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Fundraising Ideas for Schools

Traditional school fundraisers send kids door-to-door selling things like wrapping paper and chocolate bars to everyone they know. Not only is this inefficient, but also students and schools typically have to pay a good portion of the money to the supplier of the products sold. Crowdfunding is a much more effective alternative. Students and schools can make far more from their efforts and keep the funds they raise, as GoFundMe is free.

teacher reading to students

Making it easy to spread the word

GoFundMe’s social sharing tools make it easy for schools to spread the word via social media with the click of a button. GoFundMe’s platform allows schools to quickly and easily raise the money they need for programs and projects—and students participate in service learning. Schools can begin withdrawing funds as soon as the campaign starts receiving donations. There are no penalties for not reaching your goal, and you can choose your own deadline.

  • Students learn leadership skills by taking charge and raising money for an important cause.
  • Working with fellow students to effectively run a campaign is an opportunity to learn valuable team skills.
  • Practicing acts of kindness plants the seeds of compassion and sets a precedent for a lifetime of public service.

Six best-in-class ideas for school fundraisers

  • 1. Enrichment programs

    Field trips, summer learning programs, study abroad, and enrichment programs are often costly—but they’re also an ideal fit for crowdfunding because your needs are so well defined.

    • Raise funds for one classroom, a specific program, or an entire school.
    • Students can promote the campaign by sharing it on social media, creating photos and videos for fundraising updates, writing thank-you notes to donors, and more.
  • 2. Sports booster clubs

    A large number of students are involved in sports and athletic clubs. Booster clubs are formed to help coordinate events and raise money for the equipment and supplies student-athletes need. A great way to raise funds is to have parents create a crowdfunding campaign that outlines the club’s needs.

  • 3. Prom and student activities

    Proms and other special school events come with a price tag—decorations, food, entertainment, and prize giveaways add up. Coordinate with those in charge of planning the event and come up with a creative crowdfunding campaign to make your plans come to life. Students can really make these events special and fun without dipping into the school treasury.

  • 4. Computers or tablets for education

    Classrooms often make use of laptops and tablets—for reading textbooks, doing homework assignments, accommodating student learning needs, and more. If you want to upgrade or expand your capacity in this area, start a crowdfunding campaign and make it happen.

    • Talk with the person in charge of making purchases for the school to determine the budget.
    • Then set a realistic fundraising goal—you can always increase it if you meet it right away.
  • 5. Causes close to students' hearts

    Supporting humanitarian causes is a key component of service learning—one that teaches students about compassion and the value of helping others.

    • Take a poll to find out what causes students at your school are passionate about or interested in.
    • It could be local, national, or international—there’s no shortage of wonderful causes to support.
    • One popular option is for students to help other students who are in need elsewhere.
  • 6. Memorial fund or scholarship fund

    If a teacher, student, or other community member who is important to your school passes away, honor the person by starting a scholarship fund in his or her name (with the permission of the person’s family, of course).

    • Come up with ideas for appropriate ways to spend the funds you raise, such as creating a scholarship to be awarded to one student at the end of the year, dispersing donations to a group of students for summer camp, or earmarking money for a special school event.
    • Memorial fundraisers are a great way for your students to transform their loss into something positive and be involved in a legacy project.

Get your school campaign off the ground

No need to waste time trying to figure out how to raise funds for that important school event, class trip, or worthy cause. GoFundMe is here to provide you with the best crowdfunding platform and unique fundraising ideas to help and support you and your school along the way. If you haven’t already launched your school fundraiser, create one today.

Note: If you’re 12 or younger, please have a parent or guardian start your GoFundMe. If you’re between 13 and 17, please get your parent or guardian’s permission to start an account.

Start a school fundraiser

Elementary school fundraising ideas

elementary school students

While many elementary school fundraisers focus on meeting a school’s financial needs, consider using a crowdfunding campaign to give back instead. Launching a charitable crowdfunding campaign can provide amazing opportunities for personal growth. Teachers can use online fundraising as opportunities to engage students and encourage them to cultivate compassion inside and outside the classroom.

