We’ve all placed the dreaded catalog fundraiser order. Whether you yourself remember going door-to-door to as a kid or you’ve been asked by your own child/relative to flip pages and fork out an obscene amount of money for items you didn’t want or need in the first place. While catalog fundraisers do have their purpose in schools, they often times do not allow for much planning or brainstorming on the students part. Below we’ve compiled a list of 5 proven school fundraising ideas that enable students planning and participation.

Popcorn School Fundraising Idea

This school fundraising idea does require a little money spent out-of-pocket first before the fundraising begins. Purchase or borrow a full-size carnival popcorn maker on wheels. This one from Walmart won’t break the bank and can be reused for many school functions. Predetermine the amount you will sell popcorn and when you will sell it. Students can easily volunteer to sell popcorn during their lunch times. An office staff member (extra points for the principal) could man the popcorn maker during passing times. Not only will you be raising money in no time, but you will be filling the halls with the irresistible aroma of freshly popped popcorn.  

Expert Tip: To help with the initial cost of the popcorn maker, plan on having a few popcorn booths a year. Think of other creative ways you can use the popcorn maker for school fundraising ideas. School movie nights where you serve a variety of different treats (popcorn and refreshments would help offset the initial cost and ensure you are making lots of money for your initial fundraising goal.

Battle of the Bands

Music is such a fun hobby for many students and one they may not often get to showcase. As schools continue to struggle with not having enough money for students, often times music is one of those first cuts made.  Set a date and time and charge bands, as well as, friends and family to attend. Ask for volunteers to help with them and clean up of the event. Perhaps make it a community event and ask local businesses for a donation in exchange for advertising posters of their business on the walls of the school. Providing a small trophy to the winning band so that they can always remember the fun night.  

Expert Tip: Have a full-size popcorn maker?! This would be an amazing event to put it to use. Offering refreshments is another wonderful to make sure concertgoers are happy but also allows for additional fundraising to be done.

Additional School Fundraising Idea: One way to take your event to the next level is selling merchandise, such as t-shirts. You could possibly have all the bands name on the front side and place the names of local businesses on the back who donated to the event.

No Uniform Day

For schools that require a daily uniform, this one is for you! Pick one day of the week, Friday is usually best, and allow staff and students to donate a set amount to dress down for the day. To take it one step forward, print and sell school spirit shirts that are worn on dress down days. Using a website like Printaroo, where you can open our own digital storefront, would enable families to purchase the shirts that they want while having the finished product delivered to them; with absolutely no up-front costs for the school.


Educators can attest that far too many students come to school hungry having skipped breakfast. Once or twice a month offer students breakfast at school! Offer a variety of easy to set up and clean up types of food. Cereals yogurt, fruit, bagels, and granola bars are great ways to fill students, get their minds ready for learning, and make a little money in the process. Perhaps charge a per plate fee and let students feast.

Expert Tip: Ask for parent volunteers to handle the setup and clean up so that all students are able to eat breakfast and have a positive start to their day.

Snowman Building Competition

Do you live where you get lots and lots of snow? Chose a day when you will definitely have snow on the ground at the school. Charge an entry fee for individuals or teams. Perhaps offer a small trophy or other trinkets to the winning person or team.

School fundraising ideas have come a long way in recent years. Gone are the days, it seems, where school fundraisers are only done using a catalog and order form. Student, faculty, and community involvement go a long way in the success of the fundraiser. Whether schools are raising money for new technology, sports gears, or basic necessities such as paper, pens, pencils, the reason is always the same. Fundraising is ultimately done to enrich the lives and learning experiences of the students who attend the school.