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Fundraising Opportunities

Grants are not always the best way to fund your projects. Often, fund-raising projects can help you accomplish your goals more quickly and easily.  Here, you'll find annotated links and/or information that will augment your fund-raising activities.

Teachers who would like to share successful fund-raising stories, techniques, and tips with the SchoolGrants community are invited to share them on our comments page. We'll publish your ideas  on this page so your colleagues have the opportunity to benefit from your successes!

Please do not send information advertising products you have for sale. SchoolGrants rarely provides free advertisements on the site.

Preparing for Fundraising Activities
Guide to Fundraising on the Internet
Fundraising Programs Available on the Internet
Tips from Readers
"Can You Spare A Dollar?" Idea
Earn Technology for Your School

Preparing for Fundraising Activities

Before conducting fundraising activities, you should always be clear about what you hope to accomplish with the activity, who your prospective audience is, and the resources your organization has available to produce the event. The June 8, 2000, edition of Children & Youth Funding Report advises you to consider the following questions to determine whether a fundraising idea is a good one for your organization:

  • Do you have clear goals for conducting a special event?

  • Do you have access to appropriate attendees, sponsors, and underwriters?

  • Is the event appropriate to your organization's purpose and mission?

  • Does your school have adequate staffing to run the event?

  • Is the projected budget in line with your goals?

  • Do your staff and School Board know what is expected of them?

  • Will the benefits of this event be worth all the time, money, and effort needed to carry it out?

Considering Your Focus

Hillsborough Education Foundation president, Terry Boehm, gave attendees of the recent National Charter School Conference advice regarding fundraising.  According Boehm, schools should set priorities when fundraising.  Instead of trying to raise money for everything, schools should isolate one or two goals and focus fundraising efforts around them.  Schools that have a wish list "look fickle, like you can't make up your mind, or desperate."  Mr. Boehm also suggests that the focus of fundraising efforts should be around solutions instead of highlighting problems.  As with grant proposals, your fundraising efforts should inform donors of how their donations will help solve a particular need or problem.

Fund Raising and Public Schools

Consider starting an education foundation to assist in your grant and other fund-raising efforts.  This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization can be an effective way to generate funds that are otherwise unavailable to your school.  Many grants that are not available directly to schools are available to nonprofits that lend various assistance to schools.  The Public Education Network (PEN) is an excellent resource for existing local education foundations as well as for those who are contemplating starting such a foundation.

School districts that are serious about raising outside funds should dedicate an individual (or individuals) solely to seeking grant funds and other donations.  Fund raising is a time-consuming and somewhat specialized field that requires hours of research to find donors or grantors to support your programs.  Writing the grants and maintaining all the necessary paperwork is overwhelming for an already overburdened teacher or other staff member.

Some public school teachers have effectively raised funds for their pet projects by conducting email campaigns.  A list of potential donors are sent an email requesting assistance.  You should be careful when you use this approach so that you don't alienate your potential donors.  As you compile your list of potential donors, be certain that the request you will send is within their giving guidelines!  

One rural middle-school band teacher wrote to the Bring Home the Bacon listserv several months ago regarding how she raised enough funds to buy new band uniforms for her students.  With the assistance of some very dedicated parent volunteers, a letter was drafted that was distributed by the parents and school staff at local businesses, churches, and employers.  Students also became involved in the project by donating money they raised to the cause.  When the class had raised about half of the necessary funds, a grant proposal was submitted to a local foundation.  It was obvious to the foundation that the community supported the project since so much of the needed capital had already been raised.  A grant was made and the uniforms were purchased.

Here are some more ideas that have been successful at schools:

Ask local corporations to donate goods and/or services that can be used in gift baskets.  After the class has put together the baskets - working around a particular theme works nicely - hold a raffle or hold an auction for the gift baskets. This can be particularly effective when the entire school participates with each class developing basket(s) around a particular theme.

One education foundation is conducting a Family/ Community Education Program.  A variety of fun and interesting Saturday classes are conducted for parent/child participation.  This fundraiser not only helps bring in needed cash, it also showcases the school and its wonderful teachers and creates activities that involve parents in their child's life. 

