7 Virtual and Hybrid School Fundraisers to Try This Year

The new school year is underway, and schools have been faced with the challenge of fundraising while remaining socially distanced or operating at reduced capacity. Fortunately, the past year and a half led to rapid fundraising innovation, and schools now have a variety of virtual and hybrid fundraisers to try out.

Additionally, even schools that have returned to full in-person instruction can still benefit from varying their fundraiser types to include a well-rounded schedule of in-person, virtual, and hybrid engagement opportunities. Plus, more types of engagement will make your shttps://99pledges.com/social-distancing-fundraisers-for-schools/chool more accessible to a wide range of supporters, increasing fundraising potential.

To help inspire your school to diversify its fundraising options, this article will walk through seven fundraisers that can be run either through hybrid means or entirely online, including:

  1. 1. Online Shopping Fundraisers
  2. 2. Pledge Fundraisers
  3. 3. Merchandise Sales
  4. 4. Product Fundraisers
  5. 5. Talent Show
  6. 6. Shoe Fundraiser
  7. 7. Matching Gifts

Some of these fundraisers require finding the right online partner to get started, while others allow your school to get started immediately. Take inventory of your school’s resources and fundraising goals before planning your fundraising calendar. Then, use these ideas as additional opportunities to supplement your efforts. Let’s get started.

1. Online Shopping Fundraisers

Online shopping fundraisers are one of the easiest ways your community can help your school. With the popularity of online shopping, chances are that many of your community members make a significant number of their monthly purchases online. Then, when they sign up for your online shopping fundraisers, they’ll be able to raise money for your school without deviating from their routine or paying additional fees.

Essentially, online shopping fundraisers raise free money for your school when your supporters make purchases they were likely going to anyway. When a supporter makes purchases through your online shopping fundraiser’s app or browser extension, the retailer they’re buying from donates a percentage of their total purchases to your school.

This percentage will vary depending on the retailer and the item bought. For example, one individual’s monthly online purchases might resemble this chart:

Together, these purchases add up, especially once you start getting more of your community involved. Schools interested in launching an online shopping fundraiser can look to ShopRaise’s guide to online shopping fundraisers for schools for how to get started:

  • Partner with an online shopping program. Your online shopping program partner will help your school create an account page and handle all negotiations with business partners, allowing your school to focus on fundraising. Look for an online shopping program that is partnered with businesses your community members already shop at, like Walmart, Petco, and Macy’s


  • Market your online shopping fundraiser. Use email, your website, direct mail, and other communication methods to get the word out about your online shopping fundraiser and provide instructions for how supporters can get started. Your online shopping program partner can also help here, as some of them will create branded marketing materials for you.


  • Monitor your results. Once your program is up and running, funds will accumulate gradually over time. Thank supporters for participating and continue to promote your fundraiser as necessary to attract new supporters and remind your current base to keep shopping through your app and browser extension.

Another major upside to online shopping fundraisers is that they can be run any time of the year. While many traditional school fundraisers rely on students being in attendance, you can continue your online shopping fundraiser through the summer, during vacations, and even the weekends, as long as your supporters continue to buy through your program.

2. Pledge Fundraisers

Pledge fundraisers are traditionally in-person events that involve groups of students gathering together to walk, run, read, dance, or perform other activities as much as they can for a set period of time. For many schools, pledge fundraisers are more than just a way to bring in additional revenue—they are a fun opportunity for students to exercise, read, and enjoy their time at school.

Fortunately, pledge fundraisers translate well to virtual events. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide of how to take your a-thon fundraisers online:

  1. 1. Set a date and time for your fundraiser.
  2. 2. Have students collect pledges.
  3. 3. On the selected date, instruct students to perform the specified activity.
  4. 4. Alert students when time is over and have them submit their total laps, pages read, or other measurements.
  5. 5. Send students to redeem pledges.

With this virtual setup, the only main difference from an in-person event is that your students will be responsible for recording their own participation. When spreading the word about your pledge fundraiser, you may find greater success in emphasizing the role parents can play in helping their children accurately report their activity.

3. Merchandise Sales

Your school can earn additional revenue and give your community a way to show off their school pride by selling branded merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, water bottles, frisbees, school supplies, and more. Individuals interested in shopping for your school can earn something for themselves, while also making a difference for your school.

Plus, when supporters wear or use their branded merchandise out in public, they’ll let other members of your community know about your online merchandise store, generating additional interest.

In addition to selling your merchandise through your school’s website, you can also make this idea hybrid by creating merchandise booths for in-person sales. You can sell your merchandise at community events such as football games, carnivals, and festivals.

4. Product Fundraisers

Product fundraisers are simple and effective fundraisers that allow your students to raise money on behalf of your school. Partner with an online product fundraising service that allows you to purchase your chosen product in bulk. Then, arm your students with order sheets, and instruct them on how to collect orders from their friends and family.

Product fundraisers can feature all sorts of items, depending on the product fundraising company you partner with. For example, here is a short list of items you might be able to sell:

  • Cookie dough
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Flower bulbs
  • Candles
  • Face masks
  • Holiday decorations

No matter what you choose to sell, keep the age of your students in mind when setting your product fundraisers’ guidelines. For instance, high school students will be able to leverage social media to help collect orders, while elementary school students should receive higher levels of parent supervision when approaching community members either online or in person.

5. Talent Show

Talent shows have been popular school fundraisers for decades, and for good reason. Along with helping your school raise funds, talent shows are fun for both students and their parents, creating valuable memories of their time at school.

With video conferencing software, you can continue holding your school talent shows, even while remote. Students can audition and perform virtually, showing their unique skills off to their community from the comfort of their own homes.

As a fundraiser, you can continue to earn revenue by selling virtual tickets and promoting other donation opportunities, as well as your school’s merchandise. If your talent show is a hybrid event, you can sell carefully packaged concessions, allowing guests to buy snacks and drinks without worry.

6. Shoe Fundraiser

If you’re looking for a unique way to earn extra revenue for your school’s sports teams, consider running a shoe fundraiser. Before getting started, research and partner with a shoe fundraising program. After getting in touch with them, your partner will send you a pre-paid bag to mail back your collected shoes. In return, your partner will send you a check based on the number of shoes collected.

Shoe fundraisers pair well with other athletic fundraisers, such as walk-a-thons and field days. Also, shoe fundraisers can be conducted with minimal contact. Simply create a collection box or established drop-off area, then encourage your students and community members to use it.

7. Matching Gifts

Your school can make your online donations go further with matching gifts. As 360MatchPro’s guide to matching gifts explains, “Matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy where companies match donations their employees make to eligible nonprofits. They are important because they are essentially free money, but often overlooked by nonprofits.”

In other words, some of your donors may work for companies that have a matching gift program. After making a contribution to your school, your donors can fill out an application with their employer. If their application is approved, their company will make an additional donation, usually matching their employees’ gifts dollar-for-dollar.

Similar to matching gifts are grants for volunteering. Instead of donating, individuals need to volunteer a certain amount of hours at your school. The minimum threshold of hours will depend on the volunteer’s employer, though some start offering grants after a single hour.

You can encourage your supporters to apply for matching gifts and volunteer grants by:

  • Documenting their donations and hours worked. Your school should keep track of donations as a standard financial management practice, but also make sure your donors can easily access their receipts to double-check their donation totals. For your volunteers, keep an up-to-date record of their hours worked.


  • Helping them research their eligibility. Chances are that your supporters don’t know if their company has a matching gifts or volunteer grant program, let alone if they qualify. Ask donors and volunteers for their employers’ names and work alongside them, or use a matching gift database, to find their eligibility information.


  • Providing support and additional information needed to fill out their application. Different companies will request different documents and information. Some may just need the name of your nonprofit and the amount of the supporter’s contribution or hours worked, while others might have a more in-depth application process. Either way, be sure to help your supporters through every step.


Your school can also earn matching gifts by partnering with businesses and individuals with a large capacity to give. Rather than getting in touch with your supporters’ employers, your matching gift sponsors will agree to match all donations made within a given time period. If you make an arrangement like this, be sure to get the word out fast to make the most of the opportunity.

School fundraisers are necessary for providing your students with the support they need, even when they aren’t physically at your school. Take your fundraisers online with these creative solutions to continue connecting with your community and providing them with convenient ways to support their local students.