Raising funds for your school year after year can be challenging. As a member of the PTA, you have a vested interest in the success of the school’s fundraising efforts, and you want to see them succeed.
Your school needs effective fundraisers so that it can keep supporting the programs and activities your students love as well as improve and expand upon its existing facilities. No matter what the money is for, your school has to have an effective and efficient method of raising money on a regular basis.
It can be too easy for schools to become complacent in their fundraising efforts or only use stale fundraising ideas. If you are worried that your school might need to revitalize its fundraising efforts, you have come to the right place!
This post will walk you through:
- Our Favorite PTA Fundraising Idea
- Most Profitable PTA Fundraisers
- Easy PTA Fundraising Ideas
- PTA Fundraising Ideas for Elementary Schools
- PTA Fundraising Ideas for Middle Schools
Let’s dive in and get you prepared to make the most of your PTA fundraising season!
Our Favorite PTA Fundraising Idea: Walk-a-Thon Fundraisers
1. Walk-a-thon Fundraisers
Without a doubt, the best and easiest fundraiser for PTAs to successfully plan and execute is a walk-a-thon. There is a reason why so many schools choose this option when they know they need to raise a lot of money quickly.
More importantly, walk-a-thons have the advantage of appealing to both children, teens, and adults. Rather than targeting one segment of the population, walk-a-thon fundraisers appeal to a range of individuals and even groups, who can sign up as a team to foster healthy competition while raising money for a good cause.
Students will love participating in this event because it allows them to hang out with their friends and be active outside. As long as you plan to host your walk-a-thon on a gorgeous, sunny day, you should have no problem attracting a large turnout.
If you are unfamiliar with how a walk-a-thon works, there are two ways for each student or participant to raise money from their loved ones, friends, and family. The student can:
- Collect pledges for each unit of distance walked (e.g. $5 for every mile, $1 for every lap on a track).
- Receive donations for simply participating in the walk-a-thon (i.e. Someone donates a lump sum for the entire event rather than a per unit pledge).
Make sure you use walk-a-thon fundraising software that will:
- Manage pledge amounts.
- Create shareable fundraising pages for each participant.
With the right tools, a walk-a-thon fundraiser easily helps your PTA fundraising committee reach its goals. Check out 99Pledges for an idea of the features to look for!
Most Profitable PTA Fundraisers
2. Shoe Drive Fundraiser
A shoe drive fundraiser is a unique fundraising idea that’s sure to engage students and rally up support (and some extra revenue!).
Set up bins around the school and have students bring in gently worn, used or new shoes. Then, send the collected shoes to a shoe drive fundraiser coordinator (like Funds2Orgs) and receive a check once they’re processed. It’s as simple as that!
Host it toward the beginning of the school year since many students go back-to-school shopping for new clothes and will likely get rid of their old shoes. Kids quickly outgrow clothes and shoes, so many parents will likely jump at the opportunity to donate shoes in good condition instead of just tossing them out.
For an added twist, turn it into a friendly competition by making it a peer-to-peer fundraiser! Encourage students to go around the community collecting shoes from their family, friends, and neighbors. Keep an updated leaderboard showcasing top fundraisers to incentivize participation and spike engagement. Watch as the shoes pile up in no time!
Number one rule of fundraising for schools: If you want students to participate, make it fun and exciting!
Kids and teens love any chance they can get to hang out with their friends outside of school. A bowl-a-thon fundraiser provides the perfect opportunity for students to come together and raise money simply by playing a game.
Your participants can collect pledges based on:
- Number of strikes or spares (i.e. $5 for every strike)
- Individual points (i.e. $0.25 for every point earned)
Encourage your students to collect pledges and then come out for a bowling night. This fundraising event idea has little cost to you and has the potential to raise an incredible amount of funds in a single night of fun.
A bike-a-thon allows kids to raise money for your school while also promoting healthy, active living in young people. The students can collect pledges based on distance biked or laps completed on a track.
Students will have no problem collecting pledges for this event because the adults in their lives will be eager to encourage an active lifestyle. While the children simply ride their bikes, feeling the wind in their hair and joy in their hearts, parents and loved ones can cheer them on from the sidelines.
