While hosting in-person fundraising events can be great for meeting people and building relationships with donors, it’s often costly and, therefore, unfeasible to plan and host on a regular basis.
Fortunately, schools can use plenty of online fundraising methods to raise money, like selling school merchandise online or running a silent virtual auction.
Read on to learn about 12 online techniques, why they work, and how to implement them effectively.
- Launch an Email Fundraising Campaign
- Throw a Virtual Game Night
- Host an Online Workshop
- Sell School Merchandise Online
- Put Your Students’ Artwork on Sale
- Hold a Silent Auction
- Have a Virtual Raffle
- Organize a Virtual Gala
- Arrange a Holiday Fundraising Event
- Use Peer-To-Peer Fundraising
- Create a Matching Gift Campaign
- Create a Public Wishlist
Launch an Email Fundraising Campaign
Schools can solicit donations or inform potential donors of various fundraising activities by launching an email fundraising campaign.
Create a sequence of emails and send them out at multi-day intervals over the course of a few weeks to recipients who you think are likely to donate—parents, local residents, youth leaders, local businesses, former students, etc.
Here are some of the best practices for crafting emails that generate donations:
|Personalize your emails.||Use the recipient’s name and, if possible, include an opening sentence that brings up some information you know about them.|
|Tell a moving story.||Share a story that shows how your program has changed someone’s life for the better, and tell the donor they can help bring this change to more lives.|
|Include a prominent call-to-action.||Using a CTA button or bold font, tell the recipient what you want them to do, and explain how to do it, such as which webpage to visit.|
Launching an email fundraiser campaign is a surefire way to get some money for your school, and it’s low-cost, in addition to requiring low effort on your part.
Throw a Virtual Game Night
Schools can fundraise by throwing a virtual game night where people play games like trivia or Jeopardy, which you can easily create with Jeopardy Labs and host on Zoom.
To earn money from hosting the event, you can charge a participation fee and incentivize people to come by offering a prize to the winner of the virtual game night.
Parents and children will happily sign up, especially when they know the proceeds are going toward the school to make it a better place.
Not only is throwing a game night a great way to earn funds for your school, but it also provides your students and their parents with a fun experience.
Host an Online Workshop
Consider asking your teachers to host an online workshop that would raise funds by charging a participation fee.
The online workshop could cover a variety of educational subjects, from a tricky math concept that many students struggle to master, to something less traditionally scholastic but just as beneficial to students, like meditation or financial literacy.
If the topic of the workshop is something that parents want their children to know about, they’ll likely sign them up and pay the fee.
To figure out what they want their kids to learn, consider sending out surveys beforehand asking them.
Also, many of your teachers will likely have some topic that they’re passionate about and want to share with students outside of the school setting, so ask them for ideas as well.
If they’re experts in the topic, it will be easy for them to create content for the workshop and run it.
As a final note, remember to promote the online workshop through various channels so that parents know about it.
And ask your teachers to inform students about the workshop during class time.
Sell School Merchandise Online
Schools can sell merchandise—sweatpants, pens, mugs, really anything useful with the school logo—to raise serious funds from parents, students, and other fans of your school.
Make it easy for people to buy your merchandise using a tool like Regpack, a software solution that enables you to create mobile-friendly payment forms and embed them on your school’s website:
Students and parents can then securely and quickly pay for goods online using a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and ACH transfers.
Put Your Students’ Artwork on Sale
Your students produce a lot of great artwork in art class or for fun. You can fundraise by putting their works on sale—provided, of course, that the student is okay with it.
Host a virtual student art gallery and invite parents and people in the community to visit the site to buy artwork and support your school.
There are various online platforms you can use to create a virtual art show and make attendees feel as if they’re at an actual art gallery.
For example, here’s the ART.SPACES online exhibition platform:
Source: The Art of Education University
The benefits of selling your students’ artwork are many. First of all, it does wonders for the students’ self-esteem.
Knowing that someone wants to pay for their artwork can be a huge confidence boost that encourages young artists to continue exploring their creative sides.
Second, the purchases can provide an influx of cash to your school’s revenue, allowing you to perhaps put more resources and attention into teaching the arts.
Hold a Silent Auction
Run a silent auction to raise money for your school.
At this event, participants anonymously bid on a wide selection of items, and the highest bidder gets the item.
Instead of sitting down in a room and shouting out prices they’re willing to pay, students and parents navigate an online bidding website from home.
Most auction hosts use a mobile app to create the virtual auction and facilitate the bidding process of the event.
From these online platforms, attendees can view the items and their current prices, and then place bids on them if they want.
Here’s an example of a silent auction app called Bid Beacon:
Source: Bid Beacon
As you can see, the item is a round of gold for 4, the current bid is $175, and the minimum bid increase is set at $25.
