PTO & PTA Fundraising 101
Discover the Best Ideas and Resources for PTO School Fundraising Initiatives
Get Started with Easy Online and Virtual Fundraising Campaigns for your PTA
The mission of PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and 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 such as field trips, support school and family social interaction, and provide a forum for sharing information on issues that impact children and youth. These parent groups can also be called Parent Advisory Councils (PACs), especially in Canada.
School 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.
DoJiggy is here to make fundraising easy with the best online and virtual fundraising platform for PTO fundraising groups.
Important 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 PTO fundraising campaign. Consider these factors in your planning efforts to help make your school’s fundraiser successful:
- 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.
- What is your budget for producing a fundraiser? Is there a PTO fund that you can utilize? 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, including fundraising software, will your PTA use to collect donations and manage all the planning details of your PTA/PTO fundraising campaigns?
- What fundraising ideas does your group have? What events have you tried before? Which campaigns have been successful and what has failed?
- When is the best time of year for PTO events? Hosting a large fall fundraiser to kick off the year when everyone is fresh is the most common for PTA groups. Determine if this timing works for your school calendar and what other campaigns you might include throughout the school year.
- 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? Kids notice these things.
- How will you motivate participants? Will there be prizes or awards for top performers and classrooms? How much competition is your community comfortable with promoting?
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 school 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 parents 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 nonprofit 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.
Top 12 PTO & PTA Fundraising Ideas
Many PTAs and schools stick to the old standbys – like candy bar sales and Box Tops 4 Education campaigns. While these types of campaigns can certainly work, creative school & PTA fundraising ideas are needed to set your 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 your PTO organization started with planning a successful fundraiser.
Here are 12+ of our favorite fundraising ideas that work great for PTAs and school crowdfunding events:
School Walk-a-thons or Fun Runs
Organize a school walk-a-thon or Fun Run – a healthy PTO fundraising idea! Fun Runs are one of the most common and successful PTO fundraising events we see. Kids love to run!
Color Run Fundraisers
Reading challenges or read-a-thons promote literacy and a love of reading in children. As an incentive for taking part, top fundraisers receive a gift certificate from a local bookstore.
Serve-a-thons are community service events that get students helping out in the community. Plan an event that students can complete in one day – a painting project, helping in a homeless shelter, or reading to the elderly.
Just Ask Campaigns
Just Ask Campaigns, utilizing our free donation websites with recurring donation management are a great way to raise money with very little effort. With these programs, your PTO asks parents for a direct donation and donation software is key to your success.
School carnivals with outdoor games, bounce houses, refreshments, and live music are always a family hit for elementary PTO groups. These events build community and are also a great way to recruit new parents and members to your PTO.
Car washes are a classic fundraising idea that everyone can participate in and enjoy. Some groups add an area to wash dogs at the same time. Have the kids prepare sandwiches, offer drinks, and include a bake sale to raise more money.
Older kids love obstacle courses. With the help of the school Physical Education teacher and willing parents (especially with a military/veteran background), an obstacle course fundraiser can be created right in your school’s backyard.
Fundraising raffles make great virtual fundraising campaigns for PTOs. With our online raffle platform, you can even use peer to peer fundraising features to sell raffle tickets. This means you can create a competition for the top fundraising students and classes.
Try hosting a dance party or dance-a-thon for your PTO. Again, creating a theme and encouraging students and teachers to dress up for the event will add to the fun. Decorate the gym and bring on the DJ! Students raise money online to participate.
Ask students to sell frozen pizzas, spirit wear, coffee, treats, and virtually anything that families need. Our peer to peer eCommerce stores allow PTOs to track fundraising sales by student or classroom and award prizes to top sellers.
Have the kids bring their bikes and zoom around having fun with a bike-a-thon fundraiser. Little kids can bring tricycles for a trike-a-thon. Family members will love to support the kids with donations for their biking efforts.
Looking for PTO Fundraising Ideas During Covid?
Many PTOs have been hit hard financially by canceled fundraising events due to COVID-19. There is a way forward. By reworking your fundraising strategies, your organization can continue fundraising during this global pandemic. To do this, you’ll need safe and effective virtual fundraising campaigns.
We’ve put together this list of the best virtual fundraising ideas for schools.
Virtual Walkathons and Fun Runs
Virtual Happy Hours and Performances
Get your livestream ready! Virtual performances work great and can be used to highlight school music groups, marching bands, and choirs.
Online Product Sales with P2P Pages
Virtual merchandise sales are a no-brainer for no/low contact fundraising. Our simple stores make it so easy, you can get set up and selling in no time.
Online raffles are the perfect way to raise money for many PTO groups. We offer the ability to incorporate peer to peer fundraising in raffles, where students sell tickets via a personal fundraising page. Our raffle software can even randomly select and notify winners. Just find a prize and go!
Much like virtual walkathons, bikeathon fundraisers can be run virtually with just a few tweaks. Biking is a great socially distant sport, so some kids may even bike together. Students create a fundraising page and commit to biking in support of the school.
Virtual Reading Challenges
Readathons are a great way to keep kids busy during COVID and raise money for the PTO at the same time. All you need to do is setup the Athon website where students can track the number of books or pages read. Donors make contributions based on the reading results and top fundraisers are highlighted.
All you need are some great auction items and our software. Simply create your fundraising auction website and add unlimited auction categories and items. Set the time for online bidding to start and begin advertising your auction. Bids are made online and via text to bid.
Food Delivery Campaigns
Since many people are staying in to promote social distancing, why not sell groceries or other items online and deliver them right to your supporters? Create and sell online food packages with a theme – for example Italian Night or Mexican Night. Get PTO members and supporters to volunteer and deliver the packages.
Virtual Watch Parties
Select an educational movie or documentary to share with students. Supporters can register on your website to watch the movie and buy popcorn or other movie treats. You can launch the watch party with a live stream presentation, letting parents and kids know what to look for and discuss after the film. Generally, users watch the movie on their own streaming device.
Our Online and Virtual Fundraising Platform Works for Schools and PTOs
Our virtual fundraising platform has the tools your group needs – for free! Whether you are planning a Fun Run, fundraising raffle, online product sales, charity fundraising auction, or a virtual movie watch party, we can do it with you. There are lots of innovative features included for school fundraising during COVID:
- A fundraising home page that links to all your school fundraising campaigns and events
- Live Stream video integration (via YouTube Live, Twitch, Facebook Live, or Vimeo) for virtual fundraising events
- Text to Donate (US organizations and phones only)
- Ability to incorporate peer to peer fundraising with personal and team fundraising pages into more campaign types, such as online sales campaigns and raffles
- Recurring donations integrated into the P2P and crowdfunding model
- Donor perks can be given to crowdfunding donors at pre-defined levels (ie donate $100 and get a free t-shirt)
- Mobile giving support, like secure payments via digital wallets (ApplePay and GooglePay)
DoJiggy’s fundraising software platform makes planning and managing PTO events simple and effective
Is there a difference between PTO and PTA Groups?
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. Some schools also use the term Parent Advisory Council (PAC) to describe their parent advisory group, especially in Canada.
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 for school and community involvement. PTO and 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.
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.