What Motivates Giving?

Updated on February 06, 2016
N.R. asks from Chicago, IL
13 answers

Middle school is a tough fundraising crowd. People are burned out on giving and now that kids are more autonomous, parents aren't that connected to the school, so an even harder sell. We really do need money from families able to give to support school programs that make a difference, especially for the underserved students at our very diverse city school. What has your school done that was a success? What has motivated you to give to your school? Everyone is sick of gift wrap and candy sales; no one really wants another big shin-dig to attend. What has worked for you and your school? Would love your input.

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answers from Portland on

Have people donate their good condition used goods - books, décor items, jewelry they don't wear anymore, or they can buy some dollar store items and donate.

They have a sale the kids go to and everything is under $5. They kids buy for their families. They do this at Christmas, but you could do it for Mother's Day etc.

My kids love it. Have given us books, vases, movies, etc.

It's very popular and raises a lot of money. And people tend to like cleaning out their closets.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Philadelphia on

I like the no frills fund raiser. They just ask you to write a check and 100% of the funds go towards the school.

We also have an annual golf outing each year for our post prom event that raises about $15,000 per year. We also have an adult fund raiser that raises another $15,000 per year.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check writing campaigns are a good thing here.

The largest fundraiser that our elementary has is an online auction. Last year they raised over $15,000.00. They work all year for this event to get good items donated then the staff does things like...

each grade level has a theme and has a huge gift basket on auction.. (movie night, beach, pampering, etc themes),

teachers donate time and have a special lunch with a student

each grade level group of teachers has an outing for a limited number of students which is usually movies, bowling, etc,or special lunches with students,

a student gets to be principal for a day

a student gets the front drop off area named after them for the year,

a parent gets a special parking spot for the year

each grade level works together on a piece of art and it is auctioned off

2. In high school, the boosters keep busy and they often have a golf tournament along with a silent auction and dinner in the summer. Our football team make a huge amount of money with this event.

I was involved in the Cheerleading boosters. We sold t-shirts for specific game days.. we chose 5 big games, got sponsors for the shirts with their names on the back, then sold the shirts in packs of 5. ALL profit and we sold thousands.

We had a tailgate party and sold tickets for the dinner before the big game. Tickets were about $7 each and the 2 years I was there, Carrabba's donated ALL the food. Again, it was ALL profit.

Our senior high PTA had a checking balance over $200,000 when I left which provided scholarships, after homecoming parties, prom, after graduation parties, as well as funding programs for the school.

Best wishes to you!! It is a hard job.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Nothing says "I love you" like a check$$

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answers from Norfolk on

When STEM robotics club needed funds, they stated they needed each kid in the class to sell 2 coupon books to raise the funds they needed.
At $25 per book, that's $50 in total sales for which the club got %50 (or $25).
So I told the teacher - we don't do fund raisers - can I write you a check for $50?
I'm out the same amount of money I otherwise would be but you get %100 of it and my time and effort isn't wasted in selling something we don't need or want.
He was MORE than happy to take the check - plus it gave him twice what he was asking for.
It was a win/win for both of us!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I am most likely to give if someone asks me for something specific and tells me exactly what it will be used for. Gift wrap and candy for a general PTO fundraiser - not motivating to me. A note home that says that the school is collecting single serving food items to send home with kids who are food insecure - that has me put some items straight onto my shopping list.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

For us? Cake walks work...

We also have companies that donate and we have auctions for the products/services.

When it happens this way - people don't feel as if they are being begged to give money. They are getting something in return. Not just being hit up for money.

For classes? We talked to the teacher about what they needed for their classrooms to make them more efficient, etc. then put up a Sign Up Genius so people could donate items that were needed.

It all boils down to people being able to have a choice and know what they are giving.

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answers from Atlanta on

My kids' school organizes a run every year--a half-marathon, a 10K race, a 5K, and a 'fun run' of 1 mile for little kids. It's a major venture because the half, 10K, and 5K each have up to 600 participants, so that means 1800 people coming to campus. It works because we have been doing it for the past 7 or 8 years and the organizers have set up a really good system; local hospitals and sports stores are happy to donate money and supplies in exchange for the publicity, and every single person at the school (including the students) volunteers time to make it happen. It also works because the school is located on a huge campus with very attractive woods and trails. So your school probably won't be able to go that route--but you might consider if some kind of walk or other activity could work.

