School Fundraising Ideas to Inspire

Choosing the right fundraising idea for your school is the first step to success.

One fundraiser a term is ideal, particularly if you mix it up. We suggest a variety of activities. For example:

  • product drive
  • spell-a-thon or walk-a-thon
  • Mother’s Day or Father’s Day activity
  • family day or fete

Your Fundraising Report Card will tell you what has worked in the past. You’ll also see if a golden oldie has become a little tired and needs either some  revitalisation or a rest.

Don’t know about the Fundraising Report Card? It’s a simple document to help you review the effectiveness of each activity you run. It could become part of your Fundraising Handover Manual, to give next year’s fundraisers an idea of what works and what doesn’t. We now include Fundraising Report Card templates in our Fundraising Directory and have them available to download.

Spoilt for choice: deciding on the fundraiser that’s best for your school

Browse the Fundraising Directory and you’ll see 37 (!) distinct categories of products offered for fundraising either as product drives, party plans, events, or spur-of-the moment spends.

Your job as a fundraising committee is to identify what will work best for your unique market. Answering the following questions may help shortlist your options:

  1. How quickly do you need to meet your financial goal?
  2. Do you want an event or a sales program? (You’ll find terrific practical tips on how to run a fete one of our other great sites, – many principles cross over to other community-based events).
  3. When will this fundraiser run? For example, chocolates are best sold in cooler months in Australia to avoid gooey messes ruining your profits.
  4. Who you can target to support your cause? Can you cash in by offering a fundraiser that interests people beyond your school? It’s great when neighbours, relatives and colleagues are willing to dig into their pockets!
  5. If you’re selling, who forms your sales team?
  6. In choosing a product to sell, is it affordable for your market?
  7. Just as importantly, does the product reflect your school’s values?

“Money’s tight. I have found day-to-day purchases turned into fundraisers don’t burn a hole in the budget. They simply require a change in where the ‘spend’ happens.”

Marisa, parent, Newcastle

Deciding on an event or a product drive

“I never have any trouble selling chocolates for my daughters’ school. Even on night duty – especially on night duty! – the chocolates are gobbled up.”

Todd, Doctor

Remember my suggested calendar of four events; one per term. It looked like this:

  • product drive
  • spell-a-thon or walk-a-thon
  • Mother’s Day or Father’s Day activity
  • family day or fete

Let’s narrow down the selection of school fundraising ideas a bit more. Product drives are either direct sales, order-based or online. They’re best run as short sharp campaigns of two to three weeks’ duration.

Direct sales has the advantage of stock ready to sell now. People see, people buy! Lollies and chocolates are very popular. Custom-labelled water is a great one, particularly when linked to events like swim carnivals, sports days and fetes. But you usually have to pay upfront. What if you don’t sell all your stock? Unsold cartons of product equal lost profit. Order carefully – you can always get more later, and ask about your fundraising company’s return policy.

Thought! I’m all for teaching our kids healthy eating habits. It’s seen in the choice of foods available at school canteens or tuckshops. Having a chocolate or lolly drive may cause concerns. Read some tips about how to manage this issue the great sweet debate in my article for Parent Talk.

Order-based programs do not carry the risk of excess stock, however they  require lead time to get order forms out, provide a chance for prospective buyers to look and consider their choices and then return the forms – and money on time. Like anything worthwhile, it does take persistence. Food items like baked goods and cookie dough, books, toys, custom-labelled wine, spring bulbs, photography and products made with children’s art are just some of the products that sell well this way.

Thought! Has your school started up an environmental group? Inspire the next generation to be green thumbs, growing their own veggies and raise funds for a school greenhouse at the same time!

Online sales programs are emerging fundraisers with potential to save time and money. They’re likely to be big in the future. Keep an open mind to them, particularly if your goal is a long-term one, not something that needs to be achieved this term or year.

So! You’ve chosen your fundraisers…now it’s time to plan your calendar!

Next article: Planning Your School Fundraising Calendar


Originally published 14 September, 2015

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