With budgets decreasing more and more, many schools require teachers to have fundraisers to supplement field trips or pay for club functions. Today I want to share some tried and true fundraising ideas that are easy and students love. Many of these require no money up front and can be started immediately. My teaching experience has been exclusively in Title 1 schools so many of these, if not all, can be and are successful without the need of affluent parents and families.
1. Hat Day
For this fundraising activity, students pay $1 or $0.50 to wear a hat on a selected day. Hat days can be done throughout the year, and may even be themed. You could have a hat day in the winter time and encourage students to wear toboggans or other winter hats. In the spring, you could encourage students to wear baseball hats. Click here to download the hat day letters I made that are themed to do hat day several times a year to coincide with seasons or specific holidays.
2. Bake Sale
This fundraising idea may not be an option if your school has restrictions on eating certain foods during school hours. However, bake sales can be hugely profitable and fun. When we did bake sales to help fund our fifth grade field trip, the fifth graders brought in all the items (homemade or store bought). We used two tables to separate the items into 50 cent items and dollar items. We sold the items during lunch. Hint: Make it more successful by sending home flyers to the entire school notifying them of the bake sale. You could even make posters to hang the week of the sale.
Smencils are all the rage with elementary aged students! We sold these in our school store last year and they always sold out. You can fill out a fundraising application through their website and the profit on the basic smencils is 50%. Students love them and many of them save their ice cream money to collect all the flavors. Check them out by clicking here to visit their official website.
4. Penny War
This one is really fun and super motivating for all students. Have your students compete among grade levels and classes to see who can bring in the most pennies. Pennies are super easy for all students to bring and if your school is large enough, you can get quite a bit of money this way. A portion of the proceeds could be used to reward the winning class or grade level with a Popsicle or popcorn party. Hint: Take the pennies to a coin counter to help with the counting!
5. Personalized Ornaments
This is perfect for Christmas time. Use your school card or a purchase order to purchase some inexpensive ornaments from the local dollar store. Buy some pretty ribbon and let your students choose the color or pattern ribbon for their ornament. Then use a sharpie to write the child’s name or the name of the person they want to gift it to.
6. T-Shirt Sales
This one does require some money up front, but it can have a pretty good return in profit. Think outside the box and design school or grade level shirts that are unique and even “trendy”. Catchy phrases used to promote school spirit are a definite plus. You could even have a contest to create the shirt design and the winner wins a shirt for free. Contact local T-shirt factories to get the best price and ask for a volume discount for schools.
7. School Store
Last year, I started and managed the school store for my elementary school and it was extremely profitable. I ordered the majority of my items from Classroom Supply, as the quality was good and the prices were just right to make a profit. I also stocked up on Walmart school supplies while they were on sale. I would sell them throughout the year when students ran out of supplies. We ran the school store with 5th grade helpers from 7:45 to 8:10 am (school starts at 8:15) each morning. Click here to read a bit more about our school store and see some pictures of how I organized the items.
8. Themed Basket Raffles or Auctions
Basket raffles are pretty popular among schools for fundraising. Grade levels can choose a theme and the students can bring in items to fill the baskets. Here are some basket ideas:
- Movie Themed Basket: popcorn, $5 movies from Walmart, snacks, movie theater tickets
- Relaxation Themed Basket: lotion, spa supplies, sleep mask, relaxing music on CD
- Family Game Night Basket: card games, board games, snacks
- Night Out Basket: restaurant gift certificates, movie theater tickets
- Sports Themed Basket: various sports balls and sports equipment
- Kids Themed Baskets: have a boy themed basket and a girl themed basket with supplies and toys specific to the gender of the basket
- New Baby Basket: have a gender neutral basket or do a boy and girl basket filled with onsies, diapers, and baby toys.
- School Supply Basket: pencils, crayons, folders, notebooks, glue, and even add in some “fun” supplies like Scentos
- Pet Themed Basket: have a cat themed basket and a dog themed basket for all the pet lovers at your school
- Arts and Crafts Themed Basket: watercolor paints, finger paints, color by number, construction paper
- Science Themed Basket: cheap at home science experiment kits, science themed puzzles, science games
- Coffee Basket: different types of coffee and unique creamers, gift certificate to Starbucks
- Sweet Treats Basket: a variety of sweets: chocolates, cookies, and hard candy
Some tips for implementing basket fundraisers:
- Take pictures of the completed baskets and send to the teachers via email to show the students and get them excited about the baskets.
- Hold a family night with the baskets lined up on tables with tickets for purchase.
- You could do a silent auction if you teach in an affluent area, however if you teach in a Title 1 school, I recommend selling raffle tickets for $1.
9. Tape a Teacher to the Wall
This one is all over Pinterest and is a definite hit with students. Have the students pay $1, $0.50, or even a $0.25 for a piece of tape. The students can buy their tape ahead of time or the day of the event. If ahead of time, I suggest having the teachers keep up with who has bought tape and distribute it to their specific classes on the scheduled day. On the day of the big event, the students can choose which teacher (if there are more than one) they would like to use their tape to tape to a wall.
10. Talent Show
Student talent shows can be a lot of fun and can also be a great opportunity to raise some funds for school activities. You could charge a reasonable price for an entry fee for students wishing to participate. My school did $1 for single entrants and $3 for groups. This can be done after school and the parents can be invited to watch. Hint: Have snacks available for the parents to purchase during the talent show to raise even more money.
What would you add to this list? Have you done any of these fundraising ideas successfully? Let me know in the comments.