Social Distancing Fundraisers for Schools: 30+ Best Ideas

Social distancing fundraisers for schools can help you stay safe and still raise money.
A great social distancing fundraiser for your school is 99Pledges.

At the start of the school year, parents and teachers always have a lot to do to successfully kick off the new semester. This year has brought about the brand new challenges of adhering to social distancing guidelines throughout schools. In some cases, this may mean a fully-online semester, while other districts are operating with split schedules or spread-out classrooms.

In these new circumstances, the need for school fundraising is more pressing than ever, while the fundraisers themselves may be more challenging to accomplish.

At 99Pledges, we’ve helped schools across the country overcome all kinds of fundraising challenges, including the obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on our experience, we’ve put together a list of the best social distancing fundraisers for your school to execute safely and effectively.

We’ll cover 30+ of our favorite social distancing-friendly fundraiser ideas. To make it easy to find your perfect fundraiser, we’ve split these suggestions into five categories:

Feel free to use the navigation above to jump to the section that interests you most, or read along to learn about each one of our ideas. Either way, you’re sure to find a fundraiser that can help you raise funds safely for your school.

But first, we’ll cover the basics of social distancing fundraisers to make sure everyone is on the same page. Let’s jump in!

What are social distancing fundraisers for schools?

Social distancing fundraisers for schools describes the process of planning and executing a fundraiser without anyone needing to be in close proximity. This is important to ensure safety for students, parents, and community members during the era of COVID-19. A social distancing fundraiser can either be held completely online or with no-contact drop-off and pickup options.

This is our favorite social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Our Favorite Social Distancing Fundraiser for Schools

A walk-a-thon can be held virtually as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

1. Virtual walk-a-thon

A walk a thon is an easy social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

A virtual walk-a-thon fundraiser is easy to set up, super effective, and safe for all! The general idea behind a walk-a-thon fundraiser is that participants gather donations for your school based on a distance they agree to walk.

Walk-a-thons are an awesome fundraiser because they unite your community with a fun, active activity while raising necessary funds for your school.

In a traditional walk-a-thon, participants would collect in-person to complete the walk together. Instead, during the virtual counterpart, each walker will choose their own course and log their distance through a website or fitness tracker. You still get all of the exercise and fundraising benefits as an in-person event, but you can rest easy knowing students and parents are safe!

To plan a virtual walk-a-thon, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • Identify your cause. While, of course, you’re raising money for your school, it can be helpful to motivate participation by noting a more specific goal. Things like an upcoming trip or tournament for your soccer team are great examples.
  • Define your goal. Set a realistic but ambitious goal. This will help keep everyone working toward a single finish line and drum up community support.
  • Choose your software. This step is especially important with a virtual walk-a-thon. You’ll want to choose a platform like 99Pledges that allows you to create fundraising pages for each participant. Pledge software like this can handle all of the payment processing, making it easy for organizers.
  • Spread the word. Use social media and word-of-mouth strategies to generate support for your walk-a-thon. Encourage your students to collaborate and come up with some creative ideas to get the word out.
  • Get on your feet! With all the planning and fundraising out of the way, all that will be left to do is going the distance.

A virtual walk-a-thon is a social distancing fundraiser idea that is simple for you to execute and accessible for everyone.

These are some easy social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Easy Social Distancing Fundraisers for Schools

Hold a matching gift drive to maximize the revenue of your next online school fundraiser.

2. Matching Gift Drive

A matching gift drive is an effective social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Your volunteers, students, and parents put in hard work for each penny you raise. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way their efforts (and your community’s contributions) could be doubled without any extra work?

With a matching gift drive, you’ll be able to do just that. Many employers will match employee gifts to eligible causes like your school, but many eligible supporters don’t even know these programs exist! Most employers with such programs will match gifts at a 1:1 ratio, but some will double, triple, or even quadruple the gift for a super-sized donation.

Matching gift databases make it easy for your supporters to see whether or not their employers will match their gift and direct them to the correct request form for the match.

With a matching gift drive, you’ll spread the word about these programs, encourage contributors to check into their matching gift eligibility, and maximize revenue for your school. If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity, you’re just leaving money on the table.

Crowdfunding works well as a socially distanced school fundraiser.

3. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an easy social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

In a crowdfunding campaign, your school will leverage the amazing power of social media and personal networks to raise the money you need.

Once your campaign is set up with a fundraising platform (like 99Pledges) your community can share the page with friends and family to harness the generosity of a larger network.