For so many kids, riding their bikes quickly and feeling the rush of speed is the greatest form of freedom. Your students will love the opportunity to ride their bikes and support their school in the process.
A read-a-thon is an excellent, and very profitable, fundraising idea for schools. It does not matter if the student is an avid reader, devouring books left and right, or if they are merely reading the material that is required for their classes—everyone can participate.
Some students may not like the idea of participating in an event outside of the school, but a read-a-thon allows them to collect money by simply doing their homework. Depending on the age and reading abilities of the student, they can collect pledges based on:
- Number of books read.
- Number of chapters read.
- Number of pages read.
- Hours of reading.
The money your school earns can add up extremely quickly when you take into account the pages that students have to read for their work anyway. Not to mention, teachers can designate reading time in their classrooms that will allow students to make progress in their reading efforts.
Don’t forget the people pledging money will also like that this fundraising idea encourages academic excellence and proactive learning. This will make them likely to donate more to the students.
6. Parent’s Night Out
Parents will absolutely love this fundraising idea! If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it is pretty easy to understand. You allow parents to drop their kids off at your school in the evening so they can have a night to themselves.
Babysitters can be incredibly expensive, even for a single night, so parents will jump on the opportunity to send their kids to your school for a discounted rate. You can have a set window of time in which you will watch kids for a certain rate per child.
Try to schedule this fundraising idea around Valentine’s Day or Christmas so parents can have a romantic evening or a chance to get their Christmas shopping done without paying through the nose for childcare.
7. Bake Sale
Who can pass up a table full of cookies, brownies, and yummy treats? Set up a table of baked goods by your school’s pick-up and drop-off location so parents can see the delicious selection of sweets they can treat themselves—and their kids—to after a long day.
Members of the PTA can donate their baked goods and create a schedule for volunteers to manage the table. This event may take more effort for the PTA members that are contributing the baked goods, but you may even find that you can’t keep the baked goods on the table, they are being snatched up too quickly.
Know your audience and cater to your community’s sweet tooth. This fundraiser has the potential to bring in an incredible amount of revenue for very little money invested.
Easy PTA Fundraising Ideas
Most adults have fond memories of school dances to look back on, whether it was a Sadie Hawkins dance, prom, homecoming, or merely your school’s annual dance, so why not let your students create some memories of their own while raising money for their school.
A dance-a-thon combines the fun of a school dance with the endurance of a marathon because most dance-a-thons are 24 hours. However, feel free to reduce the duration of this event to best accommodate your schedule.
At a dance-a-thon, the students must remain moving on the dance floor to avoid being eliminated. They can accept pledges based on the amount of time they stay on the dance floor. This can be measured in minutes or in songs.
This event is so easy, all you need to be successful is an iPod on shuffle and a space large enough to serve as a dance floor! Don’t forget to also sell concessions and drinks for an added revenue boost!
This type of event-a-thon fundraiser is beneficial on two fronts — it allows students to collect pledges for each hour that they volunteer in the community and it enables elderly or disabled members of your community to get chores and work done that they cannot pay to have done.
Organizing the volunteer schedule is not a difficult task and you will surely have plenty of individuals in your community that would be happy to accept some help. Don’t let this amazing opportunity to raise money for your school while also doing something truly great for your community pass you by.
People will love to support their children as they do something that contributes to the social good, while also providing very necessary funds to your school.
10. Car Wash
Schools have been hosting car washes as a means of fundraising for so long because they’re extremely easy to plan, execute, and promote. Around springtime when pollen starts coating cars, people will jump on the opportunity to have their car washed. You can easily host this event in your school parking lot, as long as you have a hose spout readily accessible.
To successfully host a car wash, you will need:
None of the jobs at a car wash are too difficult so you can divide up your student and PTA volunteers to cover every position. You should have individuals completing the following tasks:
- Collecting money.
- Washing cars.
- Promoting the car wash with signs.
Don’t forget to offer concessions to people as they wait for their cars to be washed!
