Branding/Business

10 cheap fundraising ideas for schools

10 cheap fundraising ideas for schools

Your PTO, drama club or sports program needs money to stay active.

Time for a school fundraiser!

As budgets tighten, school fundraisers are a must to keep valuable student programs afloat. Unfortunately, fundraisers can be a nightmare for students and parents. Pestering friends and relatives to buy popcorn or chocolate at ridiculously inflated prices is, let’s just say, “uncomfortable.”

But not all school fundraisers are as annoying as homework on Saturday.

What are some fundraising ideas for schools?

The best fundraising ideas for students and schools are low-cost and achieve maximum profits. Top student fundraising ideas should require minimal effort and time, and have safety in mind.

Here are a few great ones:

1. Raffle tickets

raffle tickets on a table

Selling raffle tickets is a tried-and-true fundraising concept that can easily be customized to fit everyone’s needs. You can host a 50/50 raffle that splits the money raised between the winner and the benefitting program. Pretty simple stuff.

To raise even more money, you can give no- or low-cost prizes or experiences to the winner(s). For example, a grand prize might be reserved seating at all school events or the chance to smear a pie in the principal’s face.

You can even sell school raffle tickets online to minimize the workload and number of volunteers. Online sales eliminate the risk of sending kids house to house to peddle raffle tickets. Jotform is one of several companies that offer help with online raffle ticket sales.

2. Sell school merchandise

school merchandise designed promotional products

Many school clubs, teams and parent-teacher groups sell fundraiser products to collect money for their schools. Such events are often held annually within communities. The personalized products bought by families and school alumni can become collectibles.

Organizers can customize trendy school supplies with school mascots, mottos and inspirational quotes. Buying online in bulk delivers huge savings.

The most popular school fundraising products in 2022 are hats, water bottles, drawstring bags, keychains, flying discs, lunch bags, rally towels and sunglasses.

Free school fundraising order form

Click on our free printable school fundraising order form below to get your project underway. The PDF template can be downloaded or printed for distribution and/or posted at school.

school fundraising order form

Free online fundraising order form to share

For larger groups or a quick sharing method, use our online Google Sheets School Fundraising Order Form. Simply open the file, make a copy of the template to keep or edit, then share it with your group! Directions can be found in the top righthand corner.

Each member of your club or team can submit their information on the Google Sheet. All additions and changes are automatically saved and can be tracked for accuracy. The online ordering form allows you to quickly and efficiently place everyone’s orders.

3. Walk-A-Thon

Schedule an annual Walk-A-Thon at your school for teachers, students and community members. Ask each participant to collect money from donors for every mile they intend to walk. Lump-sum donations can also be accepted.

Choose a familiar and safe place to host the school Walk-A-Thon such as an indoor or outdoor track, local recreation complex or another large facility. Be sure to contact area law enforcement if their assistance is needed for traffic control on public streets.

Tip: Order custom T-shirts in bulk to give participants of the event. Use our T-Shirt Size Breakdown Calculator to guide you when ordering ahead.

The cost of wholesale tees is minimal. You can personalize them with the name of the event and special artwork such as your school mascot.

4. Local business discount cards

Raise funds for your club and help a local business by selling discount cards or certificates to their establishment. Families will enjoy the savings at area restaurants, game rooms, movie theaters and roller skating centers.

Partnering with a local store owner or vendor can be a win-win for everyone. In exchange for giving discounts such as BOGO offers, the business draws more customers, attracts new clients and increases branding. Your school collects funds and establishes a new business relationship that might help with financial needs in the future.

5. Manage concession stands at school events

school and mascot design stadium cups with football, golf ball and baseball on bleachers

Put your Spanish Club members or soccer players to work selling hot dogs and candy at high school sporting events. Ask school officials if your group can man the concession stand during football games or volleyball tournaments in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

Running a concession stand is a great way to teach students how to handle money and deal with customers. Teachers can use the fundraising experience as a class project!

6. PJ day fundraiser

Who wouldn’t want to wear pajamas to school? Encourage staff and students to pay a specific amount such as $2 for permission to wear comfy PJs to school for a day.

Be sure to set rules for the types of pajamas allowed to prevent risque styles or other inappropriate choices. Make shoes a requirement; slippers can be a safety concern at school.

7. Movie night in the park

A large bedsheet, blackout fabric or inflatable movie screen and projector is all you need for a fun and profitable movie night. Grab the popcorn!

Start by selecting a movie that is family-friendly. Consider conducting a survey at school to find out what type of films are most popular.

Charge a reasonable admission price and encourage the community to bring blankets and lawn chairs. If you’re feeling ambitious, set up a concession stand to raise additional funds.

8. Bingo!

Bingo night is always a big hit with people of all ages. Find a venue, order or create bingo cards and markers, and designate a caller. Low-cost bingo machines with cages and numbered balls can be purchased for under $30 at discount stores.

You’ll find printable bingo card generators online if you need a DIY option. My Free Bingo Cards has several ideas to get you started.

Instead of buying expensive daubers, use kernels of corn or purchase plastic game chips in bulk at dollar stores.

Charge players for each bingo card they use or per game played. Doing the latter allows you to set higher prices for cover-all and other non-basic bingo games.

9. Read-A-Thon

This is a lot like the Walk-A-Thon listed above but without sweating!

Students will ask donors to pledge a certain amount of money for each book they read in a set time period. The winter months are a perfect time to get some extra reading done!

A Read-A-Thon is one of my all-time favorite school fundraising events! Getting kids to read is always a good idea.

Tip: Ask teachers to suggest books that align with subjects the kids are covering in school.

10. Student and staff talent show

Talk about a low-budget fundraiser! A school talent show has the potential for raising a lot of funds since the budget is almost nonexistent. You can host the event in your own school gymnasium or commons area where microphone equipment and other props are typically available.

Fundraising for talent shows can be handled in several ways: You can charge students and staff who wish to perform, or set an admission fee for attendees — or do both!

Select judges from the community and decide how many winners to award. Since expenses are lower, you might consider dishing out cash prizes or gift certificates for area businesses.

Don’t forget to market your school fundraiser

handing out informational flyers for hot dog fundraiser event

Every successful fundraiser starts with spreading the word. Use every reasonable method possible to market your school fundraiser.

Promote your fundraising activity on the school’s social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Ask followers to share the posts.

Place the information in the school newsletter, on bulletin boards and on flyers sent home with students. Ask your local chamber of commerce and other community leaders to help you get the word out by using their communication networks. Hang banners at the school and in high-traffic areas within the district.

We wish you the best of luck with your school fundraiser! Let our staff at Totally Promotional know if we can help in any way.

promote school safety and school spirt with custom lanyards

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