Hosting events and fundraisers to help bring programs to your school will not only build your community of families, it will provide funding for those programs that could, potentially, be left behind. Building your school’s community will help your parent group support your school, teachers and students, and it will help you grow your organization so you can better serve them. Here are our top 35 fundraising ideas for your parent organization!
Top Fundraising Events for Your Parent Organization
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.
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 fun 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 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.
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 Boy/Girl Scouts & High Schools’ Honor Societies. They are always looking for community projects and volunteer hours!
Chili Cook Off
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.
Work Out Session
Have a mom who’s a yoga teacher or a dad who throws one heck of a boot camp (or vice versa)? 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Most students need a required set of volunteer hours from nonprofits in order to graduate.
Turn your field into 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.
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.
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?
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.
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 work well, too.
Toolkit Tip: Setting this up around a holiday or Mother’s Day is a sure win.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
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.
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, too.
Toolkit Tip: Check your local City Council or Chamber of Commerce to co-host with you. Use their resources for an easy event.
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 and always looking for new ways to bring in new clientele.
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 as a regular book fair would.
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.
Fresh Produce Delivery
Parents are always looking to bring fresh produce to their families. Many local farms offer weekly/monthly delivery subscriptions and you better believe they work 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Classic Fundraising Ideas for Your Parent Organization
Silent auctions are a classic in the fundraising world because they work. Ask parents and classrooms to donate items to the auction and put your wares up for bidding during a special event. Also remember to ask area businesses, restaurants, and local sports teams to donate goods and services. Either host online or in person. There are many smart phone apps to make it super easy to bid and manage. Toolkit Tip: Disney parks will donate up to 20 tickets a year to non profits that submit volunteer projects through their Points of Light foundation. This is over $4,000 in free tickets you get to auction off!
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.
Work with the restaurant’s manager to determine which night of the week is best (most chains have set days they allow fundraising dine-outs). Allow plenty of time to promote the dine-out day and be sure parents and students are clear about the location.
Toolkit Tip: Plan a dine-out at different eateries every month. Typically, a family will eat out at least once a week. Having a regular monthly dine-out will get your community used to looking out for the day.
Tip #2: Don’t forget to advertise in your city’s community social media. Your neighbors will thank you for not having to make dinner.
A fun T-shirt printed with the school’s name or mascot is always a hit. Have plenty of T-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, etc., ready to sell in time for open house events. Also include apparel order forms in take-home folders and post the information on your website for the easiest way to purchase.
Toolkit Tip: Don’t want to get stuck with extras? Set up pre-order sales through your website and you won’t have to store all that merch throughout the school year. This is also great if you do not have the money up front to purchase the merchandise.
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.
Advertisements and Sponsorships
Sell advertisements or sponsorship ads in sports programs, the drama playbill, graduation booklets, and more. Ads can be purchased by companies, organizations, or parents and family members who want to send a message to their favorite student.
Toolkit Tip: Use your website to highlight your sponsors through web pages, newsletters, and social media. When businesses start to see other businesses being promoted, they’ll want to support through sponsoring you, too!
LEARN HOW TO START A CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM, STEP BY-STEP
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.
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 97% 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 the ability to email/ social media posts for donations. You’d be amazed at how wide you can reach in order for your kiddo to hit their goal.
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!
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.
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 always 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, 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.
Stepping up into a parent organization is no small feat. Parent organization leaders are the direct link and act as the liaison between our school, campus, teachers, and students, to our families. This year, more than ever, we have to get creative and think outside of the box, all while being mindful and sensitive to what our families can do and will do, in order to support us. Good news is, the majority of these above events can be done with those guidelines in mind. Tell your families to mask up and use your fields, parking lots, and playgrounds. Everyone knows how to log-in by now, so host your Bingo, Trivia Night, and Talent Show virtually. If planned correctly, with these hurdles in mind, you can keep your PTA/PTO growing in both community and profit throughout the school year.