Fundraising in high school is a very different experience than fundraising in primary schools. Parents tend to play a much smaller role and the all-important ‘cool’ factor becomes a major consideration.
One thing high school students have in droves is passion – and if students feel passionate about something – whether it is saving the pandas or refurbishing the school canteen – you will struggle to stop their enthusiasm.
Control is also top of the list – let the students make the final decision about how they will raise funds, and you will get a greater level of involvement. The school admin or P&C can make a shortlist of options, but ultimately it should be left up to the students to decide.
Lunch Time Markets
Depending on the size of your high school you can run a single market stall weekly during the year, or have a bigger event with multiple stalls once each term.
Allocate each class or year group for one week where they are responsible for organising and manning the stall each term. This can be tied into any number of classes from maths, social sciences, economics and vocational trades.
The stalls can be the same each week (such as icy poles in summer or hot soup in winter) or something different each week.
- Icy Poles come in a range of exotic flavours, and will be as popular with the teachers as the students.
- Hot Soup: make up huge batches of pumpkin soup, chicken and noodle, minestrone or other favourite flavours and serve in cups over the cold winter months.
- Gourmet hot chocolate: another winter favourite and you can offer a variety of flavours each week such as cinnamon, white chocolate or chilli.
- Sausage sizzle – what Aussie kid doesn’t like a sausage in a bun?
Quiz and Bingo Nights
It’s common for these events to be limited to parents, but there is no reason why they can’t be opened up to high school students (just be mindful of selling alcohol). You can sell tables to family groups, or more likely tables of adults and tables of students. A bit of friendly competition never hurt anyone.
For quiz nights, consider having alternate rounds of questions designed by students and adults, working to a theme, such as a colour (each answer must involve the word ‘black’ or ‘red’ etc in it) or decades (questions must revolve around events or trends from a particular decade in history).
If you think families are spending ridiculous amounts of money on formal dresses and suits, then the Op-Shop Ball is a fun way to reduce spending and some of the money people save on their outfits can be donated to the fundraiser. Encourage students to post photos of them shopping for outfits in the lead up to the event to create excitement and award prizes for the best/cheapest/most outrageous outfits.
Whether the graduatingl class want to run their own exclusive disco and hold it for the entire school, they will have fun choosing a unique theme from my 50+ Best Themes for a School Disco.
DIY Themed Cookbooks
A literacy based fundraiser such as having the senior students write and publish their own recipe book is not only fun but also provides a lasting (and practical) keepsake of their time at the school.
Themes for a recipe book could be: ‘Easy recipes for poor uni students’; ‘Party food and nibbles’; ‘Entertaining on a budget’, ‘Cooking for vegan housemates’, ‘How to boil an egg and other easy recipes’ – the possibilities are endless.
Forget handprints and portrait tea towels, by the time kids are in high school they want something more dramatic. Expressions offer full-colour digital printing on their quality tea towels which means that students can get prints of their incredible artwork. Whether it’s something done in class, their own doodles or comic strips or just a teen angsty self-portrait, artwork tea towels offer high school students the chance to express themselves through their art.
Frozen Cookie Dough
Running a cookie dough fundraiser is lots of fun and an exercise in marketing and logistics – perfect for a group of senior students. While the dough practically sells itself, distribution of hundreds of frozen tubs of dough can be challenging, and the ‘pick-up’ could easily be integrated into another event or fundraiser.
Themed Fun Run
Not everything has to be about food, and any fundraiser that gets kids outdoors is always going to be well received. By the time a student has finished high school, they have probably participated in a dozen fun runs so it is important to make a high school fun run something different and special.
Adding a theme – the crazier the better –will help boost participation rates and you are only limited by your imagination – try superheroes and villains, dress-like-a-teacher, what I want to be when I grow up, dress like your favourite food, stiletto run, bad taste t-shirts, or bogans and businessmen..
A movie marathon can cater to all age groups – start the evening early with a G-rated film for younger siblings and community members, and then as the night progresses movies can be chosen to suit older audiences, as younger kids head home. You can hire inflatable movie screens for films under the stars, or organise an indoor theatre in the school gym during winter complete with beanbags and pillows.
There are plenty of options for concurrent fundraising such as selling popcorn, icy poles, cupcakes and glow sticks.
A simple and effective high school fundraiser, selling scratch’n’help cards requires lots of people, with lots of motivation and little else. Suited to older students who are willing to approach strangers the donor simply scratches one or more circles from the card, revealing an amount (from 50c to $3) they must donate. These cards would work well in conjunction with other events such as school or community festivals or markets.
Author: Shannon Meyerkort
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