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Fundraiser Ideas for Schools

Updated on February 21, 2015

best fundraising ideas

Many organizations, clubs, and other groups have to resort to fundraising sooner or later. As a retired high school teacher, I’m very familiar with high school fundraising ideas, and I’ve worked with numerous fundraisers. I must say, I’ve been pretty successful in my endeavors. Of course some fundraiser ideas are better than others, but I’ve never been involved in a fundraiser that didn’t make money. Fundraising in a high school really isn’t all that difficult if you go about it correctly. After all, you have a “captive audience,” so to speak, and most teens have their own money. Also, you’ll find that parents are often willing to help out with causes and clubs that benefit the students. Oftentimes, you can get local business in on the action, too, by helping with advertising your fundraiser, donating money, or donating prizes. Below are several high school fundraising ideas.

Learn how to fundraise.
Learn how to fundraise.

How to fundraise

Before you can come up with the best fundraising ideas, you must first know how to fundraise. It seems super simple, doesn’t it? If you’ve done much fundraising, however, you know that’s it’s not always easy to raise money. The most important element is planning – far in advance. When you’re talking about school fundraiser ideas, planning is especially critical. Most schools won’t allow more than one school club or other group to hold fundraisers on the same day. That means the sooner you can get the basic ideas of your event planned, the sooner you can get it approved by the administration and on the calendar.

You’ll also need to make sure you have enough people committed to help with your fundraiser. Many high school students have after-school jobs, sports practice, and other commitments, so keep this in mind. It helps a lot, too, if you can get parents on board. In fact, some of the best fundraising ideas might come from parents, so don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback. I’ve had some great fundraising ideas for clubs come from parents, so try to give them some ownership of the cause.

Some of our school clubs sell and deliver flowers on Valentine's Day.
Some of our school clubs sell and deliver flowers on Valentine's Day.

How to fundraise – timing

Remember, your fundraiser shouldn’t overlap another school fundraiser. Timing is critical for fundraiser ideas for schools, and the time of year or season can have a huge impact on the products or services you plan to sell to raise money. Just before a holiday or major event are usually very good times for school fundraisers. Try to put yourself in a student’s place: what would you be tempted to buy just before prom, football games, homecoming, etc? If you’re focusing more on selling to parents and other adults, use the same strategy.

Foods are always great fundraiser ideas!
Foods are always great fundraiser ideas!
Hotdogs are popular at outdoor events.
Hotdogs are popular at outdoor events.
In-school candy sales are popular.
In-school candy sales are popular.
Selling smoked pork butts or selling smoked turkeys are school fundraiser ideas that work well just before Thanksgiving.
Selling smoked pork butts or selling smoked turkeys are school fundraiser ideas that work well just before Thanksgiving.

School fundraising ideas – food

Just about everyone enjoys eating, so food is always a good way to raise money. The list of foods that you can use for this purpose is almost endless. Again, it’s usually a good idea to match the food with the time of year. Below are some great fundraiser ideas that involve food:

Smoked Boston butts and turkeys – Selling smoked Boston butts and turkeys just before Thanksgiving are wonderful fundraising ideas for schools. Our ag classes and FFA Club did this on a regular basis, and they were very successful. The meat was fully cooked, placed in a foil pan, and wrapped in foil. Parents liked having this ready-to-reheat meat for Thanksgiving. Parents and members of the community picked up their smoked butts or turkeys behind the school on the last day before the Thanksgiving holidays. People picking up their meat didn’t even have to get out of their vehicles!

Cheesecakes – Other good fundraisers ideas are to sell different types of cheesecakes. The cheesecakes are delivered frozen, so all they need is thawing, and they’re ready to serve. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter are all good times for these fundraiser ideas. An important point: before you commit to a specific cheesecake company, ask for a sample first. Some of the fundraiser cheesecakes I’ve tasted were awesome, while others had a chemical taste. You want to keep your customers happy!

Cookie dough – Other great fundraiser ideas might include different types of raw cookie dough. The dough comes in tubs and needs to be refrigerated. In fact, some types can be frozen successfully. Most folks like to make cookies for Christmas, so that’s the best time to sell cookie dough. Again, test the dough before you try to sell it.

Candy – Students love candy! I’ve found that students will more readily buy individual candies than they will large boxes of candy. You won’t make much money per sale, but you’ll make up for that in volume. Some examples of these fund raising ideas include big red heart-shaped suckers on Valentine’s Day, pumpkin-shaped suckers on Halloween, and chocolate bunnies at Easter.

Food booths – Fundraising ideas for clubs include having a food booth at an event. Choose foods that have a low overhead and that are quick and easy to prepare. Of course, you also want to be sure to choose a food that people like. I’ve had great luck with cotton candy, hot dogs, sausage dogs, and baked goods. If the event is held during the warmer months, sell soft drinks and bottled water. BBQ sandwiches go over big here in the South, too, and it’s easier than you might think. Just make the barbecue the day before and keep it warm in crock pots. When someone orders a sandwich, just scoop some of the BBQ on a bun. I haven’t tried chicken wings, but I think they’d make great fundraisers. Big bags of frozen wings are pretty cheap, and they could be fried in an outdoor fish fryer. Just have your sauce warming in a crock pot. Something that didn’t go over well at one of events was roasted corn-on-the-cob. We didn’t take into account that many teens can’t eat corn-on-the-cob because of braces.

Raffles can be great fundraising ideas. Read about my "king and queen for the day" raffle.
Raffles can be great fundraising ideas. Read about my "king and queen for the day" raffle. | Source
Jewelry items are good high school fund raising ideas, especially just before prom.
Jewelry items are good high school fund raising ideas, especially just before prom.

Other high school fundraising ideas

Flowers – When I was helping sponsor one of our high school clubs, we sold carnations each year on Valentine’s Day. This was done during school hours. Our club members delivered the flowers to the student and teacher recipients. Each flower had a tag attached that included the giver’s message.

Sports – Most high school students are very supportive of their school’s sports teams. Items with the school’s logo sell well, including visors, tee shirts, socks, caps, necklaces, and bracelets. Here in the South, high school football and basketball games have avid followers, and these events can get pretty rowdy. Noisemakers and pompoms in the school colors are good fundraising ideas.

Prom jewelry – Pieces of costume jewelry can be great fundraiser ideas, especially if delivery is scheduled just before prom, homecoming, or other dances. Popular items include stud earrings, chandelier earrings, hoop earrings, necklaces, jeweled barrettes, bracelets, rings, and anklets.

Raffles – Raffles are great fundraiser ideas, and they seem to be really great high school fundraising ideas. For one thing, you can do raffles with little, if any, investment. I’ll give you an example: My classes and I used to hold a Renaissance fair every year at school. One way we earned money to fund the fair was to sell chances to be king and queen for the day of the fair. Students bought chances for $1 each, and they could purchase as many chances as they wished. The two winners were drawn a few days before the fair. The king and queen were allowed to miss classes and be at the fair all day, to wear nice king and queen costumes, and to eat for free from the booths at the event.


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