7 Proven School Fundraising Ideas

7 Proven School Fundraising Ideas




July 4, 2017

Last modified: 

Fundraising ideas

Fundraising is a necessity for any school to support its educational activities.

It seems you can never fundraise too much or accept too many donations, but you don’t want to bore your supporters with the same fundraisers year after year. Is your school tired of the same old fundraisers and looking for new ideas that are guaranteed to work?

Your search ends here! Follow these 7 proven fundraising ideas for schools to raise money for your students:

1. Walkathon

2. Partner with a local restaurant chain

3. Multicultural fair

4. Car wash

5. Coffee Drive

6. Trivia Night

7. Envelope Fundraiser

Want something focused specifically on fundraising for private schools? Look to DonorSearch’s 5 Steps to A+ Private & Independent School Fundraising.
Read on to boost your mentoring skills and learn about these school fundraising ideas!


What it is

Typically annual, a walkathon event is a long-distance walk meant to fundraise for a cause.

Why it works

Walkathons are usually encouraging and successful events because they support:

1. Health: All participants walk around your designated course, encouraging a healthy habit.

2. Community: Usually hosted on a public field or in a public park, walkathons are open to the public for the most exposure and therefore, evoke a sense of community and develop relationships as they bring people together.

3. Accessibility: Participants will be at different levels athletically, and that’s fine. Some will be participating to challenge themselves, and some will just be participating for fun. The more the merrier.

4. Affordability: Walkathons are fairly inexpensive fundraising events.

Pledges are placed on participants and how far they’re able to walk the day of the event. For example, if Sabrina pledges $5 for every mile Alex walks and Alex walks 7 miles, you’ve raised $35 for your school.

How to start

There’s a list of things to do when organizing your walkathon event.

1. Determine a location. You’ll need to decide if you want a course that gets you from Point A to Point B or a circular course that starts and ends at Point A, a straight course or a circuit course, respectively.

2. Pick a date and rain date. Make sure you pick a date in a warmer season, but not a hot one. Try May instead of August. And select a rain date, just in case!

3. Recruit sponsors. Approach previous gala sponsors to see if they’d like to run tents or water stations.

4. Promote your event. You can look into merchandise providers to customize your own t-shirts and water bottles. Promote your event through flyers and word-of-mouth, as well.

For a more extensive description on organizing a walkathon, check out Booster’s walkathon guide.

Restaurant chain

What it is

There are plenty of restaurants that partner with schools and educational clubs to help create awareness and raise money. These restaurants will have school fundraising nights, during which a portion of the sales from the night are donated to the school.

Why it works

Everyone has to eat. The partnership between restaurants and your school converts a daily task into a charity event.

How to start

All you have to do is:

1. Pick a participating restaurant. Many fast food places like Chick-fil-a or Moe’s Southwest Grill have fundraising programs. Just contact your local restaurant for more information. Be sure to check with your local small-business restaurants, too! Many of their owners’ kids have gone through your school system and will be open to help you fundraise.

2. Promote the night. Send out email blasts, create flyers, even make t-shirts, if you’d like. Your fundraiser’s success will depend on your dedication to promotion.

Turn your community’s next good meal into a successful fundraising idea by partnering with a restaurant!

Multicultural fair

What it is

A multicultural fair allows students to showcase their heritage and learn about their peers’ heritage.

Why it works

Students get a chance to perform cultural demonstrations and sell their culture’s products and food. On top of being a great fundraising opportunity and satisfying the mentor in you, it’s educational and a fun way to immerse the students in different cultures.

How to start

There’s a bit of planning that goes into organizing this fair:

1. Pick a location. This fair will be easiest if you have an accessible field if weather permits. If it doesn’t, try a gymnasium.

2. Set a date. If it’s outside, choose a rain date, too.

3. Recruit students to participate. Start a discussion and sign-up sheet to see which students would like to hold a booth at the fair. Ask which foods they’ll be making and selling and which cultural performances they’d like to display.

4. Promote! Post flyers. You might try to schedule the fair during lunch periods to reach the most students and/or during the evening to reach parents, too.

No matter what, make sure your students will have fun during the event–they need to be excited enough to sell and excited enough to learn.

Car wash

What it is

Your school can put together a group of students to organize a car wash. Besides being a quick and simple fundraising idea, it gets your students outside (and away from tablets, phones, and the tv).

Why it works

A car wash is an easy fundraiser to set up. Plus, everyone needs the pollen rinsed off their cars in the spring so who can pass up just $5 for a car wash?

How to start

There are just a few basic planning steps before you hold your car wash:

1. Pick a location. The school’s parking lot is probably your safest bet, just make sure it’s close to a hose!

2. Gather the materials. You need minimal supplies for this event. Invest in some soap, sponges, towels for drying, buckets, and of course, make sure you have a hose!

3. Promote and Advertise. Charge $5 per car and spread the word. You can advertise the day off by having students holding signs at the closest busy road.

Now that you have everything to start, pick a sunny day and hold your fundraiser.

Coffee drive

What it is

With 83% of American adults drinking coffee, a coffee drive is bound to be a successful fundraiser. Partnering with a fair trade roaster can let you sell both packaged coffee beans and hot cups of joe.

Why it works

Your students can sell beans to their peers, family, and others, while your school sells cups of coffee during lunch periods. Local coffee shops may partner with you and sell your school coffee at a discounted rate.

How to start

You’ll need to find a wholesaler to work with. Do your research and decide which blends at what prices work for your school’s community. Once you’ve found a supplier, all that’s left to do is promote and sell!

Get the word out and recruit students to sell.

Depending on how you want to organize sales, you can have students directly sell the product or keep a sales and orders sheet, like how girl scouts sell cookies.

Be sure to plan out your fundraiser and promote your coffee drive!

Trivia Night

What it is

A trivia night will spark a friendly sense of competition among your students. You can have students register as teams or individuals.

Why it works

Again, this fundraiser brings your students together to form a community. It works because who doesn’t love a little bit of rivalry and healthy competition?

How to start

Pick a location to host your trivia night. Your school’s gymnasium is a great option, but you can always try to partner with a local restaurant for space.

Make sure you have a plan for advertising and promoting your event to draw a crowd! Charge a small admission fee to trivia teams who want to compete. Plan out how your trivia game will start and finish. You don’t want an unorganized game.

Your trivia night can easily be an exciting and successful fundraiser as long as you plan ahead and organize.

Envelope Fundraiser

What it is

An envelope fundraiser is a super inexpensive and simple way for your school to raise some extra dough. You’ll need 100 envelopes numbered 1 through 100, which you can easily find in your school’s office. Then, supporters who pass by the envelopes will choose one and donate that amount. For example, if Sally picks up envelope 13, she’ll give $13.

Why it works

Easy, easy, easy. A fundraiser can’t get much more simple than this one. Plus, the envelope fundraiser doesn’t pressure supporters to give!

How to start

Get a pack of 100 envelopes and number them. From there, you can pin them to a corkboard in your school’s lobby or front office so students, parents, and others will see it and can make their donations.

All you need is 100 envelopes and a place to hang them and with the generosity of your supporters, you can accept donations.

Just remember to spread the word about your envelope fundraiser so people know where and when they can give because you’re relying directly on individual supporters’ donations.

Throughout your fundraising event, whichever idea you decide to go with, you can build a relationship with your students, like a mentor should. Don’t put too much pressure on them to sell and raise money, but instead encourage them to have fun with the fundraiser.

Still, want more ideas? Check out this list of fundraising ideas for schools and education.

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.

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