Lean Stream

A Parent's Guide to School Fundraising and Fundraisers

Oftentimes, school funding is earmarked for specific expenditures and is unable to be used for special projects, new resources, upgrades to facilities, extracurricular activities, programs, events, or other initiatives. Fundraisers are a solution many schools utilize to help raise the money necessary for these programs. Another benefit of fundraisers is to teach students the spirit of generosity, entrepreneurship, problem-solving, responsibility, and teamwork. Whatever the reason, schools and fundraising go hand-in-hand.

In the last three to four decades, schools have used fundraising to assemble quality infrastructure and the latest technology to benefit their students. When it comes to their children, parents want to play a positive role in their development. They understand the need to enhance school amenities and upgrade the school with modern facilities.

When the school is occupied with other responsibilities, parents/PTAs/PTOs may volunteer to raise money. But it is not as easy as it sounds. You may encounter confusion and complications throughout the process.

There are specific difficulties and challenges you face as a parent/PTA/PTO when you organize fundraising activities. If you want to excel in navigating school fundraisers, then you are at the right place. Mentioned below is the complete guide to help your fundraiser shine and be successful.

#1 Objective

You must start your plan by answering questions about the objective behind fundraising- the Why, Who, and What.

Why are we fundraising?

This answer will give you a specific intent like financial goals and guides your planning efforts.

Who will be participating?

This question answers who will fill the roles of different types of volunteers and which groups will be targeted in the fundraising effort. This will also decide who oversees the fundraiser.

What type of fundraising do we want?

The last question is determining what kind of fundraising will be compatible with the goal, students, and school community. It will help you when you’re brainstorming fundraiser ideas.

#2 Plans and goals

After you define the fundraising objectives, coming up with a plan to achieve the goal will be the next move.


You must have a clear understanding of the amount of money you’re raising because the plan and fundraising ideas must align with the goal. It also helps to know whether you need supporters or volunteers.

Time Management

Time is a crucial factor throughout this process. Avoiding schedule conflicts with the school must be a priority. To prevent this, make sure to get approval from the school and parents too.


For your plan to work, you must communicate with the students, parents, and teachers to discuss all the crucial details. For effectiveness, it’s important to align the ideas, time, and goal with the school community. Clearly communicate what the money will be used for.

#3 Challenges

As with any other plans, you may face challenges when planning to fundraise. These challenges could be:  

  • Recruiting volunteers
  • Staying organized
  • Time constraints
  • Lack of support

If you are facing problems with lack of support or the purpose of the fundraiser, the other challenges will be compounded. To ensure a successful campaign, work to find ways to engage and motivate parents and students. Consider sending out a survey to stakeholders asking them what their top priorities are. Use the data to prove the need for the fundraiser and the related program.

#4 Fundraising ideas

The central part that plays a vital role in fundraising will be coming up with unique fundraising ideas. These ideas should be suitable for both your audiences and your goal. But which one is the best for you? Let us help you decide.

Carnivals: Who doesn’t like carnivals? They have been around for years, and the reason is that people from every age group enjoy them. Bringing a familiar idea to school will be the best way to reach your goals. Best of all, these types of events easily lend themselves to annual traditions, so they can be a way to raise money year after year.

School auction: Auctions, mainly a silent auction, will target your supporters. They can bid on exciting items you are auctioning. You will need volunteers to help you with the process. Approach local businesses and community members for donations. These can be a win-win for the school and the business donating the goods or services.

T-Shirt Sales: T-shirts are a popular fundraiser. Production is inexpensive, so the potential for raising funds through this type of sale has a good chance for success. People like buying t-shirts because they get something in return for their donation.

To create some friendly competition, try having a competition for students to design the t-shirt. You may even consider charging a nominal fee for students to vote for their favorite designs.

Teachers in jail: One of the best fundraising ideas is also a fun activity. The objective is to make the students raise a certain amount of money to put one of their preferred teachers in jail for a period (older students) or to get a teacher out of jail (younger students). It is fun for the students, but it also gives time to teachers for planning and grading.

Scavenger hunt: A fun group activity that is engaging for students and parents is a scavenger hunt. Parents and kids work together to find the required items. Make your PTA members hide items and clues to make them challenging and suitable for every age. A participation fee will make you a profit. Local businesses that are close to the school may be willing to donate prizes or provide a stop for participants.

Car wash: It doesn’t get any more classic than a car wash fundraiser. This is a group activity where you charge a fee for car washes or encourage donations in exchange for a car wash. For this to happen, you must promote the event for a couple of weeks to gather customers. Have a student or PTA help with the supplies, with car washing and promoting. A location with high visibility is preferred. Check with local businesses to see if they are willing to provide a location for the car wash.

#5 Vote of Thanks

Once the fundraiser is over, be sure to celebrate everyone who worked on the project. Recognition is always appreciated. Make sure to send out thank-you notes and maybe host a celebratory ceremony for the team’s efforts. It may help garner support for future projects and help secure volunteers and participants for your next fundraising venture.


PTA/PTO fundraising is an essential part of a parent organization. It is important to select the appropriate fundraising method that is engaging, fun, and most importantly successful.