How to Choose the Right Fundraiser
PTA/PTO leaders have a big job when it comes to determining the fundraisers a school will undertake for the year. While there may be some annual fundraisers at your school that practically run themselves at this point, there’s nothing wrong with trying new school fundraising ideas.
Maybe you have a new PTA/PTO president who wants to change things up, or perhaps there’s widespread interest in novelty across your organization. Maybe your school has a new need, like renovating the playground or replacing the library computers.
No matter the situation, most PTA/PTOs find themselves making important decisions about which fundraisers to hold every year. So here’s your guide to making the right choices! The experts at Booster will walk you through everything you should consider when choosing your next fundraiser plus give you school fundraising ideas to get you inspired.
How to Choose the Right Fundraiser: What to Consider
1. What are your fundraising goals?
One of the most important parts of planning a school fundraiser is determining your fundraising goals. This includes both how much money you want to raise and how the funds will be used. School fundraisers help fund everything from enrichment programs and extracurricular activities to new technology and facilities upgrades.
Determining what you need to raise funds for and how much money you’ll need to raise is important for several reasons. First, it helps you approach your fundraising in an organized way. Second, it improves volunteer and donor engagement. When people know what their hard work and money is going toward, they’re more likely to donate. Finally, determining your fundraising goals helps you decide on the best type of fundraiser to achieve your goals.
Different types of fundraisers vary in terms of profitability and purpose. That’s why we recommend schools use a variety of different types of fundraisers throughout the year. You may even use multiple fundraisers to work toward a single fundraising goal.
Below are a few examples of the types of school fundraising ideas that work well for various goals.
Goal: High Profits
If you need to raise funds for something expensive like new technology or a building renovation, you need a high-profit fundraiser that will give you a lot of bang for your buck. Some of the most profitable school fundraisers include:
- Fun runs, dance-a-thons, read-a-thons, color runs, glow runs, and other a-thon fundraisers
- Raffles and auctions
- Bake sales
- Talent shows
- Trivia nights
- Movie screenings
These are just a few of the many possible examples. Remember, the profit you earn from a single fundraiser depends on more than just the type of fundraiser you host. As we will explain further in this blog, it also takes careful planning, strong volunteer power and good timing.
Goal: Consistent Donations
Not all school fundraising ideas are a major event. Schools also benefit from ongoing fundraisers that can be run with very little effort online. These types of fundraisers can create a year-round source of funds that can be used for things like school supplies, student events, field trips, etc.
School fundraising ideas that can be easily managed and bring in ongoing profits include:
- Corporate gift matching: Corporate gift matching is school fundraising’s best kept secret. It’s an easy way to maximize the donations given by parents and other members of the school community. Learn more about how this type of fundraiser can bring in funds throughout the year.
- Spirit gear store: Another great way to raise consistent funds is to set up an online spirit gear store. Use the store to sell awesome gear like t-shirts and hoodies, keychains, drawstring bags… anything you can imagine!
You can also host periodic campaigns such as a social media blasts to your donation page or text-to-give fundraisers that let people donate by sending a simple text.
Goal: Enrichment Programs
If you’re raising funds for a specific educational purpose such as a STEAM program, it can be a good idea to choose a fundraiser that fits the theme of the program.
For example, for an arts program, think about hosting an event that emphasizes the creative arts such as a talent show. For a sports program, hold an event that gets kids active and moving their bodies like a fun run, dance fundraiser, or walk-a-thon. Replacing library technology or books? Have a read-a-thon to fit the theme.
This is where your PTA/PTO can get creative and have fun with the type of events you organize.
2. What are your resources?
Other important factors to consider when thinking about school fundraising ideas are the resources you have at your disposal. This includes everything from your budget and fundraising technology to potential volunteers and the types of facilities or venues you have access to.
Below are a few questions you should ask yourself when deciding on your next fundraiser.
How much will the event cost and can your budget cover it?