Teaching children to be compassionate

The sooner kids are exposed to resources they can use to do good and make the world a better place, the more comfortable and confident they’ll become in leading the charge for change. By starting a crowdfunding campaign with students, you equip them with skills that will benefit them down the road, all while promoting values that positively shape the future of our society.

  • Fundraisers that benefit children are among the most talked about on social media, reports Nonprofit Tech For Good.
  • According to a survey cited by AFRDS, 71% of parents in the US said their children sold at least one product in the past year as part of a fundraising campaign.

Six ideas for elementary school fundraising

  • 1. Fundraising for endangered animals

    If your child is an animal lover or concerned about endangered species, set up a crowdfunding campaign to help protect a species, preserve a habitat, or protect wild lands.

    • Local organizations or the World Wildlife Organization might be an appropriate recipient of your funds.
    • Ask your city zoo or a nearby school for access to a space you can use for a fundraising event.
    • If your child is studying endangered species in school, consider working with teachers to get a classwide effort going.
    • When children take a hands-on role in fundraising for a cause close their hearts, they gain leadership skills, a sense of social responsibility, and direct experience making the world a better place.
  • 2. Support worthy causes the class chooses

    Teachers who want to encourage empathy in students should consider starting a crowdfunding campaign with their classes. This can be a great educational experience that helps students be proactive about the injustice they see in the world.

    • Consider partnering with a sister school that needs help paying for school supplies or other necessities. Or, raise money for a nearby children’s hospital.
    • Encourage students to use critical thinking skills and creativity to come up with fundraising ideas.
  • 3. Hold a mock game show night

    Hold a fundraiser in your auditorium, and invite parents or families to participate in a quiz-show contest.

    • Prior to the event, form teams and have each team raise funds together.
    • Ask a local business to donate the top prize.
    • Get a staff member to emcee.
    • Set up a trivia competition like Jeopardy!, but with a twist: focus on information that relates to your school or town history.
    • Provide breaks in the competition for snacking and socializing.
    • Have a station where guests can make a suggested donation.
    • Publicize the event on social media. This is a great opportunity for teachers and parents to work together and give back.
  • 4. Host a recycling-themed fundraiser

    Organize a waste reduction project—for example, an e-waste drive where supporters donate money to your campaign and, in return, you pick up and safely recycle their electronic waste.

    • You can also collect pledges for distance covered in a park or beach cleanup, or pledges for a certain amount of energy or water saved within a certain timeframe.
    • To double the impact, donate funds to an organization that works to address the effects of climate change.
  • 5. Host a performance for charity night

    Organize a “coffeehouse” event encouraging kids to put themselves out there and express themselves creatively.

    • Use this night of musical performances to spotlight and celebrate the talents of your students. Invite the school choir to perform.
    • Sell snacks and drinks, and ask for donations from the audience.
    • You can expand this fundraising idea into a formal talent show, raising money for your crowdfunding campaign through ticket sales.
  • 6. Organize a read-a-thon

    Ask your class to gather pledges in a read-a-thon fundraising event.

    • For every page read by a student, sponsors agree to donate a certain amount of money to the crowdfunding campaign. This is a great way to encourage students to read while raising money for a cause.
    • Have them record the number of pages they read, as well as the names of the books and a short synopsis of each.
    • You can even collect some of their summaries and post them as updates to your fundraiser.
    • Set a fundraising goal at the outset, so you know how many pages need to be read to reach the goal.
    • At the end of your campaign, use the funds to improve your library, or donate the funds to an organization that promotes child literacy.

The road to a better world

Children are the future, and by instilling compassion in them, we help find hope for a better tomorrow for people, animals, and communities around the world. If you haven’t already started a fundraiser with your children or students, get together with them, pick a cause they’re passionate about, and start giving back by launching a fundraiser today.

Note: To create a GoFundMe account, you must be at least 13 years old and have your parent or guardian’s permission.

Start a school fundraiser

Middle school fundraising ideas

large group of teens

It can be challenging to come up with fresh fundraising ideas that excite both students and parents. The start of the school year can be an incredibly busy time, and parents who have spent money on school supplies and clothes may be reluctant to spend even more on a fundraiser—but raising money early on can give you resources to last throughout your academic year.

