Mar 23, 2021

7 School Fundraising Ideas

7 School Fundraising Ideas

It can be difficult for schools to come up with fun, inspiring fundraising ideas. Or maybe your school is worried about the time and preparation that goes into planning a successful fundraiser. We understand these challenges and want to help! 

By incorporating technology into your school fundraisers, you can make fundraising easy and engaging. 

We’ve got a list of seven simple and effective fundraisers for your school:

  1. School T-Shirt Fundraiser
  2. Text-to-Give
  3. Charity Auctions
  4. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
  5. Matching Gifts
  6. Best Seat in the House
  7. Create a Wish List

If you’re looking for a fundraising technology partner, connect with the GiveSmart team to see how you can make your mission a movement. Now, let’s get into the fundraising ideas! 

1. School T-Shirt Fundraiser

Students and teachers will love the opportunity to purchase a T-shirt with the school’s mascot or a line from your alma mater. It’s a great keepsake, and students and teachers will be able to show their school pride! 

A school T-shirt fundraiser is versatile because you can sell shirts during your other fundraising efforts, as well as online, or at sporting events. 

Of course, you can sell other branded merchandise as well, such as:  

  • Hats
  • Car decals and stickers
  • Water bottles
  • Notebooks
  • Chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer
  • And much more

With so many options available, you can sell all different types of branded gear!

How to Get Started

Starting a school T-shirt fundraiser is a lot easier than it sounds. First, you’ll need to find a wholesale company that will print your customized shirts. Turn to your fundraising management system and set up an online storefront to take per-orders and sales. 

If you’re concerned about having a lot of inventory, some companies will sell and distribute the shirts for you, so you don’t have to store the merchandise. Plus, you’ll only pay for the shirts you sell! 

2. Text-to-Donate

Text-to-donate is a convenient way for supporters, students, and teachers to donate to your school. 

Text-to-donate is a common fundraising idea among nonprofits and churches because the giving process is convenient and quick, and it can be beneficial for your school. 

For instance, if donors are browsing their Facebook newsfeed and come across your school, they can donate on their phones and continue browsing their social media. 

Why not start accepting donations via text message? 

Here’s how a typical text-to-donation would go: 

  1. The donor texts a donation amount to your number or short code (specifically made for text-to-donations). 
  2. The donor is sent a link that takes them to a mobile-friendly donation form. 
  3. After filling out personal and payment information, the donor will confirm their gift. 
  4. Text-to-give provides donors with the flexibility to donate whenever and wherever, especially when they don’t have cash or a checkbook handy! 

How to Get Started

With a text-to-give campaign, there’s little your school must set up. Creating the number and linking the donations to your account are both handled by a software provider like GiveSmart. 

It’s important to look for a provider that’s PCI-compliant, which means they stick to a strict set of rules created by the Payment Card Industry. PCI compliance protects your donors’ payment information and keeps your school safe from fraud. 

3. Charity Auctions

While they often take considerable time to plan, charity auctions are well suited for schools because of their interactive nature. 

You’re probably aware that there are multiple types of charity auctions. For example, your school can host a(n): 

  • Silent auction, which requires donors to place bids on bidding sheets or by using their phones. This is the most popular auction type for schools because donors can place bids at their own discretion without a public declaration. 
  • Online auction, which takes place digitally. Schools set up an auction site with images and descriptions of all the items. Supporters register to place bids. 
  • Live auction, which involves an auctioneer introducing items and calling out amounts. Participants place bids by raising bid paddles. This type of auction is not very common among schools. 

Choose the auction that best fits your needs and resources. For instance, if you’re not familiar with organizing a charity auction, start with an online event, because there will be less planning required.

How to Get Started

When it comes to planning a charity auction, it’s important to remember it could take up to nine months to properly plan for your event. 

With that said, don’t let the timeline intimidate you. Charity auctions are beneficial for schools in more ways than just generating funds; they’re an opportunity for you to interact with your supporters.  

When planning your event, keep this short checklist in mind: 

  • Make sure you have a planning team in place to organize the event. Team members can help with the decorations, item procurement, and auction monitoring. 
  • Find a venue for your auction. If your school has a large campus, you can host the event in one of your buildings to save on costs. 
  • Procure items and experiences to auction off. It’s important to do some research before acquiring items. After you understand what your participants want, you can start asking supporters and businesses for in-kind donations. 

