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15 Unusual Fundraising Ideas for Schools

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by Shannon Meyerkort (subscribe)
Writer. Storyteller. Find out more at shannonmeyerkort.com/ or join me at fundraisingmums.com.au
Published June 30th 2020
People won't hate you
unusual fundraising ideas schools


Fundraising is inevitable for schools, but that doesn't mean you need to do the same old, boring event year in year out. Try something different with these great ideas.

unusual fundraising ideas schools
image courtesy prlog.org


Family events

Family auction great to combine with other major school events, this auction is all about the kids and you don't need to schlep around to local businesses seeking donations. All your prizes are totally free, and just require some imagination: try a dedicated carpark for a whole term (for a parent), or a beanbag at assembly for a term (for a child), perhaps it's Principal for the Day, or winning your class a free dress day. Perhaps one of the teachers can donate something special such as free art classes or music classes or a Master Cooking Class from the canteen manager.

Treasure Hunt there are so many ways to do this, you can have a traditional hunt where people need to find items in the local community and bring them in, or you can conduct a photographic hunt which is more eco-friendly. You can choose to hide clues and small items in the hunting zone, or look for more abstract items like 'something that is broken', 'three things that are identical' or 'something you can see through'. Find more treasure hunt ideas here.

Storytelling night perfect for little kids, just hire a professional storyteller (or rope in the teachers) and create a warm, cosy space where kids can turn up in their PJs with a pillow and settle in to listen to some fantastic stories. Try and make it interactive (we shot silly string at the kids when the storyteller got to the part about the spider) and increase profits by selling hot chocolate or dinner packs.

Class art auction spend five minutes on Pinterest and you will quickly discover how fabulous kids' art can be when designed properly. Often it's a simple matter of bright colours and repetitive designs and suddenly you're creating stunning pieces of art that you're not embarrassed to hang on the wall.

unusual fundraising ideas schools


Adults only events

Op-Shop Ball this could be for both graduating Year 12s and parent nights, but the goal is to encourage people not to spend $$$ on new outfits, but to buy crazy (and daggy) outfits from the local op-shop and then donate the money they saved to your charity.

Quiz Nights and Bingo Nights there's a reason why trivia and bingo always appear on the 'best of' lists and I couldn't NOT include them here! You can bring in the experts or DIY, but they are always fun and can be hugely profitable if you combine with games between rounds, raffles and auctions and selling food and drink. Choose an awesome theme so people can dress up and you're onto a winner.

unusual fundraising ideas schools


Kids school day events

Themed dress-up days sure, you could do a 'free dress' day OR you could throw in a fun theme. In the summer you could have 'beach days', in winter 'PJ day'. Try 'Dad's ugly shirt', 'future career' or 'spots and stripes'. If you don't want the kids wearing a whole crazy outfit, they will still have heaps of fun with 'wacky hat' and 'crazy socks'. Try 'twin day' where you have to wear an identical outfit or 'favourite holiday' when you can dress up as Christmas, Easter or Halloween theme. Charge everyone a gold coin for participating and it's the easiest money you ever made.

Bieberthon - This was a brilliant idea I first wrote about when a school in Secret Harbour raised $1,000 in a couple of days. Choose the most obnoxious song you can find (Baby Shark comes to mind, but they used a Justin Bieber song) and play it loudly and non-stop over the school PA (including in the staff room and front offices) before school, during recess and lunch and after school. Have a huge bucket in the front office and make people (kids, parents, staff and teachers) donate cash until your target is reached. Tip: get your principal's permission first.

unusual fundraising ideas schools


Community events

Dog walk-a-thon everything is much more fun when there are doggos around. Walk around the school oval or local park. Combine with a mini-market with dog-friendly stalls. Your local dog shelter might even be able to bring some dogs that are looking for forever homes for those families who would like to participate but don't have a dog of their own.

Fundraising Auction Concert this is a hybrid idea that blends a 'talent show' with an auction. Basically you get people to bid for their favourite act. The act that raises the most money is the winner. An alternative is to supply 5 or 10 'bids' to every person who buys a ticket to the concert. At the end of the concert, they place the tickets (or any combination) in the bucket for their favourite act(s). Provide prizes for the three place-getters and the fundraiser keeps the rest of the money. Learn more here.

Reverse Balloon Bingo fill 50 (or 100) good quality balloons with helium and number them from 1-50. Sell them for $5-$20 each (depending on the quality of your prize). As you draw the bingo numbers (or call numbers from a random number generator) people have to pop their balloon (devastating, I know!) and the last person with their balloon intact gets the major prize.

Car Boot Sale this has all the fun and benefits of a white elephant stall with none of the hassle for the organiser. Sell space on your oval or large carpark for cars, who then set up a stall to sell their own unwanted items. Charge a small entry fee for shoppers and add in some extra money-making ventures such as a sausage sizzle or cake stall. At the end of the day, the car owners take their unsold stuff home (and keep their money) and you have nothing to worry about except counting your profits.

unusual fundraising ideas schools


Other ideas

Recipe books one of my favourite fundraising ideas is to create a community cookbook it might be kids suggesting their favourite dinners, parents providing a nifty cooking hack, or the local community sharing their favourite foods from across the globe. Make sure your cookbook has a great theme, and you're onto a winner. Ask local kitchen shops or restaurants to sponsor your book and see your profits soar.

Cake Day Friday create a roster of the school's best bakers and get them to bake a fabulous cake every week, fortnight or month. Sell raffle tickets to kids, parents and teachers for 50c or $1 and draw just before the bell goes on Friday. Someone will be VERY popular at home that weekend. Offer a few $1 icypoles for runner-up prizes and see the kids lining up to buy tickets.

Claytons Cake Stall a Clayton's cake stall is the cake stall you run when you don't want to bother with cakes. It basically means asking people to donate the money they would have spent baking their fancy banana bread or trays of cupcakes for the privilege of not having to actually bake. So while no one gets to buy a yummy cake, you also raise a bit of cash without anyone having to actually do anything.

What are your favourite school fundraising ideas?
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Why? Fundraising doesn't have to be boring
When: Any time
Where: Schools across the world
Cost: FREE
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