Great Fundraising Ideas Here!

Many times teachers and schools need to raise money for unfunded field trips, books, and materials, etc.  My wonderful  Disney teacher colleagues share their ideas for fundraisers that are a little different, promote a healthy school culture, and are just plain more fun for families.  Here are their ideas.  Enjoy.

 Visit the Disney Teacher Awards Web Page


From Patrick Welsh (SC), Disney 2006 High School Teacher of the Year

Our school raised $35,000 in a year and built a Habitat House in 2003. We have also probably raised an equal amount since then for a variety of charities. (Katrina Relief. Relay for Life, etc.) We are a small high school. Some of these ideas may only work for older students but you might be able to adapt them to your situation.

1. Trivia Nights (Fall and Spring) at a local restaurant. Another teacher writes up trivia questions on all topics - sports, music, literature, science, films, etc. I reserve tables at the restaurant for a fee, usually $20 to $40 per table depending on the size. We fill the restaurant. Groups like Beta Club, band, football team, math teachers, administrators, etc. reserve their tables. We have a ball. Our students look so forward to trivia nights that we have to hold it twice a year and we generally make about $1,500 per night. If we didn't make a cent it would be worth the trouble just for the bonding and comradery.

2. Field days with money makers like teachers in the dunk tank and the notorious "kiss the pig contest."

3. Car Washes

4. Hat day for students @ $1

5. Dress down week for teachers @ $5

6. We showed the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" on the football field one Saturday evening just before Christmas. Couldn't charge admission but did collect about $500 in donations and we sold refreshments. Students brought their fold out chairs and sleeping bags. It was great.

7. Chemistry classes made and sold tie-dye tee shirts @ $10. Shirts were old Relay for Life shirts donated by ACS.

8. Recycle aluminum cans (nasty and labor intensive but a great thing to do for the environment)

9. Half court shots @ $1 at halftime of basketball games to win a pizza donated by Little Caesars.

10. Mr. Summit contest

11. Bake sales

From Lynn Gatto (NY) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

1. Wreath Sale: My class rakes in over $2,000 every year with our annual wreath sale. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, the class parents take orders from their friends and co-workers on order sheets the kids produce. We also take orders from staff, the bus garage and central office (where I get over 150 orders.. big school district). I have a local farmer who produces wreaths for local stores. I buy undecorated ones from him and he provides boxes of bows and pine cones. The Monday after Thanksgiving I get delivery from the farmer and we set up a huge assembly line in the hallway where parents and kids twist the bows and pine cones onto the wreaths. (The whole school smells of Christmas!!) Then, we deliver wreaths (parents pick up their orders & I have a wonderful husband and parent volunteers that delivers to Central Office.) It's a fast turn over and we double our money. I buy the wreaths for $6.25 each and sell them for $12.50. After nine years, the wreath sale has a far reaching reputation.

2. Pizza Bingo Party: The kids send out fliers to every family in the school. Families reserves # of pizza pies (with a check or cash for $12.00 for every pizza - this includes a can of soda & 10 bingo cards for every member of the family). (I can only have 200 people in the room, so I limit to first come first serve). Then, on the night of the Bingo Party the school cafeteria becomes the "Bingo Hall." We pass out the pizzas and sodas and then begin playing Bingo. Every winner gets to pick from the prize table, which the kids have solicited from local businesses. It's lots of fun and we sell out every year. I get the pizzas from a local pizzeria who only charges me $5.00 a pie. We make between $600 - $800 for the night.

3. Mothers Day Flowers: We take orders for long stem roses 2 weeks before Mother's Day (our advertising also suggests that roses can be given to aunts, grandmothers and favorite teachers!). We then buy them at our public market for $0.50 a piece and sell them for $2.00. We tie a ribbon around it (which I shop for ribbon close out sales throughout the year) which attaches a small Mother's Day card to it. The kids have lots of fun creating the Mother's Day cards on the computers. We usually make around 500.

