12 School Fundraiser Ideas (That Actually Work)

9 min read

When you’re a parent or teacher, you want the best for your students. Most schools work with tight budgets, which means fundraising is key to raising the funds you need for playgrounds, programs, supplies, activities and more. But choosing a unique, easy and achievable way to raise funds can be challenging.

If you just copy the school down the road, no-one will give to your version. If you don’t make it easy, most of the extremely busy parents and teachers won’t be able to participate.

To make it easy for you, we’ve researched 1000s of fundraising ideas to come up with the 12 Best Fundraising Ideas for your school. We’ve also included examples of schools that have used the idea!

Unique School Fundraising Ideas

1. The Screen Free Challenge

It’s scary how much time school kids spend in front of screens these days. Whether it’s playing games on their iPad or texting their friends on the bus, pulling a student away from a screen is tough!

That’s why, Screen Free Challenge Fundraisers, where kids are sponsored for spending time away from all devices are a great way to raise funds and to get students playing outdoors. Floreat Park Primary School fundraised over $3,600 in their Screen Free Challenge.

The best thing about it is that it’s so easy to organise. There’s very little setup and if you organise it all online, it’s incredibly quick.

Ease: 9/10

Uniqueness 8/10 

2. Sponsor a Playground

Playgrounds are expensive, and sometimes Government or state funding only covers part of the cost. The good news is that fundraising for a playground is a very sellable idea.

The trick here is to set up a crowdfunding campaign with sponsorship rewards. Here’s an example from North Perth Primary School that fundraised $43,500 for a climbing dome. The fundraising trick to their campaign was to offer parents the opportunity to sponsor a limited-edition playground paver, which would have their name on it – for $500 each!

Pinedale Elementary School used a different idea and offer sponsorship tiers: bronze, silver, gold and platinum – the more you donated the higher your tier, with all sponsors getting a plaque at the playground.

Ease: 6/10

Uniqueness: 8/10 

3. The Library Revamp

School libraries are in constant need of upgrades – and while you could do a read-a-thon for the library, a better idea is to do a library revamp fundraiser.

Rocklands Community Primary School did this successful Book Nook Appeal for their library which hadn’t kept pace with the growth of the school.

For the Library Revamp fundraiser, you want to think of it like a weight loss commercials you see, with before and after shots. Show people what the library is like now and then show them a picture of what your dream plans are.

Ease: 7/10

Uniqueness: 6/10

4. Sell a School Book

Want a completely unique fundraising idea that only your school could do? Create a unique book for your school and sell it as a coffee table momento.

The Arrowtown School got a teacher to write and produce a beautiful 32-page children’s book, illustrated by the children, called Mango the Arrowtown School Cat. Not only was this a completely unique  fundraising idea to the school, because all the parents wanted to have the book with their child’s illustration in it, it was added incentive for them to buy it.

Ease: 6/10

Uniqueness: 10/10

5. Save our School

Sometimes you’ll find your school will need to fundraise because of budget cuts or funding running out. It’s never a situation you want to find yourself in, but it’s a perfect fundraising opportunity. The reason for this is urgency.

Thornbury High School ran a fundraiser to Save their Koorie Program teacher whose role was being threatened by funding cuts. Not only did they get the money they needed, they generated a huge amount of media attention from the local press, which created political pressure.

A well co-ordinated “save our school” fundraiser can both be a great fundraising idea, but more importantly, it just might help in creating the attention that restores funding for your school.

Ease: 7/10

Uniqueness: 9/10

The A-thons School Fundraisers

This set of school fundraising ideas are based on the idea of getting kids to do something challenging and getting parents to sponsor them. While many schools do the “walk-a-thon” style fundraiser, why not do something much more creative and unique?

6. Walk-a-thon

The classic format of walk-a-thons where kids walk a certain distance and parents and friends sponsor them still works. But here’s two tips that will make your walk-a-thon much more successful

First, theme your walk-a-thon around the thing you’re raising money for.

Parkhill Primary School created a green-a-thon where kids could dress in green during the walk-a-thon because they were raising funds for their green play space.

Second, move your fundraising online. Use a fundraising platform like Chuffed.org to collect donations, so you don’t have a mass of coins and paper forms at the end.

Third, create competition, by using the team crowdfunding features where different classes compete against each other to see how much they can raise. Because none of the kids wants to be on the bottom of the fundraising leaderboard, they become much more persistent in their fundraising.

