7 Brilliant School Fundraisers That Your Parents Will Love

It's important to choose a fundraising idea that appeals to parents.

Are you a teacher, administrator, or PTA volunteer who’s tired of running the same old fundraisers year after year? It’s time to mix things up with a host of brilliant fundraisers and modern strategies to back them up.

At ABC Fundraising, we’ve spent many years working with schools and other fundraising organizations and finding the best ideas to bring in the most revenue. We’ve learned that parents are the driving force behind effective school fundraisers, and to engage parents, you need to find the perfect idea that piques their specific interests.

That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide for schools that are looking for new and exciting parent-approved fundraising ideas. Specifically, we recommend the following:

  • Discount Cards
  • Read-a-Thon
  • Face Mask Sale
  • Spell-a-Thon
  • Shoe Drive
  • Walk-a-Thon
  • Cookie Dough Sale

We’ll walk through each fundraiser in greater detail, and even discuss why it is that parents love these fundraisers. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.

Discount cards are a parent-friendly fundraising idea.

1. Discount Cards

A discount card fundraiser is a popular example of a product fundraiser. In this case, your students are provided with a number of discount cards that they’ll then sell to family members, friends, and anyone else in their community who might be interested in supporting their school (and receiving some good deals in the process). 

Many schools are even starting to sell their discount cards from an online web store for even more convenience (and to abide by social distancing guidelines). With access to an online ecommerce store, your supporters can make their purchase from the comfort of their own homes and your student fundraisers can leverage the power of social media and digital communication tools to get the word out.

Plus, discount cards provide a great opportunity to partner with local businesses in your area. And when you work with a discount card fundraising provider like ABC Fundraising, they do the hard part for you: setting up the deals! You simply create a wishlist of businesses you’d like to work with, and they come to an agreement and create the cards.

Why Parents Love It

Parents love this fundraising idea because they’ll be selling (and perhaps buying) something that brings great value to the purchaser. When you sell discount cards for your school, you’ll charge a relatively low price (about $10-$20) for a card that can offer more than $100 worth in savings. That’s a great deal for everyone involved!

A read-a-thon is an educational fundraising idea.

2. Read-a-Thon

A read-a-thon is like any other a-thon-style event where fundraisers collect pledges based on a number of activities completed over a specified time frame. In a read-a-thon, as the name implies, the designated activity is reading.

For this fundraiser, students seek out their own sponsors (such as family members, friends, and parents’ colleagues), who agree to donate a certain amount of money for every book or page read over a several-week period. The students track their reading for the duration of the previously determined timeframe and calculate the total that is owed from each sponsor based on their final reading results. Then, the sponsors make an equivalent donation to your school. 

Why Parents Love It

Many parents’ favorite school fundraisers are those that incorporate educational aspects. For this fundraiser, in particular, they can encourage their children to spend their free time reading—not only for the educational value it brings but also for the financial value that is ultimately brought to your school. 

A face mask sale is a social distancing fundraiser.

3. Face Mask Sale

In recent months, the custom face mask fundraiser has become a wildly popular campaign idea for schools, nonprofits, businesses, and other organizations. 

Perhaps you’ve sold t-shirts before as a school fundraiser—it’s a very similar premise. When you work with a dedicated product fundraising company, all you have to do is send them your school logo and color scheme and they’ll design, print, and distribute your masks to your supporters!

Why Parents Love It

Face coverings are required in most public areas, so it makes sense that face masks would be a highly demanded item for families, friends, and the overall community. Plus, your custom-made face masks are branded to your school, meaning buyers will be spreading school spirit instead of germs.

A spell-a-thon is both a fundraiser and an educational opportunity.

4. Spell-a-Thon

You’ve surely heard of schools hosting spelling bees. Perhaps your own school has done so. The spell-a-thon simply takes this idea a few steps further by incorporating peer-to-peer and pledge fundraising strategies to raise more for your school.

Prior to your spell-a-thon, students will gather pledges from sponsors based on how many words they’ll spell correctly (i.e. $5 for each word). On the big day, you’ll track each student’s results and collect corresponding donations from sponsors afterward.

Why Parents Love It

Just like the previously mentioned read-a-thon, a spell-a-thon is a great way to promote learning while fundraising simultaneously. Parents love the opportunity to cheer their children on while knowing that their spelling skills are supporting the school that they love.

A shoe drive is a low-stress fundraiser.

5. Shoe Drive

In Funds2Orgs’ list of unique fundraising ideas, they list a shoe drive as #1—because it’s fun, convenient, and out of the ordinary. For this fundraiser, you’ll be collecting in-kind donations of gently worn, used and new shoes instead of monetary contributions. Then, by partnering with a dedicated shoe drive coordinator, you can arrange for the shoes to be picked up and exchanged for a check for your school!

Why Parents Love It

Parents love fundraising with a shoe drive because it doesn’t involve asking any of their friends or colleagues for money! Instead, they simply encourage their own contacts to declutter their closets and drop off any shoes at your shoe drive.

A walk-a-thon is a tried and true classic.

6. Walk-a-Thon

The classic walk-a-thon is a go-to for many school fundraisers, and for good reason! It raises money for your school while getting the whole community involved in a healthy and engaging activity.

Like the other a-thon-style fundraisers we’ve mentioned, students collect pledges from sponsors—this time corresponding to the number of laps or the overall distance they’ll walk for the event. Then, your students get a good workout, and you get a significant amount of money for your school!

Why Parents Love It

Parents love active fundraisers like walk-a-thons, fun runs, and other sports-related ideas. That’s because it’s a great way for their students to get their energy out, practice exercising, and raise money for a cause they care about (their school) all at the same time.

A cookie dough sale is a delicious fundraiser

7. Cookie Dough Sale

Cookie dough sales are fairly self-explanatory. You and your students sell pre-made cookie dough to cookie-loving (and school-loving) individuals in your community. This sale, like many of the others, can take place either online from an intuitive web store or in-person using provided order-taking flyers.

According to this guide, product fundraising companies like ABC Fundraising offer ample choices—including ten different gourmet flavors and options for tubs or pre-portioned cookie dough. There will be something for everyone who wants to get involved!

Why Parents Love It

It involves cookies—who wouldn’t love it? Parents will be happy to sell delicious, pre-made cookie dough to their friends, family, and colleagues, and will probably even purchase a tub or two for themselves!

Keeping parents happy is one of the major keys to success for any school fundraiser. That’s why it’s a good idea to start off on the right foot by strategically planning ideas that you know the families of your students will love. 
Whether you choose one of our favorite ideas or opt for a unique one of your own, it’s important that you don’t underestimate the parents’ role in school fundraisers—especially for younger students. Good luck!

About the Author

Debbie Salat, ABC Fundraising

Debbie Salat is the director of fundraising activities and product development at ABC Fundraising(r) – Debbie joined ABC Fundraising(r) in 2010 and is responsible for launching over 6500 fundraising campaigns for schools, churches, youth sports teams and non-profit organizations all across the USA. With over 20 years of fundraising experience, Debbie knows the path to success for fundraisers which she shares with groups on a daily basis so they can achieve their fundraising goals.