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Fundraising Tips

30+ Effective fundraising ideas for schools (2024)

November 30, 2023

Here it is, Zeffy’s 30 fundraising ideas for schools. It’s a long list full of tips and resources to help your school plan its next fundraiser and raise funds.

We’ve come up with 30+ of the best school fundraising ideas around and we’re confident that you’ll be able to find at least one idea here to help your school raise funds for your cause.

Our top fundraising ideas for your school at a glance.

Let’s start things off with a few of the best school fundraising ideas that are all great ways to raise funds.

Responsive Table
Fundraising ideas for your school Easy to set up Most profitable Creative and unique To raise money fast
Elementary school Recycling drive. Read-A-Thon or Dance-A-Thon. Petting zoo. Bake sale.
Middle school Photography contest. School merch. sale. Candy grams. Movie night.
High school Photo booth. Benefit concert. Community night. Car wash.

Explore our best fundraising ideas based on your type of school.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash.

Browse our fundraising ideas based on your school year:

Elementary school students
Middle schools
High school students

Or explore more fundraising campaign ideas:

Most profitable school fundraising ideas
Easy fundraising ideas for schools
Unique fundraising ideas for schools
Fundraising ideas to raise funds fast

Elementary school fundraising ideas.

Recycling drives are surprisingly profitable school fundraisers.

A recycling drive is a en environmentally friendly way to raise money for your school community. There are two types of recycling drives you can organize during the school year:

  1. Invite students to participate in a bottle and can collection drive. It's is a simple and profitable school fundraising idea, can be run by students of any age, teach them about the environment, and littering.
  2. Encourage students to take part in an electronics recycling drive to collect computers and electronics from the local community. This option will require a partnership with your local eco-center to responsibly recycle the collected electronics, but can be a very profitable school fundraiser.

Book fairs are an educational way for elementary schools to raise money.

There are two kinds of books fairs schools can encourage students to participate in:

  1. A book fair organized by a publisher. (Schoolastic book fairs.)
  2. A book fair or used book fair where books are sold or auctioned to raise money for your school community.

Whichever approach you choose for your school fundraiser, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

A Read-A-Thon is a great elementary school fundraising idea.

When it comes to raising money for schools, there aren’t a ton of educational fundraising efforts that appeal to a wide range of students, ages, likes, etc. In fact, there might only be one: a Read-A-Thon.

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash.

A Read-A-Thon is a great fundraising idea. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Begin planning your read a thon fundraiser by sitting down and deciding what you want your read a thons to accomplish.
  2. Set your Read-A-Thon’s date and timeline.
  3. Lay out what readers should achieve during the Read-A-Thon. You can define various levels with appropriate awards, fun activities, group goals, etc.
  4. Create a reading list to get students involved.
  5. Create a registration process so readers can sign up for your Read-A-Thon and use social media, posters, your email newsletter, and other promotional materials to generate interest, spread the word, and make sure your Read-A-Thon is a successful fundraiser.
  6. Offer prizes and incentives to get students excited.
  7. Provide readers with reading logs so students and their families can track the time they spend reading. This could be a physical reading log, Read-A-Thon templates, or an online platform. (We like Zeffy’s free peer-to-peer fundraising platform that allows you to create your own fundraising pages.)
  8. Start fundraising. Readers can ask for donations from donors, parents, friends, and neighbours based on the number of books read, pages turned, or time spent reading.
  9. If you have the time and energy, it’s a good idea to host events during your Read-A-Thon.
  10. Regularly update students, parents, and donors on the progress of your fundraiser.
  11. This one is simple and super important: say thank you.
  12. Ask for feedback to make your next Read-A-Thon an even bigger success.

A petting zoo is a unique fundraiser for elementary schools.

We all know how excited young students—and, if we’re being honest, most parents and teachers—get when there’s a petting zoo! And, that excitement makes it a profitable and one of the top school fundraising ideas.

Photo by Matthew Halmshaw on Unsplash.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your petting zoo school fundraiser:

A (insert holiday here) themed bake sale is a classic school fundraising idea.

A bake sale might not be the most ground-breaking school fundraising idea on this list, but it’s still a great school fundraising idea because, well, bake sales are a very popular with everyone.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

A lunch box auction is a fun event for elementary schools.

This is definitely a fun twist on the classic fundraising campaigns. Most students are going to want a new lunch box every year.

So, instead of parents throwing away used lunch boxes, ask them to donate them for a lunch box auction to raise funds for your school and help meet your fundraising goals.

Middle school fundraising ideas.

