Top 10 Tips for School Fundraising

10/22/08 - By Anna Fader

Reader, Kate, emailed me recently asking about ideas for school fundraisers. I was more than happy to oblige since this is right up my alley. I served on our school PTA Executive Board for four years and our school was so successful at raising money that I had suggested looking for ways we could share that success with other schools. I guess this is my opportunity to do so.

Top 10 Tips for School Fundraising:


Keep it manageable: School fundraising depends completely on the efforts of your parents, who can become burnt out if they are being tapped too many times. At our school we ended up cutting some or the smaller fundraisers (like selling pies and magazine subscriptions) because they required too much work from parents for not enough income.

Make it easy and affordable: Look for ways to make money for the school that people can work into their daily lives and don't cost anything. Get parents, grandparents and friends to use GoodSearch for their search engine and your school can make money on every search. It takes minimal effort, costs nothing and all those searches add up.

Make it useful: Can you create an event that will provide something useful for the community? How about a used sports equipment swap or tag sale, or have the children wash cars. This builds community and raises money at the same time.

Include the grandparents: The parents of your school can only give so much, so look for ways to include extended family and community in your fundraisers. Put your school auction online so others can bid on items. Build an Amazon affiliate store or use SchoolPop that lets your school earn money when people shop through your site.

Apply for grants: See if you have a parent in your community who can look for and apply for grants.

Tap your talents: We ask all new parents at our school to tell us their expertise. We keep that on file and when we need something we know who can help within our community.

Be inclusive: It's important at our school that everyone feels like they can be involved. We make a big effort to price tickets and structure events so that no one feels excluded and everyone has an equal opportunity to participate. For instance, we used to auction off dates with our teachers at the school auction, which went for significant amounts of money. But that meant only those who could afford to bid high could win. Now we sell raffle tickets for $5 so everyone can participate. We may not make quite as much, but we know we're doing the right thing.

Make it important: Our school raises a significant amount of money in a direct appeal from the parents. The direct appeal goes in large part to pay for classroom aides, which puts an additional person in our Pre-K, K and first grade classrooms. That's something that is really important to parents and they're willing to give big for it.

Auction, Auction Auction!: An auction is a huge amount of work, but can raise a lot of money. If you have parents who can pull this off, go for it.

Read the book: Beyond the Bake Sale: The Ultimate School Fund-Raising Book is an amazing book written by local former PS 87 mom Joan Joachim. She puts her 15 years of experience fundraising at one of NYC's best public schools to use. This is required reading for every PTA or school fundraising group. I can not recommend this book highly enough. It will give you lots of concrete ideas of how to raise money for your school. Buy a copy and pass it around to your committee.

What are your best school fundraiser ideas? Share them in the comments below.