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7 Awesome (and Effective!) Fundraising Ideas for Schools

Learn how your school can fundraise with these effective tips.

The best school fundraisers are creative, fun to host, and easy to participate in. Whether you’re investing in resources for your student organizations or sending one of your clubs or teams on a trip, fundraising is an essential part of enriching students’ opportunities. However, it can be hard to develop fundraising ideas your students and their parents are excited about. 

If your past fundraisers haven’t always resonated with participants and attendees, you may not have chosen the right fundraiser. Ideally, fundraising ideas for schools should be engaging for both student participants and adult supporters. This can be a hard line to walk, but it’s key to carrying out a fundraiser that excites participants and raises revenue.

To get started planning an effective fundraising event for your school, we’ll discuss how to:

  1. Get students involved in an “a-thon” fundraiser.
  2. Boost school spirit with a fun and successful event.
  3. Use your school website to draw attention to your fundraiser.
  4. Expand your networks of supporters via social media.
  5. Sell merchandise to boost school spirit.
  6. Keep student fundraisers motivated with competitive elements.
  7. Offer free school fundraising prizes.

Whether you’re a teacher looking to raise funds for classroom supplies or a booster club campaigning on behalf of the school band, choosing the right type of event is a crucial first step. An “a-thon” fundraiser is adaptable to a wide variety of school causes and different student age groups, so let’s take a look at that first!

1. Get students involved in an “a-thon” fundraiser.

Looking for a fundraiser that gets students excited, makes donating easy, and culminates in a fun event? In an a-thon fundraiser, participants collect pledges from supporters who agree to donate a fixed amount for every unit of activity participants complete at the event. These customizable fundraisers include walk-a-thons, dance-a-thons, and fun runs. 

The success of your a-thon fundraiser depends on how many pledges participants can get from supporters before the event. Fundraising software designed specifically for a-thon fundraising automatically creates customizable pages that student participants (or their parents) can share with friends, family, and social media connections. This makes it much easier for students to get the support that will keep them motivated to participate in the fundraiser.

While the walk-a-thon is one of the most common a-thon fundraisers, there are plenty of other ways to raise money with an a-thon fundraiser that you can tailor to specific school causes. For example, your school’s baseball team could hold a hit-a-thon fundraiser in which participants receive pledged donations based on the number of consecutive pitches they hit.

A-thon fundraisers are very flexible, and they don’t always have to conclude with an event. Read-a-thons, for instance, gather donations based on how many books, pages, or chapters participants read, meaning they can be ongoing throughout the school year. However, an event gives participants the perfect opportunity to come together as a school community in support of a good cause.

2. Boost school spirit with a fun and successful event.

Before your event, students and parents work hard to support the campaign by securing donations. Your school’s fundraising event should celebrate participants’ hard work. Be sure to plan ahead so that your event goes smoothly and encourages further giving.

Set up a team of event organizers, such as teachers and administrators, parents, or older students. To minimize common event planning challenges, advise organizers to get an early start. 

To help ensure your event’s success, consider:

The more participants you have, the more successful your fundraiser will be! Promoting your event across media channels like social media or your website is crucial to attracting lots of participants. Use your school’s website to spread the word about your fundraiser so all of your students and their families can choose to participate.


3. Use your school website to draw attention to your fundraiser.

Your school website is a powerful communication tool. Chances are, students and parents already use the site to find homework assignments, holiday schedules, and other relevant school updates. To motivate participants to spread the word to more supporters, post regular updates about your fundraiser on your school’s website.

When you post about your fundraiser on your school website, visitors should be able to find out:

If your school’s website already gets plenty of daily traffic from interested users, leverage that base of users to promote your fundraiser. Create an event page that’s accessible from your homepage to build awareness for the fundraiser. You can also use your school’s or PTO’s social media accounts, email lists, or text messaging systems to share information about the fundraiser on a large scale. 

