Put the “Fun” Back in School Fundraising


The school year has begun. The lunch money has been paid, supplies purchased, new clothes bought and worn. Just when moms and dads think the expenses have slowed, the dreaded paperwork comes home in the school folder: The first fundraiser of the year!

Because who doesn’t enjoy spending money on overpriced wrapping paper, raffles that won’t be won, and magazines that won’t be read. I have served on every fundraising committee at every school my children have attended. Fundraisers can be time-consuming. They can be expensive. But they are vital to helping our schools complete projects, maintain buildings, offer extra-curricular activities and provide scholarships. I have had fundraisers that have succeeded and fundraisers that have failed. Here are five unique and profitable fundraisers for your school.


  1. Cook-Off. Looking for a recipe for success when it comes to fundraising? Find out who makes the best chili, barbeque or chocolate chip cookies in town by hosting a cook-off.  Typically an entry fee is charged for all chefs taking part, and attendees pay a small fee to taste-test and vote for their favorites. Encourage local businesses to donate ribbons or gift cards as prizes in exchange for advertising. This event is full of finger-licking fun!
  2. Dress Like A Teacher Day. Students pay a small fee to dress like their favorite teacher or staff member for a day. A photo booth can be set up to take yearbook photos, and for even more excitement, have the teachers join in and dress like students. Be sure to give moms and dads plenty of notice on this one. It may take a week or two to gather appropriate costumes.
  3. Farmer’s Market. Admittedly, this fundraiser takes a little more time and planning.  However, not all schools are located in areas where traditional fundraisers (such as door-to-door candy bar sales) are feasible. For this fundraiser, each family is asked to make bake, sew or grow an item to be sold at a farmer’s market. Items such as homegrown tomatoes, pumpkin bread, knitted hats, woodcrafts, watercolors, Christmas ornaments, and even slime were offered for sale. All or most of the profits are donated to the school. This fundraiser has the added bonus of allowing quality parent-child bonding time while helping a good cause.
  4. School-Wide Rummage Sale. Who amongst us doesn’t have some junk to offload? Ask students and families to donated gently used items. Organize and price items and be sure to advertise within the greater community. This is a low-expense, high-profit fundraising idea, although it does require a bit of labor and quite a few volunteers (many times, high school students in need of services hours can help out).
  5. Family Movie Party. Organize a viewing of an age-appropriate movie. To generate student-interest, let the children vote by ballot for which movie will be shown. Charge a small entrance fee and encourage children to bring sleeping bags and wear pajamas.  For an even better profit, set up a concession stand with popcorn, sodas, and candy.  This fundraiser is sure to be a smash hit!

Fundraising allows parents to get involved in the education of their children. It allows for socialization with peers and teaches children about teamwork, creativity, and community service.

What fundraisers have been successful at your school?


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