You say fundraiser, I say FUN RAISER! (No I don’t.)

Although spring has sort of sprung, I find that I’m still filling our bird feeder every few days. My mom believes that I’m doing a disservice to the birds by offering free grub. “They should be searching for their OWN food. It’s a learning experience for them.”

I see it differently. By providing mixed seeds for the birds, I’m saving them some time. Time they can spend playing games with their families or writing poetry (or robbing banks, I suppose, but realistically, I believe there are more good birds than bad birds).

I spent some time this morning researching good fundraisers for elementary schools. I haven’t yet given up my idea of a fun run (donations instead of pledges, kids run during recess so their day isn’t interrupted, top money earner gets a pizza party for their class, final mileage is calculated at the end of the day to see how many miles we covered as a team).

I’ve been in touch with a few people about planning a talent show (so many red flags with students getting feelings hurt and is it really worth the time for the amount of money we would make?).

I thought about an adult spelling bee where kids bring in spare change and if a class raises $50, their teacher gets to participate in the bee. The winning teacher scores some sort of party for their class. Root beer floats, maybe? I don’t know. I’m just making this up as I go.

I’m about to ask a question that will be seen as boring to approximately 78% of you, which is why I threw that bird thing in at the top of this post. Honestly, only a few of you remain at this point. I used to have a birthmark shaped like Africa on my right thigh, but it’s gone now. See what you learn if you keep reading?

Anyway, fundraiser ideas. Have any? My favorite pair of underwear is gray! See what you learn by sticking around?! (Thanks for sticking around.)

Grass sandals! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

28 thoughts on “You say fundraiser, I say FUN RAISER! (No I don’t.)”

  1. I would be in the 22% that was still paying attention. I think all of those are GREAT fundraiser ideas!!! I love that they can raise money and not take time out of school. I also love the fun run idea – I’ve thought about this because of my involvement w/ GOTR and how great and healthy it would be to have a fundraiser center around a healthy idea! I have nothing to add, but I wanted to say – great ideas!!

  2. Our school sells magazines. The heavy marketing they do to the kids is annoying, but I’d rather have magazines than: candy, wrapping paper, candles, etc.

    No to the talent show – it’s a long story – but our spring arts festival now includes some very strict rules around auditioning dances and the songs that can be performed because several years ago a little girl performed a number that – if a grown women had been doing it- would have been called “burlesque”. Too many pitfalls.

    A friend of mine’s school has an adult spelling bee – it’s some sort of team thing – it sounds like a lot of fun. Trivia tournament would be similar.

    May I recommend a ping pong tournament? Entry fee for players. Small fee to watch. Bake sale type snacks. We did this at work and it was a blast! We also had a fun event last year that was a games-based fundraiser – you had to buy a wrist band to play – then there were some wii games on big screen (example: archery, mario kart) a marshmallow toss (your partner catches them in a bucket on her head) mini golf, and m&m sorting. It was seriously a blast – and not too much work to pull it off. Records were kept – silly medals were awarded. (Again the “pay to play” entry fee concept).

    Our school also does a carnival. I really hate it, but the kids love it. You buy tickets, tickets can be used for everything from a hot dog, to a toilet paper throw, to getting your hair chalked. I think they raise a LOT of money, but it is a LOT of work, and requires many, many parent and older sibling volunteers.

    My niece and nephew’s school does a road rally (kind of like amazing race mixed with scavenger hunt?) – it seems completely insane, but is apparently a lot of fun. I think it has an entry fee.

    What about a silent auction? Or a raffle with prizes? At the above-mentioned carnival, the tickets can also be used for raffles – the prizes are things like “sitting in the principal’s chair for a day” or “going to dairy queen with the 3rd grade teachers”. If you are interested, let me know – I can find out what some others were – it is VERY popular with our kids.

    FINALLY – we have turkey bingo every year. it is so named because once upon a time if you got a bingo, you got a turkey. Now you get a grocery store gift card (donated by a community business). It is the classic bingo-as-fundraiser model. It is also a lot of fun. They serve popcorn and water (donated). The teachers and other professionals take turns calling. The children get very excited about winning. The grown ups get to sit and chat and kind of keep track of the kids, but not too much – because everybody’s in the gym. This is a good one, and again, not too much work to organize, I think.

    WELL – there- you asked – I went on and on. Hope it was helpful. email me if you want more info!

  3. Direct donation – it’s not as fun, but the cost is almost nothing and the profits are all yours. Some local schools do this by sending home a letter explaining that rather than sell pizzas or candy or whatever that they are asking each family to send in what they might spend on those items as a donation to the school. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles – you can ask them if you’d like. The key seems to be sending an envelope to return your donation. Cost: envelopes/printing. Time commitment per family, about 5 minutes. I’d much rather do this than canvass the neighborhood, especially since I do that at Girl Scout Cookie time and hate to ask people over and over.
    We also have a carnival (so much work!), DJ’d dances with an entry fee (for an extra couple of bucks you can drop you kids off and have cheap babysitting for a while!). Spare change drives are also fun, with prizes for the class that brings in the most money.

