Being in charge of fundraising can be a tough job with many challenges. But it’s so rewarding when something you have planned is successful and raises money to help our precious students and school.
It’s important to start now and plan out your fundraising year. Put thought into what you’ll do so you aren’t bombarding the community with tons of fundraisers all year long. Choose a few main ones and execute them well. If you find yourself in a rut, and are looking for new fundraising ideas, we have you covered!
Membership Toolkit works with more than 2,000 PTAs, PTOs, and Booster Clubs and has assisted with thousands of fundraisers over the years. Here are a few of our favorites and how to pull them off.
Planning a Successful Fundraising Year
44 Fundraising Ideas
• for Parents/Adults
• Top Fundraising Ideas
• for Middle/High School
• Classic Fundraisers
Online Auctions for Your PTA’s Fundraiser
Hosting an In-Person Auction for Your PTA
Corporate Sponsors for Your PTA
PTA Fundraisers: Planning a Successful Fundraising Year
So you have volunteered for the Fundraising Committee for your organization. First of all, thank you! Volunteers like you are essential to making big things happen. If it’s your first time being on a committee or specifically a fundraising committee, we have some helpful hints as you plan your year.
Work Toward Your Fundraising Goals
Be specific about what you’re wanting to accomplish or purchase for your group this year. Before planning each event, make smaller goals to support your long-term ones. Be sure to promote these goals in the community and among your members. Parents are more likely to participate in fundraising if they know specifically where their money is going.
Use the 3-1 Fundraising Rule
For every fundraiser, there should be 3 non-fundraising events that have some value or enrichment for your members. This can prevent “fundraising fatigue” and actually help support your goals. If you’re fundraising for new Promethean boards, have a speaker do a demo on how one works.
Other examples for non-fundraising events are hosting speakers at a meetings, having students give parents a tutorial on social media, having educational assemblies, or hosting workshops on topics like Common Core.
Sometimes your events should just be opportunities to come together as a community to have fun and get to know one another.
Choose Fundraising Products and/or Companies Wisely
Make sure that the products you choose to sell are of good value and beneficial to your families. Your fundraising events should reflect your organization’s values and goals and always provide some sort of enrichment for your members.
If you choose to go with a fundraising company, check references and make sure they are reputable and fair. Make sure to understand upfront how much of the money will go back to the company, you’ll often find it is substantial.
Keep It Simple
Communicate your fundraising ideas or details for events with members early and often. Make your events easy to participate in–confusing instructions could keep some families from participating. Members also may lose interest if an event is too drawn out over a long period of time.
Don't Overwhelm Your Members
Having too many events can leave members feeling nickeled and dimed. They may get wary of all the “extra” events that come with joining your organization. As long as the events you hold offer some enrichment and the products you choose to sell have good value, you’re doing good!
Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!
A fundraising committee is not made up of one person; or even two people. Make sure to involve as many volunteers as possible. Be specific about roles you need filled and don’t be afraid to approach others to ask for help. Often, your members want to help but might not know how to.
Change Up Your Fundraisers From Year to Year
Easier said than done, right? Sometimes it’s nice to stick with safe, tried-and-true fundraisers but that can get a little boring from year to year. We have a list of 101 Fundraising Ideas to help you get out of your rut. Download it for free, print it, and take it to your next meeting.
GET INSPIRED! OUR FAVORITE FUNDRAISING IDEAS FROM OUR FAVORITE FUNDRAISING MAVENS.
Start Strong With a Fun Kickoff Event
Always have a fun family kickoff event idea that will help new members get introduced to your group and returning families to catch up with friends. Choose something new from our 101 Fundraising Ideas!
With a little planning, your team can pull off a few fun, successful fundraisers to help bring programs to your school and build your community of families.
44 Fundraising Ideas
Now to the good stuff! If you’ve gotten complacent with your fundraising ideas and things have become a bit stale, why not choose a new fundraising event to try this year. Here are 44 of our favorites – we’ve broken our ideas into categories that are helpful, but any of these can be adapted to any age group.
Fundraising Ideas for Parents/Adults
1. Home/Garden Tour
If you have families who live in a notable neighborhood, consider planning a home or garden tour. Charge admission for the tour and ask students to act as hosts.
Toolkit Tip: Reach out to local Food Trucks that can set up at each stop and have a portion of their sales donated back to your PTA/PTO. Two ways/one night of fundraising.
