Try one of these 10 back to school campaign ideas to kickstart your fundraising efforts this school year.

Let’s Rethink Educational Fundraising

I grew up as a little salesperson. Every organization and every school I attended had only one fundraising idea: get kids to sell stuff.

I sold cookies for scouting. I sold chocolate for elementary school. I sold wrapping paper to buy choir vests and magazines to fund the senior prom. We sold oranges for band and flower bulbs for drama club. The cheerleaders sold cookie dough. I was practically a door-to-door salesman.

We also had “thons:” Walkathons, rockathons, readathons, hopathons, and every other kind of -thon you could imagine.

What we hardly ever did was just ask for donations. We should have. There are so many benefits to straightforward donations:

  • No merchandise to purchase and distribute
  • Greater profit margins
  • Safety for children
  • No sign-up sheets
  • No money collection

Online donations reap all of these advantages with the added benefit of being able to share the opportunity for giving simply by sending a link via email, text, and social media.

But let’s face it, it’s not enough just to ask. Sometimes you have to be creative to inspire giving. Here are ten online back-to-school campaign ideas to raise funds for school organizations.

1) The Non-a-Thon

Think about all the times you were asked to help with a fundraiser and said or thought something along the lines of, “I’d pay to get out of it.” Well, give parents that option.

Set up a Give form with multi-level giving where each amount equals something a parent won’t have to do by giving.

Each donation level is a different option to opt-out of fundraising, depending on how much a donor wants to NOT be involved.

2) Vote with Your Donation

A form grid will allow you to raise money while your donors help select the winning choice out of the available options. Set up a donation form grid and let your school’s donors “vote” with their dollars.

Each form should represent something within the school culture to “win.” Maybe it’s by classroom to win a pizza party. You could have each form represent a movie for a school movie night. Maybe you’re voting on new team uniforms, the destination for the senior class trip, or the teacher of the year. Get creative.

3) Celebrity Stunts

Get the principal, or some other popular teacher or faculty member, involved. Set up a donation form with a goal attached.

If the students help reach the donation goal, then the school “celebrity” has to do something crazy. They could take a pie to the face, wear his/her pajamas to school, shave their head, or sing a crazy song at an assembly.

Teacher getting shaved head
A shaved head is one of the most engaging campaigns for a celebrity stunt, but the options are unlimited.

4) Upsell a Little School Spirit

Do you sell school merchandise already? Something with the logo that kids and alumni love? Add a donation option to the checkout with WooCommerce Donation Upsells. Give people the opportunity to give to your organization when they’re already making a purchase.

5) Fund a Project

Set up a form grid with options for small projects to fund. Create a series of projects for donors to choose from, give them creative titles, take a few photos, and describe what you plan to do for each project.

In this way, you can raise money for a new rug in a classroom, books for a book club, sticks for the field hockey team, a microscope for the lab, or even a new curtain for the auditorium stage.

Donors like being able to send their dollars to projects that are close to their heart – or their children’s hearts.

Child and teacher at science fair
One great option is to have parents choose between funding the science fair, arts programs, or a sustainable garden, whichever their child is most interested in.

6) Angel Tree

Set up an Angel Tree online. Every year my daughter’s school would set up a tree where we could select a paper ornament off the tree to supply a child with an item they needed: underwear, pajamas, boots, a winter coat, etc.

It’s easy to also do this online. People can give a certain amount and check off an item from your list, or comment with an item they would have chosen themselves. Once your funds are in, let your teachers or PTA have some fun shopping for what is needed with the funds raised.

Follow up by writing about it in your school newsletter or on social media so your donors can see what was bought. Include photos of the shopping spree and gift wrapping so that donors feel more involved.

7) Virtual Duck Race

Have a virtual duck race! Allow each classroom to decorate a duck (rubber duck, duck photo, draw their own). Then set up a form grid with donation goals set the same for each class’s form.

Use a photo of their duck to inspire giving…and watch the goal bar fill up. The first one to complete their goal wins the duck race!

8) Athletic Competition

The athletics department often needs a lot more fundraising than others. New uniforms and equipment aren’t cheap and they’re needed frequently. Put your athletes to work.

Create a form grid on your organization’s website with a photo of each team and ask the athletes to get sponsors for their own teams. Or have the competition go in reverse: the team with the most donations gets a punishment, like cleaning the training room or locker room.

You can even implement a donor wall so local businesses can gain recognition and a little advertising space with their sponsorship on each team’s webpage, or parents can show off their contribution to the team.

Let the teams raise money using the form grid, with a form for each team.

9) Sponsorship Drive

A lot of schools sell ad space in their yearbooks to raise money. Why not sell space on your website? It’s more beneficial for a business to have digital space with an SEO boost anyway.

Create a Give form for businesses to submit sponsorship information and implement a sponsorship wall page. You can use the Give donor wall shortcode or simply create your own custom sponsorship page.

10) Third-Party Fundraising

If your organization does any third party fundraising (like raising money for water in Uganda or socks for the homeless) you can set up a form that allows them to donate specific amounts to help out your giving efforts.

Do you have more back to school campaign ideas?

Be creative. These are only a few ideas you can use for online giving. The most important thing is to make sure to get the word out.

Send home a flyer with the kids. Use email to send a link to parents, teachers, and alumni. Post it on the homepage of your website. Tweet it. Put it on your Facebook page. Instagram it. Have fun.

Most importantly, tell us about it. We want to hear how you raise money for your educational organization.

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Michelle Ames

Michelle Ames is the Head of Customer Success at Give. She is the founding organizer of WordCamp Rochester, co-organizer of WordCamp Buffalo, and coordinator for the WordPress Rochester Meetups. Michelle enjoys photography and travel - and especially loves doing both together.

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