3 Smart Ways to Fundraise for Your School This Year

Here are some smart ways to fundraise for your school.

As a valuable part of your school’s community, you recognize the importance of effective fundraising. Securing plenty of funding empowers your team to provide students with sufficient resources, recruit the best educators around, and offer more extracurricular activities, all leading to a more enriching educational experience.

Over the past several years, schools have faced drastic budget cuts, making it more challenging to maximize learning environments to develop creativity and knowledge in the upcoming generation. The COVID-19 pandemic has made engaging students and securing funding all the more difficult, making effective fundraising even more vital.

Instead of continuously conducting the same campaigns year after year, it may be time to change things up. Toss some new school fundraisers into the mix to keep students and their families excited to participate, and put the fun back in fundraising with these three campaign ideas for schools:

  • A Peer-to-Peer Campaign
  • T-Shirt Fundraiser
  • Color Run

Whether you’re a part of your school’s staff or participate as a PTA member who wants to bring new ideas to the table, you can easily add these fresh ideas to your fundraising plan and get students, teachers, and parents excited to fundraise.

A Peer-to-Peer Campaign

All too often, the responsibility of school fundraising falls on an individual or a small group of volunteer teachers. This can quickly become a burden and change fundraising into an unwanted chore. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

School fundraising should be a team effort where responsibilities are distributed to reduce stress and maximize donations. That’s why so many schools turn to peer-to-peer campaigns.

Peer-to-peer campaigns invite students, teachers, and parents alike to get involved, resulting in a campaign that truly stands out.

For these campaigns, you’ll ask students and other volunteers to create personal fundraising pages that they share with their friends and families. They’ll personalize their campaign pages, explaining their connection to the school and why it’s important for people to donate. All you really need to do is find the platform that everyone will use and design the main campaign page.

This type of campaign works exceptionally well for a number of reasons:

  • A school is made up of a large community of students, teachers, parents, local businesses, and alumni. Peer-to-peer fundraising empowers you to tap into these existing networks and extend your reach even further by connecting with their friends and families.
  • These fundraisers lean heavily into social media, relying on volunteers to share their campaign pages across platforms like Facebook. This makes this type of campaign enticing to middle school and high school students who are already glued to their smartphones.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising pairs perfectly with a variety of fundraisers (like fun runs and a-thon-style events), making it possible to effortlessly multiply your revenue and enhance everyone’s experiences at these types of events.

Splitting up the work and getting students involved in your fundraising efforts is a fantastic way to keep people invested in the success of your campaign. Peer-to-peer fundraising makes everyone feel responsible for the outcome. Plus, when you leverage gamification tools like leaderboards to showcase top fundraisers and fundraising thermometers to indicate progress, you can supercharge motivation and make your campaign that much more successful.

How to Get Started

Choose a peer-to-peer platform that allows you to invite people to fundraise on your behalf. Better yet, go with a solution that’s built specifically for schools, making it easy to get students, teachers, and parents alike involved. That way, you can get up and running seamlessly.

Once you find the right platform, here’s how to get started with your campaign:

1. Design your main campaign page and invite your volunteers to customize their individual donation pages.

2. They’ll share their fundraising pages with family and friends via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

3. People donate from the fundraisers’ networks and all the contributions are directed toward your school, all while giving credit to each person who secured the donation.

4. Your school encourages participation until the goal is reached and ultimately receives the funds at the end of your campaign.

That’s really all there is to it. With a powerful platform on your side, you can get everyone involved and start raising money in no time.

T-Shirt Fundraiser

There’s no better way to spread school spirit than with a t-shirt fundraiser. When you take the time to design custom branded t-shirts that fully exemplify your school, students will jump at the opportunity to show off their school pride and commemorate all the fun they’ve had (or are going to have) during the year.

All you really need to do is incorporate some recognizable elements like your school’s colors and logo, set your prices, and promote the shirts to customers — whether that’s students, relatives, alumni, or other community members.

Whether you sell them at the big game to pay for new sports team uniforms or to raise money to pay for entertainment at an upcoming school dance, school t-shirt fundraising works for pretty much any occasion. Here are a few ideas where designing t-shirts will make for an exceptional fundraiser:

  • Sports team shirts. Between football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and others, school sports do a fantastic job of bringing your community together. Design shirts for each of your school’s teams. Then you can sell them at your big games to raise money for your team.
  • Class shirts. Unify each grade level by designing class shirts. You might even get students in on the fun by asking them to draw up the designs themselves and transform it into a competition among grades, where the grade that buys the most is claimed victorious among their peers.
  • School spirit wear. The great thing about t-shirts is that you don’t even need a special occasion for them to fly off the shelves. Create generic school spirit wear that you can sell throughout the entire year.

