Fundraiser Ideas for Organizations: Raise Money Without Selling Door-to-Door (Part 1)

Part 1 of 5

How far would you go for a fundraiser? Would you kiss a pig? Organize a game of cow chip bingo? Paint Pepsi on your school roof? As school budgets seem to buy less and less of what educators and parents believe students need, money from fundraising is becoming more and more important. Some school districts are discovering – or creating – new ways to raise money.

Whether it is selling candy and wrapping paper or such items as T-shirts, candles, pizza kits, posters, cookies, collectibles, or magazines, fundraising is not new. Each year, schools and nonprofit groups make about $2 billion through fundraising activities!

Until recently, many schools asked students to sell door-to-door to finance everything from band uniforms to trips abroad: things not ordinarily covered by school budgets. But after the murder of a sixth grader selling wrapping paper and candy and the rape of another student selling newspaper subscriptions, many school districts discourage door-to-door fund-raising. If children do go door-to-door, adults or older siblings are urged to accompany them when they sell or deliver the products. And schools are now suggesting that children sell only during the day and request that children’s parents pick up the items being sold and turn in the money so youngsters are not walking the streets with merchandise or cash. School districts would also like to see students sell primarily to relatives, friends, close neighbors, and their parents’ co-workers.


Safety is a big issue, but parents still want their children to have the extras that typical school budgets do not cover. Many parents have mixed feelings about raising funds door-to-door.

No cookie dough fundraiser“When my kid sells things to my friends and neighbors, it puts them on the spot,” Monica Stillwagon told Education World. “If I let my kids sell to friends and neighbors, I have to buy from their kids, and some of them have a lot of kids! I’d feel obligated.”

For a working parent, it’s hard to pick up and drop off money and merchandise during the day, added Nancy Calhoun, “but you hate for your kid to feel bad and not participate.”

Understanding how hard it is for parents to carry out some of their suggestions, schools are not only modifying how students sell products to raise needed cash, they are also investigating alternate ways to raise it. Many schools still sell products and hold the ubiquitous car washes, bake sales, raffles, auctions, school-sponsored dances, and faculty versus student sports events that schools have historically used to raise cash. But some schools are discovering – or creating – innovative, new ways to raise funds for all those extras.

K-12 Online together with Education World combined ideas and will be presenting a 5 part series showcasing 25 fundraising ideas that are working in communities around the block and around the world.


  1. Every October, school officials at Del Oro High School in Loomis, California, mark off their football field into 1-yard squares. Then they let out three cows onto the field. The school sells chances to community members. Each chance buys into one of the squares marked on the grid. The people on whose squares the cows deposit droppings are the winners! True, this is not a fundraiser for everyone, but with cow chip bingo, Del Oro High raises about $20,000 each year, enough money to fund its 37 sports teams.
  2. Every year, Vista Verde in Irvine, California hosts a World’s Fair. The diverse parent community have booths / tents representing countries from around the world, offering educational opportunities and traditional cultural food. Tickets are sold for food and activities, silent auctions are held selling anything from products, parking spots to the coveted “Principal for a Day” opportunity.   This is their largest fundraiser, but one requiring a considerable amount of resources.


  1. Singing telegrams are a method some other schools choose as a fundraiser. For a $1 charge, on someone’s birthday or another occasion, a group shows up in the celebrant’s classroom and sings “Happy Birthday” while carrying a hand-made sign and a crown that can be used to mark the occasion (and the celebrant).
  2. One Ohio school held a rent-a-wrestler fundraiser. Students on the wrestling team rented themselves out on several weekends to do odd jobs, such as raking leaves, mowing lawns, and shoveling snow; the $10 an hour fee aided the team.


community fundraiser

5.  One of the latest and newest ideas that is available is a community mobile discount card by Easyfunds. This simple app. sold to parents allows parents to use their cell phones to obtain discounts at participating merchants. The great thing about this app. is that not only is it an easy fundraiser, but it also builds community and benefits parents. The app. is purchased online and marketed through social media. Over 50 merchants are represented on the app. with various neighborhood discounts. Parents are notified of any discounts in the area and the discounts last for an entire year from the date of purchase. Parent business owners can also offer merchant incentives to the school through this app. further building community spirit. Schools could even charge for advertising space on the app.

If you or your organization has done something worth sharing, as you know, copying is the highest form of flattery, please share your idea.  We’d love to hear from you!


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