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Throughout the school year, projects and wishes will come up that require a little bit of the green stuff to get off the ground. Sports teams, theatre productions, student council services, field trips, renovations, community projects: sometimes they need a financial boost. Innovative and spirited student fundraising projects help make these goals, and even exceeding them, a reality.
Sites like GoFundme and Kickstarter have made crowdsourcing a global avenue for anyone wanting to move a personal project forward. Students have certainly used these online domains with great success. But beyond your standard clothing donation, bake sale, or bottle drive, what about the ideas themselves? What makes for truly unforgettable student fundraising projects?
For starters, let's begin with the nuts and bolts before we look at the ideas. Successful student fundraising projects must have:
- A purpose—What are students trying to accomplish with their fundraiser? Why should people be as passionate about the cause as they are? They'll have to focus on that in their advertising and campaigning before the event. People need a clear, valid reason to support them.
- A set goal—What is the specific, measurable goal they want to achieve? (Whatever it is, it's a good idea to always aim higher than what they really expect.)
- A target audience—Who is the primary audience their fundraiser is for? What is the one demographic that they expect to have respond and contribute? How many people are they hoping and planning for?
- A powerful moment—What will be the moment(s) they will plan to make the event one that people will never forget? What are going to be their "WOW" moments, and when will they happen?
- An appropriate venue—Where is the best place to hold the event considering setup, costs, and the projected audience?
- A management committee—Who are the team members and how are tasks distributed? What are the milestones, and the responsibilities of each team member? How is the work divided? What system of accountability is in place to ensure all goals are met and all members contribute to the event accordingly?
- An estimated cost—What is the projected cost per dollar that their event will need to run smoothly? How does this measure against their projected funding goal? What adjustments must be made?
8 Exciting Student Fundraising Projects
Now that we know what goes into creating student fundraising projects, let's get to the fun part. We're going to look at some fundraising project ideas that will work no matter how bare-bones or big-time you want to go with them. Think about what your school can facilitate, and customize these ideas to suit your needs.
And always remember the 5Ps: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!
1. School Idol
There's nothing like a talent show to bring out the best in your school. Have you got singers, dancers, actors, performance artists, and other stars in your midst? Give them some stage time for a good cause. You can even assign a panel of judges for the event, and have prizes for the top performers. Raise funds for your project and have memorable moments with the students by organizing the School Idol Talent Show.
2. Winter Carnival
Who says you need it to be summer to have a good time? Imagine turning your school track-and-field space into a fairground dusted with the touch of Old Man Winter. You can set up booths offering all sorts of foods and games. Offer live entertainment, or put up a do-it-yourself skating or hockey rink. Organize a snowman-building contest, or face opposing teams off in the ultimate (and ultimately as safe as possible) epic snowball fight. It's the perfect fundraising project to host around the Christmas season.
3. Haunted School
No student fundraising projects list would be complete without adding this Halloween favourite. Your gymnasium can become the setting for an admission-based haunted house walk. Here's where kids and teachers alike get to dress up in their best vampire and zombie makeup and scare willing participants. The possibilities for building rooms and designing sound and lighting effects are endless for students wanting to produce their ultimate Halloween fundraising "scare-fest."
4. Cultural Fair
Any school is rich with varied and diverse cultures. Why not organize a charity event that showcases the best of those cultures? Your school can host a heritage fair featuring multicultural foods, dance, art, performance, and so much more from its proud students and teachers.
5. Parent Date Night
If the school will allow it, the parents will love this one. This is about turning an area of your school into a daycare for one evening. On this night, parents who want a date night to themselves can opt to pay a small fee to students instead of hiring a babysitter, drop their little ones off at the school, and arrange to pick them up later that evening.
The daycare can feature games, movies, craft and play areas, and anything else your students can come up with to keep kids safe and happily entertained.
6. Student Spa
With this fundraiser, you can call out to your professional community and contact local spa professionals to offer their services at your school for a day or evening. Talk to nail artists, makeup and hair stylists, or massage therapists who'd be willing to set up small workspaces in your gymnasium or library. Then invite students, teachers, and parents to the event for an evening of relaxation and pampering.
For the fundraising element, you can agree to charge a discounted price per service, or offer flat-rate packages for multiple services.
7. Board Game Bash
Board game cafes are a fun place to spend an evening with family and friends. Why not host a board game night at your school? Invite other schools and parents to come and join in the fun. Charge a small entrance fee, and people can play games all day (or evening). The organizers can supply board and card games from home, and you can even set up gaming systems for a digital flavour as well.
Students can be on hand to show people how to play games if they don't know how. You can also reach out to the community to donate games for a day to add to the variety. In addition to games, you can also host a refreshment bar for purchasing snacks and drinks—all that gaming makes people hungry, after all.
8. Cooking Classes
Are any of your students budding chefs? You can let them show their "chops" in the kitchen by hosting a food exhibition and cooking lessons for teachers and parents, and even the community. Participating students can focus on demonstrating ethnic dishes, cooking tips, or recipes that have become special favourites in their own homes. It's a fundraiser based on sharing knowledge and celebrating camaraderie in one of our most basic fundamental loves—the love of good food.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Nov 24, 2017, updated Dec 16, 2021