Top 5 School Fundraisers: Proven Ways to Raise Funds for Your School

Whether you’re a public, private, or charter school, fundraising is likely an inevitable aspect of your annual school goals and budgetary prospects. Fundraisers, often led by the PTO/PTA, provide resources to support critical areas of need within a school or district. The best types of fundraisers encourage an environment of giving and inclusivity within a school community. They help parents and community partners understand the impact of dollars donated, and tie meaning to outcomes. In this blog, we’ll share five ways to raise money for your school. Some focus on raising large amounts (typically involving a heavy lift from volunteers) through singular events, and some offer a sustainable, evergreen way to raise funds.

But First, Preparation is Key

Before you embark on a fundraising adventure, there are three things you should prioritize:

  1. Set a specific goal: Understand and broadly share the amount you intend to raise.
    Perhaps even identify a stretch goal—which is a deliberate or ambitious objective. Without a strong goal in mind, it’s easy for those involved to become relaxed or complacent and could result in missing the mark.
  2. Identify how funds will be spent: This may seem obvious, but identifying where funds will be spent is the number one way to build trust with donors. It offers clarity and unification specific to the entire effort. Whether working with the community or with parents and guardians, people want to know how and where their dollars are going to be used.
  3. Identify your resources: Who are the critical people involved? Do you have enough volunteers? Who can handle social media, and other communication? Are there key community partners and businesses that could be involved?

Now is not the time to hold back. Be ambitious and share your enthusiasm. Get people onboard by getting them excited about what’s possible. Help them understand how these efforts will create a better learning environment for students and educators alike.

Top Five School Fundraisers

Kids smile at camera after color run

Pledge Fundraisers (I.e. Walk-A-Thon, Read-A-Thon, Color Run, etc)

Fundraising Results: High
Frequency: Annual
Volunteer effort: Medium
Planning and Coordination: High
Repeatability: Medium

Pledge fundraisers, such as Walk-A-Thons, 5k’s, Read-a-Thons, Colors Runs, etc, can offer an excellent opportunity to raise large sums of money through one event. Typically, these types of events involve parents, guardians, and/or community members to garner support from their network based on specific achievements. For example, participants would look for sponsors to make donations based on identified goals—miles walked, books read, etc.

These are also an excellent way to engage community businesses and organizations. Consider asking for donation matches, or for event sponsorship. Matching gifts can be a powerful way to double impact and encourage participants to hit stretch goals.

There are many tools and templates to follow when it comes to Pledge Fundraisers. Here are just a few:

Resources:

Tools:

digital gift card on phone

ShopWithScrip

Fundraising Results: High
Frequency: Year-Round
Volunteer effort: Low
Planning and Coordination: Medium
Repeatability: High

ShopWithScrip offers an innovative way for schools to raise money. Through ShopWithScrip, parents and guardians can buy gift cards at face value to brands they frequently purchase from. A percentage of the gift card cost will immediately go back to the school program the user is registered under. ShopWithScrip has a mobile website for easy access to physical gift cards, reloads, and eGift cards. This is a great, low-effort fundraiser. While it can be leveraged at any point throughout a year, you may want to consider doing strong communication pushes only once or twice annually to avoid parental fatigue.

Learn more about ShopWithScrip:
ShopWithScrip

girl opens school supply kit

School Supply Kits

Fundraising Results: Medium
Frequency: Annually
Volunteer effort: Low
Planning and Coordination: Low
Repeatability: High

Some school supply kit companies, like Impacks, offer a donation aspect to their service. School kitting companies typically partner with schools to offer school supply kits that are customized to the school and tailored to each grade within that school. This grants parents and guardians ultimate convenience, and saves hours in back-to-school shopping. Unlike most school supply kit companies, which tend to offer a small percentage of sales back to the school, Impacks offers a donation match. Every time a parent donates, Impacks matches a portion of the donation. This helps incentivize parents and guardians to give, and tends to result in higher donation returns for the school. While it depends on the company, most school supply kit programs are free for the school to implement. This tends to be a popular program because it serves two purposes at once: raise critical funds and offer major convenience to parents and guardians.

Want to learn more about Impacks? Check out this page.

Want to see if your school is a good fit? Start a conversation.

cookies lined up on marble counter

Online and Physical Product Fundraisers

Fundraising Results: Medium
Frequency: Annual or Semi-Annually
Volunteer effort: High
Planning and Coordination: High
Repeatability: Medium

Online and physical product fundraising is familiar to most schools and families. We’ve all been asked at one point or another to buy cookie dough or wrapping paper to support school fundraising. This form of school fundraising has been around for a long time, and is popular because it offers goods in return for donations and is commonly recognized across school communities.

Some companies offer one specific product, like Ozark Delight Lollipops. While others, like ABC Fundraising, offer a catalog of products to choose from. The pros to this type of fundraising is that it can generate good returns if there is enough volunteer engagement. The con to this type of fundraising is that products are not always ones a family would choose to purchase otherwise. When implementing an online or physical product fundraiser, consider gauging just how desirable that product or products might be to your school community audience, and be cautious of overwhelming donors with too-frequent asks.

Well known product-based fundraising companies:

Raffle ticket roll

Raffles

Fundraising Results: Medium
Frequency: Annually or Semi-Annually
Volunteer effort: High
Planning and Coordination: High
Repeatability: Medium

Raffles can offer a relatively inexpensive and quick way to raise dollars for a school. Raffles typically involve a heavy volunteer lift, however, because it requires volunteers to gather prizes as well as sell or promote raffle tickets within the community. Despite the heavy volunteer effort, raffles can be a great way to raise donations easily, as it’s a very familiar method and requires minimal effort from the donor.

Before deciding on a raffle, it will be important to assess what types of prizes your volunteer committee will realistically be able to acquire. The more valuable the prizes, the higher the raffle ticket price and the more likely donors will purchase. Ensure you are abiding by rules and regulations in your state regarding gambling licensing.

Here are some resources to help you start a raffle fundraiser:

Get Creative, Avoid Bombardment, and Say Thank You

To create a successful environment of giving, it’s important not to bombard parents, guardians, and community members with frequent and strenuous asks. Overwhelming your school community with dozens of fundraisers throughout the year will only exhaust people, and could eventually lead to ignoring or undervaluing the truly important events your school relies on.

Establish and communicate your fundraising goals early in the academic year. While asking less of parents, guardians and community members throughout the year, be clear that you still aim to fulfill your fundraising goals. Many parents and guardians would rather make one or two larger donations instead of many smaller donations throughout the year.

To maximize your ability to raise money—in the present, and in years to come—it’s important to tie results to the money raised. How can you share your gratitude with donors in a meaningful way? If the dollars went towards school supplies for students in need, can you share images of students receiving supplies? Can you share how many students were positively impacted? The more concrete the results, the more worthwhile it will feel to donors.

Above all else, don’t forget to thank donors and volunteers!

School supply kit

How Can Impacks Help You Fundraise?

At Impacks, our goal is to make life easy for parents, school administrators, and PTO/PTA members. We offer parents and guardians a way to buy customized school supply kits online, and through that process parents and guardians have an opportunity to donate. When they do, we’ll match a portion of the donation. Impacks is free and incredibly easy for schools to implement. Want to learn more? Start the conversation today.

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