We know, we know: The last thing you need is another bucket of cookie dough, and the kids have tossed back enough chocolate almonds to keep them hopped up for a month. Fundraising has become as much a part of school life as homework. The good news: The best money-raising ideas actually build a sense of community, as well as providing ready cash for school extras. Here are some fun and easy ways to get everyone involved:
Community game night Charge an entry fee for an evening of board games, with juice and cookies and donated or inexpensive prizes. Set a time limit, then have everyone switch tables. If your crowd is competitive, keep score and crown a champ. Tip: Make sure the games are age-appropriate, and opt for old favourites like Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders that most families already know how to play.
Dine the world Ask each family for a potluck dish consistent with their heritage and serve the offerings at a large community dinner in the school gym. Parents will happily pay for a night of dining and dishing with other families. Tip: Allo-cate salads, main courses and desserts by grade to ensure you’re not overloaded in one category.
Our school’s got talent Auction or raffle the skills of parents at your school. Artists can provide paintings; massage therapists could offer massages; stylists could flog haircuts; gourmet cooks could prepare dinners; and firefighters could offer personalized tours of the fire hall. Even kids can participate by offering coupons to wash cars, cut grass or do pet care. Tip: Offer examples of the range of skills you’re seeking or parents may tell you they have no talent.
A night at the museum Attract a crowd of doting moms and dads, grandparents and other relatives with a “best of” children’s art show. Teachers can set aside promising work through the year (with an eye to ensure each child is represented). The art should be nicely presented with a card listing the child’s name and the composition’s title. Charge admission and sell refreshments. Tip: To generate more earnings, sell calendars created with the kids’ art or auction off individual pieces. What parent wouldn’t spring for their child’s masterpiece?
Launch a star search Transform the gym or cafeteria into a club with a rented karaoke machine, table-and-chair groupings with tablecloths and tea-light candles, and pizza or cookies and juice, coffee and tea. Then sell tickets and sing your hearts out. Tip: Designate an emcee to keep things flowing and, as an additional fundraiser, ask for donations to get the principal or a favourite teacher to belt out a tune.
Flower power A spring plant sale is a good way to generate cash and cultivate your kid’s green thumb. Tip: The easiest way to do this is to request donations or order in bulk from a local nursery. But if the kids grow the plants from seeds, they will learn from the process and they’re more apt to badger their parents to buy some green goods.
Kids’ choice cookbook Collect recipes for a favourite snack, soup or salad, entree or dessert from each child at your school and compile them in a book for sale to parents. Kids will love sharing a favourite recipe, and parents will be grateful for the new menu ideas. Tip: Label recipes with the child’s name (Billy Miller’s Terrific Tacos). No child can resist seeing his name in print.