School fundraising

How to Master School Fundraising and Actually Make Money

20 May, 2019
Kathleen Morris Avatar
Kathleen Morris
Primary School Teacher
How to Master School Fundraising and Actually Make Money

All teachers, parents and administrators want the best possible education for their students. No matter which way you look at it, quality education costs money. Lots of it!

Of course, all schools receive funds from the government and to a varying degree – through parent contributions. But there is a universal theme in all schools – this funding falls short of what’s needed to help students flourish academically, physically, socially and emotionally.

Fundraising often fills this gap in school budgets but it’s not as easy as it seems. Do you sometimes feel like you’re working harder than ever to raise funds but you’re not making nearly enough to tick off everything on your school’s wish (or need) list?

Or perhaps those around you are facing fundraiser burnout – a common complaint from teachers and parents who groan at the thought of helping with yet another labour intensive, time-consuming, expensive fundraiser. Sometimes, even an enormous amount of effort just doesn’t pay off financially. There must be a better way to fundraise.

While there are certainly disadvantages to the traditional fundraiser, there are advantages too. This article goes through all these and looks at how schools can actually make money from fundraising without burdening parents or asking more of teachers. That’s what we all want, right?

What are the most profitable fundraising ideas for primary schools and high schools right now? Let’s find out!

The Importance of Fundraising

You probably know fundraising is important to fill a gap in school budgets but you might not realise what a huge role it plays in schools nationwide.

The ‘State of the Our Schools’ survey commissioned by the Australia Education Union unveiled some startling facts about school funding:

In short, there is an ongoing need for additional funds in nearly all schools.

Fundraising is important. Teachers already work very hard for the sake of their students. No one would expect teachers to spend their own money to provide school resources, yet a well-resourced classroom can make a big difference to the quality of education on offer.

The Traditional Model of Fundraising


Traditional school fundraising relies on the manpower of committees and generosity of parents.

A lot of work is involved, whether you’re running a school fete, car wash fundraiser, chocolate drive, dress up day, readathon, colour run, trivia night, or any other creative event.

Funds raised from these events might supplement classroom resources or school infrastructure. Things like books, teaching aids, technology, library resources, furniture, playgrounds, heating/cooling, and sports equipment need updating or replenishing constantly.

At other times, a special fundraiser is needed for a school trip, debate club, swimming team, or cheerleading squad.

In most schools, fundraising is a necessity but how you go about it is a choice.

What are the most successful school fundraisers you’ve seen lately? Perhaps they’re different to typical models you’d see earlier in the century.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of different models of fundraising.

The advantages of traditional fundraising

Ferris Wheel.jpg Fundraising brings members of school communities together and this is important.

Scientific research shows that having a connection to something bigger than ourselves makes us happier and healthier. For many, this is being part of a school community.

Similarly, fundraising events create a sense of purpose for volunteers. There’s a growing body of research that shows having a sense of purpose is a strong predictor of happiness, a powerful antidote to chronic disease and even the key to living a longer life!

Community events can allow the whole school to have fun and connect while raising funds. It makes for a happier and healthier community.

Some parents also find working on fundraising committees is a great way to learn new skills; they might even be able to add these experiences to their CV. Students can learn a lot of practical skills from being involved in the process too.

All that is a huge plus for hosting fundraisers. Stuck for traditional fundraising ideas for your primary school or high school? This list might help. GRAPHIC_40-Fun-School Fundraising-Ideas-SkoolBag.png

The disadvantages of traditional fundraising

While there’s lots to be enjoyed with a traditional approach to fundraising, it’s important to weigh up both sides of the equation. Let’s explore some of the downsides of the traditional fundraiser.

Parents are busier than ever. Many work full time while raising children and juggling all sorts of additional responsibilities. All parents want to support their child’s school, but it often just comes down to a matter of time. There are not enough hours in the day! And for many families, there are financial restrictions as well.

It’s not just parents who are busier than ever. The majority of teachers are run off their feet. A survey of 18,000 New South Wales public school teachers showed that teachers are working an average of 54 hours per week and that number is increasing.

In another large Victorian study, 90% of teachers indicated that their workload has had a negative effect on their teaching at some stage. Ouch! What good is a well-resourced classroom with overworked teachers? We want teachers to be able to focus on their core business of teaching and learning. Chasing up fundraising slips, organising flyers, or ringing around for donations is not the best use of their time. So, what’s the answer? Luckily, there are ways to raise funds to supplement school budgets without asking more of busy teachers and parents.

