Need money? Fundraising ideas for schools

Public schools are chronically underfunded; Dr. Judy Riffle shares some innovative strategies for bringing in much-needed funds


“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -- Helen Keller

Together, we can take underfunded schools from the brink of financial collapse to a fiscal windfall. Unless your school is a non-profit, you should partner with a Parent Teacher Association (PTA), booster club, or some other community foundation to represent as fiscal agent. Some ideas for fundraising:

  • Bidding For Good, Bidding Owl, or other silent auction websites. take the bother out of setting up an online silent auction platform. “Easy to use tools and templates,” simplifies the silent auction. Also, many of these internet sites provide sports memorabilia, dinners to popular restaurants, tickets to major league sporting events, and exotic vacations. These products are gratis, and your school keeps the agreed upon profit from the site. Lastly, you can auction your own items from the community along with the costless items. Do you have ideas for what to sell on an auction website? Do not forget to include experiences such as coffee or a meal with a principal or a local celebrity.
  • Gala and Live Auctions. Build the excitement and commandeer a local TV anchor or radio personality. Publicize the Gala and have school board members and local politicians (mayor, councilmen, commissioners, and the like) reach out to benefactors and leaders of commerce in your community. For example, the gala can include $100 per plate dinners and auction wine bottles during the dinner for immediate consumption. As the dinner concludes, start the live auction; a frenzy in bidding can bring in extraordinary amounts of money. DipJar and other organizations can help you plan your gala in six steps. How much would you bid to have a distant star named after you?
  • Amazon Smile. Residual income throughout the school year. Register your non-profit at Amazon Smile. Spread the word and have your community buy their wares under your non-profit through Amazon. Your charitable institution receives a fraction of every sale through Amazon Smile; Amazon pays out at the end of every month. Can you think of any other way for residual income?
  • Fun Run. A 5K race (Turkey Trot or Elf Run) can turn into 100% profit with proper planning. Organize your Fun Run around a holiday, such as St. Patty’s Day. Have runners dress up in their favorite garb and give a small percentage to the best dressed runner. Simple math--if you have one thousand runners and charge $30 per runner, you can amass 30 thousand dollars for your school. Use the dojiggy platform and plan your Fun Run. What would you buy your school with $30K?
  • Endowment from past Superintendent or Mayor; think outside of the box. Conjure a relationship with a potential benefactor. You have the opportunity to receive monies from their estate once they pass. Encourage and entice them with their name on a school building or football field.
  • Corporate Sponsorship. Imagine if a fortune 500 company adopted your school. Large oil companies, banks, and nationwide grocery stores have a specific foundation to represent their benefactor arm. If you live near a large corporation, reach out to their foundation director and give them your best elevator speech. The Balance has several ideas on how to approach and ask for corporate money. Do you have a corporate sponsor in mind?
With these strategies, writes Dr. Judy Riffle,
With these strategies, writes Dr. Judy Riffle, "we can take underfunded schools from the brink of collapse to a fiscal windfall."

Here are a few more simple ways to raise money.

  • Restaurant or movie theater; 10-25% of profit is given to school charity
  • Bake sale or cake and pie bake off
  • School festival -- plan around a fun holiday and combine it with a bake sale
  • Sell poinsettias, carnations, oranges, and candy bars; a great way to build camaraderie among students, teachers and the community
  • Have school board members donate annually to the school of their choice. Several nonprofits require their board members to donate a minimum of $500 for the privilege to serve on a board.

Together We Can.

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