9 October 2016

Meaningful Fundraising Ideas for Schools

Often the best place to get advice on fantastic fundraising ideas for your school is from other parent volunteers. Experienced volunteers can give you a real cost benefit analysis. The COST being the time and effort involved and BENEFITS being the funds earned as well as other rewards (fun, fitness, learning, socialising) that the school community gained from the event.

Having said all that, you can never dismiss the power of the internet. My go to website has always been the Fundraising Directory. It is user friendly and lists some great products available in Australia. Fundraising Mums is another great site that offers objective analyses and recommendations on a range of fundraising products and ideas, many of which have been tried and tested by blogger Shannon at her children’s school. Not only are her articles well written, they follow a similar and useful formula. They start with a brief summary and then provide more details about the product, cost, profit and process. Your volunteer time is precious and this website allows you to skim and then delve deeper into whatever catches your fancy.

Having done my fair share of skimming, delving and volunteering, I have narrowed down a list of fundraising ideas that may be stand alone events or can be incorporated into annual school events. Although each activity is completely different, what they do have in common is that they are meaningful fundraisers, in that they provide additional benefits.

Sometimes when your whole school is gathered at a sports event or a swimming carnival, it is a great time to raise a little extra cash with minimal effort. At these events we often pull out the barbeque tongs or raffle tickets, but here are a few different FUN ideas.

Stuck to the Wall: All you need is duct tape and a willing principal or teacher. Cut the tape in to one meter lengths and sell them for a dollar each. Your principal stands on a chair (in clothing that is not too precious) against the wall and everyone takes turns applying the tape. The goal is to get enough tape on him/her so when the chair is pulled away your principal is stuck to the wall. You are only out of pocket the cost of the duct tape.

Racing Rubber Ducks: This is an annual event, in my home town, that my kids (and the entire community) love. It takes place by the river that flows through our town, but friends have had just as much fun with it in their community pool. You’ll need to purchase several rubber ducks and write numbers on the bottom with a permanent marker. Participants are able to buy a number that corresponds to a duck. At your swimming carnival, dump the basket of ducks into one end of the pool. Have a few students use kick boards to create waves so that the ducks float towards the designated finish line. The first duck (or first few ducks) that cross the finish line win a prize. Recycle the ducks for the next year and add more ducks as the event grows in popularity.

Lemonade Stand: In the months when everyone has an abundance of lemons, ask for donations at your school. Lemonade is easy to make, refreshing and will be a hit during any event on a hot day. Just remember to make sugar syrup first so all the sugar dissolves and doesn’t just sink to the bottom. The sugar syrup is a ratio of 1 to 1 (one cup boiling water to one cup sugar) then add 1 cup lemon juice and 3 cups cold water. Do this on a very large scale.

Let go of the reins and let students take charge of these events.

Haunted House: Give students a small space to work with; some place that can be darkened. Allow them to write a scary story that will be told to their guests. Guests pay a small fee to be lead through a creepy sensory maze, touching eyeballs (grapes), intestines (pasta), listening to chilling sound effects and flashes of frightening beings (actors) around each corner.

Pop Up Art Gallery: Students work throughout the year to create a range of artwork to be displayed in a school art exhibition. Invite family and friends along to bid on the artwork or simply set a price for each piece of work. Watch how satisfied students are putting a SOLD dot on the exhibited pieces.

Battle of the Air Bands: Air bands are fun and enthusiasm is the only real talent required, therefore enabling anyone to participate. Sell tickets to the event. Allow audience members to vote for their favourite or ask a panel of judges to choose the winners.

These are not new ideas, but they are simple and healthy.

Read-A-Thon: Reading can be done as a class or as individuals for a specific time period. Students ask for donations and the more they read the more money they raise. You may even wish to offer a prize incentive to students in each year level. All you really need are sponsor forms (click here), student reading forms (click here) and books.

Fun Run: Students, staff, parents and friends can all participate. You can provide participants with pledge forms (click here) or if you have some tech savvy volunteers, you can create a donation page on your school’s website. Make it a fun event with music and healthy snacks.

Schoolyard Stories: Obviously publishing a book is the top activity on my list, but I may be biased ☺

When deciding what type of fundraisers to run, keep it interesting and meaningful and you really can’t go wrong.