2. Adult Recess
Kickball anyone? What could be better than a little friendly competition among teachers, staff, and parents! Form two teams — teachers and staff versus parents — and let some good-natured rivalry begin. This can be turned into not just kickball, but basketball, softball, tetherball…foursquare! How much would the kids love to see this happen and all to benefit their school? Advertise the game by spotlighting the players in the weeks leading up to the event in the PTA/PTO newsletter, and don’t forget a pep rally! Set up a concession stand or host local food trucks. Proceeds from ticket and food sales go to the parent teacher organization.
Toolkit Tip: Don’t have enough teachers to play? Use the school grounds and turn it into a Families vs. Families event.
3. Parents’ Night Out
Who couldn’t use a little alone time? Plan a fun night for the kiddos with games, food, and a movie and send parents off to enjoy a few hours of freedom. Charge a set price for the entire evening. The kids will come home tired and the parents happy. Win-win!
Toolkit Tip: Pair this with a dine-out fundraiser at a local restaurant so you can get a percentage of the dine-out sales.
Tip #2: Host this event during the holidays. Your parents will thank you for the opportunity so they can get their “to-do” list done.
4. Parent Spelling Bee
Give this classic children’s competition a twist and ask parents to pay an entry fee for a chance to win bragging rights! Recruit judges and a few celebrity hosts (principals and teachers are great for this). Ask a few students to help run the event. Pair this with a gourmet coffee stand and bake sale.
Toolkit Tip: Reach out to your local high school for volunteers. Many students need a required set of volunteer hours from nonprofits for various clubs they are in or certificates they are looking to achieve.
5. Yard Sale
Turn your field into a community yard sale. Start gathering donations from parents, teachers, and staff at least two months in advance and be sure to secure a location to store the goods before the big day. Promote the sale in school emails, social media, and nearby neighborhoods. Remember, your city might require a permit for the sale.
Toolkit Tip: If you don’t have the manpower to oversee this, check your local thrift stores. A lot of them will offer a sliding scale of donation per weight. You gather the goods and they will weigh it and write you a check.
6. Private Chef Dinner
Reach out to a local private chef and host an evening of culinary delights. Host at a home or an open space and charge per seat.
Toolkit Tip: Up and coming chefs/caterers need to build their portfolio. So, not only will they give you a price break, they will do their best to make it an evening to remember. Offer to tag them and their company on social media. It’s a win-win!
Tip #2: Make it a Moms’ Night Out. What mom doesn’t need to be made and served dinner?
7. Wine and Paint/DIY Night
Mix your creative side with a glass of red or white, and create a fun opportunity to bring in some dollars. Work with a local company or ask a parent or staff member to lead the class. Charge each budding artist a fee to participate and don’t forget to factor in the cost of supplies and instructional fees. The city skyline, school, or mascot are some popular pictures ideas. Flower arrangements, DIY wood projects, or charcuterie boards work well, too.
Toolkit Tip: Setting this up around a holiday or Mother’s Day is a sure win.
8. Shred Fest/Electronic Waste
Everyone has old phones, computers, receipts, bills, and other personal documents taking up valuable space in drawers and filing cabinets. Charge a flat fee and host a sensitive document disposal day. Invite parents, faculty, and staff to safely dispose of papers containing social security numbers, account balances, addresses, etc. This event can pair well with Earth Day activities.
Toolkit Tip: Check your local City Council or Chamber of Commerce to co-host with you. Use their resources for an easy event.
9. Date Night
Check your local comedy clubs and event centers for an opportunity to host a mom and dad date night. The Improv will give a percentage of sales if you host a night out. Why not think outside the box and see who else will?
Toolkit Tip: Bowling alleys, wine shops, and DIY craft stores are all businesses often looking for new ways to bring in new clientele.
10. Fresh Produce Delivery
Parents are always looking to bring fresh produce to their families. Many local farms offer weekly/monthly delivery subscriptions and they love working with nonprofits for fundraisers. Reach out to your local farms and partner with them on a set percentage of sales to be donated back to your parent organization. Farms will embrace the opportunity to advertise, and your families will appreciate the healthy lifestyle you are promoting.
Toolkit Tip: Set up different holiday fundraisers for gifting these deliveries to family and friends.
11. Gala/Casino Night
Get dressed up and have a night out for a good cause! Dinner, dancing, photos, and casino games for raffle tickets will keep everyone entertained. It’s always a fun night when parents, teachers, principals, and community leaders get together all for the sake of the kids. Plus, it’s just a fun night out. Secure a venue, grab a DJ (usually, there is at least one parent that does this on the side), and include a photo booth, nibbles, or sit-down dinner. This is another one that can be as big or small as you like. You can also add a silent or live auction (see our auction tips below), raffle, and buy-it-now gift card wall. Reach out to your local community for donations.
