3 High School Fundraising Ideas to Involve Students and Keep Within Budget

Fun giveaways like eco-friendly pens or pencils are a great way to remind others that an event is coming up.

High school can be an exciting time, full of new experiences and lifelong friendships. For many schools, fundraising is a necessary tool to meet budget requirements for their various sports teams and extracurricular events. School fundraising ideas are widely available and as unique as each individual in the student body, and with a bit of creative thinking and organization, your efforts to raise funds can turn into a great success.

Out with the Ordinary

Almost everyone has had an experience with a student knocking at the door and offering candy bars, wrapping paper, or small gifts for sale. Although these may provide students with a sense of ownership in the fundraising process, it lacks variety, and many times a portion of the money raised goes right back to the company which provided the items for sale.

Rather than trying several fundraisers a year, why not just plan two larger events and focus on the details of something more extraordinary? This doesn’t mean there can’t be a bake sale thrown in here and there, only that focusing energy on larger efforts may result in greater gains.

Community-wide spring sale

This could go one of two ways. Ask students to donate gently used toys, clothes, and household items in January so that everything is sorted and priced by springtime. Students would do the legwork in order to make this happen, and then hold the sale on school grounds. The other option is to provide tables to members of the community for a rental fee, and allow them to bring their own items to sell in the space that has been allotted to them. Be sure to communicate to every participant they will be responsible for setting up and cleaning up their area once the event is over.

Gift-in-a-Jar sale

There are many ideas for Mason jar gifts, including chili and soup, dessert mixes, and snacks. If you have the time and effort to host a fundraiser like this, students would take orders for the jars, then assemble and deliver them to customers. Ideas for the mixes can be found on a variety of social media sites and DIY blogs.


Combine a meal or cookout with an auction of sorts where students are bid on, and then used to complete tasks like yard work and simple chores. Make sure bidders are prepared with a writing utensil they’re free to take when the event has ended. Consider imprinted plastic pens with the name of your cause written on it to remind bidders the real reason they’re participating. You can also have students sell coupons for their services, and then follow through with chores like cleaning, tidying up an unorganized closet, or baby-sitting for an evening.

Past efforts within your high school may also point to resources which can be utilized for the current season. Speak with staff members and administrators to see what has been done in the past and how it was received by the community.

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Steps to a Successful Fundraiser

High school fundraising ideas are plentiful, but they are more successful if there is a detailed plan. This way, everyone knows what’s expected next and can take ownership for his or her part. This includes creating a budget, offering incentives, and encouraging involvement from other adults.


Someone should be responsible for creating a detailed budget, which would include how much is available to spend and how much needs to be raised. This is a good time to ask parents what resources they have available so that as little as possible is spent in preparation. The more parents and community members involved, the greater the combination of talents and ideas. In addition to a budget, someone should be responsible to keep good financial records of each expense and incoming funds.


People will get excited about fundraisers if they have plenty of time to think about them and if an incentive is offered as a type of invitation beforehand. Fun giveaways like eco-friendly pens or pencils are a great way to remind others that an event is coming up. These types of inexpensive promotional products also make great thank-you gifts for individuals who donate time or resources. Practical and inexpensive they also serve as small tokens of gratitude with a personal touch.


Someone who has connections in the community would be a great recruit for contacting local businesses to secure donations, space, or simply to ask for ideas. It may be a challenge to find people willing to participate, but with some creative recruiting, excited parents and staff members will be willing to jump in with both feet. You may want to form smaller groups of committees who focus on things like decorations, food and beverages, and follow-up with donors.

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Implementing Your Creative Ideas

There are so many ideas, it may be difficult to narrow it down to just a few per year. But focusing on 2 or 3 really effective methods, rather than several less effective ones, allows organizers to save their energy for the most important tasks. This is where a committed team can serve as a helpful resource; when several people work together, they each contribute their gifts and energy in more equal amounts.

Throughout the fundraising process, the obvious focus should be on the students. Are they involved and excited, or is it only the adults who seem to care? Have the students been given ownership during the process? If they feel like they have a role to play, they will be more willing to participate and contribute ideas. Outlining a budget and coming up with innovative ideas are all part of the process. Just like in the classroom, students can benefit from caring adults who trust them to do a job well done.