4 Creative School Fundraising Ideas to Appeal to Parents

When it comes to fundraising for schools, many organizations focus on hosting events that appeal to students. While there are merits to that strategy, we can’t forget that at the end of the day, the individuals who are donating their hard-earned money are the parents. That’s why it’s important to host fundraisers that are appealing to parents now and then, whether that’s a raffle or a wine tasting.

However, if you’re used to organizing events for students, it can be difficult to come up with fundraising ideas that target a different audience. Not to worry—this guide will give you a great jumping-off point by covering four creative fundraising ideas that appeal to parents. With these ideas in mind, you’ll be better prepared to host events that generate the fundraising revenue you desire.

1. Auctions and Raffles

Auctions and raffles are a tried-and-true fundraising vehicle for all types of organizations. The key to engaging parents’ interest in these events is to offer prizes that specifically appeal to them. Consider the following types of prizes:

  • Spa and wellness trips. Parenting is an extremely stressful task, which is why relaxation-themed prizes are sure to be popular. Raffle or auction off tickets for free spa trips or massages so parents can take some time to pamper themselves. Plus, they won’t have to worry about massage billing costs.
  • Home appliances. Make parents’ lives easier by offering high-end home appliances in your raffles and auctions. This includes high-tech refrigerators, robotic vacuum cleaners, energy-efficient coffee makers, and more.
  • Tech gadgets. Allow parents to upgrade their cell phones or laptops by including the newest models in your prize list. You can also include tablets, smartwatches, or even gaming consoles.

The best part of auctions and raffles is that they don’t need to be standalone events—you can include them as part of another event, such as a gala or school carnival. This allows you to fundraise more during a single event.

2. Dine-Out Events

About 65% of parents and guardians are classified as lonely, 10% more than adults without children. Plus, 42% of parents report a strong sense of feeling left out. Combat parental loneliness and fundraise for your school by selling tickets to dine-out events.

Through these events, you’ll give parents a chance to socialize with one another, allowing them to form connections with one another that may develop into long-lasting friendships. Plus, you’ll be building up your community as a whole and strengthening its bonds.

Here are a few dine-out events you might consider hosting:

  • Brunch. Brunch is usually a leisurely affair, complete with alcoholic drinks, delicious food, and great conversation. This is the perfect dining event for parents looking to gather and get to know their peers.
  • Taste of the town. Instead of having a meal at one restaurant, invite parents to taste a variety of dishes from a few different dining establishments. Through this event, they’ll be able to try out restaurants they might not otherwise patronize and learn more about the culinary offerings of their community.
  • Wine tasting. While this isn’t technically a “dining” event, a wine tasting is a great way to engage parents with an activity they might not regularly do. Plus, you can host a wine tasting without having to book a restaurant—all you need to do is purchase the wine and a few hors d’oeuvres.

According to MassageBook, a great marketing strategy for new businesses is to partner with a larger organization to gain visibility. Leverage this principle by offering to host your event at new restaurants, helping them to gain more exposure among your parents while offering a fun environment for your event. Ask the restaurant if they could give you a discount on the meals purchased to make your event more enticing and cost-friendly for parents.

Or, you might even be able to request that the restaurant split the funds they earn from your group with your school. It’s a win-win: you get to generate more funds, and the restaurant benefits by promoting its food through you.

3. Parent Sports Tournaments

Another way you can get parents to socialize and fundraise is by hosting sports tournaments for them. This also allows them to relive their childhood days. Plus, it’s likely that you already own some or all of the equipment necessary, as your school undoubtedly offers physical education classes that use that equipment as well.

Here are a few sports you can consider hosting tournaments for:

  • Golf
  • Frisbee
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Dodgeball

Aside from selling tickets to participate in the tournament, Elevate Nonprofit advises that you increase your fundraising potential by soliciting sponsorships from local businesses. These businesses don’t need to relate to your event, but it’s recommended that they have some form of tie-in. For example, a local massage business could be a great sponsor, as they can provide services to relieve the sore muscles parents might experience after your tournament.

Make partnerships enticing by offering benefits to your sponsor. For instance, in exchange for donating funds to your school, you could include your sponsor’s branding and logo on your event marketing materials to help them reach your community. Or, you could shout them out on your school’s social media and tag their account for increased digital exposure.

4. Virtual Classes and Workshops

For schools that are interested in virtual fundraising opportunities, look no further than online classes and workshops. This type of event allows parents to develop skills in a fun and structured way, typically at a lower cost than if they were to seek out these classes on their own. Plus, virtual events are more convenient for parents, as they won’t have to commute anywhere to attend.

Generate revenue for your school by having parents purchase tickets to attend your classes or workshops. Popular classes you can offer include:

  • Cooking
  • Fitness
  • Yoga
  • Photography
  • Gardening
  • Dance
  • Technology

To keep your costs down for this event, consider enlisting teachers to serve as instructors. For example, your school’s physical education teacher would be a great choice for fitness and yoga classes.

To maximize revenue and ensure your event goes smoothly, be sure to choose the right digital event platform. We recommend using Zoom for your classes, as it allows both your instructor and students to appear via video camera, resulting in a more engaging experience. Be sure to test your video equipment and software beforehand to avoid any technical issues during the event.

And there you have it—four fun school fundraising ideas that appeal to parents! If you’re not sure which idea will appeal most to your community, consider sending out surveys to parents that ask what type of events they’d be most interested in. Just remember that much like any other fundraising event, you must conduct thorough marketing to generate excitement and increase registrations. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your fundraising efforts are a success.


Al McDonald is the Chief Product Officer for TravelPledge and author of the e-book “The Definitive Guide to Silent Auction Fundraisers.” Al has helped thousands of nonprofits exceed their auction goals through auction item procurement and advice. Al understands that successful auctions are hard work and is committed to delivering practical advice that will move the needle for you today.

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