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School Fundraising Ideas 2020 |Elementary School Fundraisers

82 (Best) School Fundraising Ideas [2020]

The [Ultimate] Guide

This is a complete guide to School Fundraising Ideas.

In this all-new guide about school fundraising ideas you’ll learn all about:

  • Free fundraisers
  • Product Fundraisers
  • School-wide Fundraisers
  • Small classroom-size fundraisers
  • Profit Margin for each fundraiser
  • No to low involvement fundraisers
  • How-to guides for best execution
  • Lots more

So, if you want to make sure that your school fundraiser is the best out there, you should get a lot of value from today’s guide.


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Contents:

Chapter 1:

School Fundraising Fundamentals

Chapter 2:

Max Out Your Fundraiser

Chapter 3:

Free Fundraisers

Chapter 4:

Event Fundraisers

Chapter 5:

Product Fundraisers

Chapter 6:

Competition Fundraisers

Bonus Chapter:

PTO/PTA Fundraising Tips

School Fundraising Fundamentals

Chapter 1:

Let’s kick things off with a chapter on the basics.

Specifically, in this chapter I’m going to cover why school fundraising is still so important in 2020.

I’ll also show you what is (and isn’t) considered a quality school fundraising idea.

Let’s dive in.

Why is school fundraising still important?

You can have the best school with the best PTO/PTA.

But if you choose the wrong fundraiser?

Then your school isn’t going to flourish like it should.

School Fundraising

But that’s just scratching the surface. Even if you select a great fundraiser, you still have to execute…

That’s because, for your school fundraiser idea to be the best one possible, you need to have your team in place with the proper plan to perform… and a thousand other things that go into school fundraising.

That’s not to say that your school fundraiser has to be perfect to make money. It doesn’t.

But the easier you make it for people to donate for your product or service, the better chance you have to max it out.


How Can You Improve Your School Fundraiser?

Like I said, “School Fundraising” isn’t just pick a product and sell it.

To improve your income potential, you need to take into account:

  • Season
  • Location
  • Participation
  • Incentives
  • Timing
  • Student Income-level
  • Parent/Teacher buy-in
  • Funds needed

And I’m probably forgetting a few.

Fortunately, I’m going to cover all of those things (and more) in the rest of this guide.

Chapter 2:

Max Out Your Fundraiser

In my opinion, your school’s student demographic is “#1” of any school fundraising idea.

(Yes, even coming before a great product and fundraising goals)

Why?

First off, many fundraisers fail because of students’ ability to sell and promote. So if you get this step right you don’t need to worry as much about the product or service.

Second, your school’s fundraiser launch influences everything else you do to raise money… from participation to potential money earned.

The bottom line here is this: a strong foundation makes every other fundraising task MUCH easier.

With that, let’s get into the steps to maximize your efforts.


Use a Simple Incentive-Based Program

Your fundraiser excitement level is how all of the participants are going to perform.

In general, you want a program that offers low level incentives and increasingly high-level seemingly out of reach goals.

Why is this important?

An incentive for students makes it easy to estimate your total sales.

Most will shoot for the lowest incentive.

This isn’t a big deal for a donation only school fundraising idea. But for a product or event fundraiser with expectations for raising a large amount for a big project? Incentives are a BIG deal.

You also want your incentives to be SUPER clear and understandable.

In other words, you don’t want an incentive plan like this:

This messy plan usually creates confusion and misunderstanding the goals.

Clear incentives will help you reach your goals faster and easier than you think.


Taking It to the Streets

There’s no need to overthink your fundraising plan. Especially if you have usually done fairly well.

That said: you do want your school fundraising idea to make as much money as possible. This actually helps you focus your efforts.

And putting your students in the best position to sell the most gives you the greatest chance to reach your goals.

For example, setting up a stand at your local big box store, will maximize your sales.

And this is a simple request from the local manager.

All you have to do is ask in advance (plenty of time in advance) because a lot of groups have figured out this trick.

