Fundraising Ideas for Remote or Rural Schools

Remote and rural school locations often have two disadvantages when it comes to fundraising. Firstly, their community (and therefore donor base) can be quite small and secondly, vast distances can make certain events untenable, and postage costs prohibitive. Here are some fundraising ideas suitable for groups in remote locations.

Do-it-yourself events

There are a number of events that you can run within your school to raise funds, and many of these ideas work well for smaller rural schools.

School Fun RunsYou can host a read-a-thon or Fun Run within the school, and ask the students to get people to sponsor them for each book they read or lap they run. You can organise this event yourself, or out-source the organisation to professionals and take advantage of their experience and ability to provide incentive prizes and support packs.

If you want to broaden your community appeal, run a dog walk-a-thon or another pet-themed fundraiser which allows for a number of smaller fundraisers to be run concurrently. Adding a pet or livestock show could be a great way to start a new annual fundraiser for your town or community. If you create a large community event, selling kites is a fun way to get everyone active and outdoors.

Adding a Side Show Alley to your rural school fete or at a local famers’ market is a fun way to raise money, easy to set up and hugely popular with the kids.

There are plenty of interesting and original alternatives to the standard ‘free dress day’ fundraiser, and they are simple to arrange and can become a highlight of each term.

Hosting an Expo is a popular event for communities where there are a lot of parents operating their own businesses at home, in particular party plans, which might struggle to find new markets in a small town. By charging each business a fee to attend the evening, and combining it with other fundraising programs such as a cake stall or raffles, visitors to the Expo can experience a range of products in the one place, without the pressure people may feel by attending a party. Ask businesses to either donate some products to go into a hamper which can be raffled, or consider a 10% donation based on sales made during the expo.

Quiz Night can be a night to remember, and by inviting the entire community it can not only become a profitable fundraiser but a regular feature on the town calendar. Click here for some top tips on running a Quiz Night and you will also find some easy games you can add to the night to raise extra cash such as the 50/50 raffle and the one minute treasure huntAsk local businesses to provide prizes to be raffled or auctioned on the night in return for publicity or free tickets to the event

Products you can sell in small communities

Any fundraising products you sell in a rural school community must have universal appeal in order to maximise your potential for sales.

Make a community cook book full of local history and secret recipesYou can host a Community Cook Book and ask members of the school and local community to provide recipes which are then printed into a keepsake recipe book. Encourage locals to give up family secrets in the name of raising money for your school and promote it as a special piece of local history and memorabilia. The book is formatted and uploaded online and you can add photographs, maps, drawings and other images. The published books would be sent to your school for distribution, but you could always combine this with a special morning tea or cake stall fundraiser (ask contributors to cook their recipes and bring it along to the Book Launch).

For rural school communities where fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive or hard to come by, fundraising seed kits may be a popular option. There are a variety of kits available including herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables and they can be planted directly in the bags/tins, and if you select just the herb and flower options, they do not require any outdoor garden space.

Jolly Soles socks for fundraising


Everyone needs socks regardless of whether you are in a remote farming community or high in the mountain ranges. Jolly Soles provides boxes of mixed socks which suitable for everyone from kids to adults in a variety of styles. The sale price is low ($4) while the profit per box is generous ($20). With a long shelf-life, and highly practical, socks are a great fundraiser that is suitable for any community.


Online crowd funding platforms

If your rural school has a defined project they wish to raise money for such as needing to replace the roof on the assembly area, or building a community garden, then using a crowd funding platform can help you bring in donations from much further afield than the local community.

There are a number of platforms available in Australia such as EveryDay Hero and Go Fund Me, where you can build a fundraising page explaining your project and how much you need to raise. The link can then be shared via social media and newsletters to inform people about the project and seek donations. While the project itself may be limited to the local community – the fundraising is done remotely and can attract sponsors from across the country (and the globe).

While there is usually a set fee (around 6.5% of each donation), all the money is handled by the websites, receipts are automatically sent and there is no need to handle cash. At the end of the fundraising period, the money is simply deposited in the school’s bank account.

Click here to read more about crowd sourcing and learn about projects that other Australian schools have completed using online fundraising.

PLEASE NOTE: If your school has an ICSEA Score below 1,000 you are eligible to use the special crowdfunding platform Fundraise Yourself which is supported by Schools Plus. This was developed in line with the Gonkski review to bring more opportunities to disadvantaged schools. It is the only platform designed specifically for schools and thanks to Schools Plus’ Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR1) status, all donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible. Learn more here: 

Passive fundraising ideas

Woolworths Earn and Learn Remote schools are encourage to register or the annual Woolworths Earn and Learn program, even if their nearest store is 4+ hours away. Boxes are set aside in all Woolworths stores specifically for remote schools, with the stickers donated donated equally between registered schools. Learn more about Earn and Learn here

Cashback fundraising is when you shop online at various shops including The Book Depository and Dan Murphys to Intaflora, Adairs and Adultshop, and a percentage of your sale is donated back to your fundraiser. There are a number of cashback fundraising sites in Australia including ShopNate and CashRewards Community. Schools and charity groups can nominate to be a recipient so that every time one of their supporters buys something online, money is credited to your fundraising account. Each sites offers a slightly different % cashback (usually between 0.5%-15%), and the shops they include also vary, so it’s important to have a look at which sites serves you best.

The sheer number of online shops associated with cashback fundraising sites means that even a small community will have many shopping options. And since the individual businesses are responsible for shipping purchases, you never need to worry about handling and distribution.

Click here to find out more about passive fundraising with cashback fundraising.

Author: Shannon Meyerkort

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