Talent shows - featuring the school staff and students and local artists, if possible, can be an excellent way to raise funds.  Combine the talent show with the gift basket auction and double your fund-raising effectiveness!  

As a fun and creative way to raise donations, consider creating a humorous request for funds.  For example, design a letter for parents and neighbors that includes such statements as:

  • For a cash donation of $10, we won't try to sell you any candy for six weeks,

  • For a cash donation of $25, we won't approach you with any fund raisers for the next semester,

  • For a $50 cash donation, we will lose your name and address for a whole year!

Along these same lines, check out the "Can You Spare a Dollar" giving idea that Dale Williams shared with SchoolGrants!

If you know of other effective and creative fund raising ideas, please share them with the SchoolGrants community!

Using the Internet to Raise Funds

There are a multitude of ways to raise much-needed funds using the Internet. At a recent Volunteerism SuperConference, Carrie Suhr told attendees that "forming charitable partnerships with companies and organizations that already have an online presence can be a good way to use the Internet for fundraising. But organizations must devote the time and effort to find a site that is the best match with their organization's goals and donor base." Nonprofits can also set up their own secure Web sites and solicit and accept donations directly. Those who prefer to set up a partnership with an established charity portal, auction site, or charity shopping site are warned to do their homework prior to committing to the partnership. Make sure you have answers to such questions as: 

  • Is the server secure?

  • What is done with donor information?

  • What is the fee structure for nonprofits?

  • What is the length of the contract?

  • Are there restrictions on working with other vendors/partners?

  • Is the site registered as a solicitor in your state?  Should it be?

  • What type of reporting is available?

  • How often are receipts sent to recipient organizations?

  • How are returned-goods handled?

W. K. Kellogg Foundation has a free report available, "ePhilanthropy, Volunteerism, and Social Change-making" that you might wish to read prior to entering into any online partnerships. This 63-page report requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to be viewed.

Using E-Mail to Raise Funds

More and more nonprofits are using email to raise money for their organizations. Several tips that you might find helpful as you begin an email campaign include:

  • Build a database of email addresses.  Collect email addresses from alumni, parents, and other supporters every chance you get.  Be sure to insure your potential donors that your database will not be sold or rented; that you are collecting the addresses solely for your organization's purposes.

  • Be brief.  Send brief newsletters to supporters to tell what is going on in your organization.  Provide links to your Web site where they can find additional information.  Show them where their support is needed.

  • Send messages regularly, but not too often!  A regular monthly newsletter with excerpts of activities and needs will keep your organization in the supporter's mind.

  • Be responsive.  After you've sent your newsletter, expect responses!  Set aside time to answer questions or provide additional information to those who request it.

  • Give people a way to opt off of your subscriber list.  Never irritate your supporters by not providing a way for them to have their email addresses removed from your database.

  • Always provide the means for more traditional method of communication within the email.  Include contact name, address, phone and fax numbers.

Elementary E-Philanthropy 

Michael Stein answers questions about a variety of e-philanthropy questions, including a discussion about the difference between various online fundraising organizations.

NCEF Information Resources

This link gives an annotated list of links, books, and journal articles on planning and conducting a private school capital campaign, including general fundraising principles and practices. Many of the resources listed are beneficial to public school fundraisers as well.

Using Recognition to Build Corporate Donors

Seeking various kinds of grants – corporate, foundation and governmental – involves a variety of different strategies. When you are attempting to build partnerships with corporate donors, one of the keys is developing a good recognition program. The corporation benefits from the resulting publicity and so does your organization. This article provides tips and hints on how you can build an effective recognition program.

Several national fund-raising programs are outlined below that do not require purchases beyond their typical goods and/or services. You should visit the sponsoring company's Web site for complete information on participating in its program.

