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Oregon Family Magazine

Eight Ways to Put the Fun Back in Fundraising

09/30/2023 ● By Pam Molnar
A few years ago, my son’s middle school principal challenged his students to raise $25,000 to build a school in Ghana through Pencils of Promise. The $25,000 fund was in addition to the money we donated to the PTA for school events. At the time, it seemed like an impossible task. However, in a school of 1,200 students, that came to just $21.00 per student.

Their principal challenged them to find a way to support this project through their own fundraising, not a school wide wrapping paper sale or golf outing. So that’s just what those middle schoolers did. Groups like my son’s basketball team raised money through a free throw contest. The FACS (Family and Consumer Services) classes made scarves in the school colors that they sold during lunch periods. Some individuals offered their own labor in the way of odd jobs to help raise money.

Before the end of the school year, the students exceeded their goal and raised a total of $26,297. Why was this fundraising more successful than selling popcorn tins and wrapping paper? Because they came together as a community for the benefit of another community and put the fun back in fundraising!

Here are 8 fun ways your school or community organization can raise funds for their next project:

Throw a sports tournament – Choose a different sporting event each month like cornhole, mini golf, jump rope, basketball, etc. Allow everyone to join the fun by choosing participants based on activity – students vs. teachers for a basketball tournament, boys against girls in a jump rope contest, classroom vs. classroom for a field day event or parents vs. kids in a Minute to Win It game. Charge each participant a small entrance fee.

Wall of Money – Select a wall in the hallway near the school office. Place 100 envelopes on the wall, numbered 1-100. The numbers represent dollar amounts. When a donor has cash to donate, he selects the corresponding envelope, fills it and hands it in to the office. When the envelopes are filled you will have collected $5,050!

A Penny for Your Thoughts – This is a fun event for the whole school to participate in. Each day, the principal will announce a “This or That” type of question. For example, “Do you like cats or dogs?” Students and staff vote daily by adding a penny to a bucket with their preference. The following morning, the principal reads the winning answer and poses the next question. On Friday, you can offer Five Cent Friday questions that are a little more complex.

Jail or Bail – On Open House night, place the principal, PE teacher or school mascot in “jail”. The two officers outside the “cell” will be armed with cashboxes. Parents, staff and students give money to the two officers to either keep him in jail or bail him out. Charge $1 to keep him in and $5 to bail him out. 

Silent Auction – Parents, staff and community members donate items for the auction. Classrooms may want to create themed gift baskets like spa, grilling, movies, baking or holiday. Other auction items might include lunch with the principal, Principal for the Day or a front row spot in the pickup line that is good for one year.

Rubber Duck Race – If you have a creek, river or water park lazy river nearby, you can sell numbered rubber ducks to race for your cause. Charge participants $5 for a duck. Participants will gather near the water to watch which duck gets to the finish line first. Use some of the proceeds to purchase a gift card for the winner.

Carnival – Go as large or small as you want. Rent bounce houses, dunk tanks and large lawn games. Create your own ping pong toss, pick a sucker, ring toss or balloon darts. Families purchase tickets to play games. Affordable prizes are available on Oriental Trading. A puppy love booth will attract a lot of contributors. Bring in adoptable dogs from a local shelter that participants can hug, kiss or take a photo with for a small fee.  Another money maker is the tape wall where students pay $1 for a 12” piece of tape to tape their principal to the wall. 

Car Boot Sale – Much like a garage sale, a car boot sale is a win-win situation. Parents or staff can gather the unwanted items in their houses and sell them out of the trunk of their cars in the school parking lot. Offer parking spots for $5-10 each. All proceeds go to your cause. You can also set up booths with food and drinks to keep your shoppers around longer.