11 PTO Fundraising Ideas Your School Should Try Next

Parent/Teacher Organizations (PTOs) are an integral part of modern school structures. These groups are designed to get students, parents, and teachers more involved and engaged in school activities and functions.

They’re also in place to help schools raise more money for projects and often oversee school fundraising and auctions. PTO fundraisers are as commonplace at today’s schools as lockers, lunch lines, and spirit gear.

PTOs have become fundraising juggernauts, powering year-round revenue and enthusiasm for schools of all shapes and sizes. The most successful PTOs run multiple fundraisers every year.

To keep your PTO humming, we’ve put together top fundraising ideas from successful school organizations across the country. These ideas are sure to get your parents, teachers, students and volunteers ready to roll this school year!

Here are 11 PTO fundraising ideas your school should try next:

  1. Our Top PTO Fundraising Idea
  2. Easy PTO Fundraising Ideas
  3. Creative PTO Fundraising Ideas
  4. Affordable PTO Fundraising Ideas

Our Top PTO Fundraising Ideas

Idea #1: Auctions

School auctions are a go-to fundraising idea for good reason. They are full of great items, including:

  • Travel packages
  • Sports items
  • Student art
  • Health & Beauty
  • Entertainment
  • Dining packages

There are endless ideas for auction items that engage every kind of supporter. And, because auctions are exciting and competitive in nature – they are the perfect PTO fundraising idea to bring energy and camaraderie to your community.

In order to host a truly successful PTO fundraising auction, your team will need to have the right solutions in place.

This means having direct access to an online mobile bidding solution, which will help your nonprofit team monitor bids, check people in and out, organize winners and drive more revenue.


Idea #2: Raffles

Raffles might be a relative to the larger fundraising event, but they are no less charming and exciting. In fact, raffles can easily turn out to be more engaging than auctions because the winner is never truly known until the very end.

This uncertainty can lead to ticket-buying frenzy, last minute rushes, and even live appeals or cash grabs at the end.

So why do we love raffles? These events are typically smaller than a full-scale auction, which makes them easier to plan and set up. They can happen at any date or time and can even occur for more than a single day, which gives donors more chances to drop another ticket in the box.

Popular raffle baskets that drive bids and revenue include:

  • Date Night
  • Family Game Night
  • Staycation
  • Gift Cards
  • Craft Beer Baskets
  • Spirit Wear
  • Lottery Tickets

There are so many creative raffle basket ideas that can be whipped up in no time. You can even use spare items lying around your silent auction to package into baskets!

There are also unique raffle strategies you can try, such as Chinese Raffles and Penny Auctions to help drive more revenue and add the competitive giving element to your event. Afterall, there’s fun in fundraising!

Idea #3: Party Books

Want to get in on one of the hottest trends in school fundraising? It’s called The Party Book, and with OneCause, it’s incredibly easy to set up.

If you’re familiar with the sign-up parties typically sold at fundraising events, then you’ve got the idea – minus the costly gala!

The Party Book is truly a win-win for everyone: members of the school community have fun while getting to know each other better and the school receives 100% of the proceeds from the parties. These virtual fundraisers simplify fundraising and allow the school to extend its fundraising capabilities well beyond just one night of the year.

The trick to any great school or PTA fundraising ideas is generating increased engagement. Building stronger relationships between your school and its community is essential to creating year-round support. Here are a few of our favorite Party Book ideas:

  • End-of-the-Year Carnival
  • Gourmet Cooking Night
  • Parents-Only Night
  • Mom’s Margarita Night
  • Holiday Craft Day

Easy PTO Fundraising Ideas

Not all fundraisers have to take tons of time, resources, or planning. These are some of the easiest PTO fundraising ideas out there:

Idea #4: Penny Wars

Penny wars are a go-to for any PTO looking for a quick, easy way to bring in new donations without relying too heavily on parents. In fact, penny wars turn to the students for the actual donations, making it a fun, competitive game to play between classes in school. Here’s how it works:

  1. Each team – aka class at school – has its own jar that is set up in a public place
  2. Then, people can start dropping coins and dollars into the jars
  3. The room with the most amount of donations wins!

Plopping a few dimes or quarters into penny war jars is easy, exciting, and fun for students to participate in.

Idea #5: Coupon Books

Coupon books are a great fundraiser because they can be tied back to another very popular fundraising strategy – Peer-to-Peer (P2P) fundraising. This fundraising method relies on others to bring in donations and support through individual donation pages. With this fundraiser, students can sell coupon books to relatives, friends, and family for an even higher purse.

These are an easy fundraising because there are so many ways to get coupon books out the door, and many of them get easier and easier over time. Your students themselves can create free coupon books with vouchers like:

  • ‘One Clean Dishwasher’
  • ‘One Walked Dog’
  • ‘Peer Tutoring Session’
  • ‘Art Lessons’
  • ‘Car Wash’
  • ‘Week-of Lunch Packing’

Or, your team can partner with local businesses to include real coupons to these stores in your coupon book.

Creative PTO Fundraising Ideas

Whether you’ve never planned a school fundraiser before or if you’ve done it a hundred times, thinking of new, creative ideas isn’t always easy. Here are a few creative PTO fundraising ideas:

Idea #6: Theme Bake Sales

Bake sales are another tried-and-true staple of PTO fundraising. Adults and students alike can be busy in the kitchen whipping up some delightful treats. One way to take the traditional bake sale one step further, however, is to add a theme in there.

This can be anything from ‘Caribbean Delights’ to ‘All Chocolate Bake Sale’. Just remember to advertise well with parents and take any food allergies into account.

Unfortunately, hosting a theme bake sale won’t always get you the support or the number of donations as other ideas on this list. Bake sales (especially those tailored towards students) aren’t necessarily about making money.