Fundraising Programs Available on the Internet


The FundingFactory.com site provides fund-raising programs that increase student and teacher access to technology products - including computers and software. The FundingFactory offers two ways that schools can earn leading edge technology, sports and recreation equipment (including playground equipment), or even cash by recycling empty printer cartridges and used cell phones. Schools collect empty printer cartridges and used cell phones and send them to The FundingFactory. Over 20% of U.S. schools currently participate in the program that is "the recognized gold standard for innovative fundraising."

There's more! You can solicit area businesses to send their used cartridges and cell phones to FundingFactory with credit going to your organization. FundingFactory provides free collection boxes and pays all shipping costs to schools and businesses.

This program has received very positive comments on the Bring Home the Bacon listserv from participating schools. Be sure to check it out!

Adopt-a-Classroom.com Adopt-A-Classroom is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster community involvement in schools. Through its online presence, the nonprofit encourages parents and other community members to help meet the needs of students in specific classrooms through $500 tax-deductible contributions. 

Donors may specify what classroom receives credit for the donation or, if there is no preference, Adopt-A-Classroom will direct it to a nearby, underserved classroom. The adopted classroom receives a merchandise credit of $500, which is used to purchase classroom enrichment materials. The donor receives an itemized accounting from Adopt-A-Classroom that shows how their contribution was used. In addition, the program encourages interaction between the students and teacher and the donor throughout the school year.

Teachers participate in the program by completing an online registration. Only U.S. public school teachers at schools that were established before August 15, 2001 are eligible to participate. After registering, teachers will have access to fliers that can be downloaded and distributed to help solicit sponsors within their own communities. 
(excepted from 9/15/2003 SchoolGrants Biweekly Newsletter)

Campbell Soup:  Labels for Education

Schools in the United States (with any of the grades K through 12 and pre-schools), licensed child care centers, public libraries, religious educational centers, Head Start centers and United States military installations are eligible to participate in the Campbell's Labels for Education™ program and submit labels/proofs for redemption.  The Web site offers steps for success, information on publicizing your program, a catalog of available products, and more.  School principals may register for participation by calling (800) 424-5331 or online at http://www.labelsforeducation.com.

Hint:  send home an example of how the soup label should be cut for sending to Campbell's.  This could save you lots of time!

Current, Inc.

Current has been involved in partnering with nonprofit fundraisers since 1950. They still search for innovative ways to support schools and other organizations in their fundraising efforts.

Your customers choose from dozens of unique items: greeting cards for every occasion, value-priced stationery packs, dazzling wraps, accessories, and gifts for everyone.  Your group earns a 50% profit on sales made out of Current's fundraiser catalogs. 

The Educational Technology Conservation Exchange Program

ETCEP (Educational Technology Conservation Exchange Program) encourages learning institutions across the country to collect empty laser and inkjet printer cartridges from their communities. These include cartridges consumed in both homes and businesses. Collected cartridges earn points, which are then exchanged for new computer technology. In this way ETCEP connects community, education and the environment!

General Mills:  Boxtops 4 Education

All accredited U.S. K-8 public, private, parochial and military schools are eligible to participate in the General Mills Boxtops 4 Education program. Each boxtop from eligible General Mills products is worth 10 cents. General Mills issues a check to schools when they submit collected boxtops.  The maximum amount each school can earn is $10,000. No restrictions are imposed on schools for use of funds received through this program. School principals should contact General Mills at (888) 799-2444 or online at http://www.boxtops4education.com to register for participation in the program.


Technology4Kids, formerly A+America, was founded in 1993. They devote their efforts exclusively to helping K-12 schools earn much needed technology products and services. Parents, relatives, friends and co-workers simply select a school from the online database and shop online at over 200 e-Tailers or purchase products from In-Store Partners.


GreaterGood.com is an online shopping village with more than 70 leading online retailers that allows customers to donate five percent or more of every purchase to their selected 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization.  There is no additional cost to the customer or nonprofit to participate in this program.  


Your school receives generous rebates when you or your supporters shop at SchoolCash.com. In some cases, school supporters receive special discounts. There is a "No Purchase Necessary" department that allows schools to receive money as their supporters surf the net. 

