16 Flexible Parent-Teacher Association Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising November 08, 2022

Sonia Urlando

By Sonia Urlando

After a few tumultuous school years, you’re probably well aware of how important it is to be flexible with your fundraising strategy. While the pandemic presented new challenges for Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) across the country, it also brought in new opportunities. 

 

Due to social distancing guidelines, many schools resorted to moving their fundraisers online. And for many groups, these makeshift fundraisers continued to be a big hit in their community.

 

Now, your team has the freedom to choose any fundraising idea it wants, whether it takes place in person or online. Even though pandemic restrictions have loosened significantly, virtual fundraisers might still be the best option if your PTA is very busy, has a small team or is working within a tight budget. On the other hand, you can also finally do any of the fun, in-person fundraisers your team has been looking forward to.

 

These fundraising ideas can help you find the fundraiser that works best for your association:

  • Virtual Parent-Teacher Association Fundraising Ideas

  • In-Person Parent-Teacher Association Fundraising Ideas

 

These fundraising ideas can fit either an online or in-person setting. Because they are low-stress ideas that don’t require a huge budget, these ideas are perfect for any PTA members who might be experiencing burnout. Let’s get started!

Virtual Parent-Teacher Association Fundraising Ideas

Online fundraising allows you to make a big impact even if your team is limited in members or budget. By hosting your fundraisers online, you can reach new supporters both near and far from your school without needing to leave your desk.

1. Virtual Fun Run

Cost: $$

Difficulty: 4

Earning Potential: ★★★

 

Virtual walking and running events have become an easy way for 5K and 10K races to adapt to an online fundraising model. To make these events virtual, you’ll just need to send out race packages to those who register and encourage participants to fundraise on their own. However, a fun run isn’t like an ordinary running event.

 

During a fun run, your school can choose a “fun” element to pair with the event. This aspect of the race can be anything from asking participants to dress up in Halloween costumes or wearing their pajamas during the run. Make sure to encourage students and parents to take pictures and share them online to show off the fun part of the race.

 

According to 99Pledges’ guide to holding a fun run, the steps to planning a fun run will look something like this:

 

  1. Plan out logistical details like the fun element, date and time of the race.

  2. Have participants sign up and create virtual donation pages.

  3. Encourage participants to collect online donations from supporters.

  4. Send out race packages to each participant.

  5. Hold the race!

 

Holding a fun run is especially easy if your parent-teacher association has planned walk-a-thons in the past. In this case, you can reuse those assets and experiences to make this idea less difficult to plan. 

2. Branded Merchandise

Cost: $$

Difficulty: 2

Earning Potential: ★★

 

Branded merchandise can help you fundraise and give students a way to show school spirit. Branded items like t-shirts, magnets, water bottles and stickers are a great fundraiser that can be done online. Email the school parents an order form, have them order right from home and have students pick up their orders at school. 

 

Your earning potential for this idea is heavily influenced by how much you decide to sell the merchandise. Try to find the balance between making a worthwhile profit and charging so much that you only sell a few items. To gauge each parent’s interest in the items, ask them what they’re willing to pay before pricing each item.

 

To support a local business and potentially receive a discounted price, you can commission them to make the merchandise for the fundraiser.

3. At-Home Gala

Cost: $$

Difficulty: 5

Earning Potential: ★★★★

 

During an at-home gala, you can tune into an event from the comfort of your own home. Each supporter will join a video call to enjoy the program. To maximize fundraising revenue, you can sell tickets to join the gala and plug an additional fundraising link throughout the event, encouraging parents to donate. 

 

To ensure supporters are entertained and stay on your call the entire time, consider incorporating some of these ideas into your program:

 

  • Put on a mini talent show with student participants.

  • Have participants dress according to different decades and show off their costumes.

  • Do a raffle for a prize basket.

  • Watch a slideshow of photos and videos from the school year.

 

Since virtual galas require a little more effort, like planning the program, coordinating the livestream and procuring items for gift baskets, you’ll want to save this fundraiser for bigger moments. 

