Top School Fundraising Ideas

Top 10 School Fundraiser Ideas

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As the back-to-school season approaches, you may be starting to think about some fun and effective ways to raise money during the upcoming school year. Effective and easy fundraising ideas can be important for all kinds of academic institutions.

Whether you're a student planning a high school fundraiser or a parent helping to raise money for the local elementary school, there are many unique options available. While a trivia night or a golf tournament is a great way to raise money, you may be looking to do something you’ve not tried before.

A great event idea doesn’t even need to be something way outside the box, it can be as simple as taking a fresh look at an old idea. To ensure that your planned fundraiser is enjoyable, fun, and effective, here are 10 of the best school fundraiser ideas that are sure to maximize your returns!

1. Escape Room

Escape rooms are insanely popular right now. And with good reason - they’re fun! This not a quick and easy fundraising idea, this will require some work and planning. Get a committee together, choose a theme and build your puzzle accordingly. This can work for all ages from elementary school to college. Of course, the complexity of the puzzle will have to be scaled accordingly. You can collect props from the community and use rooms in the school as your escape room.

Alternatively, you can partner with local escape rooms and see if they would be willing to bring some of their puzzles and props to you. Or, you can ask to book their entire space for the evening, collecting a percentage of the admission costs. Many escape rooms are run by local business owners and more often than not, they’d be happy to help a worthwhile cause!

2. Paranormal Night

If you live in a location with lots of historic sites or buildings that are rumored to be haunted, host a paranormal investigation and charge people a flat fee to participate. Some cities and towns will already have groups or locations that hold haunted walks or tours, approach them to see if they are interested in a partnership where you split the proceeds from a particular night.

For something a little more intense, find out if there are paranormal investigation teams in your area. They will have “ghost hunting” equipment and may have some venue ideas. These events have a perfect seasonal component and are likely to raise a lot of funds in a month like October. You may have to limit your ticket sales for these investigations or tours as too many people can kill the mood. But, the good news is that because these are unique and intensive experiences, it is likely that you will be able to charge more money and use a higher entry fee.

If this doesn’t make sense in your city or community, try hosting a haunted house type attraction. Get the student body involved and turn the school into a spooky house of horrors, charging a modest fee to get in. Schools after dark are creepy on their own, with a little imagination and effort, you can turn it into something truly terrifying. Be sure to check out our posts on how to promote your event and how to sell tickets online to increase turnout and maximize proceeds!

3. Bake Sale or Lemonade Stand

A fun way for students of all ages to help raise funds for their school is to host a bake sale. Few people can resist a homemade treat, which is great in terms of raising money! All it takes is a group of students, and potentially community members, who are able to contribute baked goods and snacks to the cause. You can also include a donation jar for anyone feeling extra generous.

When it comes to fundraising, bake sales are one of the best ideas for schools. They are an easy way to raise money for charity, field trips or in support of the school’s sports teams.

Another easy fundraiser that’s similar to a bake sale is a lemonade stand. This works especially well when set up at another event like a sports game. There will be a crowd of people already there that are ready to buy a drink and donate to your campaign. It's best to make homemade lemonade, but you can also use storebought if you're in a pinch.

Of course, it isn’t necessary to limit yourself to lemonade either. Try a popsicle stand, for example, if you are holding your event during the warm weather. In colder temperatures, try a hot cocoa stand!People rarely mind parting with their money if it will cool them down or warm them up!

4. Host an “-a-thon”

This is an old school peer-to-peer fundraising idea. Long before the internet, and online crowdfunding platforms, students collected sponsorships for the completion of a task. People are inundated with peer-to-peer fundraising requests for a host of different causes, charities, and events.

Get creative in the way you ask your supporters to donate. The age of the students and the cause will determine the type of event or challenge you plan. For example, you can host a charity fun run or walk for a specific distance. In this instance, you can use a crowdfunding platform to collect donations for the completion of the distance. Or, you could collect pledges for each mile (or whatever increment you choose). For young students, have a read-a-thon where pledges are collected for each minute spent reading over a certain timeframe.

