The 50 Best PTA/PTO & School Fundraising Ideas

by | Jan 25, 2022 | Best Fundraising Idea Lists, Fundraising Ideas | 0 comments

There are so many fundraising options to choose from it’s hard to know which ones are best for your school. We’ve compiled the best school fundraisers, so PTAs and PTOs can create successful and engaging fundraisers. From fundraisers that are quick and easy, to fundraisers that are unique and out-of-the-box, you’re sure to find a few for your school.

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Silent Auction

A silent auction is a classic fundraiser that works great for PTAs and PTOs. They follow the same principles as a standard auction, except there’s no auctioneer calling out every bid. Instead, people write down their names, contact information and bid on a sheet of paper. 

Whoever has the highest bid at the end of the night wins the auction. The beauty of this fundraiser is you can auction pretty much anything, from gift baskets to sports equipment. 

Trivia Night

A trivia night is a fun, friendly competition that also makes a great fundraiser. Attendees form teams and then pay an entry fee. Then, they compete to answer trivia questions.

Whoever gets the most correct answers wins! They can play for bragging rights or a grand prize. The best thing about this fundraiser is that it’s completely customizable, and you can create trivia questions on almost any topic.

Field Day

A field day is the highlight of almost everyone’s school memories. You can turn this fun event into an effective fundraiser by selling tickets.

The more activities you have, the more you can charge per ticket. Create stations for games like potato sack races, egg and spoon races, and more. Nothing is off-limits, from bocce ball to bouncy castles.

Movie Showing

A movie showing is a fun and easy fundraiser. All you need is a movie and somewhere to play it. You can use your school gym for this, or for a more involved fundraiser, you can even rent out a theater at your local movie theater.

“Hostage” Situation

No one is actually being taken hostage for this fundraiser. Instead, students and staff can donate to have certain faculty taken hostage. 

If a set amount of donations is reached, the principal will be “kidnapped” for the day. You can also do a sliding scale, where the amount of donations determines how long the principal is held hostage.

Principal Challenge

Another way to involve the principal in a fundraiser is a principal challenge. For this fundraiser, you can pick almost any prank or challenge for the principal (provided they agree to it, of course).

If a certain amount of donations is reached, then the principal must complete the challenge. Some challenge ideas could be shaving their head, dyeing their hair, or making them wear a funny outfit or costume.

Pie Throw

Pie throws let students have some harmless fun with their teachers while fundraising. Teachers and staff can volunteer to be pie’d. Then, students can donate a certain amount to throw a pie at the faculty. This is a great fundraiser for Pi Day (March 14th).

Board Game Night

A board game night is simple but fun. Create different stations with different board games. Then, attendees can choose what board games they want to play and switch between them if time allows. This event can also be done virtually with games like online scrabble.

Balloon Raffle

A balloon raffle is a fun take on a traditional raffle. You’ll sell raffle tickets like normal, usually $1 to $5 per ticket, depending on the value of the prize. 

Then, instead of simply calling out the winning raffle numbers, participants will pop the balloons. The balloons will contain the winning raffle ticket numbers. Doing a raffle this way makes it more engaging and fun, even if participants don’t win the raffle.

50/50 Raffle

A 50/50 raffle is another fun way to do a raffle. Instead of all the raffle sales going to the winner, the jackpot is split between the winner and your school. Everybody wins!

Bake Sale

A bake sale is a tried-and-true fundraiser. It’s easy to get families to participate and easy to get donations because almost everyone loves making and eating baked goods!

All you need to do is ask the student’s families to donate a few baked goods, either homemade or store-bought. Then, the baked goods will be sold at lunchtime for a few dollars per piece. Don’t forget to remind students to bring change that day!

Bingo Night

A bingo night is a fun game night where almost everyone can participate, from elementary school students to grandparents. It’s easy to plan too, since you essentially just play a few games of bingo.

Players buy tickets to participate in the game. Make sure you have a few prizes ready for when players yell “bingo!”

Benefit Concert

A concert is a great way to show off your student’s musical talents. A Christmas concert is a common time for a school concert, but you can host them at any time of year. Parents and other family members buy tickets to attend, and you can incorporate other fundraising tactics like food and drink sales as well.

Family Photoshoot

A family photoshoot is a great way to raise money because pretty much every family would love more photos of them and their children. For this fundraiser, all you need is a photographer who is willing to donate their time or work for a reduced rate.

Then, pick a date and location (a local park is a great backdrop). Families can pay a reduced rate ($20 to $30) and pick a time slot. Over the course of the day, tons of families can get their photos, which means tons of donations for your fundraiser.

