Fundraising Suggestions - Birdsboro,PA

Updated on June 08, 2015
V.S. asks from Birdsboro, PA
25 answers

So my kids will be going to a brand new school - not just new to them, completely new in the district - next year, and it is a specialty school that draws from all over a very large geographic region, with some kids traveling 20-30 minutes in opposite directions to get there. I got tasked as being one of two people to chair fundraising for our fledgling PTO. Ironic, really, given my absolute hatred for fundraising projects. However, this school only has a relatively small budget from the district to get started, so we really do need to come up with some good ideas.

Typically, a lot of the schools around here do restaurant fund raisers, but since we are so geographically spread out, that'll be harder. What ideas do you have - especially things that don't require small children to do a lot of selling or invasive sharing of relatives' contact information.

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So What Happened?

These are all great ideas!
Two things - we don't have spirit wear yet! We don't have school colors or a mascot or logo yet! That's how new this all is. The kids will get to decide in the fall. But we are planning to do spirit wear.
Also, to answer the question, the school is a 3rd-8th grade alternative gifted school.
Thanks for the great suggestions so far!

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answers from Jacksonville on

Can you print Tshirts with the school logo on it and sell them ? It's a brand new school... team/school spirit may be very high right now. Parents, grandparents, and kids themselves may want to wear these.

As a former Boxtops Coordinator for my kids schools, yes it can be a great fundraiser.. the more families, the easier it is. BUT, there are NO Boxtops on Campbell's Soup. Those are campbell's labels, which are an ENTIRELY different program. Not connected whatsoever. Just FYI. It is also supposed to be a good program (you earn points and can redeem them for items from their catalog or something), but the Boxtop Program has NOTHING to do with that. It probably is just lumped together b/c they both involve food labels and often a single parent volunteers to do both programs.
Unlike Campbell's labels, though, Boxtops pays CASH.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Bottle can drive? Make up flyers stating the school and reasons for raising money, state when the kids will be picking up the cans, and then organize a meeting spot. It's a ton of work, but people seem to be very generous with donating bottles and cans. Since you are covering so many areas, you wouldn't have to worry about hitting the same areas twice.

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answers from Norfolk on

If you can manage it, try to have a fund raising opt out option where parents/grandparents/sponsors can write the PTO a check directly and be done with it.

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answers from New York on

T-shirts or Sweatshirts with the school mascot & name.
Kids & Parents alike will want them.
Pretty sure this is pretty simple nowadays too!

~We always buy the T-Shirts & Hoodies...don't you?

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answers from Washington DC on

What about a silent auction? We combine ours with a light meal and sell tickets for the food and drink while people bid on themed baskets. I don't know what company they used, but a friend's school used online bidding so that anyone anywhere can bid on items. Most items were donated by the classes or community.

We also went to direct donations vs selling stuff nobody wants. We made as much or more and didn't have the hassle of the fundraising packets. Win-win.

ETA: With a silent auction, know your community. If your neighbors are not likely to buy a $100 item, then don't go there. Try $25 grocery store gift cards, car washes, books, educational toys, pool passes (if you have community pools), etc. We had a teachers who auctioned off a lunch with them, or something like that, too.

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answers from Chicago on

Our school sends out a list of about 50 restaurants and stores that donate a percentage to the school of gift cards bought at the school. Anything from Walgreens to Bath and body works is included. We just send a check for whatever ones we want and the PTO sends the cards home the following week. They send the flyers out every month. All the businesses have been contacted in advance and it continues year after year. They donate anywhere from 2% to 15% to the school. I just buy cards where I normally go and I buy them for gifts.

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answers from Atlanta on

Our kids' private elementary and middle school uses a half-marathon/10K/ 5K/fun-run as their main fundraiser, and it has been extremely successful. They get sponsorship from various health-related businesses and local restaurants, and the labor is all volunteer (parents, teachers, kids at the school, and friends/local high schoolers/etc). Each year, we have close to 1800 runners for the event (600 for the half-marathon, 600 for the 10K, and 600 5K run/walkers). They pay from $20 to $75 to participate--no need for the kids to get sponsors. Setting it up the first time must have been a major organizational challenge, and I think they did pay the original organizer in-kind (free tuition for her kids plus a small salary). Now that it's been established for about 7 years, they only need to do some minor tweaking each year and it is great fun. Now, it helps that the school has many acres of woods and well-established trails, so the idea might need some adapting to your local situation, however it has a lot of pluses.

