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Saturday, February 1, 2014

School Fundraising Ideas for 2014

It's school fundraising season again. Here are some fresh new ideas to revitalize your school's efforts.

It’s a new year and that means our favorite school activities are just around the corner:  prom, graduation, and elections.  As exciting as those events are, they also bring headaches for all the students and advisers trying to figure out, yet again, how to raise enough funds to cover costs.

The reality is that everyone is incredibly busy.  Students are stretched thin between demanding co-curricular activities, homework, and social lives. 

Kendall Ciesemier, knows a thing or two about fundraising.  At age 11 she started a non-profit called Kids Caring For Kids, which to this day organizes fundraisers in schools around the nation. Her tip is to keep a fundraiser dead simple.  They also have to be “cool” in some way and make students feel like they’re part of a bigger sense of community.

Not only are you competing with busy schedules, there is also fierce competition from all the different groups on campus. The reality is people are tired of labor intensive and low-margin fundraisers.  You can only have so many restaurant nights.  You can only buy so many candy bars.  And you can only get your car washed many times.

Although there isn't any way to magically make money appear, you can look for new approaches to fundraising.  Here are seven ideas that might help you revitalize fundraising in your school.

Used Text Book & Prep Book Sale
What do most students have in excess?  Prep books- for SATs, AP Classes, SAT 2, and so on.  Those books are used just once and then discarded when the test is over.  Never mind that they contain pencil scribbles – these books are undoubtedly valuable to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  Host a 2-3 weeklong drive to collect used textbooks and prep books and throw a used book sale during lunch. Seems like a good way to help a student save a buck, maybe even get into college, and maybe even get into college.

Pie Auction on Pi Day
This year, Pi Day (March 14) falls on a Friday.  Celebrate a little bit of math and fundraising fun by throwing a Pi Day Pie Auction.  Students can pay $1-$2 to pie their fellow students, $5 for teachers and maybe $20 will get you the Principal. To create affordable and quick pies, use paper plates with whip cream as the pie.  Throw in some other pie or 3.14 themed goodies and you’ll have something cool for people to talk about for at least a day.

Used Clothing Sale
High school students are always outgrowing their clothes or moving on to the latest fashion trends.  Capitalize on the “vintage” clothing movement by hosting a school clothing sale.  You can include prom dresses too!  Spend a couple weeks collecting gently worn clothing from students and then open up the clothing sale to the entire school community.  Have left over clothes?  Donate all the remaining things to a local shelter or Goodwill. 

Adopt a Restaurant
Encourage each club or class to adopt a favorite local restaurant each semester. Have students pledge to help the restaurant with marketing, social media, and throw all meetings and events at the restaurant.  In exchange the restaurant should pledges a couple hundred dollars -or maybe thousands - sponsorship.  It’s a win-win – students learn business, share their social media-savvy and businesses get the word out.

Crowdfunding
We’re so used to selling things or collecting dues within the confines of our school.  What about engaging our communities outside of school?  Tap into the power of the Internet to reach grandparents, mentors, relatives, and businesses to do some grassroots online fundraising.  Several people giving $25 or $50 online can really add up. And you’d be surprised how many want to help if they are just asked! 

Throw a something-A-thon
These things aren’t just for cute elementary school students.  Host a jog-a-thon, spell-a-thon, dance-a-thon, walk-a-thon, swim-a-thin, or whatever-a-thon.  Get all the athletes involved, have prizes for winners, and have family and friends pledge money for each lap, word, or minute.  See students have fun and stay fit too!

Recycle and compost programs
See if your school will let student groups run school wide recycling or composting.  Each week or month, a different group can sign up to manage on-campus recycle bins deliver it to the local recycle center and keep the cash.  Want to be even more eco-friendly?  Consider having students make compost and sell the soil to the community. 

This post is written by Andrea Lo, CEO of Piggybackr, and originally appeared in National Honor Society's January 2014 issue of Leadership for Student Activities magazine.

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