Which seems to work. If you’ve ever been to a store around the holidays.

As you might expect, all of the fundraisers we have consulted that followed this simple step has sold out or maximized their potential profit.


Chapter 3:

Free (or Nearly Free) Fundraisers

This chapter is all about FREE [or close to it] school fundraising ideas and how to make it SUPER easy to raise funds.

In this chapter I’ll show you how to just use some simple techniques… and how to get the most with the least effort.

Free (or nearly free) Fundraisers:

Opt-Out Fundraiser: Let’s face it. Parents can get tired of raising money for their own kids.

One way around this is give them the option to pay a “fee” so they don’t have to participate.

Pajama day: Kids and teachers pay to wear pajamas for a day.

Hat day: Kids and teachers pay to wear a hat for the day.

Scavenger Hunt: Paid participation for a prize awarded scavenger hunt.

This can even be performed remotely with texted hunts and pictures.

Dress down day: Participants pay to wear shorts/jeans/non-uniform apparel for one day.

Raffles: Paid drawings for donated items. Sell tickets for $1-$100 for items based on value.

Lemonade Stand: Classes can provide Lemonade to students during recess or events or on Fridays for a fee.

Parents Night Out: Have an open gym for students of parents for 2-3 hours and charge for the service.

If you have kids you know how valuable this is for a quick brain break.    

Read-a-thon: Kids ask for donations or for an amount/page for reading books over a certain time frame.

Jar count (jellybean): Charge for each guess for how many are in the jar. Prize goes to the closest or exact guess.

Polar Plunge: Either raise funds to see which teacher or administrator will dunk in a tank during January or have an event to have paying participants jump in a pool in the Winter.

Yard Sale/Garage Sale: Have parents and students bring items to the school for a large Saturday morning sale. Keep all proceeds.

Head Shaving/Beard Shaving: Select (Male) school officials to have the students “vote” by paying or putting money toward the one they want to shave.        

Gift Wrapping: Offer gift wrapping services during the holidays for $5/package.

“”

Battle of the Bands: Have a prize for a singing contest and charge admission.

Karaoke Contest: Have an American idol type contest with judges that award the best singer. Teachers and administrators have the largest draw.   

Movie Night: Charge admission to have an outdoor movie projected onto the building or rent an inflatable screen. (Fees apply for movie rights.)

Pork by the pound: Have dads some pork shoulders and charge by the pound for pick up… The best part is you can presell this and not be out any money.

Shark Tank: Have a prize or have a business offer an internship for the best business idea and have business owners in town judge the ideas. This is a great “science fair” alternative. Charge for entries or admission.

Bake Sales: Old fashioned bake sales work great! Tried and true. Sell baked goods donated by parents and teachers.

Concessions: Sell ice cream or soft drinks during school at designated times.

Parking Spot raffle/decoration: Let students decorate their parking spot (high school) with chalk for a fee for the year.

Car Drop off Raffle: Raffle or auction off a “front of the line” Car drop-off or pick-up.

Parent wins a spot to skip the line and pick up/drop off child at ideal spot.

Bingo Night: Bingo games for donated prizes. Charge per card and concessions.

Haunted House: Goes great in line with a Fall Carnival. Have an older classroom/grade put together a haunted house and charge admission.

Dunk Tank: Who doesn’t want to dunk the principal? Charge for throws to dunk the teacher. Rent tank and keep profits.

Valentine’s flowers: Offer to deliver carnations for Valentine’s Day. Charge $1-2/flower delivered ask parents to buy one for their child. Can be pre-sold.

Wreaths: Handmade wreaths for holidays for sale. Or have each class create one and sell or auction.

Cake walk: A great fun addition for a carnival/Spring Fling. Winner determined by the chair sat in after walking to music, then chair number drawn from a hat. Walkers pay to walk.

Business sponsors: You can ask businesses to sponsor in several ways; Food from restaurants, services from service providers, money from other businesses. Some of them like something in return such as a sign showing their support.

