This is one of the easiest ways to challenge a child’s brain without distracting from the fun of the event. Hide candy, trinkets, or any other goodies relevant to your event throughout the school or venue. Divide kids up into teams and give each team a unique treasure map, complete with fun clues, puzzles and riddles. This way, everyone gets their share of treasure. If your school is focused on certain awareness campaigns (drug free, bullying, etc.), you can tie these themes into the treasure map clues.
Day in and day out, young students are expected to respect their school’s rules, which is of course vital to building responsibility. Dedicating just one day, however, to breaking these rules can be surprisingly effective in terms of student satisfaction and participation throughout the year. Plus, it makes for a cheap and entertaining fundraiser. Here are a few examples of “x day” fundraisers for schools:
Wear pajamas to school day
Bring candy to school day
Bring toys to school day
Typically, these special days are funded by the students (or, more likely, their parents), but kids whose families can’t afford the donation wind up getting left out. A better option is to set a fundraising goal and ask local businesses for donations. Once the goal has been met, the kids get to celebrate! Don’t forget to follow up with thank you letters to your donors, and acknowledge their support in your school newsletters before and after the event.
It’s all about the catharsis of controlled rule-breaking: watching one of their teachers get a pie in the face is both hilarious and motivating for students. Instead of just charging money for a chance to see a teacher clown around, however, allowing teams of students to defeat teams of teachers in competitions is more fun and engaging. It can be a recess game, a trivia match, or whatever the students like to do during recess. This way, kids get to work together, exercise their brains (and bodies) and earn the right to humiliate the teachers.
Rubber duck races may seem dated, but this beloved contest has withstood the test of time. The premise is simple: charge students to purchase (numbered) rubber ducks, drop those ducks in a body of water, and watch them “race” to the end. This type of fundraiser pairs perfectly with a picnic or other activity, since the ducks can be dropped into a stream or pond. Just make sure there’s a current and some wind. Otherwise, it’s a non-starter.
This idea tends to perform well across all age groups, high school and college students included. Contact local restaurants to find one that will donate food (and the use of their space) or offer a smaller menu at a reduced cost, preferably one with a private party area so that you can make announcements, toasts, and so forth. Promote the dinner to students and their families, and even other local residents, by sharing the link to the event page you created with your ticketing platform. Your ticketing platform should include multiple ticket types, including name-your-own-price, plus discount codes (early bird special, anyone?) to help you sell out your event. This is just one of many free tools that can boost your fundraising efforts.
Incentives aren’t just for corporate settings--students are very responsive if the reward is juicy enough. A pie in the face is one thing, but what if students had the opportunity to pull a prank on the school principal? Set your goal and give students an incentive that they are sure to work hard for.
It doesn't just have to apply to pranking the faculty, either. You can combine this method with the “X day” method, using pajama day or another fun option as the incentive.
Finally, you just can't go wrong with a good old dodgeball or kickball tournament. It's most effective in terms of student engagement if you choose the game that's most popular at recess. As a school, you already have the grounds and equipment; all you need is to organize the kids into teams and keep score. Getting parents and faculty in on the action is also a great way to switch it up, because most of these kids are used to challenging each other at recess.
Whether it’s in the school setting or not, you don’t have to be a creative genius to come up with an effective fundraiser format. Just ask yourself the right questions about your audience and choose a fun format. Your ticket sales will reflect your ability to learn your audience, rally partners throughout the community, and manage a chaotic day. Have fun!