They’re about creating a fun way to raise money, even just a few hundred dollars, during school hours and without excluding students themselves.

Idea #7: Pie-a-Teacher

While PTO fundraisers are often serious in nature, some can be downright silly. Pie-a-teacher is exactly what is sounds like. Students can pay for or bid on the opportunity to smash a delicious cream pie right in a teacher’s face.

This is truly a fun, creative way to put a child-friendly spin on other types of auctions.

This PTO fundraiser idea is perfect for a PTO that is looking to spice things up for their next fundraiser. It’s the perfect way to turn a field day, school assembly, or other gathering into a way to gather donations.

Here’s how these events work:

  • Kids buy tickets at school for a period of time leading up to the big moment, or
  • Sell them online via your online giving center
  • Create peer-to-peer fundraising pages to spur sales and increase reach
  • Have a booth at the event for walk-up ticket sales
  • Then grab the teacher (s) and let the pies fly.

The most important tip, just remember to have plenty of pie on hand!

Ideas #8: Neighborhood Tour

If your school is in a neighborhood or community, it’s okay to take advantage of this space by offering a neighborhood tour. Families can volunteer to host people in their houses or backyards as they move from house to house in the neighborhood.

A PTO should sell tickets to this event through an online event ticketing platform.

If your audience is there, open up your neighborhood tour to other people outside of your school. You can advertise the tour (and the way to buy tickets) in community shops and online. Neighborhood tours can often bring a creative jolt of energy to a PTO fundraiser because they are unexpected.

There are multiple ‘winners’ and neighbors can team up as hosts as well. There are tons of ways to customize neighborhood tours as well to make them even more creative.

Idea #9: Polar Plunge

While this PTO fundraiser idea requires a cold climate, there is no denying polar plunges are incredibly unique. Donors can pay to be a participant in this incredibly daring event and jump straight into icy water after making their contribution.

Many times, polar plunges are combined with other fundraisers such as auctions or raffles. They’re also sometimes part of larger events like festivals or parties to add a bit of excitement to the day.

Polar plunge fundraisers are the perfect place to test out tiered donations with your audience. Instead of just giving your donors a single option on your online giving site, your PTO team can instead list out tiers of donations, each with a different ‘reward’, such as:

  • The highest tier could mean the donor can participate in the polar plunge
  • The middle tier could allow them to participate in a 5K race
  • The bottom might grant them admission to the event

Affordable PTO Fundraising Ideas

Planning a successful school fundraiser doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money getting things right. Instead, opt for one of these affordable PTO fundraising ideas:

Idea #10: Matching Donor Gifts

Sometimes, all a fundraiser needs for it to be successful is donations. These can come from many sources, but for PTOs the most common sources are parents or PTO members.

Just because one donation is coming in, however, doesn’t mean the fundraising train has to stop there. Matching donor gifts are when a sponsor or super-donor pledges to match any incoming donations with one of their own.

Some of the most effective matching gift ideas include having:

  • Multiple sponsors/super-donors over a week
  • Dedicated matching gift day
  • Team dedicated matches for peer-based fundraising
  • Matching hours – best used in the last hours of your fundraiser
  • Corporate Sponsorship matches

Matching donor gifts are great because, with the help of sponsors and donors, your PTO can raise twice as much money as you’re spending. While the sticker shock of a donation might be large at first, matching donor campaigns make it possible for donors to give in smaller increments since the donations will be matched.

This is an affordable fundraising idea because with the right sponsors and external donors your PTO can double your donations with little to no heavy lifting. All it takes is talking to local businesses, parents, or community members about pledging a matching donation.

With a few well-placed advertisements, a strategic digital marketing campaign, and the right online donation platform, your PTO team can optimize your fundraising efforts in no time.

Idea #11: Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Social fundraising has become a popular way to raise money for different causes over the years, and PTOs are finally taking notice. While peer-to-peer can technically fall into more than one of the buckets listed here, it’s an extremely affordable option.

Peer-based fundraising campaigns are perfect for PTOs that want to ‘reach new networks and donors’ when it comes to fundraising. Peer-to-peer campaigns can run anytime and for any reason, so a PTO can constantly drive supporters and donors to their campaign site and participant pages.

If you’re looking for a peer-to-peer platform for your PTO, look for a partner experienced in supporting nonprofit organizations with a flexible platform that can meet your needs. That way, your PTO can set up a campaign and promote it across all channels – social media, your school website, the monthly newsletter, etc. – to drive tons of visitors to your page.

PTO fundraiser goals could help to cover anything from a school trip to Washington, D.C. to a new swing set for the playground. PTOs are a great way for parents and teachers to get involved in their communities and to raise money for a good cause.

Get Started with OneCause

Ready to start planning your next PTO fundraiser? Impactful events need powerful fundraising software! The OneCause Fundraising Platform makes giving modern, flexible, and seamless to drive deeper engagement and grow your fundraising. Take a look at this versatile all-in-one fundraising software that meets the expectations of today’s donor, supporting any event, in-person, virtual, or hybrid.

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Wrapping Up

Ready to get the party started? For more ways to raise money for your school, check out the following additional resources:

  • Text-to-Give Guide. Text giving is a fun and interactive way to raise money from students, parents, faculty, and staff. Learn more about how you can add a text-to-give campaign to your PTA fundraising strategy.
  • 17 Phenomenal Fundraising Ideas. Want more ways to fundraise for your school? You’re in luck! Check out these ideas.
  • 12 Useful Tips for Planning a Charity Auction. Whether you’re hosting a silent, live, or online auction for your PTA fundraiser, this guide is full of tips and strategies to assist with planning your event.