Restaurant proceeds night: Get 10-20% for designated night of sales from Buffalo Wild Wings , Chuck E. Cheese

Applebee’s Flapjack Fundraiser: Your local Applebee’s offers a breakfast fundraiser.

You sell tickets to this pancake breakfast and customers get all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage, and a drink for the price of the ticket.

Applebee’s provides the labor and product, all you pay for is the labor of the cook and you provide the servers and clean up.

This is a great fundraiser for teams, but a great opportunity for PTO’s and schools.   

AmazonSmile: is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com.

The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the  Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.

$169M raised to date.


Chapter 4:

Event Fundraisers

School fundraising ideas in this chapter will be all about events held at your school or nearby.

These events are designed to get the most participation over one day as possible.

Fun Runs: 5k, 1 mile; Participants pay to participate and get a shirt or medal.

Color Run: Schoolathon offers to provide color run products and materials for your school. Participants run while getting colored powder tossed into the crowd. Great pictures.

Car Wash: We have found that the most successful groups offer to wash cars for FREE and accept donations.

Customers will usually pull in and have their car washed by some kids if there isn’t a “$10 carwash” sign a 12 year old is holding on the highway.

“Carwash for Kids” signs works best and people will pull in knowing it’s a donation rather than a pro detail.

Carnival: These can be a very profitable event for schools and PTO’s.

Grades or classrooms are usually assigned a task to plan and man for the Carnival.

There could be a fee at each booth to participate or one larger entry fee to get into the entire event. Some schools do this on a Thursday night so they can clean-up on Friday and also offer discounted tickets to students.

Spring Fling: Similar to Carnival or talent show. Have classrooms perform for the whole school and parents and charge for admissions and concessions.

Talent Show: Have participants who off their best talent for a prize.

Teacher vs. Student games: Get students SUPER excited about your event by competing against teachers. Charge for concessions and/or admission and/or participation.

Harlem Wizards: The Wizards will take on your staff for a night full of hilarious basketball antics and unreal athleticism.

The event will start with pre-sales and fill up until the night of the event, although these are usually [SOLD OUT] on game day.

They have a schedule that stays booked. Typical profit is between $5000-$20,000.  

Wizards Profit:

  • Tickets: up to 52%
  • Souvenirs: 20-25%
  • Concessions: 100%
  • Raffles, 50-50s: 100%
  • Local Sponsorship opportunities: 100%

Find out if your school qualifies for the Wizards:

Harlem Wizards

Book the Wizards
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
    Date you have in mind to have the Wizards Event

Donkey Basketball: This is one of the most fun events you will ever see.

These Donkeys all know that you can’t force them to do ANYTHING they don’t want to do.

You select 2 teams, one of parents versus teachers, or your choice.

The teams each wear helmets for protection. Then sit back and watch the hilarity take place. Shots will be kicked, floors will be stained, it’s a great time had by all.

And kids love it! Donkey Ball Donkey Ball Dairyland Donkey Ball


Silent Auction: Auctions can be easily set up with donations from local businesses.

Businesses offer products or services that you list on a form with bids completed in order.

Live Auction: Auctioneers will ALL tell you that a “live auction” is much better than a silent auction.

An item that might sell for $100 at a silent auction could go for double or triple that when auctioned off live.

These events can be set up with a dinner with the Auctioneer as the M.C. (most times for free).


Dinner: Hosting a charity dinner is a good way to get guests to participate in another event like an auction or fundraiser asking for money.

Some restaurants might donate food or staff or partial donations for your group.

Dance: School fundraising ideas such as dances are money makers because the kids decorate and plan this and then charge for admission and concessions.

Chili Supper: Great to have a chili supper prior to a game hosted on campus or along with a carnival or talent show.

Glow Run: Boosterthon will set up your entire schools event and send staff to run the fundraiser for nearly a month prior and leading up to the event.

