The Top 5 Most Profitable School Fundraiser Ideas

raise money with a unique school fundraiser

In this day and age of education cuts, schools have to raise money for various aspects of their operations. Educational institutions have ever greater responsibilities and needs and often the extra money isn’t in the budget. Fundraising can help with shortfalls. From paying for after-school activities to supplies to scholarships, fundraising is an integral part of every school’s operations.


Schools must often fund extracurricular activities such as sports teams, music and arts programs, and clubs. These activities can be expensive to run, and fundraising can help ensure that all students have access to a well-rounded educational experience. Some activities are entirely made of volunteers and well-planned fundraising!



Money is also often needed to purchase equipment, supplies, and materials that are essential for learning, such as textbooks, computers, and classroom supplies. Fundraising can help bridge the gap between what schools need and what is available in the budget.


Schools raise money to fund projects that improve the overall learning environment, such as building repairs and renovations, landscaping, and playground upgrades. For example, a performing arts school may need a new sound system but be on its own to find the funds.


Fundraising can be used to support teacher development programs and workshops. These can help enhance the quality of instruction and ensure that teachers have access to the latest teaching methods and resources. Science and math workshops, or reading instruction seminars, for example, are invaluable to keeping up to date on instructional methods and materials.


Schools may need to raise money to support students in need, such as those who require extra support or resources, or those who come from low-income families. Fundraising can help to ensure that all students have access to the resources and support they need to succeed.


There are many fundraising choices out there. Naturally, you’ll want to choose what works best for your school and community. There are many fresh ideas for fundraising as well as tried-and-true fundraisers people know and love. Investing your time and effort in profitable fundraising will bring the most returns.


Here are the top five profitable fundraising ideas:



1. Sell Gift Cards: 


This is a popular fundraiser that allows the school community to purchase gift cards from a variety of popular retailers, with a percentage of the proceeds going toward the school. It is convenient and easy for parents and students to participate. They can use the gift cards to buy things they would have purchased anyway, such as groceries, gas, and other everyday items. This is a great fundraiser, even though it is sales, as the gift cards practically sell themselves.


Selling gift cards for local businesses also builds community relationships. Businesses that donate gift cards then get to find out who purchased one and get a chance to build their business with the recipient. Other ways to use gift cards for fundraising are to auction or raffle them or bundle them into gift baskets.


Gift cards are a flexible fundraiser and good for most people. Not only can gift cards be used for everyday needs, they can be given as gifts for special occasions. Almost everyone can afford a gift card purchase towards their everyday budget or saving for the holidays.


readathon school fundraiser


2. Organize a Read-a-thon: 


Read-A-Thons encourage students to read books. They raise money by having sponsors pledge money for every page read, each book read, or for a certain amount of time spent reading. This can be an enjoyable fundraiser for the entire community. This fundraiser can also promote a love of reading and provides students with a sense of accomplishment and pride. 


Read-A-Thons, such as those assisted by ReadaFun, are enjoyable to participate in and are more inclusive than some fundraisers. Read-A-Thons do not require any sales or purchases, as participants can use the local or school library for reading material. Students have the choice of reading or listening to books and can get credit for the number of books to read or participation.


One attractive feature of Read-A-Thons is the opportunity to get the whole family involved. Suggesting family read-aloud time as part of meeting the Read-A-Thon goals is one way of promoting literacy skills and family bonding. By engaging in literacy-building activities with the family, students are fostering a reading lifestyle for everyone involved


image of man using credit card to purchase something on his laptop


3. Host a Silent Auction: 


This is an event where donated items or services are auctioned off to the highest bidder during a set time frame. Traditionally bids were placed on paper bid sheets and collected at the end. Now mobile bidding is available to take advantage of the privacy and ease of using a cell phone. Software is available to streamline and manage the whole process.


