When it comes to fundraising, elementary schools have unique advantages and challenges to navigate. Elementary school fundraisers tend to be very public as your school’s student body and community are encouraged to participate. Instead of focusing your efforts on a few individuals, these fundraisers will target an entire community.

This means that those new to elementary school fundraising might have a little trouble finding their footing, especially when planning unique fundraisers like academic giving days. Getting your fundraiser right is essential for maintaining your long-term credibility.

To help newcomers avoid common mistakes and get a handle on elementary school fundraising basics, this mini-manual will discuss how to:

  • Fundraise frequently.
  • Use online fundraising tools.
  • Choose fundraisers elementary school students will love.
  • Make participating easy.
  • Analyze your results and thank supporters.

While this might seem overwhelming at first, keep in mind that elementary school fundraisers are almost always collaborative. From your school’s staff to your students and their parents, everyone is rooting for your fundraiser to succeed. Let’s get started.

Text: "Fundraise frequently"

Fundraise frequently.

Your school can raise more and provide opportunities for students at the same time by keeping a full fundraising calendar throughout the year. To help inspire your future fundraisers, Read-A-Thon recommends these elementary school fundraising ideas:

  • Library fundraiser. If your school’s library needs a boost, get students to create lists of books they would like to see in their school’s library. Then, encourage them to gather donations for your cause. You can even combine your library fundraiser with a read-a-thon where students collect pledged donations based on how much they read over a specified period of time.
  • Shoe drive. Kids tend to outgrow their shoes quickly, which makes shoe drives a logical fundraiser for elementary schools. Partner with a shoe drive program, then collect new and gently used shoes and send them to your partner. The partner will send back a check based on the amount of shoes collected.
  • Auctions. Auctions give your supporters tangible items in exchange for their contributions. You can make your auctions elementary school-friendly by having students contribute to class baskets or putting items up for auction that appeal specifically to your students, such as a “principal for a day” prize.

Planning a fundraiser can be time-consuming, so choose events and activities that vary in scope and necessary resources to earn revenue without overworking your staff.

Text: "Use online fundraising tools"

Use online fundraising tools.

Online tools are already popular for managing many school operations, from class registration to digital gradebooks. You can continue this trend and add more variety to your fundraising calendar by making use of online fundraising tools.

There are a variety of free online fundraising programs designed specifically to help schools, including:

  • Read-a-thons. Online read-a-thon tools allow your school to more easily coordinate, manage, and promote your read-a-thons. Have students create their accounts and log their hours as they read. This shows donors how much a student has read and highlights a student’s accomplishments, encouraging them to continue reading even after your fundraiser.
  • Shopping programs. Online shopping fundraisers for schools allow your community to give to your school without any additional spending on their part. Sign up with an online shopping program and encourage parents and community members to download your school’s app or browser extension. When they make online purchases using the app, a percentage of their sales total will be sent to your school at no additional cost.
  • Free online donation tools. While it’s true most online donation tools require a subscription or platform fee, some services are free for schools to use. Similarly, some platforms might have a base fee but allow schools access to bonus features for free that make fundraising as a team and running multiple campaigns easier.

As your school considers its fundraising software options, cost is not the only factor that counts. Choose a software solution that is easy-to-use and offers features that can significantly expand your fundraising capabilities.

Text: "Choose fundraisers elementary school students will love"

Choose fundraisers elementary school students will love.

As a leader at your elementary school, part of your role is ensuring your students have a fun, memorable school experience that prepares them for the future. When choosing a fundraising idea, take into account not just what has the highest earning potential, but can be turned into an engaging experience for your students.

Obviously, your fundraiser will need to generate revenue. But you can still choose fundraising ideas for schools that are enjoyable for your students first and a fundraiser second. A few examples include:

  • Talent shows
  • Field days
  • Bake sales
  • Concerts
  • Carnivals
  • Cook offs
  • Karaoke night
  • Haunted house
  • Holiday decorating
  • Scavenger hunts

Don’t be afraid to overlap fundraisers. While hosting these events, your school could also hold fundraisers more strictly focused on fundraising, such as crowdfunding or matching gift campaigns.

Text: "Make participating easy"

Make participating easy.

Elementary school fundraisers are advantageous because you’ll likely have eager students who are happy to volunteer. You can maximize participation among students, parents, staff, and your PTA members by making involvement as easy as possible.

Here are a few ways you can facilitate greater participation in your fundraisers:

  • Offer virtual participation options. Virtual alternatives to popular fundraisers will help students attend in a way that works with their schedules.
  • Ensure parents and students are aware of the fundraiser. Make sure your marketing materials clearly spell out what your fundraiser is and how participants can get involved. This can include step-by-step instructions as well as links to any relevant online resources.
  • Try passive fundraisers. Passive fundraisers require very little additional effort on your participants’ part. These include programs such as shopping and grocery fundraisers, where community members can support your school by taking actions they were likely going to anyway.

Additionally, make sure you practice inclusivity in your fundraisers. Ensure fundraisers account for all of your students’ ability levels and make every fundraising activity accessible.

Text: "Analyze your results and thank supporters."

Analyze your results and thank supporters.

Throughout your fundraiser, keep an eye on your overall progress towards your goal. This can help you make adjustments to your overall fundraising strategy and goals based on the data you collect. Some virtual fundraising tools even have real-time data reporting, helping you stay on top of new information as it comes in.

Be sure to reach out to your volunteers and donors throughout your campaign to thank all of them for their continued support. Showing your appreciation can motivate your volunteers, whether they’re students or parents, to continue working hard to make a difference for your school.

After your fundraiser, be sure to review your data and assess your overall campaign. This should be an opportunity to take note of what went well and what could be improved. Then, for your next fundraiser, you’ll be able to correct previous mistakes ahead of time or have solid plans to take advantage of missed opportunities.

Elementary schools have several responsibilities. Their fundraisers should, of course, aim to draw in revenue, but these events can also be turned into fun, memorable experiences for your students. To fundraise effectively while keeping your students included, be sure to plan a variety of fundraisers that everyone at your school can participate in. Good luck!