When it’s all said and done, your students will enjoy having apparel that shows off their school spirit, and your school can start expanding its offerings and improving the learning environment as a result of all the sales.

How to Get Started

Designing and selling your own school spirit wear has never been simpler. Find a t-shirt fundraising platform like Bonfire that will do the heavy lifting for you, offering everything you need to design your shirts, process payments, and print your custom shirts.

Once you’ve done that, there are a few simple steps your team should take to create and sell standout school shirts. Let’s break it down into three easy steps:

1. Select your shirt style. What style do you want to add your design to? This depends on a few factors like the climate and intended audience. You might go with the classic or comfort colors unisex tee which works for pretty much any occasion, or you could always get more creative. Go with a long sleeve tee or hoodie during the colder months, or offer something unique like a jersey tee for an upcoming rival game.

2. Create a standout design. Choose your theme and start designing. Choose a mix of cool fonts, eye-catching colors, and standout graphics. Aim for a trendy t-shirt design that students will love — you might even ask your more artistic students for their input. Just make sure it’s branded to your school. Otherwise, it won’t contribute much in the way of inspiring school spirit.

3. Order and print your school t-shirts. Determine whether you’ll order in bulk or sell your shirts online. If you choose the first option, make sure to order plenty of t-shirts that you’ll distribute yourself. You can either predict how many you’ll need and order them upfront, or leverage t-shirt order forms to capture all the relevant information and order after the fact. If you want to cut out the extra steps, try starting a campaign online, where everyone can place their orders and pay the provider directly.

When it’s all said and done, your t-shirt campaign will be an extraordinary addition to your school’s fundraising activities, especially when you put in plenty of forethought as to how they’ll play into other activities happening around campus. Just be sure to promote the opportunity to students to ensure they’re fully aware.

Color Run

Promote an active lifestyle while raising some extra money for your school with a color run. This event puts a fun twist on the classic fun run that your students and community are sure to love.

Charge a small registration fee for students (or have them raise the funds to participate). On the big day, they’ll run an obstacle course that your fundraising team sets up. There will be checkpoints along the way where their peers and teachers will splash them with water-based paint or toss colored powder. Alternatively, set up multiple stations along the path where volunteers dispense powder or paint that participants pay to pick up and blast each other with.

While a color run is immensely fun on its own, there are a few other ways you can take your event engagement even further so that you can raise even more:

  • Offer a t-shirt as part of the registration package. We recommend using a light-colored shirt (like white) that will help the paint or powder stand out. Remember to include the official name and date of your color run in the shirt design to commemorate the big event.
  • Offer trophies or medals for the quickest runners. Nothing sparks motivation like a bit of friendly competition. If you open up the race to the whole community, consider breaking placements up by age group, so everyone has a fair chance.
    Sell refreshments at the finish line. Make sure to hand out water and sell other refreshments to your parched participants. You can even throw a celebratory after-party and line up some local vendors to come set up shop.

If a color run doesn’t suit your audience, don’t worry! You’re not tied to the “color” theme. There are plenty of themes you can go with for your fun run, like a selfie-themed run or a costume run (great for the fall near Halloween!). For inspiration, Sneakers4Funds’ walkathon fundraiser ideas guide lists plenty of themes to choose from.

Like we mentioned earlier, fun runs also lend well to peer-to-peer fundraising. Any students that participate can invite their friends, classmates, and relatives to sponsor them. Participants should ask their networks for specific amounts, giving them a frame of reference for how much they should donate.

How to Get Started

Fun runs often take a bit more planning, but the revenue they generate and the memories they create will outweigh the time spent upfront. If your school’s fundraising team wants to host a color run for your next fundraiser, here are the key steps to get started:

1. Register your participants. Get an accurate headcount and generate revenue by selling tickets to anyone who wants to participate. If your fundraising team wants to take a peer-to-peer approach, participants will simply raise money at this stage instead of paying for their own entry.

2. Set up the course. The school parking lot or track can work well for this, depending on how long your run will be. Set up water stations and checkpoints where participants can either load up on colored powder or where their peers and teachers can toss it at them.

3. Have fun. When everyone arrives for your event, all there’s left to do is to line everyone up and have fun. After everyone finishes, announce your winners during a quick ceremony and throw a celebratory party with music and refreshments to thank everyone for participating.

That’s all there really is to it. If all goes well, consider putting it on the calendar for next year, and soon enough, it will become an annual tradition that everyone looks forward to.

Over the past year, fundraising for schools has been tricky due to the effort for everyone to practice good social distancing guidelines. As we start to transition to post-pandemic life, your options for campaigns will start to expand, allowing you to offer exciting opportunities for students to bond and raise money to improve their learning environment. If planned with intentionality, your campaigns will create memories for a lifetime and help you raise the money you need to provide them with an exceptional education.

This post was contributed by Bonfire.