Tips to Cultivate School Spirit in Your Next Fundraiser

Picture this—your elementary school is bustling with students returning from the summer holiday and your school board is brainstorming how you can channel their school spirit and excitement into your next fundraiser.

By tapping into this collective energy early on as the new school year kicks off, you can establish a solid foundation that not only celebrates the return to school but also builds anticipation and support for upcoming events. 

To keep the momentum going even after your initial back to school event, consider using these tips to generate school spirit and maximize funds.

Choose a memorable theme

A memorable theme will set your fundraiser apart and encourage participation. Therefore, instead of being just another one-off fundraiser, your school can use your fundraiser as an opportunity to reconnect with your community while raising funds. 

For example, let’s say a school decides to use the theme “A Wildlife Adventure” to brand its fundraiser meant to support more hands-on learning initiatives such as field trips and outdoor education programs. With a clear brand, the school can then reap the following benefits:

  • An aligned fundraising purpose ensures that all fundraising activities and promotions directly reflect the theme’s focus on wildlife and exploration. This fosters a stronger sense of purpose, which deepens the engagement and investment of your supporters.
  • Distinct branded merchandise like custom animal plush toys, explorer kits for kids, or adventure-themed t-shirts helps you effectively raise funds while also promoting a sense of fun and excitement around your fundraiser.
  • Multiple branded fundraising activities such as an auction where participants bid on fun, family-friendly experiences like zip-lining or tickets to the zoo. Additionally, you may add in more branded fundraising opportunities such as a bike-a-thon or outdoor adventure day.

A cohesive theme for a school fundraiser can be a powerful tool in uniting students, parents, teachers, and the wider community towards a common goal, generating excitement and participation across the board. Invest time in brainstorming effective fundraising themes and think through all the details—from marketing materials to auction items to merchandise—before selecting one. 

Plan engaging activities

Engaging activities are crucial to the success of school fundraisers, as they significantly influence participation rates by making the event enjoyable and memorable for everyone involved. It’s best to actively involve your community from the planning stages through to the execution of the fundraiser, ensuring that activities are inclusive and appeal to a broad audience.

Here are some ideas for making sure your fundraising activities align with your community’s interests and fundraising goals: 

  • Provide options and survey your school community. Offer a variety of potential fundraising activities and use surveys to gather input from students, parents, teachers, and staff to identify what resonates most with them.
  • Consider timing when planning your events. Take into account the local community calendar, key holidays, and the school schedule to choose optimal times for your event that avoid conflicts and maximize attendance.
  • Offer multiple ways to give or get involved. Various donation formats such as text-to-give, recurring giving, or pledge fundraising could spice up your fundraising events while offering participants the choice to give in a way most convenient to them. 
  • Try different formats. Maybe you’re used to in-person fundraising events but are ready to give hybrid or online events a chance. You don’t have to choose just one.’s guide to online auctions suggests running both an in-person and online auction to maximize funding. 

Research previous fundraising activities and explore what has been successful at nearby schools to gather proven ideas and avoid potential pitfalls. Analyzing these can provide valuable insights into what resonates with your community, helping to tailor future fundraisers for greater impact and success.

Encourage student involvement

Students are pivotal in boosting school spirit as the primary ambassadors of their school’s values and culture. By actively participating in and leading school events, students can encourage a positive culture.

Give them a role to play to bolster their involvement by suggesting they provide any of the following: 

  • Marketing assistance: Students can help create posters, social media posts, and branding ideas. Have them create a content calendar or vote on your fundraiser’s theme. You can provide extra credit to the students who assist in your marketing endeavors. 
  • Friendly grade-level competition: See which grade can raise the most funds and incentivize revenue with a prize like a school field trip or movie day.
  • Event day talent showcase: Highlight school talent by having student musicians or singers perform during your event. This not only provides a platform for students to shine and share their skills but also adds a personal and engaging touch to the event.
  • Planning and coordination efforts. Enlist high school student volunteers for event day set up and tear down. Remember to thank your students and parents throughout the volunteer process for lending a helping hand.  

Involving students in various capacities, such as marketing, organizing, and performing, not only empowers them but also enhances the overall atmosphere of school events.

Partner with sponsors

The right sponsor can take a school fundraiser from good to great. According to Getting Attention, sponsors can help you by providing financial, in-kind, and media support. In a school context, a valuable sponsor could also provide the following:

  • In-kind gifts like food or baked goods for a fancy fundraising gala from a local restaurant. You could even have them offer cooking classes or culinary experiences to further enhance your fundraiser’s appeal.
  • Financial assistance from larger corporate support in the form of matching gifts or through direct donations. This can often inspire other businesses to contribute, creating a ripple effect of support. 
  • Volunteer help from local community organizations. Perhaps a local print shop will offer to print off your fundraiser programs and other organizations could sell your event tickets at their business.
  • A fun and accessible venue from nearby businesses. Utilizing a venue that’s well-known in the community can enhance the event’s visibility and accessibility, encouraging greater participation and support from residents and businesses alike.

By contributing financially, in-kind, and through volunteer help, sponsors can greatly reduce your overhead costs, allowing a higher percentage of the funds raised to be directly allocated toward your school’s initiatives.

Celebrate your progress

Positive communication plays a vital role in the success of a school fundraiser as it directly influences the level of enthusiasm and participation across the school community. By regularly updating students, parents, and staff on the progress and impact of the fundraiser, you can maintain high engagement levels and foster a sense of shared school spirit.

Here are some ways to share your event’s progress:

  • Fundraising thermometer. This is a great visual tool to share the success of your fundraiser as it provides a clear representation of your achievement toward your goal in real-time.
  • Thank you letters. Handwritten notes or quick branded e-cards are reliable ways to show your appreciation and remind every contributor of your gratitude.
  • Final fundraising metrics. Sharing these metrics after your event is a powerful way to underscore the success and collective effort of the community, highlighting the tangible impact of everyone’s contributions.

The strategic use of positive communication methods, such as a fundraising thermometer, thank you letters, and the sharing of final fundraising metrics, is instrumental in amplifying the success of a school fundraiser. 

These approaches not only keep the community informed and engaged but also reinforce a culture of appreciation and recognition, essential for building lasting school spirit.

School fundraising is no small task—leverage the power of school spirit to bring in funds and maximize engagement. The above tactics can be tailored to any school, audience, or fundraising need, just be sure to gather school community input early and often before launching your fundraiser. You’ve got this!