Photography contests make great middle school fundraisers.

Students, teachers, and parents love taking pictures. Why not put those pics to work by hosting a photography contest during the school year? Participants can submit their best pics (for a small entry fee/donation) and win a week without homework, a new camera, whatever!

A few things to keep in mind:

A school merchandise sale is a great way to raise money for your middle school.

Partnering with local artists or celebrities to create limited-edition merchandise is an excellent way to promote your school and boost school spirit while raising money.

You can offer the merchandise online for a limited time or produce a limited number of each piece.

Keep things interesting with a few tips to get you thinking outside the box:

Candy grams make for some delicious and entertaining school fundraisers.

Candy grams—AKA, personalized shout-outs—are messages sent via notes, carols, code, elf, ghost, whatever!

Each message is sent for the cost of a donation and can be related to a theme or holiday. (Halloween candy, chocolate eggs, carollers, etc.)

Movie nights can be fun/scary/sad ways to raise money for your middle school.

There’s nothing weirder or more taboo than being in school at night. Take advantage of this by hosting a movie night at your kid’s or teen’s school.

Photo by Corina Rainer on Unsplash.

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

Putting on a school play or talent show is a great fundraising idea for middle school students.

Putting on a school play or talent show can be an entertaining way up school spirit and it makes a great annual fundraiser. Sure, it’s a bit more work than your average school fundraising idea, but it’s a great way to build awareness and do something nice for your community.

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

Fundraising ideas for high schools.

Photo booths are easy high school fundraising ideas.

Photo booths are nostalgic and fun high school fundraising ideas. They can work as a stand alone fundraiser or as an added activity at almost any event: a talent show, school merchandise sale, etc.

Photo by Brandon Griggs on Unsplash.

Host a benefit concert to raise money for your high school.

A benefit concert might sound like an organizational nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. And, the potential profitability can make the effort worth it.

If you’re like us, benefit concerts mean convincing some well-known group to come sing at your high school. That’s definitely an option! But, you can also reach out to high school students or local musicians and host an entirely local benefit concert.

A community night is a fun way to introduce students and their families to your high school.

A community night is basically a fair that takes place at your high school. Think of it as a fun night that everyone’s invited to and that makes raising funds easy.

Games, food, crafts, walking tours of the school that tell forgotten or famous stories, a photo booth, an eating contest, a community yard sale, the list of possibilities is as long as your creativity … and volunteer numbers.

Hosting a car wash to raise money for your high school is a pretty classic fundraiser.

There’s nothing wrong with the line-up of classic fundraising events. No one will complain about donating a few dollars to drive away with a sparkling clean car.

But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn't explore a few other money-making possibilities to make it a little more memorable.

You can make your fundraising campaign memorable by:

The most profitable school fundraising ideas.

A Dance-A-Thon is an active and fun way to get students and teachers involved in your school fundraising idea.

A-Thon’s (Read-A-Thon, Walk A Thon, Dance A Thon, etc.) are profitable, fun, inclusive, educational fundraisers and a Dance-A-Thon is among the best of them.

Here’s a look at the steps involved in organizing your Dance-A-Thon:

A pancake breakfast is are delicious and profitable school fundraising idea.

A delicious pancake breakfast always attracts a crowd. You can host one almost any time, for any reason. After all, who doesn’t like pancakes? Or, if you’re feeling wild, waffles!

Photo by Matthias Reumann on Unsplash.

Here are a few tips to help you collect donations:

A gift wrapping service around the holidays is a great school fundraising idea.

Every year we all go through the stressful, present buying and wrapping spree. Why not transform a bit of that stress into a school fundraising idea by offering to wrap everyone’s gift for a small donation? You can even get custom wrapping paper or gift tags made.

Get started with these fundraising campaign ideas:

Raffles and 50/50 draws are quick fundraising campaigns that can raise a lot of money for your school.

There are a few types of raffles out there and all of them can be hosted online or in person. Just make sure to check with local authorities about the rules and regulations surrounding lotteries and raffles for nonprofit organizations in your area.

A few things to keep in mind:

Partnering with students and local artists to create custom school merchandise is a great school fundraising idea.

Partnering with students, teachers, local artists or celebrities to create limited-edition merchandise is an excellent way to promote your school and raise money. You can offer the merchandise online for a limited time or produce a limited number of each piece.

Keep things interesting with a few tips to get you thinking outside the box:

Host a benefit concert to raise money for your school.

A benefit concert might sound like an organizational nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. And, the potential profitability can make the effort worth it.

