by Thom Hiatt
Parents and community members appreciate a great school! Great schools need funds to support growth and new programs. So there are plenty of reasons to raise funds. However, keep in mind that most parents don’t like to be “nickel-and-dimed,” so as often as possible it is best to make fundraisers both wonderful and optional.
When a fundraiser makes sense, and provides an obvious benefit for the school, it is more likely that parents will want to participate with joy. But when fundraisers appear to be commercial in nature, and seem to benefit a participating vendor (much more than the school), a parent is far less likely to participate with a smile.
Remember, the most important parts of any fundraiser are to be 1) transparent, 2) show your appreciation, and 3) show the the benefit. When your fundraiser has come to an end, be transparent by sharing your costs, the total revenue, and your net profit with the community. Sincerely thank participants for making it happen. And show them what you are going to do or buy with the profit you collected.
For example, you might share with your families in the newsletter, “Thank you for helping to make our most recent gala a giant success! Our events committee used $39,000 of their $45,000 expense budget. We brought in $167,000 from tickets, sponsorships and donations. This leaves us with a net profit of $128,000 that will be used over the next seven months to upgrade our sports field and athletic equipment.”
Below are 25 ideas for school fundraisers:
- Host a charity walk, run, or golf tournament.
- Sell baked goods, handmade crafts, or hold a car wash.
- Partner with local businesses to create sponsorships.
- Offer sponsorships or advertising opportunities in the school newsletter, website, and social media accounts.
- Host an auction, with a variety of items or experiences up for bid.
- Implement matching gift programs, with a variety of participating employers and organizations.
- Launch a capital campaign to raise funds for a specific project or need.
- Offer tuition referral programs to current families, with a range of rewards available.
- Set up tuition assistance or scholarship programs for families in need, and allow community members to sponsor a family.
- Ask alumni for gifts toward a specific cause or need.
- Organize a monthly giving program, where supporters can make regular contributions to the school.
- Participate in community events or festivals, and sell items or offer services.
- Host a gala or other formal event, with tickets, sponsorships, and auctions available to attendees.
- Offer naming rights for school facilities or programs, allowing donors to have their name or company’s name associated with a specific area of the school.
- Create a “virtual giving tree,” where donors can choose from a list of specific items or needs that the school has, and make a contribution to support that item.
- Offer a “sponsor-a-student” program, where donors can contribute towards a student’s tuition or other educational expenses.
- Host a talent show or other entertainment event, with ticket sales and sponsorships helping to raise funds.
- Set up an online store, where supporters can purchase school-branded merchandise or other items.
- Offer a rewards program, where donors can earn points or rewards for their contributions.
- Host a “dine and donate” event, where a portion of proceeds from a local restaurant’s sales go to the school.
- Set up a crowdfunding campaign, allowing supporters to make small contributions towards a specific project or need.
- Offer a “buy a brick” program, where donors can purchase a personalized brick to be displayed at the school.
- Host a bake sale or other food-based fundraising event.
- Set up a “sponsor-a-teacher” program, where donors can contribute towards a teacher’s professional development or other classroom needs.
- Offer a “sponsor-an-athlete” program, where donors can contribute towards an athlete’s equipment, travel, or other expenses.