PTO & PTA Fundraising 101

PTA Fundraising, PTA FundraisersThe mission of PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and/or PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) groups is to establish a close relationship between home and school by advancing the opportunity for parents to become involved in the fabric of their school community. PTA  and PTO groups offer assistance to teachers and other staff members, raise funds for supplemental educational materials and experiences, support school and family social interaction, and provide a forum for sharing information on issues that impact children and youth.

Fundraising is often a primary focus for PTA groups, though  the California State PTA standards and others advise using the 3-to-1 Rule. That is that there should be at least three non-fundraising programs aimed at helping parents or children or advocating for school improvements, for every one fundraiser.

Important PTA Fundraising (or PTO Fundraising) Considerations

Parents, school teachers and school administrators should work together to determine goals, set budgets, manage timelines, and organize various details of a fundraising campaign. Consideration of these factors in your planning efforts will help make your fundraiser a greater success:

  • What age are the students? Consider what students are interested in and capable of doing prior to selecting your fundraising events. You want to spark your children’s interest with a fundraising campaign. See Fundraising Through The Years for more ideas.
  • Financial Planning: What is your budget for producing the fundraiser? What are the upfront costs and how will your organization cover these? What are your fundraising goals? How will funds be used?
  • What resources do you have to work with, including: Parents, volunteers, local business & media relationships that can assist with sponsorships, advertising and marketing of your PTO/PTA fundraising efforts?
  • What tools and resources, including fundraising software, will your PTA use to collect donations and manage all the planning details of your PTA/PTO fundraising campaign?
  • What are your plans for promoting your PTO/PTA fundraising events? Networking, social media, community relationships, local businesses, your school website, event calendars, email blasts, website links, school gatherings, and more can provide opportunities for sharing.
  • What message and skills are you teaching students through your fundraiser? Are you choosing healthy options or selling cookie dough?
  • How will you motivate participants? Will there be prizes or awards for top performers and classrooms?

Building a Sense of Community is Key to PTO and PTA Groups

A morning coffee meeting is a great way to start the PTA fundraising year, as it brings parents together in a relaxed atmosphere where they can focus on raising money for a good cause. After dropping their children off at school, serve your parents some gourmet coffee with a selection of artisan pastries. Have an open discussion about the importance of helping your school and community through PTO fundraising. Having regular follow up meetings (in the evenings) allows those who cannot attend the first meeting to make a contribution and get involved. See this article for more ideas on how to engage parents in PTO fundraising campaigns.

While most schools and PTO fundraisers aim to raise funds for your school, fundraisers for a local non-profit organization or cause are also a great way to get your school community working together. Your school, parents, and grandparents can make a tremendous difference within your community while forming a great team to work together for future PTA fundraising events. It also teaches youth to be concerned citizens when parents and teachers encourage them to think about the struggles of others and get inspired to do something about it. Some charities will be happy to promote shared fundraising with PTA teams, in that a percentage of the funds would go to your school. There is strength and power in community partnerships.

Is there a difference between PTO and PTA Fundraising?

It is the belief of PTA and PTO groups that the team effort of a parent and teacher organization offers the best possible learning environment for children. School PTA and PTO organizations are both dedicated to enriching and supporting the lives of children, parents and educators. The only difference between PTO and PTA groups is determined by whether the group has an affiliation with the National PTA or they are an independent group (PTO). Nearly 75% of parent groups today are independent PTOs. Local groups that choose to belong to the PTA must pay dues and abide by state and national group rules. In return, they get member benefits, and a voice in the operations of the larger organization. PTO is a more generic term and represents groups that are independent of the National PTA. These groups typically concern themselves with what’s going on within their own school district, at their building or in their community only. 

As far as fundraising strategies, there is little difference between a PTO and a PTA organization. Both host similar types of fundraising events and provide resources, communication and encouragement to get the school and community involved. PTO and a PTA organizations support and speak on behalf of children and youth in their schools and before government agencies and other organizations that make decisions affecting children.

Top 7 PTO & PTA Fundraising Ideas

Many PTAs and schools stick to the old standbys – like candy bar and bake sales. But creative school & PTA fundraiser ideas are needed to set your school or PTA/PTO fundraising team apart from the crowd and help you raise more. That’s why we’ve created a whole page loaded with the best fundraisers for schools to help get PTA organizations started with planning a fundraiser. Seven of our favorite fundraisers that work great for PTAs and school crowdfunding events include:

  1. Organize a School Walk-a-thon or Fun Run – A healthy alternative to candy fundraisers! Fun Runs are one of the most common PTO fundraising events we see.
  2. Make it even more fun for kids with a Color Run fundraiser alternative!
  3. Reading challenges or readathons promote literacy and a love of reading. As an incentive for taking part, top fundraisers receive a gift certificate to a local bookstore.
  4. Serve-a-thons get your students helping out in the community.
  5. Just Ask Campaigns, utilizing great Donation Websites are a great way to raise money with very little effort. With these programs, your PTO donation software is key to your success.
  6. School carnivals with bounce houses, refreshments and music are always a family hit. 
  7. Car washes are an old standby that everyone can participate in and enjoy. Have the kids prepare sandwiches, offer drinks and include a bake sale to raise more money.

DoJiggy’s fundraising software solutions make planning and managing PTO events simple and effective.

DoJiggy's fundraising software solutions for PTO & PTA fundraising

More PTO and School Fundraising Resources

Loads more great School Fundraising resources and ideas to boost PTO fundraising efforts for your school are available on our website. Whether you are a parent looking for elementary school fundraisers or high school fundraising ideas, a sports coach, or an art teacher,  we have compiled a set of free resources to help support your school fundraising campaigns. Our list of school fundraising ideas and resources have been developed from hands on experience with helping hundreds of schools across the US and Canada in raising money through online fundraising. If your school is looking for fundraisers that work, be sure to check out our school fundraising resources and fundraising software today.