To receive more information, visit www.schoolcash.com, send an email to help@schoolcash.com or call 1-800-688-6252


Schoolpop.com is an online shopping portal that allows shoppers to access a large number of popular retailers via their Web site.  Shoppers may designate a school to receive a percentage of the amount they spend (the average is 5%). Any K-12 public, private or parochial school that has a 501(c)(3) or 509(a)(1) nonprofit tax-exempt designation is eligible to participate. Schoolpop can be contacted by calling (650) 323-5670, emailing info@schoolpop.com, or by visiting http://www.schoolpop.com 

Target: Take Charge of Education/School Fundraising Made Simple

Target credit card users may designate registered schools to receive 1 percent of the value of all purchases made with their card.  Target, a discount department store chain, issues checks to schools twice a year.  Funds received through the program may be used however the schools wish.  Any K-12 public, private or parochial school that has a 501(c)(3) or 509(a)(1) nonprofit tax-exempt designation is eligible to participate.  School principals and credit card holders register to participate by calling (800) 316-6142 or visiting http://www.target.com.  

Registered schools are also eligible to participate in Target's Teacher Scholarship program that supports continuing education for K-12 teachers.  Target will award two scholarships per Target store at $500 each, as long as there are at least two qualified applicants per store. Target will also award 96 Target district awards at $1,500 each. Awards are to be used for tuition and fees and other education-related expenses for continuing education course(s). (The program is not available in Alaska,  Hawaii, Puerto Rico or outside the U.S.). 

Target also offers scholarships to well-rounded high school seniors and college students (under age 24) who are committed to community service, education and family involvement.

Tyson's Project A+

Tyson Foods is demonstrating its commitment to education through Project A+.  All you have to do is register your school for the program, then encourage your students, their parents and others in the community to clip and save Project A+ redemption panels from boxes of Tyson Chicken Patties, Chunks, Tenders and Fillets (all varieties). Set up a collection point at your school where the Project A+ panels can be deposited. Then redeem them for cash (20¢ each) from Tyson.

Funds earned, up to $10,000 per school, can be used in any way your school chooses.  

Visit Tyson's Project A+ site at http://www.tyson.com/projectaplus/ where you'll find everything you need to establish a program at your school. You can also call them, 1-800-233-6332, if you need more information.

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Tips from SchoolGrants readers:
The following tip was included in the 2/01/2004 issue of SchoolGrants Biweekly Newsletter:

SchoolGrants recognizes that grants are not the only way for schools to increase funding levels. In fact, it is important to have a well-rounded plan that includes other fundraising activities besides simply relying on grants which come with many strings attached and are very time-consuming to prepare and manage. For this reason, on a semi-regular basis, alternative fundraising ideas are presented in SBN. If you have a fundraising idea that you’d like to share with your colleagues, I’d appreciate hearing from you! You can always contact me by completing the Comments form.

A New Use for Empty Coffee Cans

Have you considered using empty coffee cans to help raise money for your school? Collect empty coffee cans, decorate them with your school colors, and place them at the checkout counter of local merchants. To increase donations, include the school name and a very brief description of how the collected funds will be used: “For a safe, updated playground” or “Help our band compete in National Competition.”


This fundraising method does not cost the merchant anything and in fact, helps it show support for the local school.

Decorating the cans can be a class project or a before- or after-school activity. Students become an active part in the fundraising effort without having to go door-to-door. Creative teachers can use the activity to teach economic lessons.

100% of the profits go to the school or classroom.

No door-to-door sales which has become a safety concern and no pressure on parents to sell often unwanted items to friends and colleagues.

Recycles used coffee cans.


Donations need to be picked up, counted and deposited into the bank on a weekly basis.

Chance of theft.

Gift Baskets and Silent Auction

Tammy Spiegel in Wisconsin shares this tip with the SchoolGrants community about a successful fundraiser developed by the PK-12 school-parent group to raise funds to update their playground. The PK-12 school serves a total population of approximately 400 students. There are 11 elementary classes.

"We assigned all of the elementary classes a theme such as gardening, movie night, fishing and so on. Each class was given a box with the theme printed on the side. A note was then sent home asking the parents and students to please donate something in keeping with the theme of their child's class. The donations came slow at first but by the time that our deadline arrived we had so many things.