This online fundraising opportunity allows supporters to donate directly to your cause, usually through one team fundraising page. Often, they’ll receive incentives for their support, like water bottles with your school’s logo, but this component is optional.

A crowdfunding page makes it easy to collect gifts and watch your school get closer and closer to its fundraising goal.

Try an online donation page as your social distancing fundraiser for schools.

4. Online Donation Page

A donation page is a simple but effective online school fundraiser.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆

A donation page is one of the simplest online fundraising ideas for schools, but it’s very powerful! With a well-designed donation page, supporters can make a direct contribution to your school. This can be accomplished through the school’s website or another donation-focused site.

Although a donation page is a pretty straightforward concept, there are still a few common mistakes that could prevent your school from using it effectively. To avoid making these mistakes, make sure to:

  • Keep your donation form short and sweet.
  • Include suggested donation amounts.
  • Streamline the page as much as possible.
  • Test the page on different browsers and devices.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to decrease the number of people who abandon your donation page without contributing.

Text-to-give works well as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

5. Text-to-give

Try text-to-give as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

These days, people are on their phones constantly. A staggering 96% of Americans own cell phones, and most of these are smartphones. You may as well meet potential supporters where they are!

With a text-to-give or text-to-donate campaign, your school would set up a shortcode, campaign keyword, and a mobile giving page that supporters could use to make a convenient donation.

To explain how it works, think of a supporter named Sally. Sally sees a social media post or something in a school’s newsletter that inspires her to check out a campaign that supports her local school, the Sunnyside High Dolphins. When she texts the keyword “DonateDolphins” to the short number 12345, she immediately gets a text with a link to a mobile-responsive form that makes it easy to contribute right then and there.

Organizations and schools of any size can create a text-to-give campaign, making it an accessible option. It also couples well with other social distancing school fundraising options, like a virtual walk-a-thon, since you can create a keyword that connects to a specific initiative or event.

An Amazon wishlist is a convenient online school fundraiser.

6. Amazon Wishlist

An Amazon wishlist is a great social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

If your school fundraiser goal is to raise money for specific tangible items, an Amazon Wishlist is a perfect strategy to receive these gifts as in-kind donations.

With an Amazon Wishlist, your school creates a list of desired items, and then supporters can go in and purchase items from your list. You can even set it up so the items will be shipped straight to your school!

This is a great way to get necessary classroom supplies or extracurricular items like sports equipment. And unlike a typical supply drive, this is a no-contact way to get the items you need, making it a perfect social distancing fundraiser.

Facebook is an easy social distancing fundraiser for schools.

7. Facebook Fundraiser

Facebook tools make it easy to hold an online school fundraiser.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

This list of online fundraising ideas for schools would be incomplete if we left out one of the most prominent and widely used social media platforms out there! A Facebook fundraiser is a simple and effective way to raise funds for your school.

You can spread awareness for your campaign and run the actual fundraiser directly through Facebook. This makes it convenient for supporters to give without even needing to visit your website.

18% of donors worldwide have contributed to a cause directly through Facebook. Considering how many fundraising platforms exist, that’s a pretty incredible number! Starting your own Facebook fundraiser will ensure you can capitalize on this social distancing fundraiser opportunity.

If you start your campaign at the right time, you may even be able to take advantage of some kind of donation matching from the platform itself.

An email campaign is a perfect social distancing fundraiser for schools.

8. Email Campaign

Email is a simple social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

You’re already interacting with parents and community members through email to distribute announcements and publicize events. Why not take advantage of the email contacts you already have by exploring this online fundraising idea?

An email campaign allows you to reach supporters in their inboxes and make a case for support. Studies show that 50% of people who receive an email about a crowdfunding campaign make a donation, so imagine how it will help with any kind of fundraiser! An email campaign can help you get the word out about any of the social distancing fundraisers on this list and drive more people to your donation page.

Plus, today’s email marketing platforms can help you save time and send more effective email messages thanks to features like automation and personalization.

Direct mail is a useful social distancing fundraiser for schools.

9. Direct Mail Campaign

Create a direct mail campaign as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

This traditional option provides an opportunity to create a physical touchpoint for supporters without needing to interact in person. With a direct mail campaign, you’ll send out printed letters asking for donations to your school.

For a successful fundraising letter, it’s recommended that you include a friendly opening, information about your cause (and their ability to make an impact), one or two images, and a clear call to action. And remember, a handwritten note is always a nice touch when you’re trying to connect on a personal level with potential donors.

When you write fundraising requests for direct mail, be sure to include a pre-addressed and stamped envelope so that it’s easy for supporters to send back their gifts.

AmazonSmile is an easy social distancing fundraiser for schools.

10. AmazonSmile

It's easy to use Amazon Smile as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $$

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

AmazonSmile is a great social distancing fundraiser because your community doesn’t have to fill out a form or even make an extra donation to support you. All they need to do is shop online—as they are probably doing frequently anyway!

The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of eligible purchases made through All your supporters need to do is designate your school as their chosen cause, and then you can watch the donations start rolling in.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance online fundraising option for your school, AmazonSmile could be a great fit.

These creative ideas are excellent social distancing fundraisers for schools.

Creative Social Distancing Fundraisers For Schools

Hold a shoe drive as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

11. Shoe Drive

A shoe drive can be an excellent social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Did you know that collecting old running shoes can help you raise funds for your school? That’s the premise behind a shoe drive, which is a simple social distancing fundraiser with a big impact.

With a shoe drive, your supporters can drop off gently worn, used, and new running shoes (in a contact-free drop-off zone, of course). Then, you’ll mail them off to a company like Funds2Orgs who will repurpose the old shoes and send you a check in exchange.

It’s a win-win for everyone—your community can free up some much-needed closet space, and you’ll get the funds you need for classroom supplies and enrichment opportunities.

And this isn’t just a sports fundraising idea—a shoe drive can benefit your entire school. Even non-athletes are likely to have old, unused sneakers lying around.

Consider a read-a-thon as your next social distancing fundraiser for schools.

12. Read-a-Thon

A read a thon works well as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Accomplish two goals at once with a read-a-thon—you can encourage a healthy love of reading while also raising money for your school!

This social distancing fundraiser works similarly to a virtual walk-a-thon. Essentially, students will collect pledges from supporters based on the number of books or pages they read. If you have some bookworms at your school, these donations can really add up!

A read-a-thon is a great fundraising idea for kids because it is both fun and educational. And it’s easy to organize, too, as long as you use a user-friendly pledge software to collect payments.

A virtual raffle is a great social distancing fundraiser for schools.

12. Virtual Raffle

A raffle works well as an online school fundraiser.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Raffles can be a fun way to generate excitement around your fundraising even in a virtual setting. While raffles are often held in conjunction with an in-person event, they can easily be conducted online. All you need is a way to collect payments and distribute the tickets!

Supporters will be happy that their donation is funding a good cause and giving them a chance to win an amazing prize. This is an excellent option for a PTA fundraiser, especially if you can get fellow parents to donate in-demand prizes like vacation rentals or priceless experiences.

If you choose to host a virtual raffle, you may want to consider finding software that streamlines the process of selling tickets, sending prizes, and accepting additional donations.

Box tops can be a simple social distancing fundraiser for schools.

14. Box Tops

Box tops are a convenient social distancing school fundraiser.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

The concept of collecting box tops has been a long-standing school fundraising idea. And for good reason!

The underlying principle hasn’t changed: eligible grocery products your supporters buy can earn 10¢ each for your school. But thankfully, the days of needing to clip pieces of cardboard and mail them away are behind us.

Today’s Box Tops for Education program allows your supporters to scan receipts using their phone and earn cash for your school through eligible product purchases. This is a perfect way for your community to support your school from afar without needing to pull out their wallets.

A peer-to-peer event is an excellent social distancing fundraiser for schools.

15. Virtual Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

A peer-to-peer fundraiser works well as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Your current loyal supporters are some of your most enthusiastic advocates for raising funds for your school. To draw on this energy, try out a virtual peer-to-peer campaign as a social distancing fundraiser for your school.

With this type of online fundraiser, you’ll invite students and parents to fundraiser on your behalf. Often, P2P fundraisers are tied to events like walk-a-thons, so you could easily combine this option with one of the others on this list.

The biggest difference between a P2P campaign and something like crowdfunding is that each of your supporters gets their own donation page. This means each student or parent can set their own goals and engage in some friendly competition (which drives more donations for your school!)

An ecard campaign is a simple social distancing fundraiser for schools.

16. eCard campaign

Send ecards as an easy online school fundraising idea.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

An eCard campaign can help widen your reach to attract new supporters for your school. If you’ve ever participated in a “candygram” fundraiser, an eCard campaign is like the online version!

In an eCard campaign, your parents and students can make a small donation to send a customizable e-card to friends and family. These cards should be branded to your school but include fun and engaging messages. For example, you could create cards with Halloween sayings that feature your school’s mascot dressed up in costume.