  4. I couldn’t agree more with Angela and the direct donation.. we get bombarded with so much stuff to sell & in turn so much stuff to buy that it is just insane. If I like the cause I write a check.

  5. I am so tired of the local school children selling things. I don’t need candy or magazines or wrapping paper or frozen cookie dough. So I always tell the children on my doorstep that I will give them the money, but I don’t want the goods. They can either give the goods I “purchased” to someone who can use it, or just take the donation and sell the stuff elsewhere.

    I am positive this is somewhat rare, because it always results in confused children and me going out to the parent(s) waiting at the curb to explain to them that I’m happy to support the school but I don’t need all those things. And can they please explain it to their children?

    All the other things, talent shows, spelling bees, auctions and the rest, can be fun but are also a whole lot of work and generally garner less money for the cause.

    If the kids are supposed to achieve something so they have pride of accomplishment in the fundraising, then I’d vote for a fun run or bike-a-thon or something like that, with a set donation from parents, grandparents, etc. for their participation. That way the kids don’t have to complete a certain number of laps or whatever to have earned the donation — just participating means they did their part.

  6. Also — I’d be interested in knowing when your birthmark disappeared. Were you still a kid, or an adult when it went away?

  7. I also have a birthmark that disappeared!

    It feels like our school is always having fundraisers, and the magazine one is the most annoying. We have to fill out post cards and send them to seven people, etc. Apparently it makes a lot of money, so it continues.

    I would much rather write a check to the PTA and be done with it. And I really, REALLY hate the ones where kids who don’t participate are left out of the reward/party/cookie eating/prizes. (How do you know that kid’s parents can afford two magazine subscriptions they don’t need? Why is it acceptable to single her out in this way? Awful.)

    One thing I fully support – a read in. You pay for entrance, and can purchase slices of pizza (you bring your own beverage). Favorite teachers read their favorite books at three different locations in the school (library, gym, and cafeteria), so the kids rotate around. They love it.

    Also, we collect Boxtops for Education, which is a pain but also generates a lot of money.

    And there is a carnival, where I will be sitting in a booth spraying kids’ hair purple from 7:15-8:45 next Friday. It is overwhelming and not great to me, but the kids love it.

  8. Amy in KC’s “Read In” idea is so totally fantastic that I am going to go home and tell my husband about it, and make it a suggestion for next year. It would be fabulous for a preschool too! Maybe in addition to teachers, there are local celebrities or authors who could participate.
    I suggest that you disregard all of my suggestions, and all the things my school does, and have a read in!!!!! You could EVEN have a “read to yourself” room for the parents! How fun would THAT be?! (As a parent, my enthusiasm for the “read to yourself” room almost exceeds my enthusiasm for listening to a well-read story with my children, but maybe not quite.)

  9. I have found myself looking for other options too since The Mouse Races turned into Videotaped Horse Races that was to be the big PTO fundraiser was cancelled for lack of interest. We just polled the parents for ideas and got: trivia night, bingo, another breakfast family thing (like breakfast with Santa minus Santa) & silent auction, movie night and a cake walk.

  10. Also, we already do a skate night at a roller rink and there were talks about doing a bowling night where the business gives a percentage of profits & offers special deals to school families.

  11. I keep trying to convince our (PTA-equivalent) to do an art show: hang kids drawings (paintings,whatever) in the auditorium, charge an admission fee, serve tiny crackers, cheese cubes, and sparkling cider and stand around with thoughtful expressions. End of the night, families each own a new work of art! No go so far around here (“it just hasn’t been done!”) so please please let me know how it goes if you try it!!

  12. My favorite undies are pink paisley! :)

    One of the best fundraisers we had when I was in high school, but could also work for younger kids with some supervision (I think? I’m child-free currently) was a spaghetti dinner. The high school kids used the kitchen and cafeteria at school to make dinner one day and everybody paid for the meal. Or more than the meal to help with the funds.

    It’s not an expensive thing to make and it was fun having a meal with so many people. I wasn’t in the kitchen, so I don’t know how that end worked out.

    Of things that have been sold to me as fundraisers, my favorite was “Butter Braids” (Google brings up the right one). They’re frozen pastries that are *delicious* and I’m kind of sad that my yearly hook-up for that delicious treat apparently grew up and graduated or something silly like that.

    Good luck!

  13. Years and years ago I started a rummage sale at the grade school. (however half way through the planning my mother died so I handed over the reins to someone else). At that time we raised $900 for a one day sale.

  14. I have nothing to say about fundraising, but over the weekend my husband and I were debating whether or not to keep feeding the birds and the next time we talk about it, I’m going to mention that I don’t want the birds to rob banks in their free time, just to see what he says.

  15. Longtime reader, first-time commenter. I’ve done lots of fundraisers for PTA and most recently a friend and I started a walk-a-thon at our school. Like you mentioned, the kids walked during school hours so no outside time necessary. Raised over $10,000/year 4 years in a row now. Best part is close to 100% of funds in are profit–just have to purchase some prizes (or get them donated). Would be happy to share details if interested.

