High School Fundraising Ideas

We’ve looked at common problems for fundraising with teenagers, now let’s talk about high school fundraising ideas that work really well.

 Proven Fundraising Options

As Dr John Irvine says parents need other parents when their kids are in high school. That’s why social activities are good choices. They don’t have to be outrageously expensive black-tie dinners. Depending on the school community, you may want to go for a family event such as trivia nights or adults-only events like casino nights or comedy sit-down dinners.

“Our trivia night attracted 300 participants of all ages: tables of students; tables of parents; family tables. Entry was set at just $15 for adults and $10 for students, making it affordable. Refreshments (which were donated), raffles and a smattering of fun ‘opt-in and pay’ games added to our profit margin.”

High school P&C, Brisbane

  • Shopping tours can be popular mum-and-daughter affairs.
  • Custom-labelled wine is another proven success, although its marketing needs to be carefully approached.
  • Movie discount vouchers appeal, particularly if timed towards the end of the year when there’s a long summer of movies for all the family.

TIP: Check out which movie venues are ‘in’.

If the one offering the discount is not the favoured place to hang out, no amount of savings will encourage a teenager to support the fundraiser.

Win support from the ‘in’ crowd of students and the wannabees will follow.

TIP: Get the student leadership group onside.

If the P&C is raising money for something that will benefit students – like a pool refurb or a refitting of the school canteen – emphasise the ‘greater good’, the ‘what’s in it for them’.

Student-Driven Fundraising

Teens are passionate – and not just about the latest crush!

If their water polo team or footy team or drama club or music ensemble really needs something, they’ll get behind it. There’s something in it for them!

If disaster strikes and a charity puts out a call for support, teens respond. They see a way to make a difference. Introducing them to fundraising to achieve goals provides real-life skills such as:

  • community service
  • time management
  • business planning
  • marketing
  • money handling

Teens use product options (see the range from the Fundraising Directory) as high school fundraisers for one of two key reasons:

  1. business studies ventures; or
  2. cause-related fundraising

In either case, short product drives, are often the best fundraisers.

Direct sales or product drives – such as chocolates – mean buying a quantity of stock upfront (sometimes with delayed payment options) and selling it. Anticipated turnover is high; price low. These are impulse buys. Programs requiring orders to be taken and distributed require more time and organisation but there’s no upfront cost and no risk.

TIP: Incentivise!

Offer lunchtime pizza for the best class response.

Business studies venture

A product drive is ideal for a business studies venture that needs to be up and running quickly with a result within a term. Food is a sure-thing.

Cause-related high school fundraising ideas

Cause-related fundraising at high schools may include:

  • sports teams
  • music ensembles
  • drama groups
  • environment groups
  • social justice clubs.

Whatever the cause, these teens have focus. That focus still needs to be turned into a tangible SMART goal. Short-burst direct sales product drives work well for these teens with a purpose.

  • Food – particularly sweets and chocolates – are a winning choice; but not the only one to think about.
  • Custom-labelled water works well for sporting teams. It can be sold throughout a sports season at training and games – and off-season too.
  • Plants or enviro-friendly products, for example, reinforce an environment group’s purpose.
  • A walk-a-thon may suit a sports group – or be used to highlight a social justice issue.
  • Piggyback fundraising off an event – like a school dance – and sell fun glow products. You can make up to 300% profit selling them! How? Check out my e-book on glow products as fundraisers! Find more ideas in my free cause-related fundraising e-book.

“Our school has a policy of not fundraising for our own benefit. The Victorian bushfires were close to us – most of the school community knew someone affected – and we held a book drive for another, small public, school that had been burnt down.I worked with the library captains in every class and involved the students in selecting books. As a follow-up, I put a notice in the newsletter thanking “everyone” without naming names and created personalised thank-you cards that were attached to every order. In this way, everyone’s support was acknowledged without breaching anyone’s privacy.”

Marissa, fundraising coordinator, Ivanhoe, Victoria

Now you’ve settled on fundraising ideas for your high school, the next article in this series shows how to set a good fundraising calendar so everyone will turn up!

Next article: How to Plan Your Fundraising Calendar

Mandy Weidmann is Australia’s ‘Fundraising Whisperer’ – publisher of the Fundraising Directory and author of the Practical Fundraising Handbook for School and Club Volunteers. Mandy believes that parent volunteers shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time and is passionate about providing resources to make fundraising easier (and more fun).

Follow the Fundraising Whisperer Facebook page to take part in great information sharing with Australia’s school and club volunteers. 

Originally published 25 September, 2017

You might also be interested in: