30+ Awesome (& Profitable) PTO Fundraising Ideas for Schools

Check out these 30+ awesome (and profitable) PTO fundraising Ideas!
Ready to plan a walk-a-thon for your next PTO fundraiser?

School fundraising consistently offers unique challenges every year. As a member of the PTO, you know the challenges you face, but more than that, you know the real value of the work you do. Everything you do enables your school to produce the programs and events that are so important to your kids and teens. 

Without effective fundraising, your school would not be able to provide students with extracurricular activities to help them develop a well-rounded education and develop their interests as they mature. On top of providing vital resources to kids in the form of programs and activities, more funds for your school means you can expand your facilities to accommodate more students. 

While fundraising for your school is clearly necessary, it can still be difficult to determine how you can raise money for your school. This post will guide you through some of the top PTO fundraising idea categories for schools, which include:

Let’s get started and prepare you to raise the funds you need for your school’s success!

Walk-a-thons are the best PTO fundraiser.

Best PTO Fundraiser: Walk-a-Thon Fundraisers

A walk-a-thon is a great PTO fundraising idea.

1. Walk-a-Thon Fundraisers

A walk-a-thon is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Walk-a-thons are hands down the most popular fundraising idea for schools. This idea allows students, faculty, and community members to get involved and show their support with participation and pledges. Through this, your PTO can raise the funds it needs by retaining almost 100% of the proceeds instead of the 50% kept through common product sales solutions.

If you are unfamiliar with how a walk-a-thon fundraiser works, the process is simple. You can raise money in one of two ways:

  • Participants can collect pledges based on units of distance walked.
  • Participants can receive donations to support their participation in the event.

This same procedure can be applied to other fitness-based fundraisers, such as jog-a-thons and fun runs. However, a walk-a-thon fundraiser can quickly become unmanageable if you do not use the right software.

Make sure your walk-a-thon fundraising platform will manage pledges and donations for you as well as allow participants to create unique, shareable fundraising pages to spread the word about your event. With the right tools, you’ll gain access to detailed reports organized by individual, class, and overall fundraiser to help you facilitate an incentive program.

Check out these creative PTO fundraising ideas!

Creative PTO Fundraising Ideas

A spell-a-thon is a great PTO fundraising idea.

2. Spell-a-Thon

A spell-a-thon is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Spell-a-thons can help your school raise money while encouraging students to hone a valuable skill: spelling. This is perfect for younger grades who are still developing their ability to read and write effectively. The kids would view the opportunity as a welcome challenge.

With this fundraising idea, your students would collect pledges based on how many words they can correctly spell out of a predetermined number (i.e. a person can donate $1 for every correctly spelled word out of 50, for a maximum donation of $50). This can quickly become very lucrative for your school and it’s as easy as holding a spelling test in each class!

Teachers in jail is a great PTO fundraising idea.

3. Teachers in Jail

Teachers in jail is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

What student wouldn’t jump at the opportunity for some free time at school? Whether your students are after extra recess time, a movie morning, a pizza party, or a study hall period, they will absolutely love the opportunity to do anything but classwork at school.

Set a fundraising amount that students must meet in a specific amount of time in order to “place their teacher in jail” and get a little bit of free time, while, of course, remaining supervised the entire time. Set the goal within reach, like asking each class to raise $100 within 24 hours. You will quickly begin to see the donations flood in and you’ll be able to raise the money you need in no time!

A rock-paper-scissors tournament is a great PTO fundraising idea.

4. Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament

Rock-paper-scissors is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Everyone knows the stress of playing rock-paper-scissors, staring into the eyes of your opponent, and seeing their dismay as your rock crushes their scissors, so why not turn this into a fun tournament for some of your older grades. Middle schoolers and high schoolers love this fundraising idea because you can offer the winner at the end of the tournament an awesome prize (and we’re not just talking about bragging rights.)

Allow students to pay an entry fee to sign up for your tournament and then face off against their classmates until one rock-paper-scissors champion remains. Students will get really enthusiastic about this fundraiser and, as long as you provide a desirable prize for the winner, you will have no problem raising the money you need.

Parents night off is a great PTO fundraising idea.

5. Parents Night Off

Parents night off is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Finding an affordable babysitter for an evening out without the kids can be a real challenge for some parents. The chance to support their kids’ school and get a night out on the town will be utterly irresistible.

Allow parents to donate a set amount to your school and in return, your staff volunteers can entertain the kids with dinner and movies in the school gym for a few hours. Parents will jump at this idea and the students will love the opportunity to hang out with their friends after school hours are over.

Family fun day is a great PTO fundraising idea.

6. Family Fun Day

Family fun day is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

A perfect fundraiser for late spring when summer is on the horizon and both students and teachers are itching for some fun, this PTO fundraising idea provides parents the opportunity to attend a fun event with their kids and get to know the schools’ faculty and staff. On a Saturday toward the end of the school year, organize a family day where students, parents, and teachers can enjoy games, food, and perhaps even a song or two from your schools’ band and chorus.

You can raise money for this fundraiser by charging an entrance fee as well as selling concessions and drinks throughout the event. For an added bonus, sell tickets that attendees can trade to play games!

A scavenger hunt is a great PTO fundraising idea.

7. Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Scavenger hunts are an excellent way to get students involved in fundraising and think outside the box on your fundraising ideas! While it is a bit more of a challenge than your run-of-the-mill school fundraiser, the potential benefits outweigh any extra effort needed for their execution.

The process is relatively simple:

  • Decide on a theme.
  • Encourage participation.
  • Designate a location and time-frame.
  • Incentivize involvement with prizes.

For a modest fee, your students can engage with this epic fundraiser and follow clues that lead to their final goal. Keep the fundraiser oriented toward academics by creating clues around the subjects about which they are learning!

A rock-a-thon is a great PTO fundraising idea.

8. Rock-a-Thon

A rock-a-thon is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Want to raise money for your school by simply encouraging staff, students, and community members to spend hours rocking in their chairs? This PTO fundraising idea for schools will allow participants to collect pledges based on how long they can sit in a rocking chair.

Participants can read, play games, watch movies, or just hang out with their friends during this fundraiser. There is only one rule: you must be in the rocking chair and moving at all times. Students of all ages can participate in this fundraiser and, as an added bonus, you can even open it up to the wider community so people who love your school can participate.

Check out these PTO fundraising ideas for sports teams.

PTO Fundraising Ideas for Sports Teams

A hit-a-thon is a great PTO fundraising idea.

9. Hit-a-Thon

A hit-a-thon is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

A hit-a-thon fundraiser can help your school sports team members hone their hitting ability while raising money to support their team. Sports teams need money for travel, uniforms, and equipment and it can be a challenge to get the players interested in fundraising. With this PTO fundraising idea for sports teams, players can accept:

  • Donations for their participation.
  • Pledges based on the number of pitches they hit out of a set number.
  • Pledges based on how many feet the ball is hit.

Your sports team can take advantage of school spirit and community support with this exciting fundraiser! With sports team fundraisers like this, make sure you get all participants to sign the appropriate waivers so you can have fun without any risk of liability!

A t-shirt fundraiser is a great PTO fundraising idea.

10. T-Shirt Fundraiser

A t-shirt fundraiser is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Nothing says school spirit quite like a one-of-a-kind t-shirt specifically designed for your school. Host a t-shirt fundraiser and sell your school’s unique t-shirts to students, staff, parents, and community members who want to show their support. This is a perfect event to tack on to an event like a walk-a-thon because many individuals will want something by which to remember the fun they had at your fundraiser!

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of creating a custom t-shirt. There are software platforms, like Bonfire which enable your school to design and sell t-shirts with very little extra effort.

A running shoe drive fundraiser is a great PTO fundraising idea.

11. Running Shoe Drive Fundraiser

A running shoe drive fundraiser is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Looking for the perfect event to pair with your school’s sporting events? Host a running shoe drive fundraiser at any of your athletic events and you will easily raise money for your teams!