From Megan Sexton (OH) , 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

Some of the neatest fundraisers we have done have involved parents, students, and staff. We had a SCHOOL-WIDE garage sale where people brought in their old junk and we sold it all on a Saturday morning... although it was a huge pain storing many of the items, it really brought us together as a community to share in the event and we got to meet all sorts of folks from the neighborhood. I think it would be a great opportunity for economics and math lessons in pricing, making change, etc., and students could use writing skills to make signs, flyers, and other types of advertisement and "persuasive" writing. We also had a SILENT AUCTION, where students and staff offered services on which people could bid. It was really fun, since we got to know what people were really good at doing and what they could as an individual contribute to the cause. We used the money from these events to outfit our "multi-sensory room" with bubble columns, light projectors, black light equipment, and fiber optics for students with sensory needs. It was fantastic!

I would also suggest hooking up with a local group, like my dance studio where I teach. The girls sell those rubber bracelets in green that say "good luck" with a shamrock, and half of the proceeds go to our students.  It is cool because 1) it connects the two groups, 2) the other group typically likes the "positive PR" of being associated with a school, and 3) these types of fundraisers usually bring in more money. I know it is still selling something, but it was pretty fun to at least create that connection for the same cause.

You can make a bunch of money with a non-profit group volunteering for events at stadiums. Our agency volunteers at Kings Island as well. It is a great way to get people talking about your school, too, when you are involved in the community, and again, you have people (parents, staff, students) working together for a common cause. I'm not sure how young you can be for such events, (like I'm not sure if elementary students could volunteer), but it would be worth finding out!

From Jan Wendling (IL) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

The church I attend has a PK-8 school and they have always been successful with magazine sales. Each year they raise over $9,000 with a blitz that lasts about a week and a half. Our school district has tried it, but I don't know how much they have made. Seems to be successful at the lower grades, we don't have much success motivating our junior high kids to sell stuff.

However, for our 8th grade Washington D.C. Trip, we have sold gift cards through Great Lakes Scrip center (www.glscrip.com). They have a huge list of available retailers and it saves a trip to the mall for a gift card.  Some schools even set up online websites for ordering cards and get the whole community on board. They have been successful for our purposes -- we have separate "accounts" for each student and they can sell and earn as much as they want. We begin in October (for the big Christmas rush) and then end in March before the trip over spring break. I've had single children raise over $600. One tip: the scrip service charges for shipping your order, which would have to come out of your profit, so what we did is charge a minimal $1.00 shipping and handling fee PER ORDER, not per card. NO one complained about the extra dollar, especially with the price of gas these days, and the nearest mall is 30 interstate minutes away from our town. This made folks want to order lots of cards in one order to save on the S&H fee, it was always enough to cover what the actual shipping cost was ($7 or $8 for UPS), and we even had some extra $$ left that we can use this year for the smaller orders at the beginning of the year. Many schools boast HUGE profits with this fundraiser. You do need to be a non-profit organization with a 501 C 3 IRS designation to be able to sign up. Everything you need to know is on the website.

From Amy Dunaway-Haney (OH) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

I started the Kettering Kids Care campaign last year, where we advertise in the paper that we have kids "for hire". Students go into the community to rake leaves, baby-sit, run errands, do yard work, etc. in exchange for $$$ to be donated to the school. Our $$$ raised goes to the 4 local charities that we pick each year. I started this to stop the nonsense of kids going to their parents and asking for a handout, so their homeroom could win a pizza party.  I wanted kids to help out in the community, and use the $$$ for good, such as a charity donation.

We do other things such as car washes, bagging groceries, make and sell T-shirts, etc. as part of the charity campaign. Last year, my seniors earned $17,500, but they worked hard for a few weeks and did a lot of projects. They grumbled a little as they worked from time to time, but they were very proud in the end.

From Bill Reilly (NY) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

I think any fundraising should have the same kinds of curricular connections that any other projects have.  I also think the best fundraising efforts for charities should show some demonstrable concrete results that the kids can relate to.  When we built a high school in Belize, my kids were directly communicating with the children who would be benefiting from their undertakings.  This made their efforts much more meaningful and long lasting.  We also had a can drive for Zimbabwe, where each classroom received a picture of the animal they purchased.  This year I am hoping we will do another fund raiser for Zimbabwe and then I hope to go there to personally purchase the supplies and make a video to bring home to my students.  They will also exchange letters and cards with the children t hey are helping.

While I know that not every effort can form such a direct connection, I think for middle school and elementary students, these kinds of connections are really necessary for them to fully understand the impact of their efforts.