Our parent group then collected all of the items and arranged them into gift baskets according to the theme. Some of the classes donated so much that we ended up with several baskets for a theme! Our parent group got together on a Saturday and made the baskets beautiful and ready for sale at our elementary winter concert.

Now keep in mind that we are a PK-12 school of approximately 400 students total and we only had donations from the 11 elementary classes. We had 33 baskets for sale by silent auction and we raised $1400 dollars! Not too shabby for a small school. Not to mention it enabled us to involve the students in raising funds for their playground. We are very proud of their efforts and the support of the community."

Tammy - thank you so much for sharing this great tip!!

Penny Drive
Each year, Cedar Ridge in Waco, Texas has a penny drive where classes compete against each other to raise money. The winning class gets a pizza party. This year the goal was $2000.00 dollars and they raised $2000.10. The classes all enjoy the competition and raise money at the same time!

Thanks to Lola Montgomery for sharing this tip!!

Penny Power!
I lost my art room due to increased student enrollment at the beginning of this school year.  I was told that a modular unit would be ready within two weeks, then October, then Jan. 1, by March Ist I was so distressed because I was working out of the teacher's bathroom.  I sent a letter home to see if I could raise $300 for a cart to make it easier to carry supplies. My goal was if each child brought in 100 pennies ($1) I would have enough money, so off I 
went collecting pennies. My original goal was to be met in two weeks, but I stopped it after 1 week because I collected 190,000 pennies. Yes, $1900+ in just one week!

Thanks to Kristine Hagy for sharing this tip!!

Crossroads Christian School in Portland, Oregon Shares:

Crossroads Christian School in Portland has about 195 students and uses a variety of fundraisers to help provide programs for their students.  Thanks a million to Michelle for sharing these very successful ideas!!

  1. SCRIP Program:  This program involves selling cards and certificates, mainly to parents and church members.  With the help of several dedicated parents, the school averages between $2,000 and $4,000 in sales each week which nets $100 to $200 for the school.  (Around Christmas-time, sales were as high as $7,000 per week.)  

    The way the SCRIP program is run involves using several techniques.  Gift cards are purchased at discounts that range from 1% to 12%.  Net proceeds from the sale of the cards at full price return to the school.  

    Gift certificates for activities such as dining out are sold.  For instance, one restaurant sells gift certificates to the school at 50% of their cost which are sold at face value.  

    The school also takes advantage of the Target credit card program and the Albertson's Community Partner Card program. By charging the cards that are sold through the SCRIP program, the school receives a discount for the purchase.

  2. Box Top program:  A dedicated supporter oversees the school's Box Top program that nets about $500 per year.

  3. Candy sale:  This popular program nets the school anywhere from $5,500 to $9,000 per year.

  4. Auction:  The school conducts an annual auction.  This year they raised $22,000 for programs at their school.  Last year, the auction brought in $13,000.

Thanks again to Michelle for sharing fundraising methods used by Crossroads Christian School!  

Spring In to Art at Oak Mtn. Elementary- Shelby County, Alabama

Our annual fundraiser is called " Spring In to Art" . It's a fun-filled day of hands-on crafts and carnival booths. We ask each class to donate a craft item. We have built up a supply closet full of craft supplies that help out the following year. Community support is what makes it happen. Tile contractors will donate extra tile and the children paint them as tile trivets. We have sand art in baby food jars, etc... each year it is new crafts. We requested each class send in as many stuffed animals as possible. We had an adoption critter center. The Humane Society had a booth next to it for educational purposes. A Silent Auction with donations from community businesses drew in a large crowd. Our event cleared $12,900.  The kids loved it. It was a family event. We loved seeing families having fun for a good cause.

Dawn Thornton
Spring In to Art

Dawn has generously offered to provide more details about their Spring In to Art fund-raiser if you wish to institute a similar program at your school. You may contact her at cthorntond@aol.com.

