Unique School Fundraising IdeasWith the government constantly cutting back school funding, it is up to parents and communities to raise significant parts of the the budget – particularly where sports, arts and playgrounds are concerned.  We interviewed Karey Heard, a mom of two and crackerjack fundraiser from Toronto, to provide us with some ideas.  If you can get a great fundraising team together, you can mix traditional fundraising initiatives with out-of-the box ideas.  Ultimately, the process will do more than raise money for your child’s schoolParents develop a greater sense of community, and children learn about managing money and contributing to the overall good.  (With, of course, a bunch of fun along the way.)  Here are a few great money-making initiatives.

1.  Pizza Days: Pizza is sold one day a month or week over a whole year.  Some schools have “hot lunch” Fridays – they order in Mr. Sub, Dairy Queen and Pizza (or super-healthy options from a local restaurant).  Some schools have food fundraising once a week and some have it once a month.  This is one of the most profitable things that a volunteer could coordinate and the parents love the fact they won’t have to make lunch!
2. QSP Magazine Drives: discounted magazines that friends and family would buy already, and you can do it online.
3.  Dance-a-Thon: Kids solicit neighbours for sponsorship to dance for hours.  If your school does not have a lot of volunteer help but needs the funds, there are companies that specialize in helping schools with their dance-a-thons – like Presswood Entertainment.
4. Children’s Art Auction: Pick from your school’s most talented and find a great venue to hang the art.  Get a volunteer string quartet to play at a swanky event for the parents.  Sell wine.  And if it’s a highschool the home economics class could provide canapes.
5. Craft Sales: get local crafters to purchase tables and organize an event.  These are a good idea because you generate “community money” versus asking the parents (yet again) to hand over money.  The tables are sold for $40-$60 (depending on the space and quality of show) and therefore the money is generated from the tables sold to the crafters.
6. FundScrip: buying gift cards to pay for the things you are already buying like groceries, gas, pharmacy, household items, and much more, from the retailers they are already buying them from.
7. Hold a Pumpkin Patch – $20 per family, giving away 2 pumpkins, and get volunteers to do facepainting, a hotdog sale, an pony rides.
8.  Seasonal Ideas: Flower bulbs, Christmas Wreaths, Easter floral arrangements.  Make a deal with a local distributor and take one step out of every parent’s ‘ToDo’ list for the holidays while you’re at it.
9. Plaques and walks of fame: This one appeals to parents who love the school and know that when they are old, would love to come back and find their name engraved in a prominent place.
10.  Charity Wristbands: channel the ‘Livestrong’ Bracelet – cool factor and all.  Don’t just sell them – use them as an entry ticket to an event.
11.  Eco-friendly ideas: reusable metal bottles and tools to help with littlerless lunches all sell well.
12.  Garb:  Show some school spirit and sell a great line of clothing with your logo on it.  Make it good, though.  Boxy t-shirts on girls are awful, as are the sweats with words written across the rear.  (Society has enough problems without inviting people to look).  You might do well with a line of Bamboo or organic fabric.

Make sure you plan out the year in advance so there is always a goal, and so that kids, parents and teachers know what’s coming down the pipe.  Here’s a sample Fundraising Calendar:

September QSP Magazine Drive ($10,000)
October Acorn Cards Students make artwork for Christmas/Holiday Cards ($300)
November Craft Show Sell tables for crafters to sell their goods ($4,000)
November Chapters Event Talent show while buying gifts for Holiday Season ($500)
December Fundscrip Formally launch the gift card program in time for the holidays ($1,000 for the year)
Jan-June Pizza Days 5 pizza days held on Tuesdays again ($1,000)

Good luck raising money and making memories.  The best tips are probably to give your community things that they would normally buy, and make it more convenient for them.  You might even raise enough to replicate the stunning accessible playground in the photo at Whistler Village.

Sorry.  Gotta cut it short and order my magazines for a friend’s QSP drive.

– Jill Amery loves to buy things, and a fundraising excuse encourages her even more.