Raffles have the potential to bring in an enormous amount of money for your organization with minimal work on your end. You will need to arrange prizes to be awarded to the raffle winners, the size of which can change depending on the fundraising capacity of your PTA and the price of the tickets.
Make sure if you have big-ticket items available at the raffle that you charge a little more for people to enter the raffle. This will ensure you are set up perfectly to make a nice profit.
Raffles are a common staple of fundraising at schools because they are so easy. As long as you have tickets, a way of collecting money, and an assortment of prizes, you can accept endless raffle entries and earn some quick cash!
This event-a-thon fundraising idea is perfect for a PTA that wants to promote the sports teams at their school! Let your students collect pledges based on how many balls they can hit with a baseball bat. These pledges can be made based on:
- How many balls the student hits out of a certain, fixed number of pitches.
- The number of feet away from which a ball is hit.
A hit-a-thon is easily combined with any type of outdoor event, like a field day or school picnic. This ensures that students who would already be attending the event will be able to participate in the fundraiser with very little extra effort on their part. Your PTA will also love combining it with other events so you can raise money from more than one source.
PTA Fundraising Ideas for Elementary Schools
Rock-a-thons are easy for kids to spend the day watching cartoons, listening to music, and talking to their friends, all from the comfort of a rocking chair, and all while raising money for their school.
These fundraisers are typically around 8 hours but the time can be adjusted to best suit your schedule and the age of the children participating. You may consider having one duration for Kindergarten through 2nd graders and a longer duration for 3rd through 5th graders.
Easily incorporate this into a fun Friday as you near a holiday and need the children occupied while teachers get grades sorted. The kids will love collecting pledges for their school while enjoying an easy day of rocking in a chair! Make collecting pledges easier by using a pledge software, like 99Pledges.
Elementary aged children have a rapidly growing vocabulary, and a spell-a-thon will allow them to show off just how much they have learned while supporting the school. This fun twist on a spelling bee allows students to collect pledges based on how many words they spell correctly out of a fixed number.
Each grade level should have a different set of words that the teachers agree requires the appropriate skill level for their specific grade students. The teachers will then read the words aloud while the students write the correct spelling on their papers.
A quick evaluation at the end will determine how many words each student correctly spelled and how much the pledgors owe.
15. Field Day
Who doesn’t love a day of fun activities outside with their friends? Everyone’s favorite day of elementary school was field day — getting to laugh and play with your friends all day instead of going to school. So why not host a fundraiser that you know the kids and their parents will love?
Parents can come and cheer their kids on or participate in certain events, if you choose to open the field day up to the parents as well. The best way to raise money through a field day is to charge for tickets to play each game. Parents can buy their children tickets from your PTA volunteers and watch as their kids have the time of their lives.
Concessions to help kids and parents cool off are also an excellent idea. For this age group, consider popsicles and lemonade. Field day is also a great opportunity to sell custom t-shirts for all little extra revenue.
No matter what, these kids will love playing the field day games and the parents will be excited to support it.
16. Penny Drive
Penny Drives easily capitalize on your students’ competitive spirits and their parents’ desire to discard of old pennies that have been rolling around in their cars or purses for as long as they can remember. Penny drives may not be a familiar concept, but they are quite simple:
- Classrooms can collect pennies from their students over a course of time (i.e. a month, a quarter, or a semester).
- Students contribute pennies to their own classrooms to raise their class’ total.
- Students add dollar bills to other classes’ funds to negate the value of 100 pennies.
You should incentivize this fundraiser in some way, perhaps with a pizza party for the class with the highest amount fundraised. This will inspire more students to get involved, and may even spur the teachers into action as well.
17. School Picnic
As your semester inches closer to summer, your students are just itching to be outside. Organize a school picnic that provides the perfect opportunity for students to be outside with their friends and parents for a fun springtime activity.
Charge a modest entrance fee and even incorporate another fundraising idea, like a raffle or a bake-sale, into the school picnic. Parents can bring their kids to a delicious picnic for some quality time and a chance to become more involved in the school.