From St. Claire Adriaan (CA) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

I made quite a bit of moola by selling "smencils." This is pencils that smell really good. Many different flavors. I pay 50c each and they sell for $1. Kids go crazy for these and I sold them throughout the year. These pencils are made completely of recycled paper. If anyone is interested in the address of "the smelly pencil" the address is:  http://smencils.com

From Deanna Pendergast (MD) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

We had a popcorn sale.  About 7 or 8 boys sold microwave popcorn in front of Wal-Mart on Friday and Saturday, about 4 hours or so each day.  Their net profit was over $800.  Wal-Mart also has a matching program if you meet certain requirements.  I think it has to do with using the money for community service projects.  For you, with lots of kids to participate and probably with less restrictive hours, you could have a sales weekend, go to several stores around town, sell popcorn, and raise lots of money.  I would guess Saturday and Sunday would be better than Friday. 

From Jennifer Wilson (CO) - 2006 Disney Elementary Teacher of the Year

Our school was able to get Hobby Lobby to donate unfinished bird houses. I provided paints and odds and ends and craft glue and gave students the reins for creativity. They turned out SPECTACULAR -- brightly colored, some with themes. We put them on display in the school for a week (making sure to invite Board Members, administrators, community businesses, and more) and then had a silent auction. We had parents bidding for their own kid's house against community members who were bidding just because of the originality. Bids went up and up. Some sold for over $100!

Similarly, one of the local "paint your own pottery" places donated some chip and salsa bowls. I provided paints and got some parent volunteers to help out a bit. The kids decorated and I didn't think they looked so hot but once they were glazed...WOW!  These were in the silent auction in the front of the school as well and went for high prices.

Add in t-shirts and other things that businesses might donate for the kids to decorate and you could raise quite a bit. In these two "auctions" alone, in a lower-middle class community, a single class of 25 students raised $4,000.

From Doug Martin (PA) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

One of my student's father is a rep for Sunkist and they have a great fund raising program where you can take orders for Citrus products. You get a price per unit and suggestions for how much you should be able to charge for each unit. Some schools in our area make $8,000-$10,000 dollars on their sales. It depends on how many kids you have and how hard they work.  You can make a good return and distribute healthful products.

From Robert Whiteman (CA) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree

My students and all the first grade students raise money for local food pantries by having an annual farm stand. We craft every Friday for about 45 minutes, for about 6 weeks, using products we grow in our garden. We have dried herbs, made herb vinegar, pressed flowers for bookmarks, stationary and art, painted gourds etc.  We also have students design and sell a first grade t-shirt that they and their parents wear on field trips and grade level celebrations. We usually raise about $900-$1,000. All four first grade teachers specialize in a craft or two and we rotate classes every Friday so that we really get to know each other as a total grade level - it builds great community early in the year and is a nice way to end the week.

Also, my colleague made a lot of money to donate to Katrina relief by having her students braid embroidery floss for hair decorations, key chains etc. They sold it before school and during lunch. It was so HUGELY popular with the entire student body that they posted a sign one day "Temporarily closed due to low inventory" but they ramped up production and met the demand.

The "Giggling Gardeners" club sells flower pens. Using dollar store flower blooms, entirely wrap an ordinary pen in green floral tape and wrap the stem of the flower as you go. When you finish you have a green stem (the pen) with a colorful bloom on top. (This year they even added decorative ladybugs and butterflies to the flowers.)  I think they charge $2-3 and ALWAYS sell out.

From Heather Renz (OR) - 2006 Disney Teacher Honoree


Fun run: I think we raised $9,000 or $10,000.


Our students held a penny drive to help with the tsunami and that made $1,200 in a week.


Our school made a cookbook of our favorite recipes for our sparrow child's care and that made $1,100


Our spring fling carnival always makes a ton of money.


To get students and families thinking otherwise about their child's health and wellness, I created a student-led dance mat vending program where students sell turns on the dance mats during recess. Students run the business, collect money and manage the equipment. They LOVE it and same students who would typically be wandering the playground with their hands in their pockets are bouncing around working up a sweat! The student leaders I choose are the kids who could use the boost in self esteem, students I thought could be leaders but their peers didn't see them as so, or kids who needed extra exercise.  It's been a great, successful program at my school.