Anything you can spend time doing can be turned into a charity marathon fundraiser. Dance-a-thon, walk-a-thon, in teams or as an individual, it doesn’t matter. Do whatever makes the most sense for your school fundraiser. Have fun with it. Not only do these events raise money, but they also challenge the participants in positive and uplifting ways.  

5. Book or Vinyl Sale

Forget the traditional yard sale, host a book or vinyl sale instead. Similar to a yard sale, this event will rely on donations from the community. People always love books at a fair price and with the renewed interest in vinyl, this is a fundraiser that can make you some real money. Plan this event well in advance so you have time to collect and organize the donations before the day arrives. Use the school’s gym to host the event.

This should go without saying, but be sure to advertise your event wildly so people know where and when it is taking place. Fundraisers require community involvement in order to raise funds. Any books leftover from the sale can be added to the school library (if appropriate) or donated to a non-profit like a men’s or women’s shelter or drop-in center for the homeless. This type of event can be doubly good for the community. If you are going to raise money for yourself, you might as well do something nice for another organization while you’re at it.

6. Dunk Tank

A dunk tank is a classic fundraiser and is sure to get people excited about donating money! In terms of high school fundraising ideas, it doesn’t get much better than this. Gather some teachers who are willing to get a little wet and sell chances to dunk them. A dunk tank can serve as the main event of your fundraiser or it can be set up as part of a larger school fair or festival.

If the logistics of a dunk tank don’t fit your venue or budget, try something a little different. Perhaps there is someone on staff willing to shave their head or signature beard if donations reach a certain threshold. Never underestimate the willingness of high schoolers to see their teachers’ embarrassed.

7. Partner With Local Restaurants or Bars

Another great way to raise money for your school and get the community involved is to partner with a local business. A local restaurant or bar can be a great option. Request a school fundraising night. In this instance, a portion of the day or night's proceeds would be donated to your school. Be sure to share the details of your event with friends and members of the community so that everyone can go out, buy something, have a little fun, and in doing so, donate to your campaign.

8. T-shirt Fundraiser

A t-shirt fundraising campaign is a fun and creative way to raise money for your school. Using a website, you can design custom t-shirts that fit your campaign and sell them to people who would like to donate to the cause. Depending on what best suits your situation, you have the option to sell the t-shirts online without inventory or place a bulk order and sell them to supporters in person.

Again, this can be a fundraiser that works alongside another fundraising event. This can also be a fundraiser that makes you money all year round. By designing a t-shirt that bears the school crest or name, you can be sure that students, their parents, and alum will be interested in owning one.

9. Raffle

Raffles offer supporters the chance to win something in return for their contribution. This can be a major motivation for a lot of people. Raffles are easily paired with other events such as bake sales to maximize the funds raised.

Consider incorporating a mobile raffle platform to sell raffle tickets more easily and reach more people.To make the most money possible from a raffle, it is important to have prizes people will want. Approach local businesses for prize donations. Most will be willing to help you out.

There are also ways to take the idea of “chance” that is attached to a raffle and apply it to a different concept. A balloon pop, for example, can be a more interesting way to raffle off your incredible prizes. Fill balloons a bunch of balloons and put prizes inside some of them. Instead of selling raffle tickets, sell needles or “opportunities” giving guests that chance to pop a balloon for a chance to win.

10. Silent Auction

A silent auction is a bit more involved than some of the other ideas on this list but they can be an effective fundraising option. Similar to the yard sale process, you can encourage students and community members to donate items to be used in the auction and advertise the event to get as many people to attend as possible.

If you're interested in organizing a silent auction, be sure to check out our 5 silent auction rules and our list of best auction items to include. This is another great opportunity to raise awareness for your cause by reaching out to local businesses for auction item donations.

If you are looking to host an auction but don’t want to go the traditional silent auction route, add a fun twist. For college fundraisers, for example, consider doing a date auction. Or, put a twist on the bidding process to keep things interesting and fun while bringing in more money.

These 10 fundraising ideas for schools are great for middle, college, and high school students alike. Now you're ready to kick your fundraising efforts up a notch and raise some money!

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