Haunted House

A haunted house is a great fundraiser to have around Halloween. You can use your school or someone can volunteer their house. Then, dim the lights, put up some spooky decorations, play some scary music, and you’re set!

Read-a-Thon

A read-a-thon is a great way to fundraise and to encourage kids to read more. Students will sign up for the read-a-thon and commit to reading a certain amount of books during the event. 

Then, their friends and family will support the student through pledges. These donations can really add up, making a read-a-thon a hugely successful type of fundraiser.

Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is tons of fun while not being too complicated to organize. You can do it indoors or outdoors, making it great for any time of year. 

All you have to do is hide the objects and then create a list of clues guiding participants to where the items are hidden. You can have prizes for whoever finishes first to make the event extra exciting.

Jelly Bean Jar

The jelly bean jar is a classic fundraiser and a great add-on to events like bingo nights or family fun days. You fill a jar with jelly beans, and students donate (usually $1 or $2 dollars) to guess how many jelly beans are in the jar.

Whoever guesses right wins the jar of jelly beans. You can also add other prizes to make students more excited about guessing.

Sports Tournament

A sports tournament makes a great fundraiser, and you can do it with almost any sport. You can host a more traditional tournament, like a baseball tournament, or get more creative with sports like bowling or even video games.

No matter what sport you choose, the rules are pretty much the same. Teams pay a registration fee, and you can also gather donations through pledges or tickets to attend the games. 

School Sleepover

Nothing interests students more than what happens at school at night. Let them find out by selling tickets for a school sleepover!

Students buy tickets and get to return to school at night with pyjamas, sleeping bags, and pillows to find out what it’s like to sleep at school. You can add activities like movies and popcorn too.

No Uniform Day

For this fundraiser, students can buy the right to wear whatever they want. All they need to do is make a donation, usually $5 to $10. 

Most students will participate, so it really adds up. If your school doesn’t have uniforms, you can do a no dress code or wacky dress day instead.

Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is a great way to get students involved in fundraising. Students can sign up to participate in the battle.

Then, there’s a Battle of the Bands concert, where attendees buy tickets to watch the bands perform. Judges decide what band was the best and the winners receive a prize.

Car Wash

A car wash is easy to organize while still being a great fundraiser. All you need is water, soap, sponges, and a few volunteer car washers.

To make this event even easier, you can also partner with a local car wash. That way, you’ll get a lot more customers from people who are already looking for a car wash that day.

Dog Wash

A dog wash fundraiser works similarly to a car wash, except you’re washing dogs, of course! You’ll also need to change up your supplies and make sure you’re using dog-safe shampoo.

Other than that, you’ll just need a few pooch-loving volunteers who aren’t afraid of getting a little wet. Like a car wash fundraiser, you can also partner with a local dog wash (many car washes have them) to make the logistics easier.

Yard Sale

A yard sale is a great way to fundraise and help families get rid of their unwanted items. For this fundraiser, families simply donate their unwanted and gently used goods.

Then, your school hosts a yard sale, where you sell the items. Because everything is donated, all the money goes to the fundraiser.

Prom Dress Drive

A prom press drive works like a yard sale, except for prom dresses. Students and alumni donate their old prom dresses and tuxedos.

Then, you host a dress sale, where students can shop. Students get a discounted price on their outfits, and your school gets the proceeds from the sale.

Walk & Jog-a-Thon

A walk or jog-a-thon gets people moving and donating! These work similar to standard 5K or marathon fundraisers, except there’s no set distance. You can make the distance shorter so a lot more people can participate.

Walkers or joggers sign up for the a-thon and then do peer-to-peer fundraising. They ask family, friends, and coworkers for pledges, which dramatically increases your potential donor pool.

Color Run

Another fun take on your traditional fundraising run is a color run. During the race, participants run through paint powder. By the end, they’re covered in a rainbow of colors, making for tons of fun and great photos.

Chore Auction

One of the most valuable things you can give people is time. At this auction, you’ll be giving away just that.

Volunteers can donate time or skills to the fundraiser like cooking, cleaning, or handiwork. For example, someone could donate a home-cooked meal or 1 hour of vacuuming. Then, their skills are auctioned off to the highest bidder. 

Art Auction

An art auction allows students to show off their creative talents and raise money at the same time. Students create art in art class, whether it’s a painting, sculpture, or another art piece. Then, their art is auctioned off to whoever bids the most, and the bids are donated to the school.

Candy Grams 

Candy grams work any time of year but are especially great around Valentine’s Day. For this fundraiser, students and staff can donate a certain amount (usually $5 to $10) to give a candy gram to someone. Then, on Valentine’s Day, the candy grams are delivered around the school.

School Breakfast 

Who doesn’t love a school breakfast? To run this fundraiser, you’ll need a few volunteer chefs and breakfast foods like sausages, bacon, and pancakes.

