It’s time to put away the lottery tickets and forget about the home-bake sales. This year, why not try something a little different when it comes to raising much-needed funds for your school?
Put on a show
Fund-raising activities are a way of reaching out to the community for help, so it’s a nice idea to offer the community something in return. Putting on a show may involve a fair bit of effort and preparation, but this type of fund-raiser involves many students in a variety of learning activities and can often attract interest from local media too.
Best of all, they offer everyone involved some goal-oriented, real-world teaching and learning. School concerts, for instance, have always been a popular way of making full use of a school’s drama and music departments, but there are several other types of show which can bring in a crowd – and money.
One idea is to host a celebrity debate. Choose a topic which will appeal to current students and the wider community – “High school is the best time of your life”, for example – and then try to find at least two celebrities to oppose the students in a fun debate. Ideally, one of these should be an ex-student who has achieved some measure of fame, and another should be a prominent local personality; a sporting or media figure, or a high profile business figure from the district.
The debate’s tone should not be deadly serious, as the aim is to provide entertainment and to show off some talented and personable students. While only a handful of students will be taking part in the actual debate, others can be involved with designing flyers, making media contact, and managing the event.
Trivia nights can be massive fund-raisers, as a few little games and refreshments between rounds can supplement ticket sales. Prizes need to be provided by local businesses so there are no outgoing expenses for the school. This shouldn’t be a problem, though, as a surprising number of retailers may be happy to support the event in exchange for a share of sponsorship rights. A PowerPoint display, posters, or a leaflet on each table listing all sponsors is usually enough to reward those kind enough to support your venture.
This is a great way to involve the entire community in a fund-raising activity. Perhaps the best thing about an event of this sort, however, is that it shows everyone that learning is not only important, but that it can also be fun.
A third kind of show is to host an auction of student wares, where everything from artwork to delicious goodies can be offered up for bidding. As an added attraction, throw in a few willing students who are prepared to do some gardening or maintenance work for the highest bidder. As always, try to make the event entertaining and memorable so that attending parents do more than simply donate their money. With a few musical items and a wide range of goods on offer, parents should also be able to take away great memories of all the opportunities your school is providing for their young learners.
There are a few tried-and-true things which schools sell to parents, such as candles or cookies. It doesn’t really matter what you sell, but if your school is planning this sort of fund-raiser, the goods should be made by the students rather than provided by a wholesaler. Unique gift ideas are best. What can your students make which can’t be bought in stores and which show off their burgeoning skills?
One of the best things they can sell is their time. Small groups can arrange their own activities, such as car washes, shoe-shines or meal deliveries. Calling on your students’ ingenuity and organizational skills may inspire parents and others in the community to give generously.
Alternatively, host a major “garage sale” at your school, with numerous tables selling unwanted items which have been donated by local families. One person’s trash might just be someone else’s treasure.
For a one-of-a-kind sale, offer individual bricks or paving stones which can be engraved or painted with a person’s name and which will make up a special wall or walkway at the school. This kind of fund-raiser is especially effective with old students who would like their time at the school memorialised in some way.
An original idea which showcases the inventiveness of kids and the talents of teaching staff can be a real attention grabber for parents and local media. So take full advantage of fund-raising ventures. Use them as teaching opportunities and as a way to promote your school, and not just as tired old cash cows. The benefits of a little bit of effort and ingenuity will still be in place long after the money has been spent.