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33 Fundraising Ideas for Schools and Colleges

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Published April 18, 2023 Reading Time: 11 minutes

The potential for school fundraising ideas is almost as massive as the results brought to your student community. Get ready to scan the best ideas for your next student charity event, crowdfunding campaign, fundraiser, or other initiatives all in one place. 

Explore nonprofit fundraising ideas built for schools, from elementary classrooms to high schools, and specific ideas that thrive on college campuses. 

Fundraising Ideas for Elementary Schools

Let’s start by diving into the best fundraising ideas for kids. Explore these safe and fun elementary school fundraising ideas that allow students to express their generosity.

3 young students in class

1. Bake Sale

Gather students and their families to create something delicious. Start by sending out a sign-up list to ensure you have enough baked goods to sell in exchange for donations. You’ll allow students to showcase unique recipes and give anyone passing by a chance to enjoy something sweet. 

Bring even more fun to the event with a classroom bake-off. This element can help bring everyone together as a team for some friendly competition. Just make sure to advertise throughout the school for the best chance of attracting hungry customers.

2. Talent Show

Showcase the talent of each unique student to attract a crowd and boost donations. Set up a space to host people, or host it virtually with a set price per ticket sale that helps you achieve your fundraising goal.

Not only will kids get the spotlight to show off something they’re passionate about, but guests will have priceless entertainment. If it goes well, you might just find your most highly anticipated annual fundraising event.

3. Letter Writing

Brighten someone’s day with letter writing, a great fundraising idea for schools to spearhead with younger students. You could host a letter or card fundraiser to have students share a personalized donation appeal to their families and community or write to loyal donors who would love to hear how their donations to your school have impacted students’ educational experiences.

4. School Supply Drives

A school supply drive is a great fundraising idea for the back-to-school season. Get students involved as a way to spring them into action. You can work as a classroom to collect everything from pencils to notebooks and unique stickers to build a collection that students in the school can benefit from for unique educational projects.

5. Magic Show

Raffle off some online magic lessons or other creative raffle prizes for this audience of youngsters. You can also organize a few volunteers to host a magic show to which you can sell tickets in exchange for donations. If it’s within your budget, hiring a magician and increasing the fun by inviting students and parents to enjoy the performance together is always a nice option.

6. Ice Cream Night

Get creative and enjoy a classic treat with an ice cream fundraiser. Host a make-your-own sundae bar with all the fixings, from cookie dough to chocolate fudge, at a set price per participant. 

Another approach is to partner with a local ice cream shop for a fun pop-up field trip with a portion of the proceeds allocated to your fundraising efforts. Split contributions between your school and the ice cream provider to make it a worthwhile event for everyone involved.

A few ice cream stores that support fundraisers:

Fundraising Ideas for Middle Schools

As students get a bit older, find new ways to step up the engagement and interactivity of your fundraising ideas to spark new passions for giving back.

Fundraising Ideas for Middle Schools

7. Color Run

Can you think of anything better than running for your school through a course full of color? The Color Run is an excellent source of inspiration for schools to recreate with their students. Get each student to fundraise individually for the chance to win prizes and climb the fundraiser leaderboard.

You can create the famous color powder that fills the air and turns runners into a colorful masterpiece by simply mixing cornstarch and FDA-approved dye.

8. Dance-a-Thon

Host a dance-a-thon as another way to keep students moving and motivated to give back. Spin up a great playlist and encourage passionate students to come together to dance for a set period, collecting donations through peer-to-peer fundraising for every hour they stay on their feet. 

Announce donations every time one comes in to inspire dancers to keep going and create natural moments for social sharing to spread the word quickly. 

You can even add your dance-a-thon to an existing field day of fun. The same creative approach can apply to your walk-a-thon or read-a-thon, depending on what your students enjoy most.

9. Partnership With a Local Theme Park or Arcade

Get students excited about a night out at a local arcade, amusement park, bowling alley, roller rink, or other entertainment zones by promoting how the proceeds will benefit a program at your school. 

10. Trivia Competition

Consider putting your students’ memories to the test with a themed trivia competition. Encourage students to form teams and fundraise together before the big night. Ask teachers to devise a list of trivia questions for your event and motivate them to volunteer to be hosts.

High School Fundraising Ideas

Before college, bring high school students together to be a part of something meaningful while keeping them interested in participating.

Fundraising Ideas for High Schools

11. Obstacle-Course Event

Tap into the element of competition with a fun obstacle course. Have students recruit their family members and friends to donate on their behalf through a peer-to-peer fundraising model, then cheer them on as they navigate the twists and turns you create for them.

12. Community Service Hours for College

Host a volunteer fair to expose students to school programs or upcoming initiatives needing support. This helps high schools that are always seeking consistent volunteers to assist at sporting events, teacher appreciation dinners, student dances, and more. 

