Non-Traditional School Fundraisers That Work!

school fundraising ideas for PTOs with gold piggy bank and books


When it comes to school fundraisers, the first thing that pops into people’s minds are the glossy fundraising catalogs, filled with over priced, imported stuff that one really wants to buy.  There are so many other options to raise funds for your PTO.  If your PTO is looking for a different way to earn the same, if not more, money as you would from a catalog fundraiser, but in an easier way, then you’re going to love this post!

Direct Donation Appeal

This method of school fundraising gets right to the heart of the matter:  Your group just asks for what it needs!

A lot of times, people call this method the hassle-free fundraiser or the no-stuff fundraiser.  I suppose another name for this fundraiser could be the flyer fundraiser.  Because that’s all that goes home: a flyer.

No matter what you call it, this method is so great because you can custom tailor your fundraiser to your school community!  On the flyer, you simply ask for a donation from each family in order to  support the PTO.  A smart flyer highlights activities that your PTO does to give parents an additional reason to donate.

Also, maybe consider offering a bonus for the whole school if the fundraising goal is met!  Something like an additional assembly the entire school would enjoy.  So many parents are motivated to do things because it’ll make their children happy, so don’t be afraid to tap into this!  Pick out an epic assembly that’ll get the students super excited and make sure the students know what’s on the line.  They’ll be sure to tell their parents, who will in turn be sending in a check so their child can experience the epic assembly!

Business sponsors

Instead of asking school families for financial support, ask businesses in your area to sponsor your PTO or school.  In exchange for publicity and maybe the company’s name on a sign posted at the school, they very well may happily write a check!  There is a specific art to this ask, so make sure you read this post for helpful guidance on the best way to get donations for your PTO.

The best businesses to approach about getting a donation is from those your school community has an existing connection with.  Ask parents of the school families where they work.  Consider if those businesses are appropriate to ask for a donation from.

Good candidates include companies who offer products and services to the age range of kids attending your school and their parents.  To name just a few, you should consider approaching day care centers, nail salons, restaurants and other businesses like that.  There may even been bigger companies to approach (professional sporting teams, colleges and universities, etc.) it all depends on your area.  In my city, there’s a shopping center that runs a community grant program.  Our PTA has been awarded grants many times, and we’ve enjoyed having this fundraising alternative!


“A-thon” fundraiser

I personally have had great success with “a-thon” school fundraisers for my PTAs.  Twice I’ve run a Walk-a-thon and raised more money than I thought was possible for this type of event.

If you’re unfamiliar, an “a-thon” fundraiser is one where the kids collect pledges for doing a certain activity.  For a Walk-a-thon, base pledges on the number of laps completed or the amount of time spent walking.  For a Math-a-Thon, maybe base pledges  on the number of math problems correctly answered.  And for a Read-a-thon, base pledges on the number of pages or books read.  You get the idea though.

It’s a way to make the school fundraising process super personal.  For this fundraiser, kids are finding people to sponsor them individually.  The support isn’t just about the school or PTO, but the kids themselves.  And that’s super effective!  Maybe that’s why the school where my friend was Principal once raised over $10,000 with a Math-a-thon!

Interest piqued about holding an A-Thon fundraiser?  Unsure on what to do to make it a success for your PTO?  I have you covered with the Ultimate A-Thon Fundraiser Tool Kit!  Inside the kit, you’ll find the 6 essential resources for any type of A-thon fundraiser!  There are five completely customizable and editable perfectly worded flyer templates, along with a spreadsheet to track pledges and donations to keep everything organized during the fundraiser.


But will they work?

So I know what you might be thinking… these sound great Christina, but will these school fundraisers actually work?  Are they maybe too non-traditional?

Listen, I’m labeling these as non-traditional school fundraisers, but many, many PTOs have had great success with them!   I think that a lot of new Fundraising Chairs don’t even consider these options when planning their school fundraisers.  To be quite honest, I didn’t think of them when I was first in charge of fundraising for my PTA.  They’re great ideas that should be top of mind when mapping out your fundraising plan!

One of the best things about all of these different school fundraising methods is the low out-of-pocket expenses involved.  It’s mostly the volunteer time for planning, making flyer copies and then counting the money!

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Non-traditional fundraisers that WORK!

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