With the help of a strong team and a solid plan, organizing your school auction can be easy. 

4. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a popular way for schools to raise money, and here’s why: 

  1. Your loyal donors solicit donations on behalf of your school. 
  2. You can leverage your donors’ connections to gain new supporters. 

So, what exactly is peer-to-peer fundraising? 

Essentially, this fundraiser recruits your loyal supporters and puts them on the frontline of fundraising. Donors set up individual fundraising pages, set a goal, and ask their friends and family members to contribute.  

Usually, peer-to-peer campaigns end with an event to celebrate all the fundraisers’ success, but they don’t have to.

How to Get Started

Even though your donors are the ones asking for donations, your school still has a role to play when creating a peer-to-peer campaign. 

You’ll need to recruit your fundraisers as well as: 

  • Equip your fundraisers with resources to help them create their pages and ask for donations. 
  • Post updates on your peer-to-peer campaign’s progress. 
  • Share encouraging messages to keep your fundraisers motivated. 

Even after the campaign ends, your job isn’t done. You’ve acquired a ton of new donors, and while they gave to your school, they may not know much about your background or history.  

Make sure you update your donor database with all the new information and thank your donors with an acknowledgment letter and a packet of information about your school. 

5. Matching Gifts

Your school might already be familiar with matching gifts, but maybe you don’t see the results you want. 

When donors give to your school, they can request a matching gift from their employers, which means you can potentially double the funds you raise.  

While there is a lot of potential with matching gifts, all the responsibility to submit a request rest on the donor. Furthermore, many donors don’t know about their company’s matching gift program, and if they are familiar, they don’t know how to submit a request.

Luckily, there are strategies you can implement to help educate donors and get them interested in submitting a matching gift request. 

How to Get Started

If you want more donors to know about matched giving, you need to promote matching gift programs. 

Here’s how: 

  • Create a dedicated page on your website about matching gifts. 
  • Add a search tool to your donation form and matching gifts page where donors can search for their company’s program. 
  • Mention matching gifts in your acknowledgment letters and donation receipts.  

The more you educate donors about the matching gift process, the more comfortable they’ll feel about making a request. 

6. Best Seat in the House

The best seat in the house fundraiser is a great way to raise money and promote school activities. 

This is a raffle with the prize of having two of the best seats at an upcoming sports game, school concert, or another event. 

For even more incentive, you can provide the winners with free concessions in addition to their prime seats. 

How to Get Started

Since this fundraiser requires little planning other than ensuring that you have prime seats to give away, the crucial part of making this raffle a success is marketing.  

If you’re not sure how to promote your event, try a few of the following strategies: 

  • Use automated email software to send emails to your donors with information on the raffle or include the details in your email newsletter. 
  • Take a picture of the prime seats and share the photo on social media with information on how to participate. 
  • Include details about the raffle when you promote the game or concert the prize will be for. 

Once people know about your raffle, you can sell tickets for $1 and announce the winner! 

7. Create a Wish List

For K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities, wish list fundraising can be one of the easiest ways to raise money for your school. With the right approach, your campaign has the potential to become viral and raise a lot of money in a short period of time. 

Wish list fundraising is so effective because it uses technology and social sharing capabilities to help you reach the most potential donors. All you do is create a storefront with the things your school needs— from supplies to equipment and even the cost of your electric bill! 

Those who want to show support can fund your specific needs and share your campaign page with their networks. 

How to Get Started

Creating a wish list campaign is quick and simple; the most important part is picking a platform. 

That’s a lot of options to choose from! Luckily, you can narrow down the options by looking for the following core features: 

  • Mobile-friendly fundraising pages 
  • Social sharing buttons 
  • Space to tell your story and add video and images 
  • Customization capabilities (so your page matches your school’s brand) 


You can use one or two (or a combination of our ideas!) to raise funds for your school. 

GiveSmart partners with thousands of schools annually. As you form your fundraising and donor management strategies for the year, connect with our experts to see how you can best engage your supporters to better serve your students and staff.  


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What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County