Exposing high school students to volunteer opportunities will make completing extended community service hours easier, bolstering their college applications and strengthening their connection to meaningful causes.

Button: How to Engage High School Student Fundraisers

13. Pancake Breakfasts

Partner with a local restaurant or take over your school’s kitchen with student volunteers to make and serve pancakes at a set price per plate. Encourage them to tell their families and friends about the tangible benefits of each ticket sale to motivate participation. Pair that with a nice cup of coffee, and you’re in business.

Some restaurants participating in pancake fundraisers include:

14. School Clothing Sales

Capitalize on the sentimental value of school spirit and clothing representing high schoolers’ last stop before college. Consider selling school hats, jackets, T-shirts, scarves, socks, and more at sports events throughout the school year. 

Another way to attract customers is through a merchandise catalog. Entice more sales by advertising that a percentage of the profits will benefit a program in your school that directly impacts students and teachers.

15. Beach Day

Kick off summer with a good beach day as the end of the year approaches. Invite students to miss classes for a day in exchange for a donation. Increase the impact by offering an additional option to dedicate their time to a beach cleanup for an environmental nonprofit.

Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Schools

Learning on the go is an unexpected perk of remote learning environments. However, we can’t forget virtual fundraising ideas to help you engage students near and far.

Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Schools

16. Virtual Races

Host a race online to bring in support from entirely new networks of donors. Give students the freedom to choose where they’ll race and invite family and friends worldwide to join in the fun. Virtual event software makes it easier to create consistency for anyone who’d like to participate.

Download Your Guide to Pitching Corporate Sponsors

17. Viral Video Challenges

Boost views by participating in trends on TikTok and Instagram Reels. Video challenges can be an exciting and low-cost way to get the word out about your school and engage students to participate from anywhere. 

Create a challenge related to the reason you identified, such as participating in a mega scavenger hunt, doing ten push-ups in 30 seconds to support your school’s wrestling team, or posting kind notes to a trending song to help fund your seniors’ graduation celebrations. Have participants record themselves completing the challenge and tag others to do the same.

Include specific caption copy and hashtags that bring awareness to your school. Don’t forget to include a link to your donation site to inspire immediate action.

18. Twitch Livestream Event

Head over to Twitch to live stream a gaming tournament, cooking class, battle of the bands, or another live event to raise money for a charitable cause. Twitch charity streams are a great tool to unlock the power of online fundraising and reach more people.

Fundraising Ideas for College Students

When students mature into college, the world of fundraising opens up to include more significant ideas that foster deeper connections with their universities and soon-to-be alumni programs.

Fundraising Ideas for College Students

19. Short Poetry Contest

Have students sign up to read an original poem to an audience of people who vote for favorites as a no-cost, high-reward fundraising idea. A short poetry contest is a great way to boost confidence and unlock hidden talent.

20. Device Drive

Think of device drives as the new book sale. Especially after schools purchased additional tech to accommodate remote learning in 2020, there may be an opportunity to collect unused devices and distribute them to students who need access to technology to support their studies. You can also look for devices your students no longer use and sell them for monetary contributions to college programs. 

21. Tie-Dye Event

Bring college students together with tie-dye, a trend that never goes out of style.

Sell tickets to students and their friends to reserve their spots and cover the cost of supplies. To keep registration costs as low as possible, ask staff members to donate supplies like dye, light-colored clothing, gloves, and rubber bands.

22. Outdoor Movie Premiere

Find a large lawn or local park on campus, set up an outdoor projector, and lay out some blankets or chairs for attendees to enjoy a movie night. It’s easier than ever to access fresh content with today’s streaming services.

Invite students to come together and pay an admission fee to watch a new release or classic film while supporting an important educational program. You can even throw in a concession stand with popcorn sales and refreshment packages to boost fundraising efforts.

23. Pet Therapy Room

Ease stress and anxiety on campus through the calming effect of an animal with pet therapy. Especially for animal-related or mental health charities, hosting a room of friendly animals available to play with for an hour at a set price will surely pull in supporters.

To arrange a pet therapy room, you can contact a local shelter or pet therapy organization. This one’s a great idea around finals or other high-stress milestones throughout the year where a release on campus seems priceless (plus the animals get some love too).

Fundraising Ideas for College Sports Teams

Sports teams have a unique opportunity to tie their competitive spirit and engaged fans into a fundraising machine for good.

Fundraising Ideas for College Sports Teams

24. 5K Race

Get competitive with a 5K race near campus. Instead of charging for participation, encourage each runner to commit to a fundraising goal. Simplifying registration will allow anyone who wants to participate to easily engage their family and friends, which helps you reach people outside your campus walls. Reach more donors and make the event accessible to more participants all at the same time.

