage of the sales of that flavor to your school.

Eco-friendly art night

Invite families to your school to participate in an eco-friendly arts and craft activity. Each family can bring a bag of non-perishable, reusable trash items (i.e. dried leaves, plastic packaging, bottle caps etc.). The school supplies poster board, glue sticks, and other readily-available art supplies, and everyone gets to build their own unique collages or signs out of the materials.

Since most of the art supplies are provided by the families, this will be a very low-cost fundraising event. You can charge a low entry fee to participate and auction off the newly created art at the end of your fundraiser.

Moving Forward

Thanks to the digital fundraising tools available to you today, there’s really no limit to the variety of fundraising events you can host to raise money for your school. Online fundraising tools let you give a new spin to classic fundraising ideas and also publicize your events so more supporters can come and donate to your programs.

To decide if an online fundraising platform provides the tools you need, it’s best to first test the system yourself. Schedule a free demo of PayBee’s fundraising platform and discover how intuitive our digital tools are for both you and your supporters. You’ll get to participate in a fun mock auction and ask our team of experts how our platform can transform your school fundraising ideas into reality. There’s really no better way to get started in modern digital fundraising, so schedule a free demo today!

Nonprofit Fundraising
Michael Jung