Your first step is to take a close look at your budget. How much money are you able to spend on your next event? Do you have plenty of cash upfront, or will you use some of the proceeds to offset the costs? If your budget is low, consider lower-cost fundraisers that don’t require you to buy too many supplies or rent out expensive equipment or venues. The following types of fundraisers can work well for modest budgets:
- Raffles and auctions: Ask local businesses or community members to donate your raffle/auction prizes.
- Restaurant nights: The restaurant provides the location and the food. All you really have to do is plan and promote the event.
- A-thon fundraisers: Fun runs, glow runs, color runs, dance marathons, read-a-thons, and more can usually be held on campus so you don’t need to rent out a venue.
- Food/can drives: This type of fundraiser doesn’t require a special venue, equipment, or supplies - just effort and donations from the community.
- Online and text fundraisers: Crowdfunding, donations pages, and text-to-give fundraisers are both low cost and low effort. Depending on how you set up your fundraiser, the most you’ll likely spend is on a fundraising software.
- Corporate gift matching: This year-round, low-effort fundraiser only costs you the effort of getting the word out to parents and community members about how to get their donations matched.
- Online spirit gear stores: Sell spirit gear for your school online as a fundraiser. Companies like Booster Gear create your online store for you, provide professional graphic designers to give you great designs and help you choose popular items to sell with low to no upfront investment from you.
Learn about more types of fundraisers according to cost in our ultimate fundraising guide.
How will you track and collect donations?
For successful fundraising, you need to have a plan for tracking and collecting your donations. Thankfully, school fundraising platforms make this easier by automating the process. These platforms are typically well worth the cost in terms of the clarity and simplicity they add to the donation tracking and collection process.
Do you have access to a quality fundraising platform? If not, consider the many benefits of using one. With a platform like Booster’s, for example, you can throw out your old spreadsheets and get access to a visual tracker that lets you easily track your fundraising progress. Learn more about how MyBooster can streamline your fundraiser tracking.
How many volunteers will you need and are you able to recruit them?
Another crucial consideration in choosing your next awesome school fundraising idea is how many volunteers you’ll have to help make it a reality. If you’ve had a great recruiting year and people are lining up to lend a hand, great! If not, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great fundraiser. It just means you’ll need to choose a fundraiser that doesn’t require so much hands-on volunteer work.
Below are some school fundraising ideas that are great when you’re low on volunteers:
- Online and text fundraisers
- Corporate gift matching
- Boxtops campaign
- Online spirit gear stores
- Restaurant nights
- No uniform day or pajama day (students get sponsored for the privilege of participating)
- Booster Events: When you work with Booster in one of our event programs, we bring the volunteers to you! Learn more about how it works.
3. Time of Year
Another consideration that might surprise you when thinking about school fundraising ideas is considering when your event or campaign will occur. Believe it or not, this can make a big difference in the type of fundraiser you choose. Consider the following when it comes to deciding on your next school fundraising idea:
What season is it?
Picking an event that meshes well with the season can be a great way to get people excited about participating. Fall, winter, and spring all bring different things for people to enjoy, and you can really boost the fun by picking a fundraiser with a seasonal theme.
For example, fall brings the opportunity for fundraisers centered around Halloween (think costume contests and haunted houses), Thanksgiving (turkey trots and food drives), and seasonal food and drink (think bake sales featuring pies and apple cider). Similarly, winter fundraisers can be focused on holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah (e.g., gift drives, shoe and coat drives, gingerbread house contests, hot chocolate sales, and more).Spring is a great time for fundraisers that get people outdoors.
When choosing your next fundraiser, think of ways to celebrate the season!
What other fundraisers have happened recently or are happening soon?
It’s important to avoid volunteer and donor fatigue. That means avoiding scheduling too many fundraisers close together. If you just recently had a big event with lots of volunteers, consider making your next fundraiser a low-effort campaign like text-to-give or a donations page blast. If you’re worried about donor fatigue, something like a restaurant night, bowl-a-thon, or trivia night allows donors to get something in return for their donation, i.e., a nice meal or a night of entertainment.
We hope this guide has you feeling prepared to choose the perfect event for your next fundraiser. For more awesome school fundraising ideas, check out the Booster blog. Our fundraising experts are happy to share our experiences with you!