No matter how you choose to promote your fundraising on your website, the most important consideration is that all the relevant information is easy to find and access. If you’re looking into building a website for your school’s fundraising team, check out these recommendations from Morweb’s guide to website builders for schools. You can also look into examples of how nonprofits and other school fundraising teams organize their websites as inspiration.


4. Expand your networks of supporters via social media.

The majority of your school’s parents and any high-school-age students involved in your fundraiser spend at least a small part of their day on social media. Social media is a great way to boost awareness of your school fundraiser, helping you increase donations and attendance at your event.

If you’ve chosen a fundraiser that accepts online donations, encourage students or parents to share their donation pages across the social media platforms they use. With more people posting about your fundraiser online, you can grow the network of potential supporters.

Working with students who are happy to share their pages on social media but aren’t sure what to say to their friends and followers about the fundraiser? Have your students base their posts on a basic fundraising letter with adjustments that adapt the letter’s format and language to social media. For younger students or busy parents, make posting convenient with a pre-made, copy-and-paste template.

Effective posts are one great strategy to increase attendance at your event. By incorporating multimedia elements (like videos) into social media posts, linking to the event registration page, and customizing donation appeals, students can encourage more support from their social network. With a good social media strategy, you could see increases in pledges, donations, and event attendance.

5. Sell merchandise to boost school spirit.

You can motivate participants to fundraise, reward supporters, and even increase donations to your school’s fundraiser by adding a school spirit merchandise sale to your fundraiser. School merchandise spreads the word about the cause your campaign is raising money for because participants end up wearing your fundraising message. For donors, the merchandise is almost like a bonus for supporting your cause.

Design custom merchandise for your fundraiser, incorporating your school’s name, colors, logo, or mascot into the design. The merchandise should also reflect your fundraiser’s goal by identifying the cause the fundraiser is supporting. If your school is partnering with a local nonprofit, ask for permission to use their branding elements and display the partnership on your merchandise.

Designing high-quality merchandise for your fundraiser can be challenging, especially if your team is short on time and graphic design experience.  A graphic design tool or service can help you create custom t-shirts, stickers, table runners, and more. Hiring a team of graphic designers to create a quality design can take the pressure off of your team but still yield high profits from selling merchandise.

Once you’ve created the perfect merchandise, you can sell it at your fundraising event or offer it to supporters who pledge at certain levels. If you’re working with older students who are doing most of the fundraising work themselves, you can offer merchandise as an incentive to motivate them. 

6. Keep student fundraisers motivated with competitive elements.

If your team is fundraising with high school students, it’s likely they’re doing most of the fundraising work without much help from their parents. Their knowledge of social media makes them the perfect participants for a-thon fundraisers and other online or highly social fundraising efforts. Your school can use your online fundraising software to motivate these student participants.

In particular, cultivating some competition will go a long way in motivating your students! Here are a few popular strategies to try that tap into students’ competitive streak:

Stirring up competition among your students is a great way to motivate them to fundraise. To encourage fundraising from students and parents, consider pairing these competitive elements with a prize or incentive program.

7. Offer free school fundraising prizes.

While incentives like public recognition are great options to encourage participation, there’s more you can do to encourage your team to fundraise. While not many school fundraising teams have the budget to spend on extravagant prizes, these incentives don’t always have to be costly. Tailoring prizes to a specific group makes them more meaningful to recipients.

These free (or low-cost) incentives can help you reach your school’s fundraising goals:

After your fundraiser ends, run a survey to gather feedback from participants and supporters so you can evaluate what went well and what needs improvement. This information can help you optimize future fundraising events and drive your supporters to stay involved in your next event.

When you choose a style of fundraiser that engages students, parents, and other supporters, your efforts are sure to benefit your school. Helpful technology makes the process easier and allows your participants to reach out to larger networks of potential supporters.

Brad Dowhaniuk is the co-founder of 99Pledges, and a writer at, which provides schools and teams with an easy-to-use, web-based fundraising solution to manage and drive success in Fun Runs, jog-a-thons, baseball hit-a-thons, and much more.

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