Because learning about the item and placing a bid is so easy with tools like this one, people can bid to drive up each item’s price, thus securing more funding for your school.
Have a Virtual Raffle
Increase your school’s revenue by holding a virtual raffle, where participants purchase tickets to raise their chances of winning a particular item, be it tickets to a baseball game or a box of delicious homemade cupcakes.
Ask people to donate items to the raffle, as that will minimize your upfront costs, aside from the marketing costs for promoting the event.
Some examples of items you can offer are baked goods, gift cards, vacation packages, toys, electronics, games, and anything else you think your attendees would love to win.
Consider using a virtual raffle fundraising platform like DoJiggy, which allows users to browse items and buy raffle tickets on a website:
The software will automatically draw winners at random, while also enabling you to track how much money you’ve raised for your school via its fundraiser thermometer.
It also accepts credit card payments online so that people can easily buy tickets.
Organize a Virtual Gala
Sell tickets to a virtual gala that people can attend from the comfort of their homes.
Make sure the event is engaging, with such entertainment as talent shows or live performances from musicians, magicians, speakers, or comedians.
To give it a community feel, try to hire people from your local area. You might even have talented students willing to perform.
Consider also adding sub-events to the gala’s schedule, like a virtual raffle, silent auction, or other online fundraising methods that are fun for attendees.
As for which software and equipment to use to set up and run a successful virtual gala, check out this article on the ideal virtual gala tech stack.
Arrange a Holiday Fundraising Event
Schools should take advantage of the giving spirit present during the holidays and arrange a holiday fundraising event that lasts throughout the holiday season.
For example, a school might start a “12 Days of Christmas” fundraising event and make posts on Facebook and Instagram asking people to donate to their school’s cause.
And they could make this fundraising campaign relevant to Christmas in more ways than just saying “Happy holidays!” at the top of each day’s social media post.
Every day they could share a little fact about Christmas that people might not know, or they could share a photo of one of their students engaging in some holiday activity.
Many people will be generous enough to click the link in the post and donate some money, or at least share the post on their social media feed so that it reaches more people.
Use Peer-To-Peer Fundraising
A great way for your school to raise funds is through peer-to-peer fundraising, where parents and students raise money on behalf of the school by reaching out to potential donors in their networks, primarily through online methods.
This works well because the person asking the donor for money is likely someone that the donor knows, likes, and cares about.
This approach is highly effective, but to make it even more so, consider connecting it to an event.
For example, you could hold a 10k run/walk-a-thon where students ask donors to pledge $10 for every mile they complete.
Connecting the donation to an event makes donors feel like their giving for multiple reasons.
In the above case, that’s to support the school and to support the student’s health and fitness.
Also, be sure to teach your students how to tactfully fundraise online.
Consider providing them with email, text, and social media templates they can use when reaching out to potential donors.
Create a Matching Gift Campaign
Another effective fundraising idea for school directors is to run a matching gift campaign, where one donor—often a foundation, company, or a well-off individual—agrees to match all donations made by the other donors, up to a specified amount, so that every donation is doubled.
Therefore, every donor feels like their donation is going a little further, which can incentivize them to donate.
For example, if someone only had $10 to give, they might feel it’s not even worth donating.
But, if they knew that their $10 would turn into $20, as it would in a matching campaign, they might feel it’s worth it.
Create a Public Wishlist
Schools can fundraise by creating a public wishlist that enables anyone to donate money online to help finance school-related purchases.
For example, a school might list a set of textbooks, classroom supplies, various sporting equipment, or even something as large as a new playground.
Donors can browse through the wishlist and select the items they want to help the school purchase, select how much they want to contribute or which goods they want to buy in full, and then make the payment online.
It’s easy to create a public wishlist with Amazon:
Source: Teach Without Tears
Simply create a wishlist on Amazon and give it a name related to your school. Set it to “public”, and then add Amazon products to it.
Do this by clicking the dropdown option called “add to list”, which can be found underneath the “add to cart” and “buy now” options:
After you’ve created a list packed with products that your school needs, share it across various marketing channels and ask donors to buy something for your school.
An added benefit of using public wish lists is that it cuts out a step in the fundraising process.
Instead of receiving money that they then have to use to buy the goods, schools just receive the products they need.
It’s also more gratifying for the donor than simply contributing money because they know the direct result of their donation to the school.
From virtual galas and auctions to public wish lists and email campaigns, there are numerous powerful fundraising methods you can use to increase your school’s revenue.
Of course, fundraising isn’t the only way to secure funding for your school.
Check out some other more business-centric ways to generate school income, like renting out school grounds or offering new services.