Toolkit Tip: Gift your teachers free entry for them and a guest to entice them to come. The more attending, the more bidders/gamblers.
Top Fundraising Ideas
12. Haunted House
Take advantage of the kooky, creepy month of October and invite the community to tour a haunted house or spooky trail. Include one version for little ones and another for those who appreciate a good fright. Enlist the help of teachers, parents, and students to play the role of ghosts, goblins, spiders, and spirits. Raise money through ticket sales and have apple cider, coffee, and candy at the ready for additional earning potential.
Toolkit Tip: Not enough volunteers to make this happen? Reach out to your local Scouts & High Schools’ Honor Societies. They are always looking for community projects and volunteer hours!
13. Chili Cookoff
Make fundraising a tasty experience. All you need is eight to ten chefs willing to whip up their famous chili recipe and a date on the calendar. Ask hungry parents and families to pay a fee to sample all the hot stew, and remind taste-testers to vote for the winner. The triumphant chili maker gets a trophy, bragging rights, and the good feeling that comes with cooking for a good cause.
Toolkit Tip: Make it a double-header and consider pairing with a junior chili cook off.
14. Workout Session
Have a parent who’s a yoga teacher or leads one heck of a boot camp? Ask your fitness gurus to host a workout session at the school. Take to the gym or field and charge parents and members of the community to sweat it out and get healthy for a good cause.
Toolkit Tip: Reach out to a local studio (Yoga, Pilates, etc…) and ask them to host a night where part of the proceeds get donated back to you. They’ll appreciate the advertising and you’ll raise some easy funds.
15. Movie Night
Have students vote on a family-friendly movie, then rent (or borrow) a large screen and projector. This is an easy one to hold outdoors at your school — just make sure to have a rain plan! Sell tickets for the movie and don’t forget the concession stand for hungry moviegoers.
Toolkit Tip: Call your local food trucks to set up shop and give you a percentage of their sales.
Tip #2: Reach out to your community park/rec centers. Most of them have a theater set-up and they’ll either charge you a bit to rent (or donate!), but they’ll set up and handle the movie insurance for you.
16. Trivia Night
Who is the king or queen of trivia at your school? There’s only one way to find out. Let teams of between two and ten people pay to enter the contest, then battle it out for a prize. You can set up two divisions: adults and students. Having your principal be the local celebrity host will make a great night’s success.
Toolkit Tip: If you do not have the space (or time!) to set up a trivia night, a lot of local restaurants already host trivia nights. Turn this into a parents’ night out and receive proceeds from the restaurant’s sales.
17. Family Talent Show
Grab mom, dad, brothers, and sisters and show off your community of families’ talented singers, comedians, dancers, poetry readers, and musicians with a talent show. This community event is a great way to show community spirit and raise money. If you want a more upscale event (and slightly higher ticket prices) consider including dinner with the entertainment.
Toolkit Tip: Record the evening’s show and sell for a small price for those that would like a recording (without audience’s heads in the way) or for those that couldn’t make it.
Host a fun night of family Bingo with a glow theme! Set up glow rooms, décor, and more for this fun family event. Sell Bingo cards and set giveaways as easy as candy, board games, and books.
Toolkit Tip: Set up a sweet concession stand and/or food trucks for extra profit.
19. Family Bowling Night
Secure private lanes for your families for a fun night of bowling. Charge a per-lane or per-bowler fee. Typically, bowling alleys will work with you on pricing so you can set your profit margin.
Toolkit Tip: Set up a basket auction or raffle during the night, as you have a captive audience.
20. Take Me Out to the Ball Game
If your school is in a city or town with a professional or semi-professional sports team, host a school spirit night and sell tickets to a game. A portion of the ticket proceeds go back to the school as well as a percentage of concession sales. To help bring in the crowd, ask if the students can do something special during the game like run the bases or sing the National Anthem.
Toolkit Tip: Bond with your community by setting up a “tailgate” BBQ before the big game.
21. Used Book Sale
Have your community donate used books for the sale then sort, categorize, and price. Host the sale in the media center or another central location and let the shopping begin. Schedule classes to visit the book sale, just like a regular book fair.
Toolkit Tip: Consider hosting this during your Back-to-School Night or Open House so you can get parent foot traffic as well as students.