Ease: 7/10

Uniqueness: 5/10

7. Run-a-thon

Much like the walk-a-thon, the run-a-thon gets kids moving to raise funds. This one is more suitable for High school or middle school fundraiser – and if you’re being very ambitious, you can even enter a school team into the city marathon.

Here’s a great example of how Hillsborough Public School ran their run-a-thon fundraiser to raise $10,700.

To add extra incentives for the kids, get local businesses to sponsor prizes for the top fundraisers.

Ease: 7/10

Uniqueness: 5/10

8. Ski-a-thon

Step up the fundraisers a notch with a Ski-a-thon. Ok, this fundraising idea obviously won’t work for all schools – particularly those sweltering through summer – but if you’re in a snow-prone area, this is a perfect way to get the ski enthusiast families fundraising.

Up in Minnesota, the Hopkins Nordic Boosters Club ran this Nordic Ski-a-thon that raised $3,373 for their ski team.

Ease: 7/10

Uniqueness: 9/10

9. Cycle-a-thon

Kids can cover much bigger distances on a bike than they can on feet. So instead of having a run-a-thon fundraiser, which not get on two wheels and do a cycle-a-thon.

While you could do a cycle-a-thon nearby, a much more unique fundraising idea is to get students to raise funds for an overseas cycle challenge. Here’s some students that went to Cambodia and raised over $40,000.

There are several companies that run these challenges on your behalf, which makes the logistics much easier. All you have to do is recruit kids to participate and help them fundraise.

Ease: 6/10

Uniqueness: 8/10

10. STEM-a-thon

Probably the most unique school fundraising idea we found was a STEM-a-thon. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and a STEM-a-thon is a school fundraising idea, where students do STEM activities and parents and the community sponsor them to do it.

Want an example? St Philip Neri Catholic School did this STEM-a-thon which raised $6,800. The 7 STEM fundraising activities they got students to do were:

  • Making a Fan Helicopter
  • Investigating ways to Build Stable Structures
  • How a design of a Paper Plane contributes to its ability to glide
  • Using Lego Technics to make Simple Machines
  • Coding Activities
  • Designing and making a Parachute
  • Using Technology to Create Music (Garage Band)

All very fun, and a unique way to raise funds for your school.

Ease: 9/10

Uniqueness: 8/10

11. The Obstacle Course Fundraiser

Instead of having students run around in circles, why not get them to go through, over and around obstacles. It’s a bit more effort for a school fundraiser, but far more unique and far more fun.

This is best suited for middle school fundraisers, though high school students would find it fun too.

You do have to use your creativity in building the obstacle course, so it’s not the most easy thing to do.

Ease: 4/10

Uniqueness: 7/10

12. Bonus: Punch and kick-a-thon

Ok, we don’t really recommend running a punch and kick-a-thon for a school, but well, it’s probably the most unique school fundraising idea we’ve ever found!

If your school is connected with a local karate club or offers karate as a sport, this school fundraising idea will definitely draw a crowd.

Fulham Seido Karate Club ran this unique fundraiser which challenged kids to do 1,000 kicks and punches in one sitting. That’s a lot. And definitely worth sponsorship.

Make sure you get the principal’s permission first – or you might be the one that ends up in their office!

Ease: 5/10 (getting the principal’s permission is going to be hard!)

Uniqueness: 12/10

Key school fundraising takeaways

From our analysis of 1000s of school fundraising campaigns, we selected 12 unique fundraising ideas that have worked for other schools. What we’ve found is that there are three key things to make a school fundraising idea successful:

1. Make it unique

Unique fundraising ideas get people excited. If it’s just selling another chocolate box, parents will be apathetic and reluctant to participate. When it’s a unique fundraiser, everyone gets excited and enthused and it’s far easier to get participation and sharing.

2. Make it easy

Taking donations, issuing receipts and handling funds can get messy. You don’t want parents carrying around forms and then having to account for where all the money went. The simplest thing to do is to set up online fundraising pages for parents with a crowdfunding platform like Chuffed.org which means parents just need to email around a link. It’s far more shareable and all the funds just get deposited into the school bank account.

3. Add some competition

Kids – and parents – love competing against each other to see who can raise the most funds. Using Team Fundraising features, each class can have their own fundraising page and the leaderboard lets each class know how well they’re performing against the other classes. Competition is the perfect fundraising element to add to your school fundraiser.


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