A running shoe drive fundraiser allows community members to donate their gently worn, used, and new sneakers to your school. Your PTO, in turn, sends the sneakers to a running shoe drive fundraising team like Sneakers4Funds and get sent a check! The amount of money you raise depends on the number of sneakers you send, so don’t forget to advertise your running shoe drive fundraiser leading up to the event.

Field day is a great PTO fundraising idea.

12. Field Day

Field day is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Almost everyone has fond memories of a school field day from their youth. Getting to run around, play games, drink Gatorade, and spend time with your friends instead of attending classes is the highlight of any young person’s week. Raise money with this PTO fundraising idea by charging a small fee per game or allowing parents the opportunity to donate money in exchange for tickets for their kids. 

The students will love the athleticism and competition involved in this fundraiser, while parents will be encouraged to donate by their own nostalgia for their youth. Make sure PTO members volunteer to manage the games and ensure everything runs smoothly.

Hosting a school olympics is a great PTO fundraising idea.

13. School Olympics

A school olympics is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Every few years the world gets to enjoy the Olympic games and cheer for our favorite athletes. It is exciting and adrenaline-inducing to watch a close race or a near-fall from a balance beam. So, why not capitalize on this excitement and host an Olympic game night right in your own school or county. One of the best ways for an Olympic game night to work is for your PTO to partner with the other schools in the county and organize a tournament between all of your sports teams.

You can sell tickets and concessions to raise money—and trust us, those seats will be full. Your county will want to cheer on their own athletes as they compete for medals and showcase their talents.

A shoot-a-thon is a great PTO fundraising idea.

14. Shoot-a-Thon

A shoot-a-thon is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Need to find a way to support your school’s basketball or soccer team? Hold a shoot-a-thon at your school and see how your players improve their playing while raising money for their team.

Community members, parents, staff, and fellow students can pledge money based on how many free-throws or goals are scored by the team’s players. Your players will love the chance to show off their skills and raise money for new uniforms, camps, or equipment!

Best seat in the house is a great PTO fundraising idea.

15. Best Seat in the House

Best seat in the house is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

A type of raffle, this fundraising idea takes advantage of people’s desire to be right in the action of an intense game or sporting event. Students can purchase raffle tickets for the chance to win a prime seat during one of the hottest games of the season.

Charge a low fee for the tickets and watch them disappear. Students will want to purchase as many as possible to increase the likelihood that they win. Make the seat a better deal by throwing in concessions and an additional free seat for one of their guests!

A food truck fundraiser is a great PTO fundraising idea.

16. Food Truck Fundraiser

A food truck fundraiser is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Are your spectators growing tired of eating the same concessions every week? Partner with a food truck to add some variety to your game day!

The benefit of partnering with a food truck to support your team is they can pull up right next to your school and start serving and you get a cut of the profits. You are giving them a great, hungry audience and they can help support your team—it’s a win-win! You can even set up a rotation so that each week a different food truck attends your sporting event, ensuring no one gets bored with your food and keeps purchasing food every week.

A color run is a great PTO fundraising idea.

17. Color Run

A color run is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

A tried-and-true fundraising idea, a color run will appeal to a lot of your students—and members of the community. Invite students, parents, teachers, and community members to participate in your color run that will benefit your sports team. This fun take on a 5K, people will be chomping at the bit for a chance to have fun and get doused with colored powder.

While you can charge a flat fee, don’t forget you can also sell commemorative t-shirts and wristbands for people to wear while running for an extra fundraising boost!

Check out these PTO fundraising ideas for high schools.

Fundraising Ideas for High School

A dance-a-thon is a great PTO fundraising idea.

18. Dance-a-Thon

A dance-a-thon is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Odds are, your school has a gymnasium that would be perfect for this PTO fundraising idea. All you need is an amazing playlist, some volunteers to manage the event, and a few concessions to sell to participants and spectators. The concept behind a dance-a-thon is simple: participants must remain moving on the dance floor until only one remains and is declared the winner.

Create a fundraising campaign for your students to gather pledges. Start the event on a Friday afternoon and watch as it continues into the weekend (remember, the longer the event continues, the more money you raise). Don’t forget to encourage participants to dress up and have fun with it!

Character day is a great PTO fundraising idea.

