5 New Ways to Raise Money for Your School

If you're a fundraising volunteer, you'll definitely want to check out these fresh, fun ideas to raise money for your school.

If you’re a fundraising volunteer, parent, or teacher, you’ll definitely want to check out these fresh, fun ideas to raise money for your school.

By Christine Douglas, a Fundraising Co-Chair in San Mateo, Calif., with Laura Quaglio

fundraisingIf you’ve got kids, your kitchen counter is probably piled high with fundraising brochures for nuts, popcorn, wreaths, books, cookies, gift wrap, walk-a-thons, and the like. The more kids in the family, the more envelopes on the counter! As parents, we’re happy to support the programs that serve our children, but sometimes we (and our “buyers”) grow weary of the same merchandise year after year. Plus we’re often “competing” with families from nearby schools who may be selling similar items simultaneously. The key to success for your favorite program may lie in finding some truly unique and creative ideas for gathering donations.

As a fundraising volunteer for my school, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. Here are some fresh fundraisers that are empowered by Web technologies and innovative companies. Suggest them to your favorite fundraising committee this year, and you just might earn the title of fundraising superhero.

Schoola1. Schoola

Here’s a fundraiser that doesn’t require parents to buy anything. In fact, it is all about “recycling” pre-loved women’s and childrens’ clothes! Schoola collects these items through the schools, then markets them on their website. After the items are sold, Schoola gives 40% of the funds back to the school.

Why I love it: Schoola offers online tracking of donations and sales. They also offer free pick-up and/or shipping. Your organization receives quarterly checks, and a fundraising “coach” is available throughout the process to answer any questions along the way.

sh_mark_green2. Shoparoo

This is a free app for iPhone or Android devices that allows parents to earn cash for their kid’s school — and doesn’t cost them an extra dime. Parents simply download the Shoparoo app and use it to photograph their shopping receipts. The greater the number of receipts they photograph, the more money the school earns.

Shoparoo was founded by former teachers and retail executives, who found this unique way to connect brand-name companies with market research by providing the company with helpful data in the form of these register receipts. Parents love that it’s anonymous — Shoparoo shares the purchase information in the form of summaries but doesn’t pass along personal details.

Why I love it: It’s an app, so it’s always easy for parents to use anywhere, anytime. I also love finding fundraisers that don’t cost parents anything to participate, because we all need a break! Over 10,000 U.S. schools are earning hundreds to thousands of dollars per year with this app.

ActivityHero Logo3. ActivityHero

School is out of session for roughly 80 weekdays each year, leaving many parents actively seeking camps and classes to enrich their kids’ lives and entertain them during vacations and breaks. Now, with ActivityHero Fundraising Affiliates, all those activity registrations can generate funds for your children’s school!

ActivityHero lists tons of different camps, after school classes, and activities. Parents use the ActivityHero website or app to find activities they like. Then every time a parent registers their child for one of those activities, ActivityHero makes a donation to the child’s school.

Why I love it: Camps and classes are usually larger purchases, so the donations add up quickly! Also, it’s really easy to run this fundraiser; all you have to do is spread the word. Bonus: ActivityHero will even help you create bilingual flyers if you need them.

oubly_logo4. Oubly

Oubly is a printing company that creates beautifully crafted cards, stationery, business cards, canvas items, and printed materials for special occasions. Their paper options and packaging are especially elegant. When parents order cards or canvas prints from Oubly, they input a special code and the company donates 20% back to their chosen school.

Once your school’s fundraising chairperson registers the school online, they’ll receive brochures to distribute to parents explaining the process. At month’s end, the school receives the donation money via check.

Why I love it: This program is so easy to implement, and it offers products to families that they’re often purchasing anyhow. It also offers two things I look for in a fundraiser: It doesn’t require much time on the part of fundraising volunteers, and it saves families money. It also offers schools a bigger percentage of the sales than do programs from some other similar companies.

Mabel's Labels5. Mabel’s Labels

Mabel’s Labels can help schools in two ways: First, the program sells labeling supplies to parents, who can use them to ID kids’ jackets, lunchboxes, shoes, sports gear, and other items. This can make it easier for kids to retrieve items from the school’s Lost and Found. Second, when parents purchase these labelling products, the school earns up to 20% of the total.

Why I love it: Mabel’s Labels are easy to use (just peel and stick), and they’re made to endure the rigors of the washer/dryer, dishwasher, and microwave. And if they help kids keep track of their items, they may even save parents some money in the long run!

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