18 great PTA fundraising ideas

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Fundraising is a key element of supporting your parent-teacher association (PTA). Since fundraising demands so much time, it’s important to choose the most effective fundraising methods to give you the best return on your efforts. As you plan your PTA’s fundraising activities for this school year, consider these PTA fundraising ideas that tend to be highly successful.

These PTA fundraising ideas aren’t only effective in generating funds, but they can also be a lot of fun for school and community members.

1. Craft fair

A craft fair gives the whole community a chance to get involved. You can charge a fee for each vendor table, and you can even sell crafts that students have helped create for extra funds. Be sure to have a prominently displayed donation table highlighting the value of the PTA and the reasons you need donations.

2. Sports day or field day

A sports day gives students a chance to get active, enjoy friendly competition, and even win some prizes. Since these days tend to be long, they’re full of opportunities for all sorts of additional fundraising activities, like a lemonade stand, a bake sale, and a picnic or barbeque. By incorporating just one or two of these fundraising ideas, you’ll have access to a large audience of people and could raise significant funds in a single day.

3. School auction

An auction can be a great way to quickly generate funds. Consider reaching out to parents and local businesses to ask them to donate auction items. Classrooms can also work together to create gift baskets to be auctioned off.

When it comes to the auction itself, you might decide to host a live event or a silent auction — either in person or online. 

4. Shoe drive

Consider hosting a shoe drive through your school. You’ll start by finding a fundraising company that will pay you for the shoes you collect, then encourage families and students to bring in their older, unneeded shoes for donation. Shoe drives work particularly well with younger kids, who quickly outgrow their shoes. 

You can also have classrooms compete against each other to see which donates the most shoes, then offer the winning classroom a prize like a pizza party.

5. Raffles

Raffles make it easy for people to get involved, even if they don’t have the money to spend on a larger donation, like an auction item purchase. Kids can get involved in selling raffle tickets, and, if you’re running a longer-term raffle, you can sell tickets at events like sports games and other school gatherings.

You might purchase a raffle prize, ask a business to donate a prize, or host a 50/50 raffle. With a 50/50 raffle, there’s no need to worry about a prize, since you’ll give the raffle winner half of the money generated by the raffle. It’s a lower-risk way to host a raffle, and it ensures you’ll make a profit.

6. Parents’ night out

Host a fun event specifically for parents, like a night at a local restaurant. You’ll be able to connect with parents, who tend to be your biggest donors. In addition to charging admission, you can make direct appeals to the parents or incorporate raffles to generate extra funds.

7. Sell products

Product fundraisers have been the go-to option for PTAs, sports teams, clubs, and more for decades. That’s because they work — but you need to choose the right product. 

With a product fundraiser, kids will sell products and take pre-orders. Then, you’ll collect those orders and submit them to the product fundraising partner. The key to a successful fundraiser is to choose an in-demand product that people love, like cookie dough, chocolate bars, or wrapping paper.

8. Coupon books

Much like selling products, selling coupon books means your buyers will get something they need, and your PTA will receive a portion of the cost of each sale. Your PTA can purchase coupon books from specialized providers, but one of the best strategies is to look for a provider that works with your local businesses. The coupons will be relevant to your audience, and you’ll be giving your local community businesses a boost, too. 

You can also offer prizes and incentives to get students excited about selling the books.

9. Cook-off

Get staff, parents, and even kids involved in a fun cook-off event. Pick a dish or two and ask participants to create their best version of the dish. You can charge a fee for each entry, and you can charge an admission fee for attendees, who’ll get to sample all of the dishes. Judges will vote on the dish they think is the best. 

See if you can get a community business to donate a prize or two to make the competition extra fun.

10. Walk-a-thon

A walk-a-thon is a versatile fundraising event that you can use at nearly any school. Students ask people to pledge money for every mile or hour they walk, then they “earn” that money by participating in the event. During the event, you can set up tables to sell beverages, T-shirts, and other items to increase the funds you raise.