19. Character Day

Character day is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

TV shows, movies, and books have given us so many amazing characters to look up to, admire, and aspire to be. Character day allows students to dress up as their favorite characters and parade around school all day, spending a day in someone else’s shoes. Students can purchase a costume pass so your staff can know which individuals are allowed to dress up.

Students at your school will be excited at the prospect of dressing up, but if you want to add extra incentive, you can turn it into a costume contest where classes can vote on the best costume in their class. The class winners can then be voted on during an afternoon assembly and the winner crowned by the end of the day. Competition is always a good motivator for high schoolers, especially if the winner gets a prize!

Staging a play is a great PTO fundraising idea.

20. Staging a Play

Staging a play is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

If one thing can bring in ticket sales to your school, it is a flood of proud parents wanting to support their teens. Organize a school play with your school’s theater troupe and watch the ticket sales go through the roof. You can get other students involved by:

  • Having the design club create flyers.
  • Asking the film club to create a shareable promo video.
  • Letting the photography club take pictures and make posters.

Get your fine arts students involved in fundraising for your school and give parents an opportunity to see their kids’ talents shine and you will see increased revenue in no time!

A balloon pop party is a great PTO fundraising idea.

21. Balloon Pop Party

A balloon pop party is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Take advantage of your student’s love for games of chance with this PTO fundraising idea for schools. The concept behind a balloon pop party is simple:

  • Host an event where you sell balloons for $10.
  • Inside the majority of balloons, place $1.
  • In select balloons, place $10, $20, and $30.
  • In one balloon, place $100.

Once all balloons have been sold, make sure everyone pops their balloon at the same time. While the majority of people will come out with a net loss, a few lucky individuals will actually make a few bucks with one lucky winner winning the big prize. Your students will love the idea of “free money” and try to purchase more balloons to be the night’s winner!

A restaurant partnership is a great PTO fundraising idea.

22. Restaurant Partnership

A restaurant partnership is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

You would be hard-pressed to find a high schooler who wouldn’t want to spend the evening eating at a restaurant they love and hanging out with their friends. The fact that it supports their school would be an excellent added bonus. Partner with a local restaurant for a “spirit night” where students can go dine with their family and friends while a portion of the proceeds goes to your school.

Many restaurants have guidelines in place for these kinds of partnerships, but perhaps the most common is requiring a flyer from the school. Participants must take one of the flyers your PTO members passed out regarding the event and turn it in upon purchasing their food. The restaurant then donates a portion of the proceeds based on how many flyers they collect.

A used book sale is a great PTO fundraising idea.

23. Used Book Sale

A used book sale is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Interest your community’s avid readers and literary-minded individuals with this PTO fundraising idea for schools. Hold a book collection and encourage your community to donate their used books to your school. Then you can hold a used book sale and invite your community to come out and find something new to read.

So many people will love the opportunity to share some of their favorite books when they donate and pick up a couple of new ones at the sale. Any leftover books from the sale can go to your library or be stored away for future book sales!

An obstacle course is a great PTO fundraising idea.

24. Obstacle Course

An obstacle course is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

It can be challenging to get some high schoolers to be active and participate in these types of athletic fundraisers, but if you want your event to reach its full potential you need to get as many students to participate as possible. The fun challenge of an obstacle course will draw more students to your fundraiser!

Obstacles can include:

  • Tire hop.
  • Rope climb.
  • Mud crawl.

No matter which obstacles you include, your students will want the chance to demonstrate their fortitude of mind and body as they try to complete your obstacle course. You can raise money for this event by charging an admission fee and setting up a pledge-based fundraiser for students to gather support before the event!

A prom dress drive is a great PTO fundraising idea.

25. Prom Dress Drive

A prom dress drive is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

For four years of high school, many teenagers look forward to prom. They are excited about dancing, eating nice food, hanging out with their friends, and enjoying prom, but most importantly, they want to find the perfect outfit. However, prom dress shopping is no picnic. It can be expensive and time consuming for many people.

Host a prom dress drive where women in your community can donate their prom dresses to your school who can then sell them at a reasonable rate to your students. Your students will love the chance to find an affordable, yet beautiful prom dress. 

