The PTA, or Parent Teacher Association, has been in existence for many years in schools and that means fundraising. We all know that schools have been losing their government funding for years and I’m sure this pressure will continue. There are many ways parents have to, and can get involved with PTA fundraising.
Apart from the odd cake baking and turning up to events, I’ve never been really fully involved with the PTA at our school, despite having wanted to at the start. Mainly because meetings are during school time which means work time for me. I’ve helped out at events, done a bit of design work for flyers, and been someone the chair can bounce ideas off. I’ve obviously supported events by buying tickets, donating prizes and attending events. I thought I’d put together some of the fundraising events over the years I’ve been to or heard about from friends in their school. These have worked out well and could be be easy fundraising ideas for your children’s schools.
Easy fundraising ideas for school PTAs
From harder effort to the easier ones.
The basic idea behind race nights isn’t that hard to organise, but they are if you want to make lots of money. Essentially you just buy, rent or borrow a race night DVD, and show that to a group of people who pay to come to the night. The premise is that it’s like going to the races, and you have betting on the races. Providing food means a higher ticket price. You can have a paid bar and you can ask people to sponsor races or individual horses.
You will need a good MC or announcer for the races, a big screen, drink and barman, use of a school or village hall, and food. You also need someone to run the tote betting table so people can bet on the horses.
Race nights I’ve been to have sold tickets for tables, as well as individual tickets. By selling to non school people was how the big spenders came in. Bar earnings can be good if you’re doing the bar yourselves, and people are walking rather than having to drive home.
Having a great MC helps if you’re trying to get people to part with money for sponsorship. If you sell tables to groups of friends or work colleagues, then they will often egg each other on and end up paying more money. That’s what we found at the last race night we went to. Race Nights are good fun and as long as no one is too precious about having gambling at a School event, then you can raise a lot of money.
For food it’s easiest to stick with one type of food that can be be made in bulk, and then just heated upon arrival. Or buy in food to order. Examples are a couple of big pots of curry or chilli with accompaniments, lasagne, or even buying in fish and chips. Stay simple and it will keep costs down as well as avoiding complexity.
For pudding you can generally ask parents coming along to bring a dessert.
Then you just need plenty of people to help set up up and and wash up and pack away afterwards.
Similarly to the race night a quiz night runs much the same way for organisers. Key requirements are a good personable quiz master, food and drink, then you can charge for tickets to the event. You can then add a raffle which you can sell tickets ahead of the event for the draw on the night. Our school quiz nights when usually held in the school hall.
If you don’t have anyone good at writing quizzes you can always buy pub quiz questions online, sometimes you can find them free. You want to have different sections on topics with picture and music rounds going down well. We also add an education round which is funny if you’ve got teachers attending.
Sell tickets including food, and run a raffle alongside so you can fund raise from people who can’t attend the quiz.
A scavenger hunt is fairly easy to organise. You can get teams to enter as families, or just do one for children. It can be as simple as having pictures on a sheet for people to search around the area for, and tick off/write where they found them. Or have a list of things for the teams to find. An alternative is to set clues for them to find the answer and then the item. The complexity will depend on the audience, location and time needed
You charge teams or people to enter, have a drinks or snack stall. And you just need to ensure there are prizes. For team events, a prize for the first 3 back, for children’s events, it’s nice to provide a little medal for completing the task.
Years ago, we ran a picture sheet one to fund raise for our village nursery and we managed to raise quite a bit of money with more people turning up than we expected, running out of medals for the children.
A car wash is good fun to do if hard physical work. If you know someone with the right kit, it makes it easier. You can ever get children to help. When ours was run recently, we had stages for each car to stop at. But if you’re just on buckets and sponges or brushes, you might need to do each car in turn.
The biggest need is lots of volunteers, and good advertising in nearby villages or across the town because you can’t rely on everyone from school bringing in their cars. Charge a little more for 4x4s and larger cars.
Not just for the children, why not host a school disco for the parents. Get everyone to dress up, hire a disco and lights, sell tickets and have a bar and nibbles.
If you have an accessible (safe) river or stream nearby, why not hold a duck race. You’ll need rubber ducks (or you could do pingpong balls. Write a number on each and sell off the numbers. Then race the ducks from one point to the other, then winner get the price or a percentage of the winnings. Make sure you can safely collect the ducks up back again as you don’t want to litter.
Not always enjoyed by parents having to get sponsorship, but can do a variety of events. Sponsored read, fun run, sports activities, silence.
Auction of promises / Silent auction
There’s a couple of options for auctions. You can sell tickets to a drinks and nibbles, or even serve a meal event. Auction of promises can be fun offers or sensible ones. Get people in the community to also offer promises or services they can help with. They can be small or larger offers of help, or even a group of people offering something like painting a room or doing some gardening.
With a silent auction, you can have closed bids put in envelopes or a box, then the winning bids win the items. These can go hand in hand.
