17 of the Best School Fundraiser Ideas

While I was writing the last post about what my department does to raise money, I was dabbling in some research via Pinterest. I realized it might be useful to hear my ideas, but it would be even more helpful to have a complete list of ideas for all kinds of school and departments, not just the theatre. So here's my round up of 17 ideas I found that I think would be incredible fund raisers for your school and organizations. 

1. Pancake Breakfast

This article from fundraiserhelp.com outlines how to do a Pancake fundraiser. It seems pretty easy and fun as well as a great way to open up conversation between your group and the community. 

2. Duct Tape Fundraiser

This could be one of my favorite ideas. While I've never done it, it seems like a really inventive and creative way to boost morale and raise some money. You choose a willing participant, either a teacher or administrator. I hear principals make the most exciting targets for this game. You then sell strips of duct tape for a dollar a piece to students to get to tape the [principal] to a wall in a very visible area of school. The first strips won't do much, but as the tape (and money) adds up, the [principal] will be suspended on the wall! I think it would be an easy task to convince kids to do this. 

3. Character Meal

I got this idea from the Ultimate Donations Blog. It seems like a great idea when you're doing a costume-heavy show. While the logistics could get complicated, the idea is pretty simple: invite people to a donation-based meal with their favorite characters from the upcoming show. Students have to stay in character and mingle with guests as their stage persona. This could also be a fun character building exercise for your actors!

4. Silent Auctions

These are a classic standby for fundraising. The best and most profitable way to source items is to negotiate their donation from local businesses. A restaurant can donate a free lunch. A little boutique can donate a piece of jewelry. A car wash can donate a free wash. Try to make deals on something that won't cost them too much money. They'll be much more likely to participate that way. 

5. Cookbooks

I outlined this fundraiser in my Arts Department Fundraising post. Basically, you ask your students to get the best family recipes and you compile them into a cookbook. Use your students as labor on typing and binding the books. You can even add a theme based on your organization!

6. Wine Pull

Now, I'm not really suggesting you do a fundraiser with alcohol. But I know wine pull is a recognizable name for this type of fundraiser. So it's not about the wine, but the process. You gather prizes (mostly cheap) with a few big fancy ones. It's easy to do gift cards; maybe a couple dozen $5 iTunes gift cards with a couple $50 or $100 cards. You package all these up in the exact same little box or bag. You then charge every participant a blanket fee to be able to choose a product. It can be just $10 or up to $100 on some larger scales. They choose their box at random and see what they got. A couple will be lucky enough to get the big prizes, but a prize is still guaranteed to everyone so it's a great crowd-pleaser. 

8. Talent Show

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Find your groups or individuals willing to participate, charge money to attend and let the laughs begin. I find the best way to ensure a crowd of students will show up is to recruit teachers and administrators. When a shy, reserved physics teacher promises to perform :"Don't Stop Believin'"the students will come. 

9. Jails and Bails

This one also came from Ultimate Donations. They're pretty creative over there. The idea is to "arrest" someone of interest. You probably want to do this at a larger event, maybe a ballgame or town parade. When you arrest this person, a pot of money is started to bail them out. At the same time, a pot is created to keep them in jail. The amounts grow as people try to keep someone behind bars or help them escape. This would be great for a principal at a football game. Give them a fake little jail cell to sit in by the front gate and let everyone pass by and donate on the spot. 

10. Movie Night

We actually haven't done this one since I was in high school. And that was a while ago! I hope it gets resurrected. We would wait until the home football games were over to start this one. The maintenance team would put up a big white sheet on the goal posts of the football field. We would then project a family-friendly movie up there for anyone willing to pay for a ticket. People can bring their blankets and snacks. It'd be a great night to keep the concession stand open late. It was a fun way to hang out and I know parents liked knowing where their kids were late at night. 

11. Advanced Screening Movies

This one is definitely too cool to be my own idea. I got it here and they can explain it more in detail. But to sum it up: You arrange for your school to get to host a special advanced screening of an upcoming movie. You work with the movie distributor to promote ticket sales and raise money. You can sell your own snacks, popcorn and drinks at the movie. Bam! You've got a really fun event for everyone. This one is especially appealing to schools like mine where the nearest movie theatre is about 40 miles away. 

12. Costume Party/Halloween Movie Showing

This one works well if you've got a theatre that can also screen movies. I want to try this one this year. The general premise is to invite high school and junior high kids to the theatre on Halloween night. Most of them are too old (or too cool) to trick or treat anymore but need something to do. Invite them to come in costumes and watch a scary movie together. It's an easy sell to parents to keep their kids safely entertained at the school theatre on Halloween night. 

13. Theatre Camp

I know I'm leaning towards my department here, but bear with me! It's what I'm good at! I haven't done this one in a while, but I'm hoping to train up a few upper-classmen and make this one happen next summer. Basically, you run a theatre day-camp out of your classroom. You need to plan out food for your staff, goodies, activities, pricing, etc. but it can be a very profitable fundraiser if you have dedicated theatre students willing to work for free!

14. Social Media Contest

This idea is still in the works for me. But here's where I'm at right now. You collaborate with area businesses to agree to donate one dollar for every Instagram/Twitter/Facebook post about their business. It has to be a picture associated with the business and cannot be a repeat. You group students into teams, perhaps Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors. With each post, they have to add a hashtag stating what team they are on. (#Fish, #Soph, #Jr, #Sr) They all compete to see who will get the most posts. By posting, the student will have to patronize the business, garnering them more business. With each interaction, your fundraiser gets more money. At the end, the group with the most posts gets a pizza party or a similar prize. 

15. Trivia Night

I think this would work best at an already-established event. The best option at our school is a football game. You'll need a microphone and sound system, trivia, tables and chairs to seat everyone and paper for them to fill in their answers. Gather trivia on family friendly topics. You could make it themed, like movies or history, or do a random assortment of everything. To participate, you pay a fee to join and groups are made. Get a student volunteer who isn't afraid of public speaking to read off the questions. Team will turn in their answers at the end of the game and whoever wins gets a prize. We like to make this prize fairly substantial since people might be missing their football game to play (heaven forbid). 

16. Fan Fundraiser

I don't know where you live, but here in Texas, it is HOT. When it rolls around to football season and people start throwing the world "fall" around, we're still suffering 110 degrees with 90% humidity. Here's where your entrepreneurial/fundraiser spirit comes in handy. Create cheap, quick fans to sell at the football games. You know the ones. A big square of card stock with a tongue depressor stapled to it. You can take it a step further by selling the space on the fan to local businesses. Or you can use this space to advertise your next show! 

17. Face Painting

We've done this for years at the homecoming football game. Kids love having their faces painted, especially when school spirit is high at a homecoming game. This is a good time to pull your resources from your art classes. If you can swing it, use their supplies and artistically inclined students to do the painting. And remember, your work is your advertisement here! So make the first customers happy and the rest will come running.

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Have you used any of these ideas to fundraise? Do you have even better ideas we don't know about? Tell us! We're dying to know. Comment down below to share how you make the most of fundraisers at your school.


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