Learn how your school fundraising team can empower students to get involved.

3 Tips for Empowering Students in School Fundraisers

For many schools, fundraisers are critical. The money raised during a fundraising campaign can help support enriching learning opportunities for students, allow teachers to purchase classroom supplies, and fuel extracurricular activities. Fundraising can even help your school engage with the community and develop strong relationships with local businesses and organizations.

Along with these important benefits, fundraisers can also teach your students important life skills like developing a sense of independence and collaborating with other students. They can also foster positive relationships between students and teachers. However, it can be hard to motivate your students to participate in or take ownership of school fundraising opportunities.

These three tips can help you inspire students to take the lead during school fundraisers:

  1. Choose a fundraising idea that excites students.
  2. Encourage student autonomy.
  3. Offer incentives.

Before setting any goals or planning how you’ll reward students who step up during the fundraiser, you’ll need to choose a fundraiser that they can get excited about. Let’s get started!

Choose a fundraising idea that excites students.

Picking out an exciting fundraising idea might sound like an obvious best practice, but many schools end up choosing campaigns because teachers and parents like them, not because students think they are engaging or interesting. Instead, launch a fundraiser that students will be excited about so they will be equally enthusiastic about getting involved.

Consider fundraising ideas like contests, raffles, social media challenges, or movie nights that culminate in a final fun event. This can give students something to look forward to as a result of their hard work prepping for the fundraiser. Plus, you can easily get them involved in the fundraiser’s planning stages, encouraging them to take ownership of the fundraiser and work with fellow students to brainstorm ways to engage attendees and maximize revenue.

Let’s say your school chooses to hold a silent auction fundraiser for parents and other members of the community. Empower students to get involved by assigning different tasks to student-led groups. Make groups responsible for tasks like designing a theme for the event, decorating the event space, brainstorming other activities to hold during the auction, and even procuring auction items.

Encourage student autonomy.

Choosing an idea that excites your students should be one of your top priorities—but the idea you choose should also encourage independence. Pledge drive fundraisers make getting involved and taking the fundraising reins easy for students. 

Let’s say you coach the school football team. You might hold a kick-a-thon in which players collect pledges of $5 for each field goal they kick during the event. Once the event ends, each player tallies the goals they scored and collects funds from the supporters who pledged donations.

Participating in pledge fundraisers is easy, and they require student participation to be successful, which puts the power and responsibility of fundraising in your students’ hands. Here are a few common pledge drive ideas to consider:

  • Fun run. Fun runs are similar to a traditional 5K race, although they have a customizable “fun” element (think having runners wear their Halloween costumes). According to 99Pledges’ guide to hosting a fun run, these events can be divided into three stages: planning the event, registering participants and creating their personal donation pages, and collecting pledges from supporters. Then, you’ll hold the event so participants can complete the run and collect pledges.
  • Dance-a-thon. During a dance-a-thon or dance marathon, participants commit to dancing for a certain period of time. They will collect pledges from their friends and family based on how many hours they dance. You can set the dance-a-thon for the timeframe that works best for your students, but many schools choose an eight- to twelve-hour timeline.
  • Car wash. Organize a car wash fundraiser and invite parents, teachers, and members of your community. Have participants collect pledges based on how many cars they wash throughout the event. To give students a larger role, put them in charge of spreading the word about the car wash by designing posters, flyers, and social media posts.

Give your students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, work with other students, and gain a sense of independence by using a pledge drive fundraiser.

Offer incentives.

Even if you choose the most exciting fundraising idea with a clear, simple way to get involved, some students may not see the value in participating. An easy way to convince them to start collecting donations is to offer incentives for completing goals. Keep in mind that incentives can be anything that will motivate them to fundraise, including gift cards, free homework passes, or a school dance. 

There are two main ways your school can structure incentive programs:

  • Create school- or classroom-wide goals. These goals should be very large, not something a single student would be capable of on their own. For example, during a t-shirt campaign, you might set a school-wide goal of selling 500 t-shirts. Encourage students to work together by exchanging which fundraising strategies they use to help them meet the fundraising goal.
  • Create individual goals. If you are fundraising on a smaller scale, set up an individual goal that students can realistically complete on their own. In the context of a t-shirt sale fundraiser, the goal could be selling three shirts. To avoid any students being left out, you might provide alternative ways to get the incentive, like helping create flyers that promote the shirts.

To streamline this process, be sure to choose a school fundraising platform that allows you to track each student’s progress. This way, you can easily check which students are performing well and which ones may need additional help to achieve the fundraising goal.

Getting students involved in your school’s fundraising campaigns can teach them important life lessons about dedication and how to accomplish their goals. It’s also a great way to win over additional support for parents and PTA members, helping your school raise the funds it needs to give students high-quality educational opportunities.