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answers from Santa Fe on

One of our biggest fundraisers is the Pumpkin Run which we hold at the end of October. The whole school participates with all the students running or walking laps. There are silly prizes for most laps, school spirit, etc. The class with the most laps wins the gold shoe medal which is a shoe spray painted gold with lots of glitter.It gets passed around each year. The PTO sends each student a letter they can email or mail out to family members asking for a donation...either per lap or a flat donation. You can also mail out letters to businesses in town. Parents are the volunteers during the Run. It is a great fundraiser because 100% of the money goes to the school. We raise almost $8,000 each year. I am super happy that the school requires the kids to sell nothing. I hate fundraisers where you have to sell stuff. We also have a couple car washes, pizza night, the Scholastic book fairs and bingo and raffle nights (each classroom creates an amazing basket with a theme).

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answers from Boston on

I am a PTA treasurer for a grade 3-5 school with about 900 students. Our most common fundraisers each year are:

Boosterthon Fun Run - this was our first year and we raised over $30K (off of $60K in pledges). There was some push back from parents who thought that the staff who worked with the kids each day were a bit pushy and didn't like the fact that the company takes up to 50% of the pledges, but it was far and away our biggest fundraiser ever and was the least amount of work for us.

Scholastic Book Fairs - we do one in the spring and one in the fall.

Square One Art - perennial favorite

Meadow Farms/Innisbrook/Sally Foster - people complain about these because they are basically buying wrapping paper, etc. but for all the complaining, people keep buying!

Spirit Wear - honestly, no matter how we price this we always end up losing money. There is a fee for the original artwork, and we usually buy samples to have on hand so those start up costs add up. Not to say that this can't be a money-maker, but don't count on it being something that brings in a ton of money.

Coffee Cakes / Pies / Soups - my current school doesn't do this but a prior school had a very popular pie sale every fall that was timed to come in just before Thanksgiving and a soup sale in January, good for cold winter months.

School pictures and yearbook - you can price these so that your group keeps a share of the sales.

Target - get set up with Target so that families who use a red card can elect for your school to receive their school % (which I believe is 5%)

Adult social - a prior elementary school that my kids went to had an adult social each year that was hugely successful. Generally a DJ, silent auctions, raffles and lots of inebriated parents = $$$$. It was really fun and they raised a ton of money.

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answers from Dallas on

Fun run or check a thon. Everything else is a lot of effort for a small amount of money.

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answers from Rochester on

Take a look at SquareOne Art. Our daycare did it and I loved it. Kids produce a drawing. It is sent into a company and then you can order products with the art on it. We always bought Christmas presents for grandparents and my sister-in-law. We also got things like tshirts, mouse pads, coffee cups, etc.

Our 5th grade students do a gift card fundraiser for an overnight trip they take. I'm not sure what the company is, but there is a "catalog" of gift cards you can buy. They are from all kinds of businesses that are nation wide so you can even sell to family and friends who are not local.

Our school just raised almost $5000 with a silent auction at their spring carnival. They not only had products from local businesses donated but also had experiences donated. One dad who is a chef donated a cooking class for kids and also a cheese making class for adults. Someone else donated a guided fishing trip. A mom donated her baking skills to bake a dozen cookies every month. Someone else donated a homemade and decorated birthday cake. A family with a timeshare in Florida donated their week for the auction this year. At my kids' school each class also had a theme basket that kids brought in donations for. One was a Willy Wonka theme, one was a movie night theme, one was a baking theme, one was a kids' craft theme, one was a reading theme, etc. Teachers also did a mystery theme basket that got a lot of bids.

My kids' school has been doing fundraisers to replace their outdated playground. They have sold engraved bricks to pave part of a sidewalk. They also hosted a Harlem Wizards game. They did a school wide cookbook. They had a walk-a-thon. They also had a huge garage sale and a pennies for our playground challenge to see which class could bring in the most pennies.

Scholastic book fairs are a big fundraiser for us. We also do bingo nights, movie nights, family fitness night, etc. Money is basically made from the sale of food and bingo cards those nights.