22. Holiday Shop
This great fundraiser lets the smallest students participate. Ask grade-level and art teachers to help students create handmade crafts to include at the sale. Ask parents and teachers if they have any homemade items they can donate as well. Select a date for the one-day sale and do it right with holiday tunes and decorations. Parents, students, and members of the community can shop these unique gifts and cross some to-dos off the list.
Toolkit Tip: Pair this with your school’s winter concert for a nice flow of foot traffic. A hot cocoa booth can be an added plus.
Tip #2: Don’t have time to set up crafts with your teachers? Hit the dollar stores and clearance sections of big box shops for some great items that you can sell instead.
23. BBQ Drive Thru
Get the smokers ready and heat up your school’s fundraising with BBQ dinners on the run. Order BBQ and some fixings from a local restaurant or ask a few seasoned chefs to fire up the grill and make some ‘cue. Take dinner pre-orders up to three weeks before the big day, then be ready with plates of food, to-go boxes, and plastic utensils. Toolkit Tip: Pair this with a family campout and get your local scouts involved to help coordinate!
24. Ball Drop
Think of this as the most fun a raffle can get! Ping Pong balls are your “raffle tickets” and you recruit your local Fire Department. (Yes, they will come out for free. Coordinate with their community outreach coordinator.) Firefighters then raise their ladder and drop the balls from the top. Rope off the area and create a target (dig a small hole–a plastic cup works really well for this). Prizes given to a hole-in-one, closest to the target, and furthest from the target. You decide how much to sell the entries for and what the prizes are.
Toolkit Tip: Invite your community to view the drop and host a raffle of prizes with your participating audience.
25. Unconventional Art Sale
Every parent (and grandparent) loves to see their child’s work of art on the refrigerator, so expand the possibilities (and fundraising opportunities) to include a coffee mug, mouse pad, T-shirt, or beach towel. Many art companies will manage this process, making it an easy and fun way to earn a few extra dollars. Start early in the year (even summer) and ask art teachers to help students create a special work of art. Pair this activity with a theme such as school spirit, summer time, hobbies, or family. Several weeks after drawings are complete and sent off, parents will receive a catalog of items personalized with their child’s drawing.
Toolkit Tip: Time it right and this fundraiser will make the holiday gift-giving season a breeze.
Fundraising Ideas for Middle and High Schoolers
26. Yearbook/Marquee Shoutouts
Your organization has prime real estate at the back of every program, yearbook, and on your school’s marquee; space that can be used to raise important funds. Reach out to your admins to see if you can use the marquee throughout the year for birthday shout outs and charge a set amount for them. Don’t forget the programs for music & theater performances as well as shout outs during any sports games. Offering these throughout the year are an easy way to raise funds and bring some spirit to your community.
27. Pledge Drive
This oldie but goodie is a must for every school. Not only is it easy to do, it’s effective. Offering your parents an easy way to donate on your website throughout the year is a no brainer. Write a letter explaining why you need their support, how they can support, and where their support will go. Transparency goes a long way when you are trying to appeal to your members.
They are a rite of passage for middle and high school students and are so much fun! Create themes, get your Student Council involved and sell those tickets and concessions! Think about adding a dance-a-thon to the mix so your students can get pledges for how long they can last.
29. Color Runs
If you have the man-power, host a color run! Use an online platform so students can receive pledges and donations for their participation. Choose the right platform, and you can keep up to 95% of the funds you bring in! Have T-shirts made for the day of. Sell sunglasses or bandanas on sight so they can be used the day of for extra profit. Don’t forget to offer water, but also have shaved ice or cool drinks available for purchase. Color dust (it’s colored cornstarch-available on Amazon) is great to use in squeezable condiment bottles and as a parent you’ll get a kick out of how much fun it is to spray a bunch of tweens and teens with it. You’ll need all hands on deck for this one, but it’s worth the time and effort. It’ll bring in a good amount of money and it’s such a fun day!
30. Flock a Yard
This fun fundraiser is a great way to spread community spirit and make a profit. Lawn flamingos can be purchased pretty inexpensively on Amazon. Make a few yard signs and start promoting. $40 to flock someone, $40 to pass it on, and $10 for removal- you set your price. “Don’t get mad…get even” lawn signs come with each flocking. You’d be surprised at how long this event will last and how much money you can make. Have your team of “flockers” at the ready. Don’t forget to include a hashtag on your lawn sign so your community can tag you and your social media pages through their posted pics!
