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21 Out of-the-Ordinary PTO Fundraisers

Tired of the traditional catalog fundraiser and looking to shake your fundraising plan up and bring in the big bucks for your PTO?

Check out this round up of a whole host of PTO and school fundraisers that don’t require an old-school catalog.

They’re a bit unusual, so they’re sure to catch attention and have great participation, meaning the profit will be fantastic too!

Keep in mind that some of these fundraisers are designed to be small, passive fundraisers so you put the time in on the front end, with minimal maintenance and upkeep required to keep the money rolling in.

And because they’re so passive, you can combine a number of these to help you reach your fundraising goal!

Huzzah!

Double Check Regulations

Before we dive into all the fabulous non-catalog fundraising ideas, let me first mention that you should check with your Attorney General and school district to see if your state or school has any special requirements or limitations that you ned to abide by.

For example in Ohio, 501(c)(3) organizations may hold raffles, so that means non 501(c)(3) PTOs will have to look into non-raffle based options.

With that legal disclaimer out of the way, on to the out of the box fundraiser ideas!

Activity Based

Penny wars

Many groups collect loose change and pit classes or grades against one enough for a friendly competition with extra prizes and bragging rights for the “winners!”  School Volunteers Share has all the information you’ll need to successfully run a Penny War.

A thon fundraisers

Whether it’s Walk-a-Thon, Run-a-Thon, Read-a-Thon or Math-a-thon, this sort of fundraiser can really bring in the big bucks!

PTOs have successfully used this fundraising model to bring in anywhere from $3,000-$50000!

Some groups partner with a company who does some of the legwork, but they also take a percentage of the profits.

I’ve used this kit to run a Walk-a-Thon several times and the total raised came in over the goal amount by a bunch, which was a pleasant surprise!

Art Kits

Connect with a local ceramic or painting studio and get a custom kit to offer to your families to keep their kids engaged over Winter, Spring or Summer Break.

Raffle

The next idea for a fundraiser that doesn’t require a catalog to be sent home is a perennial favorite: raffle baskets! 

Collect donations of items and gift cards from school families and local businesses and create “baskets.”

Then pair the raffle drawing with a family fun event where you’ll have lots of people present and ready to buy tickets, like a Carnival, or host an online raffle for wider participation.

Things people need anyway

The next category of non-catalog fundraisers are things people will buy anyways…

And the options here are pretty much endless. 

I’ve seen PTOs selling mattresses, trash bags, and holding a Spring Plant Sale to raise money for your programs and events. 

You get the idea here with these three suggestions… Find something that folks buy either on the regular or seasonally and become the sales person for it!

One last idea under this category of PTO fundraisers is a discount card.  

Either create your own or partner with a company to have a custom coupon card created with local merchants and restaurants participating.

Changes are they already patronize one or more of the businesses, so giving your group a little money to get lots more back for things they already buy is a no-brainer!

Food Fundraisers

Another fantastic fundraising option that is adjacent to the idea of offering items people need or want is anything edible!

Concession Stand

For Middle Schools, Junior Highs, and High Schools, organized athletic competitions present the opportunity to set up a concession stand and offer tasty treats to participants and spectators alike!

Snack cart

A few times a month, offer a specialty snack cart for students during lunch.

Or if you can, go bigger with pre-ordered pizza lunches for a higher profit level. 

Spaghetti Dinner

Partner with a local restaurant and pre-sell dinners for a tasty little sum. 

Make pick up easier for families and teachers by offering a drive thru service at the school.

Boost participation by advertising with a flyer / order form combo.

Clam Bake

Serve up a clam bake or any other seasonal or regional favorite, as long as it’s something most people won’t go to the trouble of making themselves. 

It can even become an annual tradition!

Wine Tasting

Connect with a local wine vendor and develop a wine tasting event in their location or put together a to go kit and plan a virtual event for people to come together online.

Chocolate Tasting

A twist on the wine tasting concept, also involving antioxidants.

Restaurant Nights

Partner with another local restaurant and drive traffic to their locale in exchange for a percentage of the profits! 

Pizza chains and fast casual restaurants are usually game to participate, so head on in to restaurants in your community and schedule some dates!

Grocery Loyalty Cards

Sign up to participate in the store’s donation program where your organization/school will get a percentage of sales from designated shoppers. 

A bit of annual maintenance will keep the dollars rolling in!

Spirit Raisers

Graduation Signs

Buy a set or two of graduation signs* in your school colors and rent them out to families in your community.  Set up an online ordering form, get some volunteers to set up the signs and the advertise to fill available slots.

If your school isn’t a high school, offer cute signs for the highest grade in school to congratulate them on their promotion!

This type of fundraiser is perfect to add on to another PTO event towards the end of the school year since parents can pick up the signs while they’re at the event!

Birthday Signs

Same concept as the graduation lawn signs, but adding an option to help celebrate birthdays opens up a wider pool of possible customers, not just those graduating from high school.

Combine a few of the sets for bigger impact!

That’s what we did here:

Flockings

Another twist on the graduation and birthday signs where you fill their yard with a flock of pink flamingos or mini versions of your school mascot.

Spirit Days

Sponsor Spirit Days where students pay to participate to dress down, wear a hat or pjs to school.

Spirit Wear

Offer a variety of sprit wear for students and families to wear at to school and at school events like athletics and other activities.  Think beyond t-shirts: pj bottoms, pom pom hats, and custom socks can be big sellers!

Resources You’ll Love

Need more help choosing and pulling off the most profitable year of fundraising?

colorful resources for PTA PTO fundraising

Get the Fundraising Success Kit!

This resource bundle cut the time, headache and hassle of school and PTO fundraising, so be sure to check it out.

Over to you!

Hope you love these PTO fundraising ideas and they help give you thought joggers to go beyond the catalog for your next fundraiser!

Sometimes shaking things up a bit and giving families a different way to support your school through a unique PTO fundraiser is just the ticket!


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Regardless of whether or not I receive a commission, I only recommend products I genuinely love and either have already or would purchase myself. I always have my readers’ best interests in mind when making these recommendations!

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