There are also plenty of variations on the walk-a-thon you might consider. Options include bowl-a-thons, dance-a-thons, jump-rope-a-thons, and more. The possibilities are endless, and you can easily put a new twist on this traditional fundraising event.

11. Direct mail appeal

Don’t forget the power of direct mail appeals. Write a fundraising letter to your past donors and to the parents of current students. Be sure to include information about why donations matter so much and what work they’ll help fund. Direct appeals can work particularly well when you’ve a set fundraising goal for a project; donors are able to see the difference their contributions make through the work you perform.

You can include an envelope with your appeals to make it easier for recipients to donate, or include information about how they can donate online.

12. Board game competition

Host a board game night for students, giving them fun, low-cost entertainment. Charge a small registration fee, then structure the night as a tournament so students progress through the ranks with each game they win. A traditional game, like checkers, can work well for this purpose. You can offer up prizes to the winners in different age groups. 

13. Talent show

A talent show can be a fantastic and fun way to raise money. You can structure the show so it’s for school staff, students, or both. Participants can pay an entry fee to participate in the show, and you can charge a small admission for attendees. There are also plenty of opportunities to set up booths where you can collect donations, sell raffle tickets, and showcase your other fundraising efforts.

14. Holiday treat sale

The holidays are busy, often chaotic times, and parents will appreciate any efforts that make their holiday preparations easier. If your PTA members are talented bakers, then consider offering holiday treats for sale, like pies and cookies. You can offer these items frozen so they’re ready to thaw and serve at a holiday celebration. Take advance orders so you know just how much cooking you’ll have to do.

15. Battle of the bands

Ideal for PTAs in high schools, a battle of the bands gives student musicians a chance to demonstrate their skills. You can also open this event up to local communities. Charge the bands a small registration fee, and charge a small admission at the door. Bands compete, judges rank them, and the winning band takes home the title of the event winner, as well as any prize you’ve been able to secure.

Schedule the event so it includes an intermission. During the break, you can sell concessions and other fundraising items.

16. Drive-in movie night

If your school has access to a large parking lot or field, consider hosting a drive-in movie night. You’ll need a projector and a large screen, or you may be able to project the movie onto the side of a building. Charge admission per car, and consider selling items like drinks and candy for additional fundraising opportunities.

17. Restaurant percentage night

Look for family-friendly restaurants in your area that host special nights where they donate percentages of all sales to a local nonprofit. These fundraisers require minimal prep work, so you can easily add them into your existing fundraising efforts. Your biggest job will be spreading the word about the night and encouraging students and their families to eat at the restaurant during the event.

18. T-shirt sales

T-shirts tend to be easy to sell, especially when you’ve customized them with your school’s logo. Alternatively, consider holding an art contest and asking students to enter their shirt designs. The winning design will appear on the shirts you sell.

Print-on-demand companies make these fundraisers easy, though you’ll save money by purchasing printed shirts in bulk. Check around and see if a local business offers T-shirt printing, and you may be able to save even more. You can sell the shirts by using order forms, but you can also sell them at other fundraising events.

Tips for PTA fundraising success

Once you’ve chosen the fundraising ideas you’d like your PTA to try, it’s important to keep the whole process organized. Jotform makes that easy. With Jotform, you can create signup forms, order forms, donation forms, surveys, and more to support your fundraising efforts. 

And if you want to make your donation process even more convenient, you can build your own mobile app with Jotform Apps. You can use your app to collect volunteer information, share details about your nonprofit, and even add Jotform’s Donation Box feature to collect donations in the app. 

When you use the Donation Apps, you can choose from one of Jotform’s 30-plus payment processor integrations to effortlessly take payments. Just pick the one that works best for your parent-teacher association, and you’ll be set to share your app and accept donations.

Jotform offers a wide assortment of nonprofit forms and templates, plus nonprofits enjoy 50 percent off all annual Jotform plans. Jotform can simplify everything — from sending out fundraising invitations to tracking an event guest list. 

Photo by Sherise Van Dyk on Unsplash

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A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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