Your PTA can either find local business to donate free or discounted food or you can consider making the picnic a potluck. No matter what you decide, your students will love this opportunity to spend a day in the sun, supporting their school.
PTA Fundraising Ideas for Middle Schools
A shoot-a-thon combines the need for raising money with the valuable skill of practicing free-throw shots. This is perfect for boys and girls middle school sports teams because the fundraising aspect will entice the players to practice a tedious, but vital, aspect of the game.
You should announce that every player will need to attempt 100 free throws (or any fixed number) and the students will accept pledges based on:
- How many shots they successfully make (i.e. $1/shot)
- Participating in the event (i.e. $50 as a lump sum for the entire event)
These funds can go toward equipment, uniforms, summer basketball programs, or game and travel expenses. Your players will improve their game while supporting the programs they love!
19. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a fun and engaging way to keep your students involved in the fundraising process. Planning a scavenger hunt may seem daunting but the process is fairly simple:
- Select a theme.
- Promote participation (either as individuals or teams).
- Set a time limit.
- Incentivize with prizes.
- Provide refreshments.
Your students can pay a participation fee to follow clues and hints that lead them to a prize at the end. Kids will be champing at the bit to get to play pirate for the day and follow a treasure map. If you want to maintain an academic pretense, you can make the clues relate to class material.
20. Guessing Game
All you need for this game is a jar of candy and a sheet of paper for people to write their guesses on. Yes, it really is that simple. Just charge a fee for people entering their guess and wait until time is up.
However, make sure you offer some kind of prize to the winner that will justify paying the entrance fee. Once you have collected all of the guesses, you just have to count the candies and find your winner.
Remember no two people can guess the same number and the winner is the person who gets closest to the real number without overestimating the number. Middle schoolers will love the challenge and simplicity of this fundraising idea!
Want to encourage your students to be active, allow them to hone a valuable skill, and raise money for your school all at once? Host a swim-a-thon!
Students can accept pledges based on:
- How many laps they swim.
- The number of different strokes they can successfully do.
- A lump sum simply for participating.
Being a strong swimmer is an extremely useful lifelong skill for anyone. This fundraising idea will give your students the chance to swim laps in your school or community pool and develop their swimming skills while raising money for a good cause.
22. Fall Festival
As the air gets colder, your PTA should consider embracing the chill in the air and organizing a fall festival fundraiser. This idea takes more planning than the average fundraiser, but is still a great way to raise money because the potential revenue from this event is incredibly high.
While you can charge an entrance fee to your festival, you can also gain added revenue from a variety of sources, including:
- Concession stands.
- Selling pumpkins.
- Basket auctions.
- Corn mazes.
- And more!
A fall festival allows people to start getting in the holiday spirit and take a break from the stress of school or work. Your PTA should provide the perfect outlet for people to support their school while having fun!
23. Talent Show
Most people have a special talent they want to show the world and your students are no exception! From singing and dancing, to magic shows and comedy routines, your students have unique talents that deserve attention.
Allow students to pay a small entrance fee to participate in the show and then sell tickets for parents, friends, and loved ones to come and enjoy the show. If your PTA has the fundraising capacity to record the show, you can also sell DVD copies so parents can cherish these memories forever!
Don’t forget to decide if you are having a showcase-style or a competition talent show, because this will determine whether you need judges and prizes. Whatever you decide, students will love the opportunity to share their talents with the world and support their school!
PTA members has enough on its plate without having to worry planning and executing fundraising ideas. You can easily raise enough funds for your school programs with any one of these PTA fundraising ideas — all you have to do now is get started!
Additional Resources for PTA Fundraising
- Fundraising ideas. Check out this post to learn even more fundraising ideas!
- Walk-a-thon fundraisers. Learn more about how to plan and execute walk-a-thon fundraisers with this guide!
- The 20 Best Online Donation Tools. Find out the best way to accept online donations with this list!
- 20 Easy and Effective Fundraising Ideas. Want to know which fundraiser is best for your child? Check out these fundraising ideas, which are broken down by age range for the best results.