Here is a list of ideas that I had been saving, of course there are a ton more, please share your ideas or thoughts about fundraisers.

Balloon Bust Fundraising

Fill a couple hundred balloons with helium and slips of paper redeemable for prizes or cash, or (10 percent) ‘Thank You Please Try Again’. The fundraising prizes can be a free Coke if Coca Cola is helping sponsor event. You could have an early bird prize about ‘Guess The Number of Balloons’. That could go on for a couple of hours, then the prizes start to be drawn. Fill a room with these balloons, so patrons walk in and find them-selves in a latex obstacle course. They can pull one balloon outside, you write their name on it with magic marker. Then they put it back until the end of the night. During the day, have patrons guess how many balloons are in the room. The closest wins a prize at the end of the day.

Karaoke Night Fundraising

We have a monthly fundraising event that both the kids and adults have really gotten into. We host Karaoke nights. Admission is $5 per person and our parent guild supplies the punch and snacks for the evening. Sometimes we hold a competition and sometimes it’s just a free for all. The machine is rented from a local DJ along with a library of 5000 songs for about $100 per night. We normally raise $500 to $600 in an evening and have a great time doing it!

Craft Fair/Bake Sale Fundraising

The churches where I grew up had annual fundraising Christmas Craft/Bake Sales. People rented the tables from the Church (all proceeds from table rentals went to the church’s youth groups). On the sale Saturday (1 day only) the sellers sold their wares (crafts, Christmas decorations, baked goods, etc) and they kept the money from their sales.

This has to be well organized in that table sales are done in advance (usually Sept-October timeframe) so the sellers can make sure they have enough product.

Penny Drive Fundraising

Here’s an easy and fun fundraising idea suitable for any school or other organization with different classes or groups to set up some competition. It’s called a penny drive. Each class or team competes against the all others. Each class decorates a large jar for their collections. The jars are set up in some accessible place, perhaps outside the school office. Be sure to arrange proper safeguards as necessary. The idea is to earn the most money for your class.

Dollars count FOR your class. Once the competition gets going, you can raise quite a bit of money in small change, adding pennies to your own jar or silver to competitors. It’s great fundraising fun! Every class comes out a winner. Last place classes get ice cream cones as prizes. The Second place class receives a sundae with whipped cream, syrup, bananas, the works! The class in first place wins a pizza party and sundaes!

Fundraising Variation 1: A school ‘penny war” with the classrooms competing against each other. Jars are placed out side of each classroom at the start of the day and end of the day, with someone monitoring of course. For every penny added to the jar a classroom would receive one point. Every nickel, dime, quarter, added and the class lost points according to the value of the coin. A dollar in the jar and the class lost 100 points. Kids are allowed to place coins and dollars in any jar they want, so they could make a classroom with the most points that day lose points by placing everything but pennies in the jar. Points are posted every day and the money collected in the office at the end of the day where student helpers wrap pennies, nickels, dimes and so forth. At the end of the nine week period, the class with the most points wins a popcorn/movie party. This can be done in elementary schools but for secondary, it works best if the competing classes are all homerooms. Easy way to raise money for the school, with no cash outlay.

Fundraising Variation 2: You put one jar in a room for each grade. The jars are used to collect monetary contributions. For every $.10 you award one link in a chain. Each link is a strip of paper cut out and then the ends are stapled forming a circle. Each grade must have a separate color, so that when you hang the chains they can see what grade is winning. It is a great way to make money and the competition level is usually real high.

Fundraising Variation 3: Have the whole congregation bring in their spare change and keep track of it somewhere (maybe 5 gallon water jugs in the back of the sanctuary). Think of a way to get people competing for weight (pennies are better) and/or for amount (dimes are better). Allow people to put in bills, but take them to a bank and get change. Have a huge change counting party. (A goal may be 5 pounds of change per youth, or the ministers weight in change).

Fundraising Variation 4: Divide your group into two teams. Give each team a large container and tell them that the group with the most pennies in their container one or two weeks before the event will be declared the winner. The losing team must serve the winners at a special dinner in their honor. The two teams can get pennies from anyone (people in church, school, parents, friends, etc.). You could also do this with nickels, dimes or quarters.

Student/Faculty Basketball Game Fundraising

Every year we host a student/faculty fundraising basketball game. Students sign up to play, and the coordinators (also students) decide fair teams based on athletic ability. The students play each other in 10-15 minute games in a tournament. The team that wins the tournament plays a team made up of teachers from the high school. The teachers seem to love it. They always plan practices beforehand and get excited about it. Alternatives: Consider other sports or academic challenges but please take it easy on “the old folks”.

Kids have their school pictures, but many schools are doing a family portrait night with a company like Olan Mills. We all want to get family portraits done,
but never seem to take the time to get everyone all dressed up and get those photos done. A great add on to this fundraiser is offering holiday cards with
those photos.

Time Sensitive – Mid-November until December 24th
Most people will purchase a poinsettia for the holidays from somewhere. Selling a beautiful yuletide gift available through your committee or a student is
convenient & profitable. Buy them from nursery for $6.00 wholesale, and sell them to parents for $12.00. Its beauty is enhanced with a colorful pot cover
and a coordinating decorative bow. Your gift color options are pink, white, marble and red. Each poinsettia is protected in a custom gift box which protects
the product from handling and weather damage.

Search for cool $1 store items all year long
Ask for discount if purchasing 20 or more items
Ask businesses for donations of any items

Original Works Art (can use any company or do it our self)

Tiles: children participating in the Tile Wall program produce their own piece of unique artwork in class. The artwork is then sent to us, where we create a stunning, high gloss 6” x 8” or 4 1/4” x 4 1/4” tile featuring each child’s artwork. All tiles are sold at a wholesale price. They are then offered to the parents or children at a price that you determine.

