30 PTA and PTO School Fundraising Ideas

photo of piggy bank on top of books with PTA letters

Securing extra resources for your school is a worthy cause — and one that many parents and community members will gladly contribute to. Make your next PTA or PTO fundraiser a success with these 30 creative ideas to raise more money. 

Fundraising Events 

  1. Home Tour - If you have families who live in a notable neighborhood, consider planning a home or garden tour. Charge admission for the tour and ask students to act as hosts. Provide entertainment at each stop. It also doesn’t hurt to ask local restaurants if they can donate food or drink for the pit stops.
  2. Celebrity Game - What could be better than a little friendly competition among teachers, staff and students? Form two teams — teachers and staff versus students — and let some good-natured rivalry begin. You could play basketball, baseball or kickball. Advertise the game by spotlighting the players in the weeks leading up to the event in the PTA newsletter, and don’t forget a pep rally! Proceeds from ticket and food sales go to the parent teacher organization.
  3. Haunted House - Take advantage of the kooky, creepy month of October and invite the community to tour a haunted house or spooky trail. Include one version for little ones and another for those who appreciate a good fright. Enlist the help of teachers, parents and students to play the role of ghosts, goblins, spiders and spirits. Raise money through ticket sales and have apple cider, coffee and candy at the ready for additional earning potential.
  4. Chili Cook Off - Make fundraising a tasty experience. All you need is eight to 10 chefs willing to whip up their famous chili recipe, a date on the calendar and a venue. Ask hungry parents and families to pay a fee to sample all the hot stew, and remind taste testers to vote for the winner. The triumphant chili maker gets a trophy, bragging rights and the good feeling that comes with cooking for a good cause. Genius Tip: Make it a double header and consider pairing a bake sale with the cook off.
  5. Work Out Session - Do you have a mom who is a well-known yoga teacher or a dad who throws one heck of a boot camp? Ask your fitness gurus to host a workout session at the school. Take to the gym or field and charge parents and members of the community to sweat it out and get healthy for a good cause.
  6. Movie Night - Ask students to vote on a family friendly movie, then rent (or borrow) a large screen and projector. This is an easy one to hold outdoors at your school — just make sure to have a rain plan! Sell tickets for the movie and don’t forget the concession stand for hungry moviegoers.
  1. Trivia Night - Who is the king or queen of trivia at your school? There’s only one way to find out. Let teams of between two and 10 people pay to enter the contest then battle it out for a prize. You can set up two divisions: adults and students. A local celebrity host can really make this night a success.
  2. Talent Show - Show off your school’s talented singers, comedians, dancers, poetry readers and musicians with a talent show. This community event is a great way to show school spirit and raise money. If you want a more upscale event (and slightly higher ticket prices) consider including dinner with the entertainment.
  3. Parents Night Out - Who couldn’t use a little alone time? Plan an exciting night for the little ones with games, food and a movie and send parents off to enjoy a few hours of freedom. Charge a set price for the entire evening. The kids will come home tired and the parents happy. Win-win!
  4. Parent Spelling Bee - Give this classic children’s competition a twist and ask parents to pay an entry fee for a chance to win bragging rights! Recruit judges and a celebrity host and ask a few students to help run the event. Pair this with a gourmet coffee stand and bake sale.
  5. Epic Yard Sale - Turn your school’s parking lot or athletic field into a huge community yard sale. Start gathering donations from parents, teachers and staff at least two months in advance and be sure to secure a location to store the goods before the big day. As soon as you secure a date and time, begin promoting the sale in school emails, social media and nearby neighborhoods. Remember, your city might require a permit for the sale.
  6. Game Night - Put down the phones and enjoy a classic game night without any screens. Set up tables for four to six players in the gym or cafeteria and break out Monopoly, Scattergories, Chutes and Ladders, Trivial Pursuit, Candy Land and more. Compete by family or age group. Ask a few older students to walk around during the event to answer questions and keep the night moving. Pizza sales go great with this fundraising event!
  7. Resource Fair - Are there companies and businesses that would love to get in front of parents? If so, invite them to be part of a resource fair and charge for booth rental. Businesses could include lawn care, summer camps, clothing stores, car dealerships and more. Pair this event with a fashion show from a local department store and really make it shine.
  8. Night at the Museum - If your city has a museum or cultural center, ask to host an after-hours event for parents and community members. Admission proceeds go to the school and participants can enjoy the experience minus the crowds. This works particularly well if the museum or center has a special exhibit coming to town.
  9. Wine and Paint Night - Mix your creative side with a glass of red or white, and create a fun opportunity to bring in some dollars. Work with a local company or ask a parent or staff member to lead the class. Charge each budding artist a fee to participate and don’t forget to factor in the cost of supplies and instructional fees. The city skyline, school or mascot are some popular pictures ideas.
  10. Take Me Out to the Ballgame - If your school is in a city or town with a professional or semi-professional sports team, host a school spirit night and sell tickets to a game. A portion of the ticket proceeds go back to the school as well as a percentage of concession sales. To help bring in the crowd, ask if the students can do something special during the game like run the bases or sing the National Anthem.
  11. Sensitive Document Disposal - Everyone has receipts, bills and other personal documents taking up valuable space in drawers and filing cabinets. Charge a flat fee and host a sensitive document disposal day. Invite parents, faculty and staff to safely dispose of papers containing social security numbers, account balances, addresses, etc. This event can pair well with Earth Day activities.