31. Candy Grams
Candy grams are still fun in middle and high school and you can change them up for every season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day—you can turn this into a kindness week, or teacher appreciation. There are lots of options!
Classic Fundraising Events
32. Matching Gifts
Easy money is always a good thing. Provide parents and potential donors with a list of employers that will match donations. This is also useful information to have on the fundraising page of your website. People may not know that their gift could double when the company match is added!
Toolkit Tip: Send a reminder letter out at the end of the calendar year reminding parents of this. Not only is donating to a nonprofit tax deductible for them, it’s also tax deductible for their employer.
33. Wall/Pathway Recognition
Show families you appreciate every dollar they donate by giving them a shout out on a school wall, banner, or walkway. Invite each family who helps raise funds to leave their mark on the school with their name, a quote, or picture.
Toolkit Tip: Reach out to a local artist and set up a designated mural for donation names and have each family sign their names as they donate. Not only will it beautify the campus, it will show how much support has been given over the years and inspire others to follow.
34. Change Wars
Teach students and parents that every penny, nickel, dime, and quarter counts when it comes to building up funds for the school. Put large change jars (water dispensers work well for this project) in each classroom and watch the money add up. Announce classroom winners and inspire some healthy competition.
Toolkit Tip: Don’t forget to take donation checks or pledges through your website, too! Healthy competition inspires some to give more than just change.
35. No Fuss Fundraiser
A lot of communities appreciate the idea of a “no fuss” fundraiser. They just want to know how much everything costs per student/per year and they will write a check to “forget their name”. This easy fundraiser is great to have up all year and invite parents to. If they still want to participate in the other fundraisers throughout the year, they are more than welcome to. But, if they don’t, they’re essentially “off the hook”.
Toolkit Tip: Always have a yearlong donate button on your website. Families are busy, especially at the beginning of the school year, so a little reminder now and then that you accept tax deductible donations throughout the year is an easy way to collect donations that might be forgotten.
This classic fundraiser has changed its look over the years but it’s still kicking! If you can swing it, run it yourself to save money and make more profit. Setting up prize tiers, gathering donations, and wrangling volunteers is a commitment, but worth every penny. Not only can you raise a lot of money with a jog-a-thon, you can build a tradition within your school and community that will grow year after year. Pick a different theme every year and get your room parents to gather their parents to tally, re-fill water bottles, and decorate canopies. This can be as big or small as you’d like.
Toolkit Tip: Having an online platform for donations will allow you to manage the details of this big event – having the right one, will allow you to keep up to 95% of your donations. Have medals for the top 2 classrooms or students that bring in the most donations, “guess how many laps the principal runs” for flat donations, and make sure to utilize email/ social media posts for donations.
Tip #2: Kids like prizes. Host a “prize day” for top earners and raffles for game truck or bowling with the principal. The possibilities are endless!
37. Fall/End-of-Year Festival
Hosting a festival can be a big undertaking, but it’s worth it. This family fun event will bond your community and there are many fundraising opportunities to be had within the festival. Sell wristbands for entry and make it a free-for-all or sell tickets per activity/game. Reach out to local businesses to set up booths and host games, a bake sale, and food trucks (for a portion of their sales). Get local scouts to set up and run a haunted house. Again, the opportunities are endless. Go big and combine this with a chili cook-off or another one of the above events. Toolkit Tip: This is the perfect place to wrangle those high school volunteers–face painting, extra set of jumpy house eyes, or tug-of-war refs; this is right up their alley.
38. Book Fair
How much did you love the book fair when you were a kid? The anticipation, getting to visit and “plan” what you were going to get? Kids and families alike still love a book fair and it’s an easy fundraiser to pull off. Pair your book fair with another event (like ‘Pastries with Parents’) to get even more attendance!
Toolkit Tip: Use Teacher Wish Lists to help teachers build their classroom libraries. And remember, the more books sold, the more rewards for your school.
39. Spirit Wear
School spirit wear is a long-standing tradition. It not only is a great tool for motivating and bonding a community together, it gives students a sense of pride and ownership. When a community wears their spirit wear, they are committing themselves to be successful. Not to mention, your organization can make some serious money. It’s a win-win! Here are some spirit wear ideas for your school to help make your spirit wear sales a year-long success!
40. Restaurant Dine Outs
No doubt—kids love to eat. Set up monthly restaurant nights that your community will enjoy. Mix it up with dessert places, dinner, and lunches during modified days. Don’t forget to throw in a couple of date night options for your parents who always need a break and will thank you for thinking of it.