With each eCard, you should include information about your school and your current fundraising needs. Hopefully, some of the recipients will also become supporters!

Do a social media challenge for a great social distancing fundraiser for schools.

17. Social media challenge

Social media can be a great online school fundraiser.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Remember the “Ice Bucket Challenge” from a few years ago? Your school can also leverage the same viral power of social media to create a successful social distancing fundraiser for your school.

Challenge your supporters to participate in an activity, share the evidence on social media, donate to your school, and tag their friends to encourage them to do the same. A few fun challenge ideas are to take a video of a silly dance, share a special school-related memory, or participate in an art competition.

When planning your challenge, be sure to carefully consider which social platform makes the most sense. If it’s a photo-based prompt, you might choose Instagram, while a storytelling competition might belong on Facebook.

You can hold a netflix party as a fun social distancing fundraiser for schools.

18. Netflix party

A Netflix party makes for a simple social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

A virtual movie night creates a fun bonding experience for your supporters while also acting as a fundraising opportunity.

Although you can’t hold an in-person film screening, tools like the Netflix Party chrome extension make it simple to recreate the experience online.

You’ll set a donation price to join the party that is around the same as a movie ticket to a theater. Then, on the night of the event, everyone will watch the movie together! Just be sure to include detailed instructions on how to connect to the party. Afterwards, you might hold a discussion in a video call so that your supporters can share their thoughts on the film.

Don’t forget the popcorn!

Hold a video game tournament as an engaging social distancing fundraiser for schools.

19. Video game tournament

A video game tournament is a fun online fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

E-sports have gained tremendous popularity in the last few years. Make the most of this trend by hosting a video game tournament! While you could do this in-person on shared equipment, it’s just as easy for each player to participate safely on their own device.

The game you select will depend on the age of your students and the gaming equipment that people have access to. To open the opportunity up to the most players, choose an age-appropriate game on a common device like a laptop or iPhone. Depending on what game you choose, players can enter as individuals or in teams.

Each player will pay a fee to enter the tournament. Most of the proceeds will go back to your school, but you’ll also want to purchase an exciting prize for the winner, like a new controller.

A cupcake decorating contest is a delicious social distancing fundraiser for schools.

20. Online cupcake decorating contest

A cupcake decorating contest can be a fun social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

A cupcake decorating contest is a sweet way to engage supporters and safely raise money for your school.

Each contest participant will pay to enter a cupcake in the contest. You can send out a list of recommended supplies so that everyone has an idea of what to get, but it can also be fun to see how creative people can be with their own items.

Then, contestants will submit pictures of their creations, and a panel of judges will select the winner! You can either choose a best-in-show or select multiple winners for different categories.

If you’re hosting this around the holidays, a great festive twist can be replacing the cupcakes with a gingerbread house decorating contest.

A photography contest is a recommended social distancing fundraiser for schools.

21. Photography contest

Hold a photography contest as an online school fundraiser.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Another way to showcase the creativity of your community is by holding a photography contest.

You can either pick a theme for submissions (like nature shots) or let photographers’ imaginations run wild. Each participant will pay a fee to enter into the contest, which will go straight to your school.

Then, see if you can find someone with photography experience or your school’s art teacher to judge the final photos. Just like with a cupcake decorating contest, you could have one overall winner or several across various categories.

A simple but meaningful prize for the winner could be a printout of their work, either in a frame or on a canvas.

Plus, make sure to create a virtual gallery so that everyone can see each submission!

These product fundraisers are great online fundraisers for schools.

Social Distancing Product Fundraisers for Schools

Hold a spirit shirt sale for a simple online school fundraiser.

22. Spirit shirt sale

A shirt sale is a good social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

With this product fundraiser, you can promote school spirit and make it easy for your community members to show school pride.

With a spirit shirt sale, you can design a custom shirt with your school’s logo and colors. Supporters can purchase the shirts online and get them shipped straight to their door, making it a social distancing friendly option.

For best results, create a limited-edition design that isn’t available for purchase anywhere else. This will help increase demand for the shirt and boost your sales!

A face mask sale can be a perfect social distancing fundraiser for schools.

23. Face mask sale

Selling face masks works well as a social distancing school fundraiser.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

What better social distancing fundraiser than selling a product that is designed to keep students and community members safe and healthy?

For a pandemic-conscious product fundraiser, try selling face masks. Since they can be custom-branded to include your school’s logo and colors, it’s a stylish and safe way to show support for your school.

Just be sure to choose a face mask vendor that offers home delivery or contactless pickup options!