You could try a No Craft-No Bake Sale. Our church does one every year and it brings in quite a bit of money. They send out a postcard that simply asks people to donate an amount equivalent to what they would spend on the supplies the would purchase for a bake sale or craft sale.

It takes a lot of volunteers to pull off a good fundraiser. Hopefully you have lots of parents willing to help!

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answers from Los Angeles on

One of my favourite fundraisers is a Bud, Spud and Steak. I also like the plant orders from local greenhouses, coupon books, restaurant pancake breakfasts and silent auctions.

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answers from Dallas on

I am so excited... I did a test response from my laptop and it worked!! Whoo Hoo.

My daughter graduated in 2013 so I might have old info but here goes...

Make sure the PTO is set up for 501c3Write a check campaigns are popular here.

Do you have sports? We worked together with all of the sport booster clubs. One of the largest fundraisers was the publication of the football programs in the fall. We sold advertising for the programs which were sold at each game as a loss... the $$ was in the advertising.

Our group... cheer also picked 5 games and we specialized 5 different t-shirts to sell in a package of 5. Advertisers paid up to $2000 to get their name on the back of the shirts.

Our cheerleaders also sold spiritwear. That was always good because parents would always buy the school shirts, sweatshirts, etc for the children.... PRIME time for sales was during registration when parents were there with checkbooks!

The elementary levels have silent auctions which are run online so you don't have to leave your home to bid and win. My favorite silent auction item is 2.5 hours of housecleaning!! I've won it 2 years in a row.

They also do a walkathon and get pledges for how many miles are walked.

That's just a few off the top of my head. Best wishes to you.

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answers from Chicago on

How quickly do you need cashflow? Also - what is the "specialty"? both of those things can make a difference. What will the money be used for? Are you talking that you need a couple grand? Or are you trying to pay for additional teachers?

I was the treasurer of PTO for my daughters elementary school. She attended a magnet school with a Fine Arts focus. So for a $500 initial investment to purchase the license and librettos we did a musical. We sold advertising in the program and established ticket prices. We made just under $20,000. The second year, we made over $40,000 (once everyone saw how big it would be we also added some additional fundraisers like Tshirts signed by the cast etc).

I also know that silent auctions can net huge dollar amounts - which they did at my daughter's middle school. Especially if you have parents with any sort of "connection"... so we had some parents donate 2 season tickets for the Chicago Bears - that got just under $2500 alone. Teachers can also "donate" their time to a kid or family.... like "have the cooking teacher make you dinner" etc.
Also each class did a "large piece" of artwork... my daughter's class took a wooden bench and did a mosaic decoration in marbles and glass. They made around $800 for just the bench.

Our PTO also sponsored a before school program. We charged REALLY cheap prices.... only really enough to cover the cost of teachers and insurance. But you could sponsor activities that are actually a money maker. or do a before school care program that has a higher tuition.

One last thing..... do you have a 501c3? If you are going to be taking "donations" you will need it. Otherwise you can get into trouble with the IRS. Also depending on what your focus is.... you can find someone in the community who is *that* at then see if they will donate you (they get the tax write off) some money.

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answers from San Francisco on

Our school did the gift wrap thing, Scholastic book fair, huge school carnival/picnic, a big "parents night out" silent auction (that was the biggie, we raised around $65,000 annually at that event alone) and a walk a thon. But we had many, MANY volunteers helping out and events were planned several months in advance.
I think to start the Scholastic book fair (check their website for info) and organizing a walk a thon would be your best bets, as they are fairly simple to set up and don't require too many volunteers.

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answers from Miami on

My kids old schools did two pretty successful fundraisers. One was Bingo Night. They procured game prizes, and also did a big raffle. They got GOOD prizes for the raffle. Restaurants, hotel stays, electronics, that kind of thing. They had a contest for what child could sell the most raffle tickets and prizes for the top 3 sellers. Bingo Night brought in baked goods brought in by moms to sell, and they sold hot dogs and soft drinks too. The games were held in the gymnasium (they had enough tables and chairs to fill it up - if they hadn't, I guess it would have been in the cafeteria.) It was loud and boisterous and people loved winning and getting the game prizes. They put the list of raffle prizes on the school the next day. (You didn't have to be there to win the raffle.)