41. Amazon Smile
Everyone is shopping online these days and a lot are shopping on Amazon. AmazonSmile is the extension of Amazon that will give a percentage back to your non-profit. Your parents and community just need to select you as their non-profit of choice. No extra money for them-but extra money for you. AmazonSmile has made it super simple now that they have a nice little button on their app that you can keep on (previously you had to change it each time). Just make sure your school is in there, and you are good to go!
This is an easy one-but you have to do some legwork. Easy in the sense that BoxTops has changed their platform to all digital, your community just has to scan their receipt within 14 days of purchasing. Hard because, your community has to scan their receipt within 14 days. They set up an account one time and it will even tell them when there are bonus days and how much they have contributed to their school. Lots of reminders work well here and again-no extra money for anyone.
43. Grocery Store Rewards
Ever run into a parent at the grocery store? Yeah, us too (every time!). Think about how many families shop at your local Kroger and for every purchase, a portion of that sale will go back towards your school. Set up your school through their app and don’t forget to advertise to their parents. They just need to enroll one time and select your school as their community rewards organization of choice. Every time they punch in their phone number for their coupons and specials-you’ll get some $. Checks are sent out to your school quarterly. Don’t have a local Kroger? Call around to your grocery stores to see if any have similar programs.
44. Shop With Scrip
All digital now, the Shop with Scrip program is another great fundraiser. Electronic gift cards to your favorite restaurants, fast food, coffee places, stores and more are available to purchase, and your school receives a percentage of each sale. If your parents are going to shop anyway, this is a great way to indirectly receive their support. Offering this digitally makes it so easy. Promoting on your end is all that you need to.
Auctions For Your PTA Fundraiser
One of our favorite fundraisers is an auction–live, silent, or virtual. Most organizations have their tried-and-true fundraisers that they rely on every year as their bread and butter. When you can provide an event that will not only help cushion your bottom line, but also provide community building, some fun, healthy competition, and your families walk away with some pretty awesome items…it’s a win-win!
Tips to Making Your PTA's Online Auction a Success
Create an Online Auction Communication Plan
A successful event depends on people knowing when it is taking place and how to access it! Make sure you make those details crystal clear. As your online auction items start rolling in, create suspense using your social media pages, newsletters, emails and more to showcase what will be up for auction.
Give your community ample time to set the date and time in their calendar. And send reminders leading up to your fundraiser. Use tools to create digital flyers and QR codes to easily send your community to your auction and to highlight how to bid, what to bid on and what your plans are for the money you raise.
Don’t forget your community outside of school families. Make sure to post the details of your auction on surrounding HOA sites or Facebook pages and don’t be afraid to ask the administration at the schools that feed into yours, or you feed into, to pass along the details. If you get the right items, more than just your school families will be interested in bidding!
TIP: If you’re at an elementary school, make QR code stickers to stick on every student on their way home so parents can just scan and set up an account-making it as easy as possible for your community will make it impossible for them not to join.
Align Your Fundraising Expectations with Your Community
Make sure when you are sourcing your online auction items, you are curating an auction specifically for your community. Seek items that will be affordable and items your families will want to bid on.
Don't Plan Your Fundraiser Alone--Gather the Right Group
Make sure you have plenty of people to help check off everything on the to-do list! Get some hands to help you drop off winning items, collect checks (if you’re accepting them), be your online coordinator etc…you don’t want to burn out before the auction has begun! Plus, working with friends makes everything more fun! And if you don’t already know everyone on your team, it’s a great way to meet more people in your community!
Ask For Donations Early
A lot of companies love donating to nonprofits. However, they need ample time and all proper paperwork in order for it to benefit them. Start inquiring about donations at least 3 to 4 months before your event. Amusement parks, museums, businesses, theaters, NFL, MLB, NHL, game shows and more are a good place to start. All donate fan swag, tickets, and items every year. Just make sure you give enough time in order for them to approve your request. Most requests are done online through their websites, so have your tax info ready.
Pricing Your Auction Items
Pricing online auction items can be tricky. The experts say to start your bidding price at 30-50% of the value (assuming it was donated). It’s definitely a good starting point. Just know your community will dictate what price items will go for. If you are having class projects donated, you can list them as “priceless”. Those items tend to go fast and will be a big draw to your auction. Don’t forget to add a “Starting Bid” and Minimum raise so that it is clear how much a person needs to increase to ‘beat out’ the person before. Starting lower is ok, because more action equals more fun.