A student art sale is a great choice as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.
Sell creative student art as a perfect social distancing fundraiser for schools.

24. Student art sale

You may think that an art sale fundraiser is limited to an in-person gallery showing with professional art on display, but there’s also an easier (and online) option.

Students can showcase their handmade artwork through a virtual gallery. Then, family and friends can purchase the artwork to hang on the wall or printed onto items like mugs and magnets.

Each supporter gets a lasting memento featuring the student’s hard work, and your school gets to bring in valuable revenue, so it’s a social distancing fundraiser everyone is sure to enjoy.

Try selling discount cards for an easy social distancing fundraiser for schools.

25. Discount cards

Consider selling discount cards as your social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Everyone loves a good deal. That’s why discount cards can be such a profitable social distancing fundraiser for your school!

Essentially, a discount card is a collection of coupons and discounts that have been secured by a vendor. You could try to solicit coupons from local businesses yourself, but this can be time-consuming. With a vendor, you’re guaranteed to get valuable coupons from popular national chains.

Students can then sell these discount cards to friends and family in order to raise funds. The cards can easily be delivered in a contact-free way, making it perfect for adhering to social distancing recommendations.

These events are excellent social distancing fundraisers for schools.

Social Distancing Fundraising Events for Schools

A trivia night is a smart social distancing fundraiser for schools.

26. Virtual trivia night

Hold a fun trivia night to show off some knowledge at your social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

Trivia nights are exciting, educational, and easy to execute in an online format.

Use a video conferencing tool to get everyone connected, and then choose a volunteer host who will maintain a high-energy environment throughout the night. Each player will pay to enter, and then you can either have everyone play as individuals or use breakout session tools to play in teams.

You could opt to organize the game in a popular format like Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy, or create your own format. No matter which route you choose, consider including your own themed category, like school history or hometown facts.

A virtual art class makes for an excellent social distancing fundraiser for schools.

27. Virtual art class

A virtual art class is an engaging online school fundraiser.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

In an online art class fundraiser, your supporters will be able to create a handmade work of art to put on display.

Find a talented artist to teach an online art class for supporters (you may even have one on staff!). You could go the traditional route and create a painting or explore other crafts like jewelry making, knitting, or origami. Each of these options is sure to make for a fun and productive evening for everyone.

To make this option even easier, you may want to encourage participants to start with a paint-by-numbers kit. This will help ensure the final product looks great!

A cooking class is a fun and engaging social distancing fundraiser for schools.

28. Virtual cooking class

A cooking class can be held online as a fun social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

The pandemic means that more people are cooking rather than eating out. Lean into this trend by hosting a virtual cooking class fundraiser!

Charge an admission fee to log onto a video call where a professional chef, talented home cook, or a member of your cafeteria staff teaches everyone how to make a signature recipe.

The recipe should be simple enough that everyone can participate, but complex enough that it’s worthy of a tutorial—save the elaborate soufflés and basic scrambled eggs for other occasions. Whatever recipe you decide to cook, be sure to send out the ingredients list ahead of time so that everyone has what they need.

Consider holding a talent show as a social distancing fundraiser for schools.

29. Virtual talent show

Try a talent show as your social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆

Are any of your students budding singers, musicians, dancers, or performers? Consider hosting a virtual talent show to highlight their impressive abilities.

Even though each performer will “take the stage” in their own home, you can still have an eager online audience ready to cheer them on. Just charge a ticket fee like you would for an in-person show, then invite everyone to join a video conference.

Be sure to pick an emcee to introduce each performer and generate excitement for the whole night.

An online auction is a powerful social distancing fundraiser for schools.

30. Virtual auction

An online charity auction is an effective social distancing fundraiser for schools.

Cost: $

Effort: ✔✔

Fun: ☆☆☆☆☆

An online live or silent school auction is a highly engaging and profitable social distancing fundraiser.

Supporters get to bid on desirable items like gift baskets, vacation rentals, and one-of-a-kind experiences while knowing their money is going toward a great cause—your school!

For the best chances of success, create a dedicated procurement team to collect valuable items well in advance of the event. They can ask other parents, community members, or local businesses for a donation of items to sell off in the auction. That way, all the money you raise can go straight to educational and extracurricular purposes.

Social distancing recommendations don’t have to halt your fundraising efforts in their tracks. With these online fundraising ideas, you’ll be well-equipped to raise more for your school while keeping everyone safe.

Additional Resources for School Fundraising

For an effective social distancing fundraiser for schools, try 99Pledges.