Profit: up to 50%.

Cow Drop: Squares are drawn on a football field, or baseball field.

Each square is sold for a chance to win the prize for the first square where the cow “drops.”

Football drop: Same as cow drop, but squares on a field and a football is dropped from a drone or plane and wherever it comes to a rest wins the prize.

Draw Down Dinner: This fundraiser is like a raffle, but has a percentage (usually 50%) of the total paid goes back to a winner of the draw down.

The “draw down” is the reverse drawing in that every raffle ticket gets drawn and the last ticket remaining is the winner of the prize which is a percentage of the total raised.

Car Give-away: Football teams have given away cars as a raffle and sell chances for $100-$500/chance.


Rubber Duck Race
: Send a fleet of ducks down a local waterway (with permission from local government) and first duck across the finish line wins the big prize. Game Fundraising for info about this one-of-a-kind school fundraising idea.


Chapter 5:

Product Fundraisers

School fundraising ideas like product fundraisers are the HIGHEST PROFIT, MOST POPULAR fundraisers for schools.

Products range from popcorn to t-shirts and sales can bring in MASSIVE money for school projects.

Product fundraisers also take a lot of time and enrgy, but the payoff could definitely be worth the labor.

Discount Card Fundraiser: Discount Cards are high profit, easy sales fundraisers.

You get hundreds of custom cards with your full color logo on the front and 10-15 valuable local discounts good for one full year on the back.

The cards sell for $10-$20 and you pay as little as $1-$5.

Profit margin is up to 95%.

Bonus profit of 100 Free cards worth $1,000 extra. Discount Fundraising

How much can your school [Profit] from a discount card fundraiser (complete form):

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Popcorn Fundraiser: A Gourmet Popcorn Fundraiser from Poppin’ Popcorn is a popular school fundraiser because it is FREE to Start and easy to sell and deliver.

Sell snack size bags for $2, half gallon bags for $10, or gallon bags for $15.

You profit 35%-50% of your sales.

You get FREE brochures for your entire school to promote the 16 flavors of popcorn.

This can also be done online through social media and texting. Info at Discount Fundraising


Cookie Dough Fundraiser: Gourmet cookie dough with Nestle Toll House morsels can be sold in person or online starting with No Money Down.

Get free brochures to sell tubs for $15-$22 and keep up to 50% profit.

Delivery can be made in bulk or with each students order already separated. Cookie dough Fundraiser


Candle Fundraiser: Heritage Candle fundraisers are a great “no-money down” product, and you will earn 50% profit on most products.

Lollipop Fundraisers: You can order boxes of lollipops and sell for .50-$1 and keep half of your profit.

Chocolate Bars: Sell candy bars for $1-$2 and make up to 50% profit. worlds finest chocolate,  Amazon candy

Pretzel Fundraising: Auntie Anne’s has been around for a long time and offers fundraising as a significant part of their business.

There are now Cinnabon products in their line of fundraising. Auntie Anne’s is like a lot of product fundraisers in that it is a brochure fundraiser and you keep a portion of the proceeds for your school.

Start with zero money down. Keep up to 50% profit.

Holiday Shop: Holiday Santa shops can be a fantastic holiday fundraiser. Profits are up to 50%:  

Gift Wrap: No money down fundraising with gift wrap. Great to start mid November and complete within a few weeks.

50% profit with Innisbrook.  

Candy: Get candy to sell to your school or program and keep up to 50% profit with Sees.

T-Shirt Sales: Great way to support your school and make a profit.

T-shirts can be great money makers and all can be presold to limit costs.

Up to 50% profit. Spirit Wear

Yard Signs: Signs like “We support Valley Middle School” to be “sold” to businesses to put in their windows can sell up to $100.

Some schools buy these signs for $1 each and sell them for $20-$100 each in return for a business sponsorship.

Just Yard Signs sells 100 signs for $2.65/sign.

