Lean Stream

PTA PTO Fundraising in a Post Pandemic World

As we slowly come back from pandemic-led isolation and we begin to get back to business, our communities will face old challenges with new twists. Take school fundraising for instance. As schools start back with in-person learning, those same old needs are going to arise. Your PTA/PTO will need to raise money. The question is, how to do so safely in a post-pandemic world that is not 100% back to normal?

With that in mind, here are five ways parents and PTAs/PTOs can safely and effectively fundraise in the post-pandemic months ahead.

What are 5 ways parents and PTAs/PTOs can fundraise safely through the post-pandemic months ahead?

Use mobile/digital silent auctions. 

Silent auctions are almost always exceptional fundraisers, creating a little excitement and fun for donors. During silent auctions, parents and PTAs/PTOs can raise money by placing donated items up for bid. To maximize participation, it is great to get a variety of items that range from cool, affordable items to big-ticket items-the more variety, the more opportunity you will have to raise money.

Post-pandemic, a best practice would be to use mobile/digital bidding during silent auctionsMobile/digital bidding adds a technological twist to silent auctions and keeps everyone safe at the same time. Using mobile/digital bidding software, auctions can be fully organized online or through a hybrid approach. A hybrid approach could be used to allow limited onsite attendance while maintaining social distance guidelines. Onsite participants can bid via their mobile phones. Online access can allow all other community members with internet access to see the items online and to participate via text, email, or online forms. Some programs have options for mobile/digital bidding that will allow auction participants to either bid manually online or put a maximum bid amount so that the software bids for them automatically up to the bid limit.

Silent auctions performed using mobile/digital bidding are convenient and can easily be set up to follow any required COVID safety measures.

Use crowdfunding.

Parents and PTAs/PTOs should use crowdfunding because it is versatile, safe, and ideal for busy fundraisers. Crowdfunding is the act of funding a school project or venture by raising small amounts of money from numerous friends, family, and community members via the internet.

While there are several crowdfunding online platforms out there, the LeanStream platform is ideal for public schools and school-based organizations such as PTAs/PTOs. Unlike other online crowdfunding options, LeanStream does not charge anything more than a small credit card processing fee. This means that, in most cases, using LeanStream can reduce overall transaction costs by 50-75%. This also means more money goes straight to your cause versus to a fundraising company.

Also, LeanStream has a nifty feature that allows for larger donations to be made via an online pledge with the capability of the school accepting a mailed-in check later. This approach removes all processing fee costs and results in 100% of large donations going to the project.

The cookbook fundraiser.

Cookbook fundraisers are a great idea for school fundraising, especially during the pandemic and post-pandemic times when many parents are working from home or have lingering concerns over being in large groups.

Almost every parent, relative, and close friend has their own customized recipes, and most of them would love to share their recipes with other members of the school community. Your organization or school could solicit parents/members for their best recipes through social media and email. Teachers can engage students to help design the cookbook artwork by having a cover design contest and selecting runners-up to illustrate recipes throughout the book. Cookbooks can be further personalized by including school or PTAs/PTOs history or using unique photos to create a lasting impact for years to come.

Once designed, orders can be taken for cookbooks through online stores or marketplaces. Online stores or marketplaces can easily be set up (if your school district subscribes to the LeanStream platform you can get free access to the LeanStream Marketplace and create a custom store for your PTA/PTO). Schools should promote their online stores by sending out links to parents and encouraging parents to share the link with friends and family. Also, both the school and the PTA/PTO should promote the online marketplace through social media.

As parents and PTAs/PTOs, you may be able to use school printers (with permission of course) or local printers may agree to make the cookbooks without charge or at a reduced rate. Or better yet for a post-pandemic world, you can digitally self-publish your cookbook using online publishers like AmazonDraft2DigitalPublishDrive, and Streetlib Publishing making access and distribution as easy as sending a link in an email to all buyers.

The cookbook fundraiser usually generates a large sum of money because almost all families who submitted recipes or have students’ artwork represented within the book will want to buy copies, not only for themselves but for family members.

Organize read-a-thons.

Through a school read-a-thon, you can raise money by getting parents, PTAs/PTOs, and the entire school community to support students who spend some time each week focusing on reading. This is a great school fundraiser since students can participate without leaving their homes.

Students simply have donors sign up to pay a fee for every hour or every book that they log completed. Not only does this activity raise money, but it also promotes reading across the student body of each participating school. The read-a-thon should take place over a period of one to three months to maximize both the proceeds and benefit to students. You could even set up a summer read-a-thon to help prevent “the summer slide” – a common condition where students not using newly learned skills experience knowledge loss during the summer.

Hold virtual talent shows.

You can hold such shows via video conferencing platforms like ZoomWebEx, or Google Meet. During virtual talent shows, online audiences gather to watch performers showcasing entertaining acts.

After all the performers have showcased their acts, judges or attendees can vote for the winning act. Judging is aimed to provide entertainment to the audience and recognition to the virtual talent show performers.

Funds can be raised by either charging a fee to everyone who wants to watch the virtual talent show and/or by allowing people to “vote” by donating toward your cause in the name of the performer that they felt performed the best – thus the students or staff member participants raising the most money would be ranked 1st through 3rd place.

Follow these five steps when hosting school virtual talent shows:

  • Select the appropriate platform. The platform can be ZoomFacebook Live, or any other video conferencing platform. Just be sure and choose a platform that can handle your audience.
  • Choose the show date and time. Consider the availability of attendees and performers before choosing the date and time for the virtual talent show. Pick a date and time that will draw the most significant and most lively audiences.
  • Solicit for performers. Find students, teachers, and other outside community members who want to stage performances. Arrange your acts in an order that keeps audiences engaged and active. Maybe throw in some deliberately “untalented” acts as well for the comic relief!
  • Promote the virtual talent show. Promote the show using email, social media, flyers, posters, and local media to raise awareness and attract more people to the show.
  • Host the virtual talent show. On the show day, greet your virtual attendees, introduce your digital emcee, and begin the show. Be sure to spotlight all performers during the show so the audience will concentrate more on them


There are plenty of ways for parents and PTAs/PTOs to raise money safely going into the post-pandemic world. Beyond the above five listed items, parents and PTAs/PTOs should look for more creative ways to solicit funds from their community with the help of technology and other socially distanced fundraisers.