4. Email Campaign

Cost: $

Difficulty: 1

Earning Potential: ★

 

This is an easy, extremely low-effort fundraising idea. Be sure to make it convenient and easy for parents to donate by guiding them to your donation page by including calls to action or links to donate. However, it’s important your emails aren’t just a surprise communication asking for money.

 

You should be regularly emailing your parents, so integrate asking for donations to the parent-teacher association as part of your emails. You never know if people will be feeling generous that day!

5. Family Trivia Night

Cost: $

Difficulty: 2

Earning Potential: ★★

 

Create a family-friendly trivia night that parents can purchase tickets to participate in virtually. Not only does your parent-teacher association get a very low-cost fundraiser, but trivia nights give them an activity to do with the kids at home that they don’t need to plan. 

 

Your team will need to spend some time creating the trivia questions. To get a starting point, ask participants which categories they want to see. You can also create different divisions of the trivia night sorted by age so families with children in different grades can still participate.

 

The best part is that actually putting the game together is relatively easy. Ask your school if they have a Kahoot account – you’ll be able to whip up a trivia game in no time. 

6. Virtual Silent Auction

Cost: $$-$$$

Difficulty: 4

Earning Potential: ★★★-★★★★

 

Holding a virtual auction for your school can help you build connections in your community and bring people together for a fun virtual event. Reach out to people and businesses in your school’s network and ask for prize donations. If you think you’ll need a few more items, work to come up with some of your own by setting up a budget for the fundraiser. 

 

Once the day of the auction rolls around, share the auction items and have the schools in your community bid on them. You can either host a synchronous video event while people bid online or set up a timeframe for participants to virtually bid on items.

7. Virtual Paint Night

Cost: $

Difficulty: 2

Earning Potential: ★

 

Everyone loves Bob Ross—why not organize a fundraising event where students and parents can follow along and create their own paintings? If you want to get teachers and staff more involved, consider asking your school’s art teacher to give a quick painting lesson. This way, you can adapt each lesson to different age groups and levels of skill.

 

To fundraise, you can charge a small entrance fee and use supplies that families likely have around their homes. To raise more, consider making this a monthly event with different themes for each painting.

8. Virtual Cooking Class

Cost: $$$$

Difficulty: 2-3

Earning Potential: ★★★

 

Virtual cooking classes have become popular options for date nights or professional team bonding, but you can easily make this work as a parent-teacher association fundraiser as well. 

 

Partner with a local, family-friendly restaurant to create a “cooking class” menu. Then, families can pay to participate. To make this idea convenient for busy families who may not have time to take a trip to the grocery store before the class, allow them to pick up a pack of ingredients from the restaurant. During the event, the chef will walk the group through the cooking lesson over Zoom. 

 

The difficulty and cost for this fundraiser can vary depending on what type of cooking class and if you have the restaurant or family's source ingredients, but it has strong earning potential. People are willing to pay for a good meal, especially if the money will benefit their child’s education.

9. Netflix Watch Party 

Cost: $

Difficulty: 1

Earning Potential: ★★

 

Have families register for a family-friendly movie night at home. To find a crowd-pleasing movie, consider asking students to weigh in on their favorite film and choose the most popular option. It might be best to plan it for a Friday night so students don’t have to stay up late the night before school.

 

You can stream the movie to different homes through a group-viewing browser extension so the kids can chat on the side. Charge each family for tickets to the movie and sell snack packs for students to buy at school and bring home for the movie night. As long as the cost to join is a little above the cost of snack bags, you’ll earn a profit!

10. Candy Grams

Cost: $$

Difficulty: 2

Earning Potential: ★

 

Candy grams are a simple but fun way for students to send small messages to their friends. Have students or parents pay a small fee to send a candy gram to somebody else in their school. Host the order forms online to make the process more convenient for your PTA and participants.

