Female PTO Fundraising Chair sitting at desk counting money after successful fundraising campaign

5 “No Stuff” PTO Fundraisers to Try Now

Have you tried a simple donation based fundraiser, instead of a product based approach to PTO fundraising?  If not, it’s a fundraising concept definitely worth giving a shot.

For starters, it’s massively appealing for both potential donors as well as PTO leaders.

And that’s because families enjoy breaks from having to buy yet something else they may not particularly want, but feel compelled to support the school and your PTO.

And volunteers will enjoy the respite from organizing the same old, same old traditional school fundraisers. 

A huge factor in the success of this type of fundraiser is having an online component to make participation and social sharing easy. 

Ask for a Donation

Let’s start with the easiest and more straightforward option: asking for what you need and laying out exactly why you need it. 

Being clear with your needs and making suggested donation amounts, whether you’re asking families or potential business donors, is so smart since it’s uncomplicated and easy to understand. 

Make it Visual with a Thermometer

Similarly, a more traditional donation initiative is the good old fundraising thermometer that’s set to explode when the goal amount is reached. 

Okay, so not really blow up per se, even though that would be kinda fun, and prohibitively messy!

The thermometer actually gamifies the fundraiser and helps donors to visualize the end goal and see how their contribution is helping to reach that goal. 

The automatic updates and acknowledgements lessen demands on PTO volunteers, easing volunteer load and strain.  

“Buy a Piece” Fundraisers

For anything that can be broken down into “pieces”, where individual components can be purchased, an impact campaign is a clever fundraising concept to try.

The difference for this fundraiser is that it’s based on a list of specific items donors can donate towards, with a set price and picture next to each item.

Think a school dance, staff appreciation events for the year, adding playground equipment, transforming the library into a modern maker space, etc.

Break it down into component parts and give your community an opportunity to support you!   

Since the impact campaign is highly visual and can be embedded into an auction fundraiser, it combines for a one two fundraising punch!

In the end, it’ll be more meaningful to a donor to understand exactly how their contribution is benefitting the school and PTO. 

The big beautiful pictures that can be added to your fundraising page will really help everything pop off the page. 

Images for the different things donors can “buy” for the school helps their contribution go from semi-abstract to something more concrete, becoming more significant and valuable to them in the process.


Another fantastic donation campaign is a crowdfunding fundraiser where you set a goal, offer donor perks and then show the list of donors.

This instantly gives donors a reason to snag the perk while it’s still available. 

The world of what your PTO could offer for perks is so wide ranging, including extra graduation tickets, a dedicated parking spot, lunch with the Principal, extra recess, dress down days, etc..  

Because this campaign relies on the power of the people in terms of donations, Facebook comments can be pulled into the donation page, which will give your campaign some social proof that it’s a cause to support generously and generate more excitement about the campaign at the same time. 

Challenge Fundraiser

Last, consider kicking off a friendly competition among students, classes and grades, or any combination of the three, for a spectacular fundraiser where donors don’t have to buy a thing! 

Students will have fun trying to out earn each other, all while working towards both individual and the overarching goal.

Students can also add a video to their page to further personalize it and tug on the heartstrings of their friends, family and potential donors. 

Consider embedding a video speaking to the overall fundraiser goal to your fundraising website.

And the personalization goes both ways, with donors having the option of adding a note of support when they contribute, which adds to the fun for all!

Summing It Up

Running a product-free or “no stuff” fundraiser is easy and smart.

It’s nice to have a variety of donation based fundraisers to present to your school community to keep your PTO fundraising plan consistently fresh and fun. 

The five different donation campaigns break down the end goal of raising money a bit differently, slightly tweaking their approach to appeal to donors, but each should work well for your PTO, so don’t hesitate to start today!

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