You can also add a “Buy Now” price (a bit more than its value) to some of your items. This is a good feature if you are auctioning tickets to a party or have a lot of gift certificates. Just make sure not to use this on your priceless items that are sure to create a bidding war. (think: front row spot in carpool line or front row tickets to the Spring Show). Let your community drive the price on those, and you’ll be sure to bring in more money than you imagined!
Tip: Make sure you’re taking good quality pictures and posting them leading up to your event. Easy-to-read, detailed descriptions with any policies (exp. dates etc…) is a must and will, again, be a draw for your community to start bidding when its time.
Closing Your Online Auction
Closing is key and where you can see your profits double or more! Make sure to plan this well. Close your biggest money makers first (often the teacher/staff experiences, front row parking spot/pickup line spot, front row concert seats, etc). Then, stagger the next items so the people that didn’t ‘win’ the big money items realize they now have money to spend on the other items. Next, close your next hottest items (maybe gift certificates). Stagger again for a third category. This allows people to realize they have money.
Keep the auction timeline brief, no need to have it open for more than 2 weeks. The first and last day and a half is where you’ll see the majority of movement (or first and last hour if it’s a one day event).
TIP: Make sure your closing day doesn’t conflict with another important event in your community – high school football game or dance (even if you are the elementary school), professional team game, etc.
Corporate Sponsorships/Donations for Your Auction
Reach out to your local businesses for corporate sponsorships. If you are having an in-person event to go along with your online auction, you can thank local sponsors with their logo and a blurb in your auction programs or have signage at your live event. If your online auction is a stand-alone event, you can still offer this — just digitally. Offer local businesses, insurance companies, realtors (especially ones that service your school area), etc. the opportunity to be thanked or highlighted as your Fundraiser Sponsor. This can be done on your website, through your social media outlets, weekly newsletters, and on your online auction platform. Sponsors can submit to you any graphic they’d like you to use when recognizing them. It is a great way to bring in more money to your organization and a great way for them to get a tax write-off and their name out to the community they serve. Hit your local businesses for donated goods. Businesses like hair salons, spas, restaurants, tutoring centers, and dance studios, are often eager to help their local schools.
TIP: Get your committee together and make a day of heading out to these businesses. Print plenty of request letters and hit your strip malls soliciting for in kind donations or sponsorships. Then, when you get a donation, immediately thank the business on social media. They’ll remember the quick turnaround. End your spree with a late lunch at a spot you’d like to get a gift certificate from. It’s really hard saying no to someone face to face!
Online Auction Platforms
There are a lot to choose from. You will want to choose the one that is most user friendly for your chair coordinator and which one will give you the most of what you need. All come with tutorials. A few will allow you to post a certain amount for free with the opportunity to upgrade with minimal fees. Setting up items and descriptions can be done in advance. Setting your auction to go live and close at designated times makes it easy for your coordinator to manage. Make sure to set your automatic notifications for when people are outbid so they know to log back on and bid more! Send clear instructions so your community understands how to set up their settings for bidding per proxy on their behalf and up to whatever amount they’d prefer. You want to make sure the platform you choose is easy for your community to use. If it is too confusing, they just won’t participate.
Hosting an In-Person Auction for Your PTA
Having an in-person auction can be a big undertaking but it is a FUN way to bring your community together while raising BIG funds for your parent organization! Pair an in-person auction with an online auction so that people that have scheduling conflicts can still participate in the online portion but those that can attend will have exclusive dibs to the in person items and will be a part of the excitement of the in-person bidding!
In-House Auction Ideas That Won't Cost You Any Money
Having a live or silent auction can be a real money-maker for your PTA/PTO especially if you can get donations and offer up in-house services that cost little or no money. Here is a list of great in-house auction ideas that won’t cost your organization any money.
Auction off 6 reserved seats at the next choir performance, awards assembly, sporting event or even graduation. Throw in reserved parking and this item will fetch a bundle.
A Week of Dinners
Have volunteers sign up on your Membership Toolkit website to make one dinner an evening then auction it as a week of dinners. Parents will love this idea especially if they have an upcoming new baby or surgery or out-of-town guests that they won’t have to cook for!
Lunch With The Principal
This has proven to be something students LOVE and their parents will bid well on it. Also, it’s no cost to your organization and the principal will surely be willing to donate her/his time.
Auction off a year, or a month, or any amount of time of being first in the carpool line. This item is worth its weight in gold! Usually you have to get to school a good 45 minutes early to get this coveted spot. Think of the bidding war this will cause!
