School fundraisers....that Time of the Year (NOT Selling Stuff)

Updated on September 12, 2011
L.K. asks from Boise, ID
14 answers

Our school has decided to go away from the silent auction that we have done for the last 10 years. The parents (myself included) have voiced that it's too much trouble to get donations from local companies and then go to the event and bid on things we probably would otherwise not buy. We've decided to try a pledge drive and just ask families to give money directly to the school. Do any of your schools do something similar? If so, any "creative" approaches or ideas on what has worked for you? Our school has figured out that if each family would donate $50.00 it would make up for the money not made in the silent auction but part of me feels like we shouldn't "advertise" this because then families will only donate $50.00 and be done with it. We live in an area that some/most families can afford more so I don't want to limit or put a dollar amount on donations. I'd love to hear thoughts from other Moms on what works in your schools. tia.

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answers from Austin on

There are more and more schools doing "armchair" fundraisers now.... and frankly, it can bring in more than if everyone bought junk they didn't need, where the school gets only a fraction of the money!

Here's a possible wording...

"Since families get busier and busier with school activities, we want to try a different type of fundraiser this year. If it is successful, this will be the only fundraiser we have. In the past, we have depended on people getting donations of items from local businesses for a silent auction. This year, we are asking people to donate what they normally would donate when ordering from the fundraisers/silent auction and just donate that directly to the armchair fundraiser. This way, 100% of the money goes to the student programs!"

We are asking you to pledge an amount of money you can donate to help support the student programs. This can be given as a one-time donation, or a pledge spread out over several months. We realize that back to school time can be expensive, so that is why we are setting up the pledge."

There may be a way to set it up as an automatic payment so families don't forget....

Good luck, and I hope it works!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

For our school carnivals we used to have families as sponsors.

Different levels had special names.. Then we had banners up in the gym, the cafeteria etc.. showing the different sponsor families.

Maybe you all could have levels for $50. $100. $250. $500. $1000.

Remind parents, if this is a public school these donations are tax deductible..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

The best one that we have done is a fun run.
People pledge a $ amount per lap. The kids run on a track that is 1/16 of a mile. laps counted on the back of their shirts.
Kids get exercise, the school gets $
we did it through
but I bet you could do it on your own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I have been involved with schools that ask for a voluntary pledge. It works okay, but yes, you will have people that will write the check for the minimum even though they could give more. And there are some people who can't afford even that much.

If you would like to get students involved, you can have them collect pledges, and for every $___ they get their name in a raffle prize.

One idea is to make it clear that $50 from each family would cover _____, but you think that we can do better than that and if you exceed the goal, then ____ will happen.


answers from Boston on

I am working with my school to put a great fundraiser in place. I own internet franchises and we offer a non profit fundraiser. The school gets an online mall and parents and even relatives can shop for things they need like groceries, toilet paper, clothes, etc from the stores they are already shopping at and the school gets the profit.
The large chain stores like target, walmart, best buy, etc. Needed to find other ways of advertising since we got dvrs. They will pay the schools ( in the form of donations) for sending traffic their way.
Let me know if you would like more info.
I personally hate selling stuff so if folks can shop at target and the school can make money....I'm all for it. Oh... And the consumer earns cash back. It's such a win win.



answers from Dallas on

My kids school each year does these main things (lots of little things in between) to get financial help from the familie/communities in the district:

1: A flyer goes out announcing the annual "check writing campain". You write a check for whatever amount, put it in the envelope and send it to school

2: Annual ice-cream social where you come indulge in FREE ice-cream provided by the PTA but to get in, you have to purchase raffle tickets for $5 a piece. Raffle tickets go towards things like, lunch with the principle, front row parking to school programs, front of the line in carpool etc...

3: Purchase the art campain. Each year the school district offers up any of the student art on the walls for sale. This one is surprisingly popular believe it or not. A lot of community businesses support the local artists so they snatch the pieces up. It's a lot of fun for the kids to see their art sell (and ALL of it has always sold).