Check out these high profit PTO fundraisers for schools.

High-Profit Fundraisers for Schools

A volunteer-a-thon is a great PTO fundraising idea.

26. Volunteer-a-Thon

A volunteer-a-thon is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

With a volunteer-a-thon, students accept pledges for every hour they spend completing tasks in their community that help people who cannot help themselves or afford the work they need done. A volunteer-a-thon has the potential to raise an enormous amount of money for your school for many reasons:

  • It encourages student involvement in the community.
  • Elderly and needy community members can get the help they need.
  • The proceeds go toward your school.

Your community will love encouraging a healthy work ethic and sense of volunteerism in your students, making this fundraiser highly lucrative. Consider creating a pledge-based volunteer campaign to motivate your students and raise funds in the process!

A bake sale is a great PTO fundraising idea.

27. Bake Sale

A bake sale is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Bake sales have been a staple of PTO fundraising for so long for a good reason. Who doesn’t love walking by a table lined in sweets and splurging on a brownie or a beautifully iced cupcake? Your PTO members can provide the baked goods and volunteer to manage the table in shifts.

You can host a bake sale near the cafeteria during the lunch block, or even tack this fundraiser onto an existing event, like a school play, or sporting event. You will not find a shortage of people willing to pay for one of your treats!

For a healthier option that works great after a walk-a-thon, try offering bananas, water bottles, and granola bars for a small fee.

A raffle is a great PTO fundraising idea.

28. Raffle

A raffle is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Raffles are perhaps one of the highest rewarding fundraising ideas for minimal work on your part. You simply have to sell raffle tickets with the promise of a few prizes as their incentive. Make sure your PTO assembles a range of prizes, the extravagance of which may differ based on the fundraising capacity of your school and the price of your tickets.

After the event begins, the only thing you need to worry about as you host a raffle is managing the money you collect. Make sure your PTO finance officer is prepared for the influx of funds!

A charity auction is a great PTO fundraising idea.

29. Charity Auction

A charity auction is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

The first step toward hosting a successful auction is finding the right auction software to help facilitate and manage the entire event. Once you do this, the only big task you have left is carefully curating your auction items. These items could include a mix of items that appeal to both adults and students, such as:

  • Spa package
  • Golf clubs
  • Homework pass
  • Free dinner for 2

While this PTO fundraising event may take a little extra effort, it has the potential to bring in considerable revenue for your school. Make sure you make the auction event itself appealing by designing your auction around a theme where attendees can dress up and have fun!

A themed gala is a great PTO fundraising idea.

30. Themed Gala

A themed gala is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $$$

Effort: ✔✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Hosting a themed gala is the perfect fundraising event to bring in some more major donors. If your PTO has the fundraising capacity to pull this event off, you could gain some real momentum with your fundraising. Charge admission to all members of your community, school board, staff, and students (with students getting a slight discount on their tickets to encourage their attendance).

Attendees can eat a nice meal and perhaps listen to some live music while mingling with other people who have a passion for your school and the programs it offers. While this fundraiser may cost more to produce, the potential fundraising ability of a quality event such as will outweigh the production costs.

A donut sale is a great PTO fundraising idea.

31. Donut Sale

A donut sale is a great example of a PTO fundraising idea that works!

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Support your school by partnering with a local donut shop to host a donut sale fundraiser. You can sell these donuts by the dozen, half dozen, or in singles. Regardless of how you choose to sell them, you will easily be able to find people willing to take some of the donuts off your hands.

Keep the pricing reasonable so students can afford it and make sure you sell them in convenient locations (i.e. major footpaths between classes, the gym during games, or the cafeteria during lunch.) Nothing helps you get through a stressful day quite like a donut does and you can capitalize on this fact to raise all the funds you need for your school.


The kids and teens that attend your school deserve all of the events and programs that your school can offer them. These help them explore their own interests and develop their likes and dislikes. Your PTO should try some of these fundraising ideas to make sure your school has everything it needs to keep offering the extracurriculars your students need.


Additional Resources for PTO Fundraising

Try hosting a walk-a-thon as your next PTO fundraising idea!