Work with local stores or food suppliers to see if they can donate the supplies or at least provide them at a discount. That way, all of the ticket sales will go directly to the fundraiser. 

Coupon Book

A coupon book is a classic fundraiser and pretty easy to organize. Many companies offer coupon book fundraisers, you’ll just need to find one local to your area.

Then, tell students to ask their friends, family, and parents’ coworkers if they would be interested in a coupon book. The value of the coupons far exceeds the cost of the book, so it’s a win for everyone. 

School Dance

A school dance is a quintessential junior high event. You can easily turn this popular event into a fundraiser by selling tickets to students. You can get extra donations with food and drink sales at the event too.

Classroom Decorating Contest

This fundraiser is tons of fun because it really allows students’ creativity to shine. Each class pays a small fee to enter and then decorates their classroom.

The principal or a guest judge views the classrooms and decides which one is best. The winning class wins a prize, like a pizza party.

Popcorn Sale

A popcorn sale is just one example of a food-based fundraiser. Popcorn works great because it’s a relatively healthy snack, but you can use almost any food like chocolate, cookies, donuts, and more.

For this fundraiser, you’ll work with a local company to provide the popcorn. Then, you’ll sell the popcorn to students and their families at a small mark-up. A portion of the cost goes to the company, and the rest goes to your school.

Cook-Off

A cook-off is a classic fundraiser, and for a good reason. It gives you two ways to fundraise: entry fees for the participants and tickets sales for anyone who wants to try the food.

You can do this fundraiser with almost any type of food, too. Some popular cook-off foods are chili, wings, burgers, ribs, mac and cheese, and tacos.

Bake-Off

A bake-off works the same way as a cook-off, except you’re baking instead of cooking. Like a cook-off, you can host a bake-off for almost any baked good. Try it with pie, cake, cookies, brownies, or any other baked good you can think of.

Naming Rights

You don’t need thousands of dollars to have part of the school named after you. Instead, you can donate a small amount for naming rights on a small part of the school. Things like bricks, stepping stones, or even library books are great places to put donors’ names.

Clothing Swap

A clothing swap is a great fundraiser and a great way for parents to find low-cost clothes for growing kids. Parent’s simply donate their kid’s unwanted or outgrown clothes.

Then, you resell the donated clothes for a small cost, anywhere from $2 to $10 per item. Your school gets to keep the sales from the clothes, and kids get a new wardrobe. 

Book Swap

A book swap is another swap idea. The premise is the same as a clothing swap: families donate unwanted books and then the books are sold to new families. The book sales go to the fundraiser while families get new books at a low cost.

Used Textbook Sale

This fundraiser makes sure students get the textbooks they need while raising money for your school. Like a book swap, parents can donate their kids’ textbooks from the previous year. Then, new students can purchase the books at a discounted cost, with the proceeds going to the school.

Parking Spot Auction

Parking is at a premium in many schools, particularly in high schools where students can drive themselves to school. At the beginning of the year, auction off some of the best parking spots.  The winner gets the spot, and the proceeds go to the school. 

Pet Contest

For most people, their pets are part of the family. Let your students show off their furry family members with a pet contest.

The contest can include almost anything, from agility to a fashion show. Every contestant pays an entry fee and the top dog wins a prize at the end of the contest.

Family Fun Day

You can’t go wrong with a family fun day! The best part is, you can include almost any activity in the fun. Face painting, crafts, and races are great low-cost activities to start with. 

Try and include at least one “high ticket” activity, like a bouncy castle. This will attract more families and allow you to charge a bit more per ticket.

Karaoke Night

A karaoke night is tons of fun. You can easily include kids by scheduling the event earlier in the evening or make it an adult-only event too. For ease of planning, host this event at a local karaoke spot.

Night Out

A night out can be almost anything and be just for parents or for students and their families. One of the easiest ways to plan this event is to partner with a local restaurant and sell tickets for a private dinner.

Junk Drive

A junk drive is a great way to help families get rid of unwanted items. Simply round up a few volunteers with trucks and work vans and pick a date (usually a Saturday or Sunday) for junk pick up.

Charge families a reasonable fee for the junk removal and take it to the dump. Just make sure the fee is more than dump costs in your area.

Penny Drive

Every penny counts! For this fundraiser, students bring change to put in their classroom’s change jar. The first class to fill their change jar wins a prize, and all the proceeds from the change jars go to the fundraiser.

Alumni Lunch

An alumni lunch is a great way to include past students in your fundraisers. Invite alumni to a lunch event and either sell tickets or ask for donations to cover the costs. You can include other fundraising ideas, like trivia, raffles, and more at the lunch too.

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