  16. Our school did Boosterthon this year (google it) where the kids got pledges and then ran laps around the playground. The kids LOVED it, and we made way more money than we ever did selling wrapping paper, etc.

    That said, I found it a little awkward asking people (even relatives) to give our school money without getting anything in return.

    Seriously, though, we made about twice as much as we had in our fundraisers in years past.

  17. We also did a Boosterthon Fun Run this year for the second year and the kids really did love it and we raised quite a bit of money. I don’t know how big your school is, but it’s probably a better fundraiser for larger schools (we have ~800 kids in ours). Plus, the Boosterthon ‘team’ does most of the groundwork for you, which is important. Our school did a ‘fun run’ on its own before Boosterthon and it only lasted one year because so much work was involved and only so many people had the time to help.

  18. Our school does a yearly Walk-a-thon. If it’s bad weather the kids walk in the gym, but otherwise they walk laps around the playground. The parents donate grapes/bananas for snacks. The kids go around and ask for pledges. It raises between $3500-$7000 a year.
    The other big fundraiser is a Mom to Mom sale. We sell about 100 tables for the sale ($20 for a 6 foot table to the general public, $15 for our school families) It needs a lot of volunteers to make it run smooth but it brings in a lot of money and it’s a lot of fun. We charge $1 for all incoming shoppers. Most of our sales bring in about 700 shoppers. Being a green school this also really fits our philosophy. Sellers are always happy to get rid of a lot of clothes/toys and make some $$. Buyers get some great deals and leave with bags of stuff. The school makes a lot of money without having to hit up the parents again.

  19. My kids’ school does a penny drive. I’m not sure of the specifics, but each class leaves a penny bucket near their door and people drop pennies in. The class that collects the most $ wins a pizza party. Sounds boring, but to make it more interesting, if someone drops a silver coin in a classroom’s bucket, they get marked down, so there’s a great deal of talk every day about who “bombed” which classroom’s bucket with a silver coin (guess they’ll find new terminology for that this year). The kids really get into it and it’s a successful fundraiser (around $3K each year). Who doesn’t have a jar of pennies at home that they are willing to part with?

  20. My children’s schools are forever having fund raisers. And they have done pretty well. They have bake sales. Chocolate sales. Dance nights for the adults with themes like 80’s. Good luck I hope all of them are a success.

  21. My daughter’s school does a carnival, silent auction, plant sale etc but my favorite is the read-a-thon. Pledges per minute and prizes for top readers and earners. The principal does something goofy if they meet their goal of minutes. K-6, 2 classrooms each, so not a big school, one month duration, they make about $20,000 each year.

  22. World’s Finest Chocolate. We sold these every year as a band fundraiser and to this day, I cannot turn down one of these candy bars. I love them.

    But one year, we sold pizzas (we still did the candy bars, but we were going to D.C., we needed A LOT of money). We took orders and then spent one whole day assembling pizzas, sealing them up and shipping them out. I had so much fun making those pizzas.

  23. I’ve got nothin’ on this except to join the chorus advising against talent shows. In the beginning at our school, they were great. Not used as fundraisers, mind you, just for fun. But lately I’m hearing that the angst among both kids and parents (and I can’t even begin to imagine the fallout for the poor teachers!) is over-the-top. So many wildly-differing opinions about what is too risque, etc. (sigh) Such a shame that kids can’t just be kids these days, y’know?

    And, this will make you laugh. Based on your following post, I read eagerly through all these comments looking for the burrito fundraiser idea! Not found. Figured it out finally (why yes, I *would* love to go have burritos with you to discuss all this further, Angie :-) ) But hey, why the heck not plan some sort of “Build Your Own Burrito” night? Or OH OH, how about a good old-fashioned ice cream social now that the weather is getting warmer? I *do* get to count that as a suggestion! I seem to remember that we got local ice cream places to either donate or discount big bins of several flavors. You have to round up some able-bodied scoopers and ticket sellers, and it’s a messy *messy* job, but for a dollar a scoop, we had people lined up out the door all night. I would think the ice cream stores would rather donate the ice cream than donate the profits from in-store sales (you could spin it as being a win-win for them if they also provide some sort of coupons for later in-store use that you an give to all your buyers) Mind you, I would NOT be the one volunteering to approach the ice cream stores about this. Fundraising is 100% not my bailiwick, and more power to you for even so much as asking for ideas on this whole thing. If you do figure out how to “Put the fun into fundraising”, please be sure to report back!

  24. I have to share two ideas because we raised a TON of moorland!!! First one was an “a-thon a-thon” . The kids took “pledges” for each hour of the a-thon. People could also give a flat donation as well. Then we had a “lock in” family night and we had different activities set up in different rooms- I.e. dodgeball in the gym, kareoke in the music room, crafts in the art room, video games, board games, movies, etc in other classrooms. We had room monitors an a concession stand. I think we we ran it from 4pm until 10 pm.

    The other idea was called the slow roll and was a contest to see who could roll a two liter bottle down a ramp the slowest. We had prizes donated. There were catagories per grade. level, teachers,

  25. Parents and businesses. It is probably on the Internet because I know that other schools have down it. We made 26 K!!!!!

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