If you’re like us, a benefit concert means convincing some well-known group to come sign at your school. That’s definitely an option! But, you can also reach out to local musicians and bands and host an entirely local benefit concert.

Easy school fundraising ideas.

Recycling drives are surprisingly easy (and profitable) school fundraisers.

A recycling drive is a en environmentally friendly way to raise money for your school.

There are two types of recycling drives you can organize as fundraisers:

  1. A bottle and can collection drive is a simple and profitable fundraiser, can be run by students of any age, and teaches them about the environment and littering.
  2. An electronics recycling drive fundraiser collect computers and electronics from the local community. This option will require a partnership with your local eco-center to responsibly recycle the collected electronics.

Organizing a pet photography contest is an easy and great school fundraising idea.

Students, teachers, parents, everyone loves taking pictures of their pets. Why not put those pics to work by hosting a pet photography contest?

Participants can submit their best pics (for a small entry fee/donation) and win a day at a pet spa, a matching human/pet wardrobe, whatever!

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash.

A few things to keep in mind:

A photo booth is an easy school fundraising idea.

A photo booth is a nostalgic and fun fundraising idea for your school. It can work as a stand alone fundraiser or as an added activity at almost any event: a talent show, school merch. sale, etc.

Themed bake sales are delicious and easy ways to raise money for your school.

Choosing a theme for your next bake sale will add an extra layer of fun and creativity to your good old fashioned bake sale.

We've come up with a few themes to sweeten your school fundraiser ideas:

Washing cars is an easy way to raise money for your high school.

There’s nothing wrong with the line-up of classic fundraising events. No one will complain about donating a few dollars to drive away with a sparkling clean car.

But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn't explore a few other money-making possibilities to make it a little more memorable.

You can make your fundraising campaign memorable by:

Hosting a friends and family photo day is an easy way to raise money.

Family photo days are a memorable way to get members of your community to drop by and support your school.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning yours:

Showing a movie can be a fun/scary/sad way to easily raise money for your school.

There’s nothing weirder or more taboo than being in school at night. Take advantage of this by hosting a movie night at your school.

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

Unique fundraising ideas.

A petting zoo is a unique fundraiser for schools.

We all know how excited young students (and most parents and teachers) get when there’s a petting zoo! And, that excitement makes it a profitable and unique elementary school fundraiser.

Photo by Matthew Halmshaw on Unsplash.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your petting zoo school fundraiser:

Candy grams make for some delicious and entertaining school fundraisers.

Candy grams—AKA, personalized shout outs—are messages sent via notes, carols, code, elf, ghost, whatever!

Each message is sent for the cost of a donation and can be related to a theme or holiday. (Halloween candy, chocolate eggs, carollers, etc.)

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

A community night is a creative way to introduce the community to your school and raise some money while you’re at it.

A community night is basically a fair that takes place at your school. Think of it as a fun night that everyone’s invited too.

Games, food, crafts, walking tours of the school that tell forgotten or famous stories, a photo booth, an eating contest, the list of possibilities is as long as your creativity … and volunteer numbers.

We've made a list of a few things to keep in mind:

A podcast series is an innovative way to fundraise for your school.

It may sound daunting at first, but a podcast series is a great way to share stories, spread the word, encourage multiple voices and points of view, and connect with current and new audiences. The trick: ask for help.

A podcast can seem daunting, so we made a list to help get you started:

Puppy/kitten cuddling booth—AKA the best fundraising idea ever.

This fundraiser idea is really, REALLY good. It has everything you could ever want: cute puppies and kittens, stress relief, and an amazingly worthy cause.

Consider hosting yours during stressful times for students. (Exams, midterms, first week of school, etc.)

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Fundraising ideas to help your school raise money fast.

Raise money quickly with a penalty shootout peer-to-peer fundraiser.

This fundraising event is a bit more complicated to organize, but the pay off will be worth it.

A peer-to-peer shootout is a fun way to get opposing teams together, parents and students to participate in the game, and community members to come out for a good time!

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Host a (insert holiday here) themed bake sale to quickly raise money for your school.

A bake sale might not be the most ground-breaking idea on this unique fundraising ideas list, but it’s still a good fundraising idea because bake sales are great ways to raise money.

Here are a few tips to help get your fundraising idea started:

A movie night can be a fun/scary/sad way to easily raise money for your school.

There’s nothing weirder or more taboo than being in school at night. Take advantage of this by hosting a movie night at your kid’s or teen’s school.

And, don't be afraid to get a bit creative. Turn it into a picnic or a sleepover. Host a "predict the ending" lottery that students pay to enter.

