two female PTO volunteers meeting on couch about school fundraising

Easy PTO Fundraising with Local Business Partners

Most PTO fundraisers are playing it safe and small by running fundraisers that only reach a bit beyond the walls of their school. 

This is too bad since there’s a ton of opportunity if only they would think bigger and better.

The smartest PTOs seek partnership opportunities with businesses in their area. 

This post is going to explore just how to establish and optimize the PTO-Business partnership to benefit all. 

Read on to learn how to replicate this fundraising strategy for your group!

Think Bigger

First, approach local businesses with the mindset of forming a partnership. 

Don’t limit the potential of the interaction by just asking for an item to be donated.  That’s small ball, friend.

Really seek to take it to the next level by going deeper than that. 

Your school and PTO present a fantastic opportunity for businesses since they’re chock full of potential customers! 

Leverage this fact by seeking to form a business partnership with your PTO.

Lot of business owners, especially small business owners, have a personal stake in schools, especially since good schools make for higher property values and a stronger community as well. 

This makes businesses primed to support your PTO, if only you’ll suggest it!

Sometimes, especially with big box stores, the businesses don’t want or even expect any sort of trade in return, as they have a community fund budget to dip for donations. 

It just takes letting the store manager know your PTO would like a donation and then back up the request with an explanation of what the money will be used for. 

PTO leaders have walked out of big box retailers with a $5,000 check in hand.  It does happen, so definitely don’t count out this method!

Know What You Have to Offer

The partnership concept comes down to your PTO trading a donation and support for promotion and advertising of the business. 

And this is very valuable to both the business and PTO. 

To effectively partner with businesses, it’s important to know:

  • How many students does your school serve?  
  • How many staff members work in the school?
  • What does your communication system look like?
  • What percentage of students are entitled to free/reduced lunch?
  • How will you promote the businesses who sign on to partnering with your PTO?
  • What will donation (item or financial contribution) be used for?

Get the answers to all of these questions before approaching businesses. 

Work them into your conversations and written partnership proposals.

Finding Potential Partners

A quick way  to reach potential business for your PTO is to connect with your local Chamber of Commerce. 

Call the Chamber’s director to ask about attending the next meeting. 

Many Chamber members will be small business owners themselves and will have contacts to help support your PTO, even if they themselves cannot support you at the time. 

And what’s more, Chamber of Commerce members are excellent at making connections and value making investments in their community.

Another way to find potential partners is to look to your city and their efforts to support small businesses. 

Call the Mayor’s office and ask to come to small business mixers they may be hosting. 

Even as a non-profit, your PTO actually is a small business too. 

Mixers are a good opportunity to connect and network with potential partners, so grab a PTO BFF and attend!

Yet another way to find potential collaborators is to hit the streets and take note of businesses you see along the way. 

Figure out what companies would be a good business to approach, starting with companies that serve children the same age as the students in your school. 

Don’t forget about the parents and school staff and then what businesses that cater to their needs and wants and add those businesses to the list. 

Be sure to include any business or company who has a service or product that your school families probably want or already use.

Featuring Business Partners

Once you have a business partnership, there are a few ways to promote the business sponsor to your school community. 

Start by asking the business what support they’d like from your PTO. 

They might have a few ideas already. 

Come prepared with some proposals of your own, including any of the following:

Social Highlights

Create social media posts to feature PTO business partners throughout the year. 

Highlight business to PTO page followers and school families, and in doing so signal to other potential business partners that you value the relationship. 

This might encourage other local businesses to reach out to seek a new relationship. 

Website Feature

Focus the spotlight on business partners on your website. 

When a business uses the item donation form for an auction or raffle giveaway, they should send you their logo for display in your social media posts and on your website’s home page for all to see. 

Similar to featuring sponsors or business partners on the fundraiser website, highlight partners via:

  • emails sent to members and school families
  • flyers for programs and events throughout the school year
  • the PTO website itself
  • t-shirts given at PTO events.


String up a banner featuring the names and logos of PTO business partners on the parking lot fence or in the cafeteria and gymnasium. 

The signs are a consistent source of advertising for the partner, which they’re sure to love and also a reminder to school parents about the partnership.

Over to You

There are a ton of advantages that come with your PTO partnering with businesses in your area. 

Beyond the financial benefits such collaborations can bring, there’s also a community spirit that forms and strengthens in time that benefits everyone.

So be sure to give this method of fundraising a try!

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