If run as a fund raiser, profit margins of 50% or more are not uncommon. What a wonderful way to celebrate children’s artwork, create a truly one-of-a-kind wall, and raise needed funds all at the same time.

Note Cards/Christmas Cards: The Artwork Packages are sent home for ordering. Parents/families who wish to purchase items showcasing their child’s very own artwork simply complete the order form and return it with their payment and the original artwork. Since all products are pre-purchased and completely customized, there is no up front inventory and no door-to-door selling required.

The Original Program takes approximately 4 weeks to complete.


Cash is an easy sell:

Donations win out over unwanted fund-raiser wares at some area schools

Weary of traipsing through neighborhoods hocking unwanted chocolate bars or calling grandparents to sell unneeded wrapping paper, the parent-teacher organization at Madison’s Franklin-Randall Elementary now skips the fund-raising formalities.

They needed $11,000 this year and sent out a letter last month bluntly asking for it.

Promising shtick-free fund raising, the school’s third annual Fall Fundraising Letter came after years of selling coupon books, candy, wrapping paper and other wares that many parents simply regard as clutter. PTO president Anne Morgan Giroux said the group now spends 20 minutes writing its letter, sends copies home via the school’s “backpack mail,” then waits for checks to roll in.

With the old system, she said, parents had to collect forms, wait for products to arrive and then distribute them. Now, she said, “we just open envelopes and deposit money.”

It’s a simplification many schools envy.

Nationwide, schools sell $3.2 billion worth of products each year through fund-raisers, according to the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors and Suppliers, an Atlanta-based trade group. But the campaigns also create a backlash among parents – who often end up with the leftover products – and administrators, who help organize everything.

“You just get to a point where you say, ‘I don’t need any more candleholders. I don’t need more wrapping paper,’ ” said Kris Berg, a parent at Germantown’s Amy Belle Elementary who helped organize a Read-a-Thon fund-raiser to avoid sales pitches. “I don’t need any more stuff. I would rather see them get straight cash contributions than have more stuff around the house to deal with.”

Long dependent on sales to fund playground equipment, field trips, library books and classroom supplies, parent organizations at more than 80% of U.S. elementary schools have some type of sales-based fund-raiser, according to a survey by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Book fairs, student portraits and school carnivals are other top options. But given the choice, 62% of elementary school principals would eliminate fund raising altogether, according to the survey.

Often, the problem is in the amount of fund raising, said Vickie Mabry, associate director of the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors and Suppliers.

“Do a few and do them well,” she said. “Then parents won’t feel that you’re coming to them with your hand out all the time.”

Mark Finger, principal of Germantown’s Amy Belle, said parents are worn out from product fund-raisers. He’d seen other schools host Walk-a-Thons to raise money. And several area schools participate in a Math-a-Thon fund-raiser to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. So the Amy Belle PTA decided to solicit donations for a Read-a-Thon.

At the school’s second annual event, 160 students brought pillows, blankets, books and parents to the school’s gym last month. They listened to Shel Silverstein poems before splitting into groups that either read silently or listened to stories, including Jan Brett’s “The Mitten” and Schim Schimmel’s “Dear Children of the Earth.”

To reach their goal of $7,500, the group would have had to sell more than $14,000 worth of products in a sales-based fund-raiser, said co-organizer Berg. At previous schools, Berg helped organize fund-raisers selling wrapping paper, trivets and notepads. She’s also dealt with pizzas that required tons of freezer space and needed quick delivery so they didn’t thaw upon arrival.

Though students still solicited donations for the Read-a-Thon, Berg said the PTA told parents ahead of time that the group would meet its goal if every student received $20 in donations. Kids collected money as it was pledged to avoid the time-consuming process of returning to pick up checks.

And because the Read-a-Thon was the school’s main fund-raiser, Berg said, people were happier to donate for the event than to buy something that would clutter their home. As prizes, students who raised $50 got $5 certificates to spend at the school’s book fair, another PTA fund-raiser. That way the money stayed in the same pot, Berg said, and the prizes kept kids reading.

“You can only tap into Grandma and Grandpa for so many things,” Berg said. “People get tired of having to sell things, and of having things sitting around the house collecting dust.”

At Steffen Middle School in Mequon, the PTA sent a letter to parents last month saying, “No gift wrap, no candy, no sales.” For at least three years it has hosted an “un-fund-raiser” – flatly asking for cash – and is halfway to this year’s $3,000 goal, said Chris Such, a PTA co-vice president.

“It’s a choice,” she said. “I haven’t heard comments either way. I’m sure there’s both out there.”

At schools that do sell products, some parents say they’re careful about matching what they sell to what parents actually want.

At Atwater Elementary in Shorewood, Joanne Lipo Zovic chairs the PTA’s coffee fund-raiser. Because many of their parents already buy coffee, she said, most are willing to purchase through the school.

“I think there is that feeling of ‘Oh, no, another thing for me to reach into my pocket and buy, which I might or might not need,’ ” she said. “If we were going to do a product-based thing, it seemed like a good one to do.”

In Madison, Giroux said her mailbox fills each week with a stack of catalogs from fund-raising companies, all wanting her to sell cookie dough, ice cream, pizza, cheese, nuts, wrapping paper and Christmas knickknacks. Now, she just tosses the pile in the recycle bin.

“I’m sorry, a lot of it is junk,” Giroux said. “It’s stuff we don’t need.”