PTO: you can also sell the signs to parents “Proud Parent of Valley Middle Schooler” for $25. This would be a $20 profit/sign. Up to 80% profit

Fruit Fundraiser: Imagine a Big Rig showing up at your school and unloading pallets of oranges for you to delivery. Up to 50% profit http://floridaindianrivergroves.com/

Garden Seed Fundraiser: Sell garden seeds in the spring for 50% profit. Small sales around $1-$2/sale.

Flower Fundraiser: Great for agriculture classes. Sell flats of flowers for big profit up to 75%.

Pizza Fundraiser: Little Caesar’s offers a pizza kit fundraiser for your team that is a box of all ingredients for you to prepare and bake at home.

Up to 50% Profit.

Donut Sales: Krispy Kreme offers boxes of dozen donuts for $4-$5 and you sell for $8. Up to 50% profit.

School Spirit items: Sell mugs or tumblers with your school logo or other sports logos and keep up to 50% profit.


Chapter 6:

Competition Fundraisers

This chapter is focusd on school fundraising ideas that have a competitive edge.

Money is earned from each group tryuing to our-raise the other.

Winners and losers will be determined on the field as well as in the “money-earned” field.

Penny wars: Each class raises pennies to win a party.

Most pennies wins, you can include a negative result for dollar bills found, which adds a unique dynamic. Penny Wars Rules

Duct Tape the Principal Challenge: Each class or child pays to put a piece of duct tape on the principal. Duct Taping the Principal

Dodge Ball Tournament: Teams of students and teachers and parents will be a great fun Friday night or Saturday morning event. Charge entry fees and give a trophy to the winner.

3v3 Basketball Tournament: Teams will compete in a single elimination or round robin tourney to declare a winner.

Obstacle Course Race: Set up an OCR on campus and charge fee to participate. (Need thorough waivers for participants) Organize an Obstacle Course Fundraiser.  

Video Game Tournament: Kids and/or parents will compete in games to declare a winner for a tropy.  Video Game Fundraiser  

Trivia Competition: Teams compete to win prizes and pay to enter.


Bonus Chapter:

PTO/PTA Fundraising Tips

Combo fundraise with multiple things at once.

For example, you can have a dinner hosted by an auctioneer while also selling things made by students or raffles.

Another example, run a carnival with cake walks, dunk tank, talent shows, and other things.

Stripe: Please if you pay attention to one thing on this post, this is probably most important.

Download Stripe and use it to accept credit cards. It is a proven fact that credit card users spend 2-3x than cash buyers.

Stripe charges a 1-3% fee, but the benefit of accepting cards is worth well more than that.

Keep an open mind. Not all fundraisers are for you, but you are not necessarily the buyer.

If you think something is stupid and you don’t want to do it, you may be mistaken and missing the 95% of people that would love to participate.

That being said, run a survey among active parents and find out the best option for fundraising that they are willing to participate in.

Email surveys from surveymonkey.com are easy to use and great.

PTO/PTA fundraising is a lot of work but is well worth it if you get buy in early on.

Get Movin’ is an online payment and promotion platform that helps raise funds for your fundraiser.

They offer online payments for local fundraisers.

Conclusion:

That’s all for my guide to school fundraising ideas.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What tip from this guide do you want to try out first?

Are you going to use Stripe on your next product fundraiser?

Or maybe you want to do a free fundraiser first and sign up for Amazon Smile?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment.

For More School Fundraising Ideas in your inbox, complete this form:

You have reached your limit of contact form entries. Please contact Matt directly at (423) 744-4547 for questions about your fundraiser.

2 Comments

  1. pwsadmin on May 15, 2020 at 6:40 am

    Have you signed up for Amazon Smile yet?

    How about Stripe? Have an account?

    Which product or event fundraiser will you try in the Fall?

  2. […] team at Discount Card Fundraiser has just published a concise and informative Blog Post with 7 Chapters chock-full of information that will get your Fundraiser on the right track. In this […]

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