 

The heavy lifting for this fundraiser will fall on volunteers for this PTA virtual fundraising idea – they will need to put together the candy grams and make sure they get delivered to the recipient. However, with the right PTA software in place, this should be a breeze.

11. Virtual Talent Show

Cost: $

Difficulty: 2

Earning Potential: ★★

 

There is no doubt that your school is packed full of talented kids, whether they are first chair in the school band or the star of the soccer team. Give them the chance to show off their hobbies and talents through a virtual talent show.

 

Families can pay for a ticket to attend the show. To drive more funding, ask for extra donations as they buy their ticket or consider adding a “talent fee” for the students who are participating. Create the talent show line-up and let them each take their turn participating. 

 

Ask about getting the school staff involved as well. Kids will be so excited to see their teachers showing off talents, and it’s a great way to bring everybody together. 

In-Person Parent-Teacher Association Fundraising Ideas

12. Golf Tournament 

Cost: $$$

Difficulty: 3

Earning Potential: ★★★★

 

A golf tournament is a great fundraiser for parents to participate in. During the tournament, you can have families team up and offer prizes for grades with the most parent participants, the best team spirit or the hole-in-one winner for the smaller golfers on the course. 

 

Start looking for a location early in the planning process to ensure that you can actually get a golf course and that the price tag isn’t out of budget. Ask local golf courses if your school can get a discounted rate or reach out to any school connections that might be able to help. If needed, you can get creative and switch this to a mini-golf tournament hosted at your school to get students involved.

13. Pajama Day

Cost: $

Difficulty: 1

Earning Potential: ★★

 

This fundraising idea has no cost associated with it and takes next to no effort, making it a great choice for parent-teacher associations with a smaller team or budget.

 

Throughout the week, remind students to bring in a small donation so they can “dress down” in their pajamas on Friday. It’s a super simple fundraiser and you can repeat it often. Consider changing this up to different themes to keep students engaged. For example, you might plan a “costume day” in October where students can wear their Halloween costumes to school.

14. School Carnival

Cost: $$$$

Difficulty: 5

Earning Potential: ★★★★

 

School carnivals are a classic for a reason. While they require significant effort and money up front, it’s worth it to gather your community together. 

 

Look into renting inflatables, creating games in classrooms, and getting parents involved. Kids can buy tickets to participate in various different activities (like a chance to sink their math teacher in a dunk tank), and parents can plan games or run different rooms or booths.

 

While organizing a school carnival will require a lot of effort, the earning potential is high. Be sure to enlist additional help if needed and reach out to local businesses for sponsorship opportunities.

15. Dance-a-Thon

Cost: $$

Difficulty: 2

Earning Potential: ★★

 

It’s time to capitalize on the popularity of TikTok dances with a dance-a-thon!

 

Kids ask for people to sponsor them to take part in the dance-a-thon. Have each student collect pledge donations from their parents, friends and families based on how many hours they dance at the event. To incentivize participation, award the kids who dance the longest with prizes. While some people do 24-hour dance-a-thons, you might want to limit this to a school day. 

 

Managing pledge donations can require a lot of effort from parents and teachers. Make sure to use a school fundraising platform that will handle donation management and collection for you.

16. Bake Sale

Cost: $

Difficulty: 1

Earning Potential: ★★

 

Just like carnivals, bake sales are a classic for a reason. Students love the chance to get their hands on a sweet dessert, and it’s easy for them to participate.

 

Have families sign up to bake different treats like cookies, cupcakes, brownies or muffins to ensure your sale has a variety of baked goods. Then, have students bring the treats with them to school on the day of the bake sale, and sell them to students and staff. Schedule the bake sale at the end of the day, and let students hang out with their friends while they taste all of the different desserts. 

 

 


 

Being on the PTA is a huge commitment, and many parents and teachers suffer from burnout throughout the school year. However, if you’re backed with these parent-teacher association fundraising ideas, you’ll be able to keep your community connected and raise some major money whether virtually or in person.

 

Best of luck with your next fundraiser! 

 

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