A Better Approach to School Fundraising

school-fundraising-hands.jpg Many schools are looking for fundraising ideas that:

Think of the regular supermarket campaigns where parents can collect stickers or tokens with their weekly shop to earn equipment for their school. These are hugely popular. Why? Parents can help with minimal effort – they’re already doing a regular shop and just need to remember to collect their tokens and drop them off. All schools need to do is register, promote the event and redeem their equipment. It’s an easy win!

The good news is, you don’t need to rely on big corporations for more of these easy wins.

Schools can raise funds with the help of local businesses using the SkoolBag app. You now have the option to set up a Business Listings section in your app, and display Sponsor Banners in the footers of posts.

These new SkoolBag features are 100% optional but they can be a powerful part of your school fundraising strategy.

Why Would You Want to Promote Businesses in Your App?

There are two main reasons why schools would want to promote businesses on their SkoolBag app: to show support to local businesses or as a way to raise funds.

Let’s take a look at these two options.

1) Support local businesses

There might be some local or parent-run businesses that are happy to support your school. This could be ongoing support or a one-off. For example:

To show your appreciation of these businesses, you can display their details in your Business Directory within the SkoolBag app. If you wish, you could also show Sponsor Banners throughout the app.

2) Raise funds for your school

You can also charge local businesses a fee to have their Sponsor Banner displayed on your SkoolBag app.

The cost for the business and the duration of how long the Sponsor Banner will be displayed on your app is completely up to you. You could negotiate these details with each business or have set packages they could sign up for (e.g. one month = x amount, six months = x amount).

The advantage of setting up a Business Directory within SkoolBag is that you’re in complete control. You decide what businesses you’re happy to promote, where it will be seen, and for how long.

An active Business Directory can complement your traditional school fundraising events and get you closer to your funding goals.

How to Use Business Directory: A New Option for Fundraising

GRAPHIC-Business-Directory Fundraising-SkoolBag.png

As we saw, Business Directory is a unique SkoolBag feature that allows schools to highlight any business within their app.

SkoolBag has always been committed to not including external advertising within the enewsletter or app platform, however, that doesn’t mean you should miss out on the benefits of supporting your own trusted businesses.

There are two ways you can use the Business Directory to promote businesses of your choice:

  1. Business Listings: A businesses’ logo and details are promoted in a Business Directory section of your app.
  2. Sponsor Banners: A businesses’ details show up at the footer of posts within your app. If you have a number of businesses, they’ll be seen on a rotating basis.

This video walks SkoolBag users through the process of setting up their Business Directory.

Tips for Promoting Your Traditional Fundraiser

Working with trusted businesses can really help boost your school’s income, however, most schools also like to enjoy the benefits of some traditional fundraisers.

Whether you’re running a golf day, food fair, or movie night, don’t forget to use Skoolbag to its full potential to streamline communication.

How can SkoolBag amplify your school fundraisers?

Start building excitement for your fundraiser with a launch in your school Newsletter and app. You can then share regular updates through these channels in the weeks leading up to the event.

The SkoolBag calendar allows your community to see when fundraising events are coming up. They can then sync these dates to their own calendars.

Fundraisers can involve a lot of organising and sometimes you need regular communication with smaller Content Groups – e.g. a fundraising committee, sports team, a year level or music group.

Within the app, you can send notifications to these content groups (or the whole school community). Notifications can be posted by Group Managers. These can be teachers, parents or other members of the school community.

You can also schedule reminder notifications on the day of your fundraiser to help busy families. Using features in the SkoolBag app, schools can promote their traditional fundraisers in order to boost participation and achieve the best possible results.

Mix Old and New: Reap the Rewards

What’s your current approach to school fundraising? Is it generating the funds you need? Is it asking too much of parents, financially or physically? Is it overburdening busy teachers?

Perhaps it’s time to consider a unique approach to fundraising: prioritise some key community events and supplement these with sponsorship from local businesses.

After all, fundraising isn’t about the money. It’s about boosting student achievement, providing equal opportunity for all, bringing the community together and investing in the next generation.

Fundraising is important. Let’s do it well!

Kathleen Morris Avatar
Kathleen Morris
Primary School Teacher

Kathleen is a Victorian primary school teacher. She’s been blogging about educational technology since 2008 and has a particular interest in digital citizenship, global collaboration, information literacy, parent communication, and educational blogging. Follow Kathleen’s blog at and connect with her on Twitter @kathleen_morris

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