They made a lot of money on Bingo Night (they do it every year) but it takes a lot of volunteer work.

Another of my kids' schools did a Trivia Night. (This was a choir fundraiser.) They had a slide show for the questions and each table of people competed. There was an entrance fee and again, baked goods to sell. I think they also sold pizza.

The high schoolers provided some entertainment too, singing show tunes, etc between the sets of questions. I don't know how much money they made, but it must have been pretty good since the choir was traveling to Europe.

I don't know this has helped, but I wish you much luck!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I've been to 2 fun fundraisers recently.
One was a PTO fundraiser: Family Olympics. The PTA set up an obstacle course in the gym using stuff that was already there. It went something like this: Toss bean bags until you got 3 into a ring, then 10 jumps with a jump rope, then 10 jumps on a small trampoline (the little exercise kind), then put the basketball through the hoop, then do a long jump onto a big map. It was timed, and the timer stopped when you hit the map. The trick was though - it was family olympics, so the kid AND an adult had to do the course! Then a winner from each grade was announced (there were some accommodations, like for grades K-3, only the adult had to jump rope, and there was a maximum of 5 tries with the basketball hoop so a kid wasn't stuck there forever, etc). Kids payed just $1 to enter so it wouldn't be a financial burden to participate, and then the PTO also set up a vending table with food and drinks for sale. I don't think it raised tons of money, but it raised a little and, best of all, it raised a lot of enthusiasm for the PTO because it was so fun.

The other is that this past weekend, our local playground held a 5K run, skip, jump, and stroll as a fundraiser. It was $15 per runner or $35 per family and they encouraged both runners with a small prize for fastest man and fastest woman, and they encouraged families, people with strollers, people with dogs to walk, etc (no kid sponsorships, just the entrance fee). And they get corporate sponsors for the race, so, for example, at the 1 KM mark, there was a small sign that said "1 KM, Go for the Gold! Sponsored by XX Jewelers" Again, IMO, the reason this worked and was fun was that it was not advertised as a fundraiser, but as a fun family event.


answers from Boston on

Scholastic (or other company) book fair - especially before the December holidays. Our schools combine with an Ice Cream Social for one evening (which may be difficult with your kids being so spread out) but they also have during-school "shopping hours". Kids can also fill out a "wish list" which helps teach them about title/author, and they can give it to their parents (who will in turn give it to selected relatives for a "buy a gift/support our school" promotion.

Shoebox raffle - stores, coffee places and restaurants (you can try the chains so everyone will have one near them) - sell raffle tickets and then kids/adults can put their tickets in the "shoebox" in front of the particular item them want to win. You can put 1 ticket in 20 boxes, or 20 tickets in 1 box, however you want. Local hairdressers and massage places will give gift certificates, and if you have a good number of kids in any one town, even if it's at a distance, many will often support if you tell them what sort of publicity they will get (names on the website, publish in local papers, etc.) Garden centers can give bulbs (autumn) or plants (spring). Get each class to promote a particular theme to those parents, and whoever brings in something can pool those donations into one big item: baby items, gourmet, cooking, teen fun, movie night, etc. Make sure the person doesn't have to be present to win.

Another popular fundraiser around here is scrip (people sometimes call it "script" but that's incorrect). Stores sell you their gift cards and pay you a commission - people give you, say, $100 for the supermarket or Home Depot (the same $100 they would spend there anyway) and the school makes a percentage. One of our schools just did it with grocery, Starbucks, hardware, and I think major on line places like LL Bean and that sort of thing. They had people order over a 2 week period. Other organizations around us do it year-round for the local grocery store chains. It takes organization and some paperwork (keeping track of serial numbers on the cards, for example) but it really adds up and it doesn't actually cost the parents anything. Some sign up for monthly mailings too - "Send me $400 a month and debit my bank account."

Spirit wear is also a big one (sweatshirts, teeshirts, etc.)



answers from Boston on

Trivia night $20 per person. Sells out a 200 person room in our town. $1 to wear PJs to school, Walkathon, raffle baskets, clothes with school logo.



answers from Los Angeles on

Our school does two huge fundraisers each year and a few smaller ones. The big ones:

1. Pledge Drive - typically held in the fall, each family is asked to give a cash donation. The recommended amount is $300, but families can give as much, or as little, as they choose. We have a school of about 620 kids and raise around $30,000 per year from our pledge drive.