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

A balloon pop (don’t worry we’ll explain in a minute) can raise money fast for your school.

Balloon pops are exciting and fun fundraisers for students of all ages, but particularly younger students.

All you have to do is fill balloons with small prizes or messages and sell them. Participants pop the balloons they’ve bought to find out what they’ve won!

A few things to keep in mind when you’re planning your balloon pop:

A gently used clothing sale is a creative way to fundraise for your school while doing some good for the planet.

Students are always growing and that means they outgrow their clothes in a matter of weeks or months, not years.

So, why not host a gently used clothing sale? Parents, teachers, and students can donate clothes that don’t fit them anymore (or that they just don’t like) and you can organize an afternoon of shopping and events. Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll be teaching students about the importance of reusing.

A few things to think about when planning your gently used clothing sale:

A community potluck is a great way to get the community involved with your school and raise money, fast.

Everyone loves a delicious potluck! It’s a great way to raise money fast and get together for a good time. Remember to check with your school’s cafeteria (they might want to participate).

A few things to think about when planning your community potluck:

Online tools and platforms to help you with your school’s next fundraiser.

When it comes to online platforms and tools to help your school plan and run it’s next fundraiser, there are a few options that stand out for their humanitarian or business-for-good angles.

Six online platforms to help your school:

Zeffy: the only 100% free event ticketing and event management solution for nonprofits.

DonorsChoose: empowering and supporting public school teachers while they fund much-needed materials for their students.

PledgeCents: the quick and easy solution to community fundraising—including schools.

Qgiv: flexible tools to empower your nonprofit’s fundraising events.

Localist: an event management platform that’s great for community-focused nonprofits.

Humanitix: the humane ticketing platform with lower booking fees that all go to charity.

Some Zeffy success stories: successful school fundraisers.

Community Music School of Santa Cruz

I run a very small non-profit that runs music camps for musicians ages 7 and up; we also put on music workshops and a few concerts each year. We’ve been in operation for over 30 years, with an annual budget of around $60K. When I became the director in 2018, I started looking for a low-cost donor management system. I found one that had a free version, which I used for several years. However, they eliminated the free version in early 2022, leaving me scrambling to find a suitable replacement where I could transfer my data. Enter Zeffy! What started as a way for me to track donations soon became a solution for much more: not only could we receive donations without any charges, we could also conduct our camp registration and concert ticket sales, too. Over the past 17 months, we’ve saved close to $2000 in fees that we’d normally pay to PayPal or Square. That is a big chunk of money for us!

I love the ability to quickly email people who’ve attended any one of our past events; it’s simple, and the “from” line in the customer’s email is our name, so there’s no confusion. I also appreciate the ability to embed the donation form or ticketing form into our website; it gives us a professional look. Finally, I couldn’t ask for better customer service. My questions are always responded to promptly, and the team always seems to welcome suggestion for future improvements.
- Susan, Community Music School of Santa Cruz

Shrewsbury Elementary PTO

This is our first year using an electronic form of payment. We hosted our first form last week and the feedback was incredible. Everyone is loving an electronic option and we can do away with the paper trail! Win win for both!
- Gilbert, Shrewsbury Elementary PTO

Tips for organizing your school’s next fundraising event.

Maybe you’re a checklist person and maybe you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person. If you’re a checklist person, this section’s for you. If not, we definitely recommend taking a look anyways.

A few additional things to keep in mind:

Our checklist isn’t meant to be set in stone. Use it as a guideline to get started:

(Oh, and it’s a good idea to check out any local rules and regulations. Especially when it comes to raffles, alcohol, and food!)

You can check out a detailed how-to guide in: How to organize a fundraising event for a nonprofit organization.

Ready to host your next school fundraiser?

Hosting your first or next fundraising event doesn’t have to be a daunting, impossible task. With a little creativity, a lot of help (Just ask!), and a free online fundraising platform (like, say, Zeffy), you can make your next fundraising event a success!

Other fundraising ideas:

101+ Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits.

30 Awesome online fundraising Ideas for Any Organization.

8 Fall fundraising ideas for nonprofits.

6 Summer fundraising ideas for nonprofits.

10 Holiday fundraising ideas for nonprofits.

7 Halloween fundraising ideas for nonprofits.

8 Ways to make your next fundraising event kid tested and parent approved.

10 GivingTuesday ideas for nonprofits.

How to organize a fundraising event for a nonprofit organization.

Read-A-Thon fundraiser: The ultimate guide to success.