25. Tournaments

Have fun with a Frisbee-throwing tournament, a bowling challenge, or even a Jeopardy-style knowledge tournament—in the same vein as a 5K but without ruling out people based on athletic ability. You can have teams compete to raise the most.

26. Partner With Local Businesses

Capitalize on the campus hot spot, where students grab a bite, hang out, or meet up by partnering with local businesses. It’s a powerful fundraising strategy to reach students and raise money for your team. Corporate sponsorships can offer time and financial support.

Start by agreeing on which portion of the proceeds from a particular day will be donated. Then, brainstorm how you’ll spread the word leading up to the event. You’ll collect donations from a transaction students love while boosting brand awareness for the business with every new customer your fundraiser brings through their door.

17. Giveaway

Get your fans involved firsthand by offering a season pass to games or team merchandise to the donor who raises the most for your program. Set participants up with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign that makes it easy to call on their inner circles for support and see who makes the leaderboard each week.

Fraternity or Sorority Philanthropy Ideas

Philanthropy is a pillar of Greek life, so check out these fun approaches to your next sorority or fraternity event on campus.

four people talking

28. Ticketed Fashion Show

Partner with student designers or a local boutique to host a fashion show for students of all ages to attend for a small fee. Have students model their clothing or accessories to boost brand awareness and charge a set amount for tickets to attend. A great playlist, food and drink vendors, and some social media buzz can get people excited to participate for a night away from studying. It’s a win-win.

29. “Win-a-Date” Auction

Get ready for laughs and maybe even a love connection with a “win-a-date” event. Partner with another fraternity or sorority to assemble a ticketed auction for potential dates with a roster of eligible individuals.

These events usually ask each eligible individual to get up on stage and share their personal interests and proposal for a date. Then, the audience is welcome to bid on that date until you have a winner. The more diversity you get in your lineup of potential people to go on a date with, the more money you can raise.

30. Late-Night Food Delivery

Raise significant money with high traffic to your donation form through a late-night food delivery fundraiser ideal for students studying late or ending a night of fun at an hour when most food facilities aren’t open.

Choose to make a massive batch of grilled cheese sandwiches, waffles, and baked goods, or take the simple route with some snack packs. Then, advertise late-night delivery to students in dorms or nearby housing for a set price. The service cost adds value you can charge more for, and any associated tips contribute to your fundraising goals.

31. Coffee Shop Pop-Up

Gather all the fun add-ins to create your signature coffee bar on campus or at a local college event to raise money for your program. Get creative with a special menu that pulls in customers who want to try something new in their morning routine. Then, use social media as a perfect avenue to showcase your creations and get the word out.

32. Greek Life Carnival

Partner with other Greek life organizations at your college or university to host a carnival. Have each organization build a booth, game, or activity to lighten the load and build a fun event for people to attend. The best part is when organizations come together as school community members.

You can choose a single program to allocate ticket and participation revenue to or disburse the entry fee funds evenly between all Greek life organizations involved. Consider hosting a small competition to see which organization can bring in the most attendees to benefit everyone.

33. Alumni Night

Invite proud alums back to their alma mater to see what’s new. Make them feel special with an alumni night for graduates within your fraternity or sorority and their families. You could also host a dinner, a brunch, or a fundraising gala at a ticketed price that helps them give back to a cause that was once near and dear to them.

Bring Fundraising Ideas for Schools to Life With Tech

Every small donation counts, and you likely have one or two ideas you’re most excited to try. Before you plan, consider how to bring your next fundraising event to life with tech that simplifies the process.

Campaign Templates

Once you find what works, repeat the campaign across schools or annually with a template that unlocks:

  • Consistent branding for all campaigns to match your school website
  • Time savings when a new campaign needs to go live
  • The ability to streamline changes across multiple campaigns at once

Hybrid, Virtual, or In-Person Event Platform

Turn ticket-based fundraising ideas into seamless events fit for any audience through:

Modern Checkout Experience 

Include an embedded donation form and preferred payment options to avoid losing out on fundraising dollars:

  • Venmo transactions
  • PayPal transactions
  • Digital wallets, like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Microsoft Pay

Closing Thoughts

When it comes to school fundraising ideas, there are countless avenues to explore and engage with. A well-rounded fundraising program involves diverse school fundraiser ideas that resonate with your supporters and community. 

Whether you’re raising funds with an art show at a middle school or selling raffle tickets at a silent auction for a private school, involving various stakeholders such as local businesses, community members, and supportive parents or extended family members is essential. By tapping into the collective strength of your school community and implementing innovative school fundraising efforts, you can successfully raise funds to support your cause. 

When finalizing your school fundraising idea, consider using Classy’s fundraising platform to manage your fundraising effort and let us help you achieve your donation goals. We look forward to helping your community. Learn more about Classy’s giving platform.

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