There are so many good ideas for unique art created by each class or individually that is of little or no cost to make. And how can a parent pass up art created by their little angel?? Check out our Pinterest board for lots of ideas on creative class artwork.
Principal For A Day
What child wouldn’t enjoy being the boss at school for a day? You could also auction off Librarian for the Day, PE Teacher for the Day or even Teacher for the Day.
Get teachers involved and see if they are willing to lend their talents. A popular item is for a bedtime story and tuck-in by your teacher. This would be great fun with the Kindergarten set. Ask the art teacher if he/she would be willing to donate an after-school card-making session or painting lesson. Auction off a basketball competition with the PE teachers. There are endless opportunities.
During your auction, have a time when you ask for a specific project to be funded. If parents can see an actual need that they would directly be helping, they’re more likely to donate money on the spot. For example, if the science lab equipment is falling apart, wheel it out and show the parents! Ask for participants to “fund” a set of new beakers or other equipment.
Have Room Parents ask families in their classes to donate time, talent or even $5 gift cards. Most will be happy to help and make sure they know that even small items can be added to others to make wonderful baskets — there’s no help too small.
Use the Marquee
Auction off several spots to use as Happy Birthday greetings on the school marquee. Students would be thrilled to see their name in front of the school on their big day. Parents will love this unique opportunity.
Keeping the costs down on your fundraiser auction can make a big difference in how successful the event is. Getting the staff and families involved in offering unique experiences creates a great sense of community and can make your fundraiser a fun event.
Corporate Sponsors For Your PTA
We talk to PTAs, Booster Clubs, and Organizations every day and one common goal is to raise more funds for their organization without continuing to ask parents and members to give more. A Corporate Sponsorship program may be the solution.
While it is great to use a handful of the fundraising suggestions we’ve outlined above, a Corporate Sponsorship Program is a great way to diversify major fundraising efforts and avoid burning out your parents. You’ll find local businesses are often eager to help support schools within their community. Plus, you can thank them on your website and social media platforms to help get their name out; it’s a win-win!
Reasons to Consider a Corporate Sponsorship Program
- Your organization keeps the all of the funds donated.
- You raise funds without asking for parent participation.
- You’ll decrease the number of fundraisers needed which almost always means increased support in the ones you do have.
Launching a Corporate Sponsorship Program
Form a committee to help develop and market your Community Sponsor program. The more committee members, the better. And the larger your reach to different businesses.
Spend the necessary time up front to outline the program. Include levels and what the benefits are at each level. Thanking sponsors on your website is a great idea! Make sure you understand your web-traffic (how many families are in your school, about how often they visit your website, etcs) and include that in your sales pitch. Local business will benefit if they are receiving recognition on your site. Document your program on a simple one page write up on your organization’s letterhead so that all of your volunteers are sharing the same information with potential sponsors. After 1-2 years your Sponsorship Program should be sound and thriving, yielding results each year.
Easy as 1-2-3
1. Define Your Program
Create different levels or opportunities to appeal to a wide array of businesses. Get creative on naming the different levels. For example, if your mascot is the Panther: Panther Pride, Silver Panther Pride, Golden Panther Pride and Platinum Panther Pride.
Think about all the activities, publications, social media, website that might be a good opportunity to highlight a sponsor – Newsletter Sponsor, Fall Festival Sponsor, Website Sponsor, Directory Sponsor.
2. Marketing & Selling
List all the marketing channels that you plan to use – mail a letter, email, phone call, website, social media, personal sales. Make sure your marketing materials include and clearly state information about your organization and what you do.
Don’t assume that potential sponsors know who you are and what your organization does. Let them know how you will use the donation, the different levels of opportunities available and how the potential sponsor will benefit.
3. Recognizing Sponsors
Be sure to say Thank You to all sponsors. If someone shows interest in becoming a sponsor – respond quickly. Once they have paid – say thanks. Your website is a great place to thank your sponsors year round. Remind them of opportunities to participate in events that are associated with their donation and at the end of the year, say thanks again and let them know how their donation helped that year and ask them if they would like to return as a sponsor the next year! A returning sponsor is the easiest one to get.
LEARN HOW TO START A CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM, STEP BY-STEP
No matter which fundraisers you choose for the year, having a plan is key. Now is the time to start thinking about a few main fundraisers and some ongoing ways to raise funds. Once you have a solid fundraising plan and team, you can rearrange and insert new events for years to come!