Like I said, these are the 3 main ones but a lot of little things also go on throughout the year.



answers from St. Louis on

One fundraiser I remember as a child is doing a "Book Pledge". I had to ask family members/ close family friends to pledge to donate so much to the school based on the number of books I read during a period of time. Like my parents said they would give me $5/ book. My uncle said $2/book. When it was said and done I was making about $15/ book. My school wanted to encourage students to read more and this was there fun way to get us to read. I had a lot of fun with it and each grade level had different requirements as to what counted as a book. A 5th grade couldn't read a Easy Level 1 book and count it. This was one of my favorite fundraisers because it was something I could actually sell.


answers from Biloxi on

My church had a building fund drive last year, and they presented several options that showed how different dollar level contributions from each church family would pay off the property mortgage. Ie., $100 per family mortgage paid off in X years, $50 per family mortgage paid off in X years. Etc. It was nice to see the different scenarios and encouraging to see that my donation would help my church meet a specific goal.

It also let us, as a family, not feel locked into any one donation amount.

You never want to limit the amount a donor will give - but you do want to set up expectations of donation limits. Maybe present it as donor levels -
Gold, Silver, Bronze, with varying dollar amounts...always leave a blank for donors to fill in so they know they are not locked into the levels. Also, since you are asking for a cash donation make sure to send each and every donor a thank you note - a postcard only costs pennies to send.

Good Luck.
I so wish my son's school and band would just ask me for a check.



answers from Washington DC on

Would you want to make signs like they do for Make a Wish (hot air balloons) and have the donor's names displayed in a thank you for supporting us hallway? Maybe use the school mascot.

I think this is great. One of the preschools we are looking at has a $ amount or requirement to participate in bothering people for the silent auction - so not my thing. I'd rather just give money that goes straight to the school.



answers from Dallas on

Our school does this. We have promised no fundraisers. Instead, we have greenback night. We do it on teacher curriculum night. The parents who want to, write a check directly to the school for what ever amount they wish. 100% of the money stays with the school. No candles, no popcorn, no wrapping paper. We average $10,000 a year in a school of about 500 students. The PTA has carnivals, and our Dad's club has fun runs and dinners, but the school does not have any fundraisers.



answers from Redding on

Every year, the school in my town has annual spaghetti and steak feeds.
They also sell candy bars and take Krispy Kreme donut orders.
It seems like every time you turn around, a class is selling this or that. It gets old for sure.
However, the biggest money makers are the feeds. Our local grocery stores donate the food and everyone in town, with rare exception, gets dinner either on spaghetti or steak night. Most people, some that don't even have kids, get theirs to go and take it home. We have one pizza parlor and one mexican restaurant so when we get a chance to have someone else make dinner, everyone goes for it. They've done it so many years that it's down to a fine science and the food is really good too.
The other thing that's been really successful is having rummage sales in the auditorium. People even come from different towns to check them out and they do quite well.
They tried to do a silent auction and had some really nice donated items, but the starting bids were so high no one really bid.
They hung on to the stuff for a few months and tried selling it at a street fair.
You can try having a raffle for for things.

It's just really a hard time to raise money right now.
I hope you find something that works well!



answers from Denver on

Our school sells Otis Spunkmyer Cookie Dough to start with (the kids get a prize for selling the stuff). Then the whole district does Stepping Out. Where you can sponsor a child to walk for the school. They encourage the kids to go to different people/businesses to sponsor them. They can get as much or as little money as they want and then their offer will be matched by some of the local businesses. I know the Middle School does a Magazine Drive. Also they do a Spare Change Drive at the school at all levels. Where kids bring in their "spare change" and they get prizes for participating.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Our school tried this last year and claimed that they did not do as well as they did with their regular fundraisers. You can not make it mandatory and only a % of the families will respond. If you give a recommended donation than you will need to offer incentives for people to go above and beyond that amount. While many families may be capable of giving that amount it does not mean that they will wish to do so.

You could always word it that if enough is collected than you will have NO
fundraisers. Otherwise leave yourself open to hold a fundraiser.

I do want to say though that the only people this might appeal to are the people who organize and run the silent auction. It will eliminate all of the work they put into it. For the people who participate they are not going to see any return on their money so I would expect the donations to be much lower. Then you're going to have to appeal to those who did not participate in the silent auction. It is a tough sale.



answers from Houston on

We once had fun with a bake-less bake sale... (asked people to give what they would have spent on the ingredients for the items they would have donated, and what they would have spent to buy an item or two).
You could take a similar approach with your auction-less auction... just advertise that, for their convenience, you are going to invite them to give what they would have spent had their been an auction. If it was $20 for some that's fine. If it was $500 for others, that's fine, too. Tell them they now have the night off, rather than spending it at school for the auction.

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