Get your students involved

Give your students a sense of ownership in your crowdfunding campaign. By trusting middle-school students with an active role in your fundraising efforts, you impart an appreciation for all of the work that goes into funding their education. You also encourage them to express their creativity and take on leadership roles. Ultimately, they’ll value the things or experiences their fundraiser helped make possible.

  • Young people prefer to address real-life situations or problems with a real-life context.
  • Retired teacher Peter Lorain argues that children in middle school are just becoming comfortable with problem solving, planning, and controlling impulses.

Six ideas for middle school fundraising

  • 1. Hold a pancake breakfast

    • Publicize your pancake breakfast in advance via email, school newsletters, and social media.
    • Invite members of the community to support your crowdfunding campaign.
    • Charge a flat fee per breakfast in the form of a donation to your fundraiser (you can take donations with a mobile device).
    • Solicit parent volunteers to help prepare the food in your cafeteria, like pancakes and other breakfast foods.
    • Recruit students to serve meals and refill coffee.
    • Encourage parents to bring extended family, friends, or members of the school community.
  • 2. Host a dance

    Preteen students are often eager to socialize with classmates outside of school, and fundraising dances provide an opportunity to do so while benefiting your cause.

    • Offer alternative activities for kids who aren’t comfortable dancing.
    • Ask student government to take on an active role in planning and publicizing the dance.
    • Recruit parent and teacher volunteers to chaperone.
    • Ask families to make a donation to your crowdfunding campaign in lieu of buying a ticket.
    • To reduce overhead, find a trusted alum or community member to DJ, or recruit a local band to perform.
  • 3. Organize a tie-dye event

    Here’s how to set up a tie-dye booth:

    • Buy a low-cost fabric dye in a variety of colors.
    • Invite students to bring their white t-shirts, socks, or sweatshirts to dye in exchange for a donation.
    • Have them write their name in Sharpie somewhere inside each article of clothing.
    • Fill buckets with cold water and a few dye packets to ensure bold colors.
    • Teach students how to tie up their clothes for a bullseye or swirl pattern.
  • 4. Give students a chance to leave their mark

    If your middle school fundraising campaign benefits a construction project or other upgrade to your facilities, brainstorm ways you can raise money by letting students contribute a handprint, quote, or some other artistic flourish to the building.

    • You could ask them to find a sponsor for each tile in a garden mosaic.
    • Or, you can charge students a small amount to leave their handprint in paint or cement or to make their own mini-mural on a small section of wall.
    • Encourage creative expression and simultaneously helps raise money in small amounts can add up to a huge success.
  • 5. Host a cake-decorating contest

    Here’s how to organize a cake-decorating contest.

    • Participants can donate a set amount to your crowdfunding campaign to participate.
    • Ask a local bakery or grocery store to donate plain, unfrosted cakes, and see if any other businesses are willing to donate gift cards or goods for a winning prize.
    • Have contestants make their own frosting and decorate the cakes however they like, then bring the cakes to school on the day of the event.
    • Gather a panel of judges to choose the winning cake, then auction off all of the contenders to benefit your fundraiser.
  • 6. Arrange a game night

    From Scrabble to Catchphrase to Jeopardy!, there are dozens of options for group games that help expand vocabularies and keep students entertained.

    • Encourage families or groups to sign up for the game night as teams, making a minimum donation as an entrance fee.
    • Host the event in a gym or auditorium. It can be tournament style, or groups can choose from different games.
    • Provide snacks and ask for parent volunteers to keep the evening running smoothly.
    • This can provide an opportunity for students to socialize in a low-pressure atmosphere and connect with peers outside their immediate friend groups.

Blaze new trails

For many people, middle school is a difficult time—an awkward in-between period in which students struggle to adjust to bodily changes as well as increased responsibility and freedom. But middle school fundraisers can actually be constructive projects that make this new territory less threatening for students. By organizing a crowdfunding campaign that features events that allow kids to socialize and express their creativity, you help them become more confident young people while raising money for the school. If you haven’t already, launch a school fundraiser today.

