We need to do one large fundraiser for the year – what is the best option?

Reader question:

The school council has told us to stop doing little fundraisers through the year and just do one big one. Other than a fete, I don’t know what we can do! We do not have the support from other parents or the school to run a fete in my opinion. All ideas welcome!

Here are some suggestions from our Facebook community for a big annual fundraiser:

  • We do a Themed Trivia Night. It started small but after 4 years we have a following. We still do a pie drive, raffles, stalls for parents and special lunches.
  • Our Bush Dance raised almost as much as our fete. And it was a whole lot easier to organise a Bush Dance. We charged entry, had food and drinks, a bucking bull, jumping castle and bar. Small costs for a huge return. We even asked families to donate money for hay bales, which we later donated to a local horse community organisation. The families have heaps of fun too. Highly recommend it.
  • We held an art night where every child made a piece of special art and the parents purchased it. We made class pieces and auctioned them off. We also sold food and drink deals for the night. We held a raffle and sold books of tickets and had prizes donated by local and online businesses in return for advertising.
  • Trivia night with each class painting a class canvas to be auctioned. We have made $10-$15K from these nights with a school of 800.
  • Quiz or Bingo night as a social Fun Night for parents and community (although it is lots of work).
  • We just ran our first black-tie ball. Was a smash hit in our small community, raising $17,500.
  • Dancing night – a recent Bollywood themed night sold out in days. Ideal if you are a school with a large Indian community – they love to dance and share their culture.
  • Our major fundraiser is a carols night. We have local bands provide Christmas carols and the students all get up and sing. We sell glow products, drinks, tea coffee, lollies, sausage sandwich, raffles, Santa makes an appearance. The major drawcard is an awesome fireworks display with gold coin entry. The whole local community supports us once a year because it’s become known to be a great family event and last year the attendance was around 2,000. It does however, take many helpers and all year in planning…

Here are some thoughts from one reader:

  • I’d suggest going back to the good old fete, it’s such a money spinner. If you get it right the first time, you’ll be able to dictate things from there. Import rides and food trucks to make it easier on yourself. Keep in mind that the kids will be happy with any fete, so focus on the parents (that’s where the cash comes from.) Have plenty of seating, entertainment, seating, food and drink choices, and don’t forget seating! If you could have one aim, keep the parents happy and hanging around all day.
  • Have a casual clothes day beforehand where the kids have to bring a fete thing in return for non-uniform – lollies, lucky dip item, chocolate block, $2 coin. Do it on a Monday so as not to clash with the school calendar – Monday Fun Day! Draw the children in so they are emotionally invested, the parents will have no choice but to follow. Ie, run a competition for the best billboard ad. Madly spruik the fete at assemblies to get the kids really into it.
  • Lastly, make sure you are marketing well to the different streams – parents, kids, oldies, local kinder families, local workers etc. Don’t isolate your marketing just to school families.

A few readers suggested a sponsored walk or run:

  • Lapathon (super easy). Kids run around the oval to a maximum of 30 laps, they get sponsored by family/friends per lap or a set amount and collect their money after the event. Teachers keep track of their laps with a little scorecard. Parents hang around with water guns, have icy poles for afterwards. We recently had one for a 220 kid school and have raised $3,700 as of today. Way too easy! Some photocopying and forms sent out and then the small logistics on the day and then the treasurer counting the money and banking it!
  • Mud runs are fun.
  • Fun run / lapathon ….. Very little work required … No food ….. Need loud music, a space to move, a few prizes & a few parent volunteers. Everyone has a great time!
  • We did colour Fun Run, had good success.
  • Our school has a river walk. They get sponsored to walk so many KMs. They get certain prizes for the amount they raise as an incentive. We don’t have a fete and this advertises good health and exercise.
  • Walkathon or any other ‘athons’ are always easy and make good money.


  • What about a big Christmas raffle? Gives you all year to organize and get donations.
  • Major raffle for a holiday.
  • Sometimes it’s not just about making money it’s about the kids having fun and parents meeting other parents.
  • Cake-less cake stall fundraiser is good. You send home an envelope with the instructions on the front. What your raising money for and they can put a donation inside the envelope to the value of what they would have spent to make the cake or buy it from the stall. They can put in more if they wish. This works well as people seem to be so busy these days.
  • One reader shared this image as an alternative (But this may not be everyone’s cup of tea):


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