Whether at the grade school level or a college institution, fundraising proves crucial to support educational initiatives, software improvements, and facility upgrades. PTAs, booster clubs, alumni associations, and athletics teams are all tasked with fundraising. And if you plan to run for school board, you’ll likely be given some fundraising goals to achieve. But coming up with fundraising ideas can be a challenge.

Other than boosting the financial muscles of an institution, fundraisers also strengthen the bond between the school and community. But school fundraisers face stiff competition for donations from other schools and nonprofit institutions. Gain inspiration from the following fundraising ideas for schools, colleges, and universities. 

How to Launch a Fundraising Campaign

Before diving into fundraising ideas, take some time to review these steps to launching a successful fundraising campaign. 

Define goals and objectives: Decide how much money you intend to raise and where the funds will go. Using this information when soliciting donations helps donors understand why you’re asking for their money.  

Understand your audience:  Different fundraising ideas appeal to different audiences. For example, a dance-a-thon might bring in a different crowd than a seated dinner with a silent auction. In addition, consider why you’re raising funds. If it’s for a new sports facility, you should reach out to athletes, coaches, and their families.   

Establish KPIs and goals: Determine benchmarks to measure success throughout the campaign. For example, you might want to raise the majority of the money by a date within the first half of your campaign, since fundraising campaigns can lose steam the longer they last. 

Create a timeline: Decide when your campaign will start and finish. Having an end date creates urgency for donations. 

Assign tasks: Fundraising campaigns are large undertakings, and many hands make light work. Delegate tasks to your fellow fundraisers. 

Popular Fundraising Ideas for Schools, Colleges, and Universities

Planning a fundraiser? Check out these popular fundraising ideas for schools, colleges, and universities.

1. Online Donations

In the digital age, online fundraising meets donors where they are, and is fairly easy to pull off with few resources. Popular crowdfunding websites simplify setting up a fundraiser, but you can also build a fundraising page on your website to accept donations. Use email marketing, social media, or QR codes on physical collateral to push people to your online fundraiser.

2. Volunteer Grants

Many workplaces offer their employees a benefit and incentive to invest in their communities by donating grants to organizations where the employees volunteer. Ask your current volunteers if their workplaces offer this benefit. 

3. Text-to-Give Campaigns

Text-to-give campaigns allow people to donate to your cause right from their phones.  Various fundraising softwares make creating this type of campaign quick and easy. 

4. Silent Auctions

In a silent auction, attendees bid on items throughout the auction by writing their name and dollar amount on a piece of paper. The highest bidder when the auction ends wins the prize. To set up a silent auction, ask local organizations if they’re willing to donate prizes to auction. 

5. Email Campaigns

Your school likely already has an email list of alumni, past donors, and staff. Sending an email with a compelling call to action for donations is a simple and cost-effective way to solicit donations. 

6. Field Days

Organize field day activities and challenges to help bring donors to a fundraising event. 

7. Community Yard Sale

Gather people committed to the cause and host a community yard sale. The school can even sell unused furniture or materials.  

8. Car Wash

A car wash is a popular fundraising tactic for student organizations and sports teams. All you need are a highly visible location, car wash supplies, signage, and a little manpower. 

9. Art Auction

Host an art auction with works of art created by students and art faculty, or pieces donated by local artists. 

10. Benefit Concert

Invite local performers (or school bands) to participate in a benefit concert. You can charge for entry or accept donations at the door.

11. Read-a-thon

Have your students solicit donors to pledge a certain amount of money for each minute they spend reading. It’s a win-win because you’re garnering donations while encouraging reading. 

Effective School Fundraising Starts with Smart Software

Fundraising is an ongoing process for educational institutions, and requires thoughtful planning. Meeting software helps fundraising teams effectively discuss, plan, and track fundraising campaigns. 

eScribe provides meeting management built for school boards. The compliant software helps optimize workflows, automate processes, and streamline the management of materials on tight deadlines. In addition, it offers webcasting to stream public meetings right on your website, which is another way to inform the public about fundraising goals and needs.

Download our Key Considerations for Public Sector Webcasting white paper to learn more.