Note: To create a GoFundMe account, you must be at least 13 years old and have your parent or guardian’s permission.

Start a middle school fundraiser

Private school fundraising ideas

three private school students

It isn’t uncommon for private schools to have a large and active philanthropic program that requires students and families to make contributions of time and money. For example, families may be required to volunteer a specific number of service hours to the school. Service learning builds community, encourages compassion, and helps instill a sense of ownership and pride. As part of these efforts, students and parents can use crowdfunding to help finance clubs, sports, community service projects, or add to the school’s endowment or general fund.

Reach your goals with crowdfunding

Whether you’re a parent on the school’s fundraising committee or a student involved in a community service project, crowdfunding can help you reach your goals. Along with crowdfunding, many schools organize offline fundraising events, which can help boost awareness and encourage involvement.

  • One of the biggest needs in private school communities is for need-based scholarships. Dedicate a crowdfunding campaign or event to the schools scholarship fund to take the pressure off stretched low- and middle-income families.
  • Private-school students often have a wealth of supplies and resources. Raising money for supplies for a sister school, nearby or around the world, can help students appreciate their good fortune.
  • Let students lead. When giving arises out of students’ passions and interests, it helps build commitment and motivation.

Six ideas for private school fundraising

  • 1. Support refugee relief efforts

    Encourage students to be citizens of the world. Climate change and regional conflicts have created huge waves of refugees globally.

    • One way for students to showcase compassion is to start a campaign and raise funds to keep refugees safe and ease their suffering.
    • Find a reputable charity aimed at helping refugees and raise funds for it.
  • 2. Keep scholarships alive

    Often, a school’s fundraising committee dedicates a fair amount of time and resources toward raising money for financial aid. Private schools offer scholarships and discounted tuition to students whose families can’t afford to pay the full cost of tuition.

    • By providing need-based and/or merit-based scholarships, private schools maintain a more vibrant and diverse student body.
    • Crowdfunding can help students, parents, staff, and alumni replenish the coffers that make financial aid possible.
  • 3. Stay active

    Depending on your school’s extracurricular budget, participating in a school sport may require fundraising for things like uniforms, field maintenance and repair, coaches’ salaries, travel to tournaments, equipment, and more. Student-athletes welcome the opportunity to raise funds for their athletic programs. Whatever the team’s needs are, crowdfunding can help make the season a smashing success.

  • 4. Host a cook-off

    To start a friendly competition between students, faculty, and parents, organize a cook-off to display cooking or baking skills.

    • You can either charge an entrance fee (via a donation to your campaign) or require tasting fees from participants (in the form of a contribution).
    • Find a venue such as your school’s dining hall or auditorium to host this event.
    • The winner is awarded bragging rights as the best chef at your school.
  • 5. Organize a march

    As a play on the movie March of the Penguins, hold a school-wide march. This works especially well for green clubs or students interested in protecting and preserving the environment.

    • Have everyone design his or her own penguin costume and require an entrance fee to participate in the march.
    • The costumes allow people to get creative while raising awareness for your chosen environmental cause.
  • 6. Host an outdoor movie night

    Host a social gathering for parents and their children by organizing an outdoor movie fundraising event.

    • Pick a famous movie (or vote on one) and invite everyone to enjoy the film together from the comfort of lawn chairs and blankets.
    • Find an outdoor space, a powerful projector, a screen (or sheet, or flat white wall), and speakers that can fill the space with the right level of sound.
    • Take donations with a mobile device. Whip up some popcorn and sell it for a small price.
    • A fun variation: host a summer dive-in movie in a swimming pool.

Get your school campaign off the ground

No need to waste time figuring out how to go about raising funds for your school event, class trip, program, club, or worthy cause. Get the ball rolling with a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe—since it has a 0% platform fee, you get to keep more of the funds your raise. We also offer a wealth of free resources and unique fundraising ideas. If you haven’t already launched your school fundraiser, create your campaign today.

Note: To create a GoFundMe account, you must be at least 13 years old and have your parent or guardian’s permission.

Start a private school fundraiser

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