Coordinate 5K volunteers and collect registration fees with a sign up. SAMPLE

Fundraising Sales 

  1. Used Book Sale - What’s old is new again! Have parents and students donate used books for the sale then sort, categorize and price the books and get ready for the big day. Host the sale in the media center or another central location and let the shopping begin. Consider including a day just for parents to look around and be sure each grade has a chance to visit the used bookstore.
  2. Prepared Foods Sale - Every parent on the planet could use a ready-to-go meal sitting on standby in the freezer. Ask parents, grocery stores or restaurants to donate frozen meals, then post descriptions with ingredients, serving size, cooking instructions and price on the main school bulletin board. Hungry parents can select an index card (or two), pay for the meal and head home with a pan full of happiness.
  3. Holiday Gift Sale/Santa’s Bag - This great fundraiser lets the smallest students participate. Ask grade-level and art teachers to help students create handmade crafts to include at the sale. Ask parents and teachers if they have any homemade items they can donate as well. Select a date for the one-day sale and do it right with holiday tunes and decorations. Parents, students and members of the community can shop these unique gifts and cross some to-dos off the list. Selling hot chocolate and doughnuts will make shoppers happy and bring in additional dollars.
  4. BBQ Drive-thru - Get the smokers ready and heat up your school’s fundraising with BBQ dinners on the run. Order BBQ and some fixings from a local restaurant or ask a few seasoned chefs to fire up the grill and make some ‘cue. Take dinner pre-orders up to three weeks before the big day, then be ready with plates of food, to-go boxes and plastic utensils.
  5. Plant Sale - Raise some green by hosting a tree and plant sale. Ask a local nursery or home improvement store to donate or sell plants and trees to the school at a discount. Host a one-day tree sale and collect orders online. Add an old-fashioned lemonade stand to quench the thirst of busy shoppers for more earning potential!
  6. Unconventional Art Sale - Every parent loves to see their child’s work of art on the refrigerator, so expand the possibilities (and fundraising opportunities) to include a coffee mug, mouse pad, T-shirt or beach towel. Many art companies will manage this process, making it an easy and fun way to earn a few extra dollars. Start early in the year and ask art teachers to help students create a special work of art. Pair this activity with a theme such as school spirit, summer time, hobbies or family. Several weeks after drawings are complete and sent off, parents will receive a catalog of items personalized with their child’s drawing. If your timing is right, this fundraiser will make the holiday gift-giving season a breeze.

Coordinate book fair volunteers with a sign up. SAMPLE

Fundraising Classics 

  1. Silent Auction - Silent auctions are a classic in the fundraising world because they work. Ask parents, teachers and staff to donate items to the auction and put your wares up for bidding during a special event. One fun idea: Let busy parents bid on reserved spots in the carpool line for a year. Also remember to ask area businesses to donate goods and services. Genius Tip: Try these 40 silent auction item ideas.
  2. Matching Gifts - Never overlook an opportunity to make easy money. Provide parents and potential donors with a list of employers that will match donations. This is also useful information to have on your fundraising website. People may not know that their gift could double when the company match is added!
  3. Dine Out - Your favorite local restaurant could be a fantastic partner to raise money for school. Work with the eatery manager to determine which night of the week is best. Allow plenty of time to promote the dine-in day and be sure parents and students are clear about the location. Challenge each class with a contest to see which grade has the best participation.
  4. T-shirts and Apparel Sales - A fun T-shirt printed with the school’s name or mascot is always a hit. Timing is the key to this money maker. Have plenty of T-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, etc., ready to sell in time for open house events. Also include apparel order forms in take-home folders and post the information on your website. Genius Tip: Want to take advance orders online? Use a sign up to collect money for spirit wear.
  5. Wall Recognition - Show students and their parents you appreciate every dollar they donate by giving them a shout out on a school wall or banner. Invite each family who helps raise funds to leave their mark on the school with their name, a quote or picture.
  6. Advertisements and Sponsorships - If your school has an athletic or arts program, it has the opportunity to build up the coffers. Sell advertisements or sponsorships ads in sports programs, the drama playbill, graduation booklets and more. Ads can be purchased by companies, organizations or parents and family members who want to send a message to their favorite student.
  7. Change Wars - Teach students and parents that every penny, nickel, dime and quarter counts when it comes to building up funds for the school. Put large change jars (water dispensers work well for this project) in each classroom and watch the money add up. Announce classroom winners and inspire some healthy competition.
With some proper planning, your PTA or PTO can keep money coming in throughout the year. Happy fundraising! 

Courtney McLaughlin is a freelance writer in Charlotte, N.C. She gratefully shares her life, home and heart with her daughter and their dog. 

Additional Resources

School Fundraising Ideas for Every Grade

30 Fundraisers for High School

Creative Fundraising for Elementary School

Successful School Fundraising Ideas