The days when school fundraising relied on parent association members selling 50c biscuits $1 cakes. Although many are rather delicious, there are now many more lucrative fundraising options for schools than the traditional bake being and buy sale.
As fundraising professionals, we know it can be difficult to keep coming up with interesting and exciting ways to engage your school community in fundraising.
Smart fundraisers know that it is not simply about generating funds. While actively encouraging people to donate to your cause, you are also spreading awareness of your mission and how it will benefit the students and your school. Fundraising has become an invaluable way to inspire advocacy within your school community.
These are our top tips for putting the ‘fun’ into fundraising.
Clarity and organising
Co-ordinating a fundraiser requires organisation. However, we believe the best and most profitable fundraising events start with a well determined ‘call to action’. If your community understands exactly what you’re doing, why, and how it will affect them, they will be more inclined to get involved.
Before you start organising the finer details of your fundraiser, take a while to consider exactly what you are trying to achieve and how you can best reach your goal.
The average parent is time-poor. That’s why it is so important to share your call to action widely and proudly, and make participating in your fundraiser as easy as possible.
Communication is the key driver of any fundraising campaign, so take advantage of social media, Tweet, post on Facebook, create a blog and talk about your fundraiser and how it will benefit your school community.
If you don’t have school social media accounts, set up event specific pages to build awareness of your fundraiser. Use your social media pages to share event information, send out reminders, generate excitement and engage your students and school community.
Set up an online fundraising page on Everyday Hero, or a similar platform, and encourage people to make a secure online donation
If you’re holding an event that requires ticket purchases, register with an online web-based booking system. Although some platforms will take a small service fee, the ease with which ticketing and registration can be managed online makes event organisation and participation much simpler.
Involve your students
A good education focuses as much on a student’s personal and emotional development as their academic ability. In fact, schools are increasingly adopting an ethos that values relationships and community involvement.
Getting your students involved in your fundraiser is a simple step to cut through the ‘me’ mentality and embrace the importance of working as a team towards a common goal.
Through fundraising, students are given the opportunity to step up and become positive role models that lead their school in altruistic endeavours. Students are encouraged to build relationships, break through social barriers and engage with their teachers and wider community. They learn to take pride in their work and to build a community around a cause they are passionate about.
You may be able to link fundraising activities into the existing classroom curriculum, particularly for high school students.
Our favourite school fundraisers
With so many ways to get your students and community involved, the opportunities to raise significant funds for your school are endless. But here are five of our favourite school fundraisers:
1. Recycling drive
Not only does a recycling drive raise funds, it teaches students the importance of recycling and just how easy it is to make environmentally conscious decisions.
Find out what recyclable items you can redeem in your state or territory and start a school recycling drive. If you are looking to fund a particular purchase, determine how many redeemable recyclable items you need to meet your fundraising target.
You could collect as a school (remember that you would need somewhere to store the recyclable items and to be able to transport them to the recycling facility). Alternatively, you could encourage students to collect at home and simply donate the funds raised. Create a fund-o-meter that is updated regularly to reflect the total amount raised or recyclables collected.
2. Cooking masterclass
Cooking shows on television have become very popular, everyone loves a good old-fashioned cook-off. So why not get your students to host a school dinner?
Students studying food technology can prepare the meals (perhaps with the aid of volunteer students), while drama and music students could provide entertainment and other students and teachers seat and serve the guests.
Another idea is for students, parents, teachers and the wider community to form teams and together deliver a delicious meal designed to outdo the other teams and win the praise of guest judges and diners. Each team must fundraise to cover the cost of their entry fee (your donation) and their ingredients.
Whichever option you choose, this is a fantastic way to showcase students’ abilities in a fun and inclusive event. Tickets should be sold prior to the event using an online booking system, and for those unable to attend, a half-price virtual ticket option could be available to generate further donations.
You may also wish to approach local supermarkets, suppliers and businesses for donations or to sponsor the fresh produce used.
3. Class artwork auction
Kids are creative. Let their creativity be praised with a student artwork auction. Artwork could be anything from a painting to photography, woodwork or metalwork. It could be a class collaboration or an individual student’s work.
This is a perfect fundraiser for both primary and high school students, as a stand-alone event or as part of a bigger school fundraiser. While the purchase cost of the artwork is donated to the school, you could approach local businesses for prizes for your students.
4. Outdoor movie night
In late spring, summer and early autumn, outdoor movie nights are a fantastic, family-friendly event that can raise significant funds. Many companies specialise in equipment hire, sound systems and even movie rights, this event is relatively simple to pull together.
Ask local businesses to participate for a reduced fee or to volunteer their services. Food and drink vans could have an event special with all the funds raised from sales donated to your event. Consider selling show bags or having ancillary activities, such as a jumping castle and face painting. Be sure to set up a school uniform and supplies stand to capitalise on school spirit.
The movie night could be held in your school hall, in your playground or sports field. Be sure to advertise in the local paper and put up banners in prominent places (with permission) so the wider community can attend.
5. Trivia night
This is a sure-fire way to raise significant funds. There are many online resources for questions and themes, and there is very little initial cost involved, if you have a hall and some tables, you can host a trivia night.
Consider running a ‘students vs. teachers vs. parents’ trivia night. If you approach local businesses for prizes, offer promotion at the event and on all event related materials.
Encourage students to develop an event committee and host the evening, while it will also teach them how to plan and organise an event.
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About the Author
Justine Curtis is the founder and CEO of Inspired Adventures, the leading adventure fundraising agency in Australia and New Zealand partnering with Australian and international charities to create and manage fundraising adventures around the world.
With over 15 years experience in the fundraising sector, Justine believes in living life to the full, experiencing the world and encouraging others to make a difference to people's lives.
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