Combine environmentalism with fundraising and get a new wardrobe at the same time. With a swishing event, people bring along good quality unwanted clothes, and then are able to take away other clothes that have been brought along. You can sell tickets to the event, but need to ensure there will be enough clothes there. When we went to an event, people were asked to bring a minimum number of clothes. There’s obviously no guarantee you’ll find the equivalent number of clothes to take home.
You need clothes rails and signage. Sell tickets to the event which could include one drink, then anything else is additional. But most funds raised will come from tickets.
Don’t forget to take leftover clothes to a charity shop, or why not add them to Bags 2 School collections to make a bit more cash for the school.
An alternative could be to host a ‘seconds’ or end of season sale, e.g Joules or Boden often do these. Again, by selling tickets, people will come to buy the clothes sold by the store’s reps.
With sales you don’t even need to have a big formal event. After the school day, set up a couple of tables outside, ask for donations for the week beforehand, and sell. You could have a format craft event asking local people to donate to have a table at the craft fair. We often have book companies have a book fair at school on parents evenings which are popular. The school gets some commission and the children get books.
Why not ask if parents would be willing to done grown out of uniform to the school to sell on at heavily reduced prices for fund raising.
Another environmental tie in, Terracycle have collection points for more unusually recycled items around the country. It doesn’t bring in lots of money, but if there are no collection points in your area, and there’s storage for recycling boxes, it could be worth looking at. You could be the collection point for the village or area, not just your school, so build up the recycling to send back more quickly, so getting more points to convert to cash.
Fill a matchbox
Give every child a matchbox the same size (a small one), and they need to fill it with as many individual small items as possible. No duplicates (e.g different seeds are just classed as seeds, only 1 counts). Children pay to enter, submitting their matchbox and a list of all the items and final tally. There’s a winner for each class for the person with the highest number of items. The matchbox challenge is a lot of fun. Our PTA charged £2.50 to enter, so it could be a good fun raiser.
More traditional ideas for fetes or event stands
If there’s a local fete or fun day, have a couple of stalls at that and try selling small kits or services.
- Face painting
- Glitter tattoos
- Tombola – kids theme with sweets always goes down well
- Biscuit decorating
- Nail painting
- Badge making
- Friendship bracelets
- Mason jar kits – ask parents to donate a jam jar or mason jar filled with goodies to sell for £2-3 each. Could include toy animals, cars, craft kits, mini nail polishes, hot chocolate mix and marshmallows, dry cake or brownie ingredients with instructions
- Buy a square – have a grid and sell off numbers for a £1, winning number chosen gets the prize.
100 or 200 club
People pay in £1 or £2 each week (or the equivalent per month) for a number, winning numbers gets X% each month, the rest goes to the fund-raising. Some people will pay for a year up front. Just check what rules there are around this and charity fundraising before starting.
For the adults…or just for the kids. The priciest part is finding a DJ, so finding someone to volunteer or take a reduced cut will help the budget. Obviously an adults disco will make more money (but require more expectations).
At primary, charge a small fee which includes a drink and an ice lolly.
For a secondary school disco try a Year 7 disco in the first term. You can charge a nominal amount for entry, or do what we did, and have free entry (by ticket only), and then sell pick and mix style bags of sweets, crisps and cans of drink. We sold lots and made a profit. You do need to warn children if it’s cash only because so many now expect to see a card machine.
Search engine commission
Once it’s set up, asking parents to use a search engine when they’re shopping online. Then the school gets commission – we use Easy Fundraising and Amazon Smile, but there are other websites available too. Again, it’s not going to be huge amounts of money (I use another cashback site myself, so only use the school one when it’s a website I can’t use myself), but every little helps.
Schools can also make use of affiliate schemes through uniform or stationery websites. For example, some uniform shops online offer commission back if parents buy from them via a school referral code. Stikins name labels have a similar scheme. These codes can just be included in newsletters or information for new starters, and be on the school website.
Further tips for school fund-raising
Don’t forget for any event that involves playing music, selling tickets or alcohol check what licences you might need well in advance.
With every fund-raising effort in schools, success will depend on location, size and demographics. Also the willingness to get involved. Our school was a small village school where people were willing to help and had the money to do so. But we got very few parents from town getting involved or even turning up to events. In contrast my friend’s school has a wider mix of demographics – where we could run a quiz selling higher price tickets that included food, and there was alcohol on sale, their quiz was straight after school, £1.50 entry that included a squash or cup of tea.
I’ve also found secondary school PTA fundraising very different. Despite the much larger school, not all will have a PTA. Ours was new when we started at the school. The aim is more about breaking evening and getting the kids and parents more involved as the latter are more detached from secondary compared with primary. We tend to stick with providing refreshments at events – open evenings, theatre performances. Getting a card machine will pay for itself – ours was covered by only 1 event.
What other types of fund raising events have been held and gone down well at your school? Have you been involved with the PTA?
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