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answers from Boston on

Our three big ones are
1) combination silent auction & shoebox raffle. It's a ton of work but people get to bid on stuff they would buy anyway - restaurant gift certificates, sporting stores gc, etc., plus stuff they can't get (or afford) elsewhere (like Red Sox or Celtics tickets, especially the really good seats), etc. Kids put their tickets in the shoeboxes for big bins of toys, swim gear, athletic equipment, etc. Smaller donations from littler stores (or even re-gifting!) get batched together and sold as one lot. It's an evening - but the kids go too, hit their parents for $20 worth of raffle tickets, and then run around and have fun. If you combine it with an ice cream social or hot dog night, it works out.
2) Fundraiser night at Papa GIno's or similar restaurant, where 20% of sales go to the school. People will go out for pizza or takeout anyway, so it's an easy fundraiser with little work except publicity.
3) Annual Trivia Bee. It started out as a spelling bee for about 5 years, then morphed into a Trivia Night. Teams of 3 pay a fee to enter, but all the businesses and clubs in town participate (Civic Club, Town Hall staff, Rotary, that sort of thing), plus small groups of friends or neighbors. They give their teams silly names and wear some simple costume (like a tee shirt with a saying or team name on it), and make it an evening. There's a cash bar, so the hotel gives them the room for no fee. It takes planning and publicity and lead time, but it's an event that is fun to participate in as well as watch if you have friends in it, so they get a good turn out. Sometimes you can use a town facility (like the Senior Center) but then you can't serve alcohol. The proceeds go to the educational foundation, which allows teachers to apply for mini-grants ($250-500 usually) for stuff that just isn't covered in their class budgets.

Good luck!

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answers from Seattle on

Our middle school has a fee for the school directory that goes towards the PTA, and when you sign up for that you have the option of donating more money. Then the kids do a product sale each year, like greenery for Christmas (my favorite), gift wrap, etc. Last year it was a company that sells household items and shopping bags and things. That was a big hit with the grandmothers. They also hold a BBQ each fall for a social event for the kids and families. You purchase tickets to attend and eat burgers and simple foods. They also bring in food trucks for ice cream and other desserts. I've noticed the food trucks for dessert and pizza are there for open house nights too. I'm sure they have a deal with the vender to get a % of the proceeds.

For the elementary schools they have gone to a silent auction model with a fun run for the kids. So, the kids generate a little money for the run and the parents all attend on a Saturday afternoon, same time as the fun run and bid on the baskets and classroom art. It's a huge money maker! They have only had to do it every other year because it makes enough. One huge hit was a donation by an orthodontist for a full set of braces. That was very popular.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Silent auction. But do more than things. Try to get experiences. We have a family at school whose dad is a chef. He always contributes a home cooking lesson like how to make cheese or some fancy meal. Last year he also donated a cooking class for kids. Another parent who is a landscape architect donates a small flower bed landscape. One year a family donated their Orlando timeshare and season pass to Disney World. Another parent donated a guided river party on his pontoon boat. We also had someone donated a guided fly fishing trip. A mom who loves to decorate cakes donated a certificate for a free decorated birthday cake or cupcakes. We have had tickets to professional sporting events, family portrait sessions with a free print, wine tasting parties, makeup consultations, spa packages, home brew kits, family memberships for a year to museums or health clubs. Our planners contact a lot of businesses for donations, but a lot also come from families. They send out an email asking if anyone has an experience they would be willing to donate or approach parents that they know have a special talent. They also contact professional and semi-pro teams for items. They almost always have something autographed by an NFL, NHL, NBA, or MLB player. If you have a couple of big ticket items, like tickets to an NBA game, it will draw in more people. Ours is held during the spring carnival, but another school in our district does a special auction night. There is a small fee to get in that helps cover simple snacks and drinks. They send out links to an online catalog ahead of time and and send out "teasers" highlighting some of the bigger ticket items. I know people who don't even have kids in school who go every year because they have such good items. They make several thousand every year.

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answers from St. Louis on

Do you share that information to the families that you are asking for the donations from? Our (private) school comes out and says that other schools under the Diocese need help with pencils, crayons, paper, notebooks, and backpacks. They say they are trying to collect for 150 students and we all pick that stuff up the next time we shop. I am happier to give that way than to buy $30 worth of chocolate bars.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Unfortunately these days, most people are only willing to donate money if they get something out of it. Also, people will be more willing to donate if the kids are trying to do the fundraising, not parents. Not much will be accomplished if the students aren't enthusiastic about it. I don't have any kids in middle school; only high school and elementary school, so I'm not sure how much help I will be. My twins (juniors) and their other classmates hold fundraisers quite often in order to fund school trips, a school dance, or whatever the cause is for needing additional money. I can remember in the past the school holding a concert. Kids sold tickets to friends and family for I think five dollars a piece. The kids in the music program each preformed a song. Another thing they have done is sell tickets to plays. They have had carwashes. The students worked togethr and hung posters up around town for even more business. They have also had lock- ins and other fun activities for the kids. One year, they had a contest to see which class couldraise more money from student donatins. The entire winning class got a week off of school. That last one raised over 15000.

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