10 winter fundraising ideas for schools

Winter may not seem like the best time for a fundraiser, but the weather should not limit a school's ability to raise funds.

Note: With all of these events, profits can be maximised by informing students and parents of where their money will end up – new library resources, new gymnasium, improved playgrounds, etc.

1. Night at the movies

Invite students and their families to bring beanbags, pillows and picnic rugs to your school hall for a night at the movies.

Hold separate sessions and movies for different age levels (think about separating junior, middle and senior schools). This will increase interest as you can tailor your movie to the age group, and hopefully boost ticket sales.

Hiring a screen, projector and speakers will add a professional feel to the night. You could also ask local businesses to sponsor the night in return for advertising before the movie and on the tickets.

Check copyright laws at copyright.org.au before screening movies. You may need to apply for a co-curricular licence to screen a movie for a non-educational purpose.

Value add: Sell popcorn, snacks, glow sticks, drinks or school products at the event.

2. Special lunch days

Selling special lunches or snacks to replace students’ boring, repetitive lunchbox staples can be very popular, especially if you sell the right thing.

Winter specialties should be high on your list of foods to sell – think along the lines of hot chocolates, soups and pancakes. Don't reject the classics out of hand. School kids still love pizzas, pies and sausage sizzles.

Ask teachers, parents and students to help prepare and sell the treats.

Give plenty of notice about the event and ensure you advertise with posters around the school.

Value add: Combine the special lunch with another fundraiser, such as the 'Guess How Many' fundraising idea at #6.

3. Money trail

Encourage students to bring coins to school to see which class can build the longest money trail along the floor of a hall or corridor.

Reward the classes with the longest and highest value trails with a prize.

Mark guide-lines along whichever ground you choose to use – a length of masking tape works perfectly. This will keep the coin line straight and avoid any controversy.

Value add: Make it a uniform-free day for students who donate $2 or more.

4. Video game tournament

Set up a knockout tournament for students to compete against one another in a console video game, using any games console available (checking classification of games is a must).

Collect entry fees from students, draw up a tournament, set up a console and television (or projector if one is available) and let the students compete against one another.

Depending on what games are available, a 2vs2 competition could also be organised. To really excite students, get a couple of teachers to sign up – students like nothing more than beating their teachers.

Think about holding the championship match where students can watch and cheer on. Provide prizes for the winner and runner-up.

Value add: Depending on the popularity of this fundraiser it might be possible for you to repeat it regularly to encourage friendly competition between students.

5. Winter disco

Sell tickets to a ‘winter disco’ in a school hall, where students can dance the night away with their friends.

Hire a DJ or get a music-savvy parent to organise a playlist of music, ask students to help set up food, drinks and decorations beforehand, and ensure a few teachers are on hand to chaperone the night.

Discos will work best when organised for a single year-level or similar year levels.

Value Add: Ask parents or students to donate food or drinks to cut costs for the school.

6. Guess how many

An entire jar of any lolly tends to excite students – and most adults.

Purchase enough of the same lollies to fill a jar, count all of the lollies, fill a jar with all the lollies, and then sell students ‘guesses’ of how many lollies are in the jar.

Charge a small amount for guesses, and give yourself a long enough timeframe to sell as many guesses as possible.

Small lollies are preferred – the more there are the harder it will be for students to guess.

Value add: When selling guesses encourage students to spend more by offering deals on multiple guesses; e.g. 1 guess = $1, 5 guesses = $4.

7. Board game tournament

Much like the Console Tournament at #4, a board game tournament will allow your school to run a low-cost fundraiser.

Students will need to pay an entry fee to play against one another in a knockout tournament of Connect Four, chess, checkers or any other board game.

If the game is a relatively quick one, make it a best-out-of-three event to maximise the value for money.

Think about holding the championship games where many students can watch and cheer, and provide prizes for winners and runners-up.

Value add: Organise junior, senior and teacher competitions, then pit the three winners against one another to decide on a school champion.

8. Winter favourites recipe book

A school recipe book is as simple as asking parents to send in their favourite winter recipes, compiling these recipes, publishing the book, and selling it to your local community.

While it is a simple fundraiser, printing costs can eat into your profits. One way to cover printing costs is to ask local shops to sponsor the printing in return for advertising space in the book.

Remember to shop around when looking for the best-priced printer, as printing will be the major cost .

Value add: Hold a special book launch party. Invite parents to cook their recipes and bring to the school for a taste-testing launch party. Charge attendees for entry and invite the local media to cover the event.

9. Art exhibition

Organise an art exhibition at your school to display winter-inspired art works from students in each year level.

Charge an entry fee for parents to come and see the artworks of their children and others in the school. Also include student musical performances to add to the atmosphere of the event.

Offer tea, coffee and biscuits for parents to encourage them to socialise with the school community.

Value add: Set up a table near the refreshments where parents can make gold coin donations to an upcoming school project. Also sell any available school products (clothing, recipe books, etc).

10. Wacky-dress day

Invite students to wear casual dress, crazy hairstyles, pyjamas or a loud shirt to school in return for a gold coin donation.

This fundraiser is a regular success because students love to ditch the uniform whenever possible.

This event is also handy because it is simple to organise, costs nothing and, depending on the theme, promotes fun and individuality.

Value add: This fundraiser can be held in conjunction with most other fundraisers, such as the special lunch day and money trail.

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