Items can range from event tickets, to gift certificates, themed baskets, and more. Silent auctions are usually held in conjunction with other events, such as a school fair, and can be very profitable due to the variety of items up for bid. Many schools hold silent auctions of student art projects, which is a great way to foster artistic skills as well as raise money.


Make sure your theme is appropriate, inclusive, and engaging. Auctions are popular because they can create a lot of awareness, build community, and bring in a lot of donations. Having a fundraising goal is a good idea so that you can set your budget for items to acquire and pay for marketing.


4. Sell Custom Merchandise: 


Selling school spirit gear or custom-designed merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, and other items can generate school pride and be quite profitable. This fundraiser can be enhanced with creative designs and promoting the items to the wider community. Often logo designs are decided with a school-wide contest for student entries, which creates a sense of ownership in the student body and encourages them to participate.


Custom merchandise promotes school pride and gives donors something in return for their donation. There are a few different ways to go about selling merchandise as a fundraiser, but branded and sponsored merchandise are common. Spirit days then promote the community donor as well as display school pride.



5. Host a Fun Run: 


A fun run, walk-a-thon, or jog-a-thon, where students obtain pledges or donations for participating or meeting certain goals, can be profitable and fun fundraisers. This event promotes physical fitness and encourages students to get outside and participate in healthy activities. Fun runs can be held on school grounds or in the surrounding community. Local businesses can sponsor students or classrooms. 


Fun runs promote the community, build school spirit, and get students excited. Fun runs and other pledge drive fundraisers involve the whole school and require a lot of planning. They are also volunteer-intensive, needing people to track laps, hand out water, and cheer on runners. Volunteers or coordinators also tally performance for students, classes, and grades. Keeping good records is a must!


Planning Your Fundraiser:


Planning is the key to a successful fundraiser. Sure, you could fly by the seat of your pants and do alright, but with careful planning, you can maximize your efforts and really bring in some funds! Make sure you follow these steps and you’ll have a great fundraising experience.


  • Form a fundraising committee.
  • Define the goals and objectives of the fundraiser.
  • Figure out your budget.
  • Choose a type of fundraiser to meet your needs.
  • Set up a timeline for your fundraiser.
  • Coordinate volunteers.
  • Use the right fundraising platform.
  • Promote your campaign – use social media to the fullest!


Marketing Your Fundraiser:


A fundraiser won’t even get off the ground if no one knows about it. The days of just putting up flyers around the school and sending notes home are gone. Nowadays you have to compete with many other events for people’s time, effort, and money.  Following these guidelines will help you market your fundraiser successfully.


  • Select a catchy event name.
  • Create an event-specific hashtag.
  • Develop a social media plan and assign a social media person.
  • Promote your event online.
  • Send save-the-dates (email and paper).
  • Create on-site signage.
  • Highlight your biggest items/events.
  • Advertise your event in the local press and news outlets.


wooden blocks that say thank you


Wrap it up and say thanks!


Always evaluate how your fundraiser went and keep detailed records for the next time. Where were things successful? What needs improvement? After the dust has settled, remember to thank participants, sponsors, and donors. Thank the community of people responsible for helping you reach your goals, whatever they are. These two things will make your next fundraiser much easier!


Successful school fundraisers depend on various factors such as the level of community involvement, creativity, and promotion. Choosing a fundraiser that appeals to the school community, is easy to participate in, and has a clear goal will help to maximize profits. Remember to consider the character of your organization and choose a fundraiser that suits it. Choose one that makes participants proud to be in.


ReadaFun has been running successful online Read-A-Thons since 2012. 

We are dedicated to making Read-A-Thon a successful and enjoyable experience for both schools and students. Our user-friendly platform provides the tools and resources needed to streamline the fundraising process, track reading progress, and facilitate secure online donations. With ReadaFun, PTO and PTA leaders can confidently organize a profitable Read-A-Thon that inspires students, empowers literacy, and leaves their community feeling proud and fulfilled. If you are interested in running a successful Read-A-Thon this year, feel free to contact us today! We would be more than happy to guide you through the process.

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