Mrs. Mary Ann Crow wrote to us about a project that she used to raise funds for the German Club's Oktoberfest celebration:

In November, Mrs. Crow and thirty-three students in her German Club began using an AVON fund-raiser in her classroom. Within two weeks of inception, seventeen participants sold $975 worth of products from Avon's Inspirational Christmas Treasures brochure - resulting in $390 for the class to use for their planned Oktoberfest celebration! Orders were paid for in advance so the club simply paid Avon 60% for the products and kept the remaining 40% for their activities. The students were given the opportunity to compete for several small incentive prizes, paid for through the earnings from the fundraiser, to encourage higher sales. 

For more information on Mrs. Crow's project, contact her at chelsey@ndak.net or visit http://expage.com/page/orderavon 

From Faith Christian School, Atlanta, here are all sorts of ideas schools can use and/or adapt for fund raising:: 
yard sales can recycling
a thrift store that sells jeans, tee shirts, baby  stuff 
Artist could:
  • draw caricatures of the students 
  • paint faces
  • create sports and other popular figure designs
  •  hold an art day. 
Offer community education classes at reasonable prices:
  • Basic Spanish
  • Basic French 
  • Nursing assistance
  • Basic Internet access such as email and Web surfing 
  • Basic anger and/or anxiety management courses
Offer student art or musicals for sale via the Internet or on a CD


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Here's a fun site that has lots of fund-raising ideas:  Fund-Raising.com  Ideas that have worked for others are posted to a bulletin board on the site and are archived at regular intervals. Go see what has worked for others! In addition to the  "idea banks", this site also offers fundraising ideas and an Idea Bank Newsletter via e-mail.

Earn Technology for Your School!
ETCEP (Educational Technology Conservation Exchange Program) encourages learning institutions across the country to collect empty laser and inkjet printer cartridges from their communities. These include cartridges consumed in both homes and businesses. Collected cartridges earn points, which are then exchanged for new computer technology. In this way ETCEP connects community, education and the environment!


The FundingFactory.com site provides fund-raising programs that increase student and teacher access to technology products - including computers and software.

Shoppers Can Help Schools Without Spending More Money

There are, of course, ways to raise money for schools besides through grant writing efforts. An easy way, that requires little administrative work by the schools or school volunteers, is to encourage shoppers to sign up for store “club cards.” Consumers link their cards to their favorite school – and every time they spend using the card, a small percentage is donated the school.

The Arizona Republic published several different businesses that offer such programs in Arizona. These or similar programs may be available in your area as well.

Target’s Take Charge of Education program donates 1% of Target Visa and Target Guest Card purchases made at Target and target.com, and ½% of Target Visa purchases made elsewhere, to the eligible K-12 school of the guest’s choice. 

Bashas' “Thanks a Million” program donates to one percent of every Thank You Card purchase to schools, churches and other nonprofit groups, up to $2,500. The program will run from September 1, 2003 – April 30, 2004.

Fry’s Food & Drug Stores donates to schools through its V.I.P. Cool Cash program. For every $50,000 in purchases credited to a school, $500 is donated. Individual schools can earn up to $2,000 through this program. Purchases made through March 28 qualify. To learn more about the program, call 1-800-828-5235 or go to http://www.frysfood.com/savings_schoolprograms.htm.

Safeway gives approximately $20 million to education each year. It will donate as much as 3% of a customer’s purchases to the designated school or group.

Albertson’s Community Partners Card is a simple and innovative fund-raising program for community organizations. Check for details at your local Albertson’s store.

Tom Thumb’s Good Neighbor Program offers its customers a way to direct the company’s donation dollars to their favorite church, school or other non-profit organization. Since 1996, Randalls and Tom Thumb have donated more than $20 million to over 7500 participating organizations. 

Randalls offers its customer’s the opportunity to direct its contributions by designating a local church, school or other nonprofit organization to his or her Remarkable card. 

Check out grocery and department stores in your local area to see if they have similar programs to the ones listed above. This is an easy way for a school to earn cash that can be spent with no strings attached.
(excerpted from the 9/15/2003 SchoolGrants Biweekly Newsletter.)

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