2. Jog-a-Thon - typically held in the spring, this is our biggest fundraiser of the year. We usually bring in over $40,000 and this year topped $50,000 for the first time. Prior to the jog-a-thon, students collect pledges from friends, family members, and neighbors. Pledges can be a flat amount or a per-lap amount, meaning they pay a certain amount for each lap that the child runs (for example, pledge $1 per lap; the student runs 20 laps so the donor pays $20). We set up a track that is about 1/10 mile and each students runs for 30 minutes (staggered by grade throughout the whole day, since you can't have 600 kids running at once). We have a big raffle following the event, and kids each one raffle ticket for each $10 they raise. They also do prizes for most laps run (per class and per grade, separate winners for boys and girls) and for most money raised per class, per grade, and more. The prizes are a big incentive for the kids and they strive to raise more and run more.

3. Cultural Night - we live in a very diverse area, so each year we hold a cultural night. Different countries set up booths and sell food native to that country, usualy for $1-2 per dish. some also set up an activity, such as Henna art from India that people can pay to try. we have a raffle at this event as well, with tickets costing $1.

Smaller fundraisers:

1. Box Tops for Education - make a big push for people to bring them in (found on various products such as Kleenex, Cheerios, Ziploc Bags, Campbell's soup and many more). Our school makes around $1,000 per year and it all goes to our library. Some schools earn several thousand dollars each year with a lot of participation.

2. Rewards cards - Ralph's/Kroger grocery, Target Stores, Amazon (register at and many other retailers will give a percentage of each purchase back to the school when you use their reward card, credit card, or affiliate link. Websites such as are a portal to dozens of sites offering this service.

3. Communities for Cause is an app that will donate back to schools based on purchases made at local retailers and restaurants.

4. Juice It Up, a local smoothie company comes once every two weeks and sells smoothies after school. We get a percentage of the sales.

One of the things I like most about our school is we never have to sell anything, ever. I hate the fundraisers that require sales and much prefer the types that we do at our school. We also do restaurant nights, though I know those aren't great for you.



answers from Asheville on

My favorite fundraiser is the annual silent auction during spring festival. I also enjoy the book fair. There are some really easy "painless" fundraisers you can do throughout the year such as Coke reward points, Amazon Smile, and Labels for Education. I really despise having to sell stuff or the cookie dough type fundraisers. Honestly, I'd rather just write a check and be done with it for those types of fundraisers.



answers from Denver on

In our area, the 2 main grocery stores offer 5% back on gift certificates. Our PTO makes a killing selling them. I would look into that, a lot of people around here use them to buy all their groceries.
Another thing is those discount cards to local restaurants.



answers from San Francisco on

Pay to Play - These have been my favorite fund raisers because they are also social events and good for building community. Basically groups of parents organize an activity, i.e. Broomball, outdoor laser tag, dodgeball, outdoor movie night, etc and you pay $100 to participate per family. These are a big hit at our school and everyone wants to do them. It takes a little organization, but raises some money.



answers from New York on

how about lightbulbs, paper towels, reusable lunch bags, gas station gift cards, etc. I like the option to purchase things which I would be buying anyway. If you can get it at a discount for having negotiated with the vendor, and I am not out of pocket anything more than the face value, or even having gotten a sliver off retail, I am a happy camper.

F. B.


answers from Columbia on

I strongly dislike fundraisers. I could wax philosophical on the topic, but I have a feeling you can relate.

That said, the Opt Out Letter fundraiser is, in my opinion, the best way to go. A letter is sent out at the beginning of the year giving parents to write a check, 100% of which will go straight to the PTO (as opposed to much smaller percentages in other traditional fundraisers, or fundraisers with overhead). Say you plan on 4 fundraisers for the year. The Opt Out Letter gives parents the opportunity to opt out of 1, 2, 3 or all 4 fundraisers (1 for $30, 2 for $55, all four for $100). They won't get any packets sent home, and the kids won't go to the silly assemblies where salespeople try to get them to earn cheap toys to sell their overpriced stuff. The most complicated part of this is keeping the spreadsheet of who has opted out. ;-)

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