Putting the Fun Back in School Fundraising
School fundraisers are a necessary evil for almost every school — no matter what the budget, there are always more extras we want to give our kids.
Still, I’ll admit to shuddering when the Pizza Sale flyer comes home or when the Fresh Orange & Grapefruit sale starts. I want to help but, man, do I hate selling oranges at the office.
Fortunately, there are some simple and fun ways to raise money for your kids’ school. Here are five of my favorite creative school fundraiser ideas. These won’t replace big programs like Market Day, Entertainment Books and Scholastic Book Fairs but they can help bring in extra cash for a class, club or school program.
A lot of traditional fundraisers center around selling things like cookie dough, chocolates and pizza. At the same time, schools are being forced to cut athletic and gym programs because of budget constraints. A Walk-A-Thon (or Fun Run or Jump-A-Thon) is a great way to get kids moving and make money for the school. It’s also an ideal fundraiser for little kids, who have lots of energy and never stop moving. Kids collect pledges for their activity — say, $1 for each lap they walk around the school grounds, or for each minute of jump roping. If you want to get a little more involved, you could also involve the community by organizing a 5K event. NonProfit People has a step-by-step guide to organizing a charity 5K event.
A car wash is a good option for slightly older kids — say, middle school and up — who can do the bulk of the work themselves (advertising the event, selling tickets, washing the cars). There are two ways to organize a car wash fundraiser: You can either collect money at the event for each car the kids wash or you can sell tickets before the event. You can raise even more money — and involve more kids — by selling drinks (coffee, water, lemonade) and baked goods during the car wash.
Chili Cook Off
If you’re looking for a fundraiser that’s a little more adult oriented, a chili cook off is a nice option. A pub in our area does this each fall to raise money for our local Boys and Girls Club and it’s a really fun community event. It’s also an event that’s fairly simple to organize. Participants enter a giant pot of chili, a panel of judges — which can include school administrators and teachers, PTA members or local celebrities — chooses the best, attendees get to sample the entries, and you’re done! You can charge for entries, sell tickets to attend, or both. The best chili gets a ribbon, the school gets the cash and everyone’s a winner.
Monthly Popcorn Sales
If your school’s concession stand has a popcorn machine, this can be a simple way to get students involved in raising money. Once a month, a designated class or group is responsible for coordinating the popcorn sales. Students can handle making signs to advertise the event and selling popcorn during lunch or after school. Older kids can probably pop popcorn with adult supervision, but younger grades will need parents to handle this. Each box or bag sells for 50 cents or a dollar, and the proceeds go to the group or class who did the work, to spend as they choose. One class at our school used the money to subsidize an end-of-year trip to the movies, while another class used it to help pay for their class camping trip.
Family Fun Night Concert
One of the biggest money makers at our school is an annual Family Fun Night with a performance by a favorite local children’s band. In our case, two of the band members happen to be involved in the PTA so that makes things easy. But you can do it in your area if you can find a local children’s band willing to play your event for free or for a reduced fee. You can sell tickets to the event or charge at the door. You can also raise additional funds by including a bake sale or face painting for the kids.
What are your favorite school fundraisers?