School fundraiser ideas?


Our girls go to a teeny tiny country school. As in there are 29 kids in total in the entire school this year! And while I wouldn’t change it for the world, being part of a small school in a small town means work. No hiding away in the shadows, no being able to miss out on putting your hands up, everyone has to get stuck in, work hard and get stuff done. It’s hard work and sure as shit annoying at times, but it’s what comes with a small school, and the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

That is, until we have our annual Easter Market.

Dear LORD is it hard work. Our little village closes its streets on Easter Saturday with literally thousands of people turning up to shop in the stalls, have a drink at the pub, have a ride, get your face painted or see the baby animals. All of the community (RFS, hockey club, School of arts, Progress Assoc, school) not to mention businesses digs deep for the day and it’s an amazing achievement for such a small group of people to achieve what we do and it’s amazing for our town.

For the Public school this is our one day of the year to raise money for the P&C. With all the crowds it would be mad not to! We usually have the traditional BBQ and Cake stall (you may recall my interaction with Nicole Kidman last year) and we will be doing the same again this year, but our family numbers are down, and that means less bodies to man the stalls and do the hard labour. So I’m trying to get creative, and I KNOW that there are literally thousands of you out there who have to raise money for schools, or community groups who will have ideas for our little school.

What are some ways outside the box to raise lots of money with little man power? Does that even exist?! Cake stalls are great as you get 100% profit from people’s hard work, but this year we are down so many families that there are only so many date loaves I can trot out. Plus, being a gazillion months pregnant at Easter means there’s only so much I can do. Got any ideas for things that can be made ahead of time and stored?

Got any tips for me?
Anything that’s worked well for your school or community group?
I’m talking low effort, high yield type stuff…any ideas greatly appreciated!
Are you a do-er at these kind of events?

Thanks x


  1. Our country town does the Easter egg hunt. Have a small section of a oval sectioned off. Get someone to donate lots of hay or straw, spread it out and hide chocolate eggs in it. We have 4 or 5 different age groups, like 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12 etc and then you replace the eggs after each age group. Parents aren’t allowed to help, except for the real little kids and you can charge $6 or so per child. It is so popular here, that it runs pretty much all day in our town, to try and fit all the visitors in. Good luck!

  2. Our best school fundraiser was a 5c drive, though 10c might be better now. Kids took a cardboard money box home on Thurs & brought it back the following Thurs, each term. Families were only allowed to put 5c pieces in it. Could also put them in your local shops? 5c doesnt sound like much but it soon added up!

  3. Could you approach the local bowling club or CWA to do some baking for the school? It would share some of the load.

  4. Do you have some cows in your wee village? Cow pat bingo for the win!

  5. and I have just come home from the school fete committee meeting! Must not join the preschool fete committee or be netball team manager either as I’m also class parent this year. If they need a volunteer I feel bad if I don’t say yes.
    love the easter egg hunt idea! what about art and craft stall with donations from small businesses and mums, craft sessions for the kids at the fete supervised by parents at your school, big raffle with donations of weekend accommodation or something luxurious and $5 or $10 for a ticket, choc top ice creams (with ice magic), lolly bags (donations of lollies from the school all wrapped up cutely), gift baskets (community donates new items, unwanted gifts, handmade) and all wrapped up into gift baskets

  6. 2nd hand books and toy stall. We ALL have so much stuff that is perfectly good that we want to get rid off… $2 flat price per item so the kids can buy things for themselves… again pure profit and recycling / decluttering in action!

    • I should add… all donated items MUST be good condition – it’s not a dumping ground or council clean up! If they’re not in saleable condition they get binned before the fete, and anything left over gets given to charity

  7. Walk-A-Thon. We raised $13K last year. All kids did laps of the oval. Got sponsored by 6 friends/family. So easy. More money than a fete!

  8. Our kinder used to hold an “Art Show”. All the kids would get busy during the term creating special pieces which were then displayed around the kinder ‘art gallery style’ and parents/family were invited for nibbles/social night whilst browsing the Art Show and buying back their children’s art work!!
    It was a winner – no one could refuse to buy their own child’s artwork!!
    We also did a class artwork, where each child drew a self portrait, which was then auctioned off to the highest bidder!
    Good luck!

  9. Every school fete I have attended the best by far is the tombola jars. One year I won a whole jar of white pegs. Pegs all the one colour. Yes score. I have to have matching pegs on the line. This link for ideas. . Just ask every parent to donate a jar or two or 10 filled with any old thing. Might not work with such a small school though.
    Second hand book stalls are a hit. Also plants.
    There is always a line a mile long for the temporary tattoo stall. Buy up big at the $1 shop and ask parents to volunteer to apply them to willing arms and legs at a small cost.
    Guess the number in the jar is always popular charge a $1 per guess.
    Lucky dips. Always a hit if you have the ice/esky freezer storage ‘icy cups’ 50 cents a pop for frozen juice in a plastic cup.

  10. Lisa Mckenzie says

    It’s so long since my kids went to school I’m not much help,walkathons,readathons,mufti days but with only 29 kids these are not going to make much $$ maybe ask each child’s parents for a donation ? Good luck Beth Xx

  11. Hi, this always seems to go really quick at the fetes we have done. Lolly jars lucky dip, raffle tix’s in a tin and pull out a ticket which corresponds with matching jar, have also seen this done with other items eg. Textas, cooking things, beads etc! Doesn’t require too much work and be prepared ages ahead and only need one person on the stand at a time … Win all round

  12. How about home made preserves, jams, curds, pickles, relish sauces etc- as they typically have a long expiration date (if you properly sterilise the jars etc) they can be made well in advance- if you made a batch of something every week between now and easter it would really add up! Unlike cakes which need to be made close to the day for freshness.

  13. How about a silent auction scenario. Ask members of the highlands abundant art community to donate a work or two, have the art displayed during the festival with a way for the public to bid on them. Whoever has bid the highest by close of business gets the work, with profits going to either the artist and the school, or just the school (depending on how generous the artist is)!

    Just a thought…

    Good luck!

  14. Brooke Law says

    Hi Beth,
    Where is your little town. I would love to visit the fair on Easter Saturday.

  15. Get the kids from the school to have their own stalls like water balloon throwing at a teacher/well known person and charge for turns or bobbing for apples, ten pin bowling, face painting, biscuit decorating. The kids love it and make money at the same time. Also raffles are great maybe approach businesses like hairdressers, hotels, Restuarants, bakers, fruit shops, butchers to make donations of goods/vouchers then make up hampers and set them all up on one long table and you only need one person to watch or use an honesty system. Goodluck

  16. one very successful fundraiser at our last school fete was having each class do a large canvas artwork that all kids contribute to. Then the artwork was displayed in the hall at the fete with a silent auction. Most paintings raised around $100 each but several families got into bidding wars and raised hundreds of dollars!!

  17. Every Easter we approach one of the big bakeries ( Brumbys or Bakeres Delight) about doing a hot cross bun drive. The bakery supplies the buns & we take a cut. Everyone is already buying them so why not let the school profit?

    I also know of school doing Krispy Kreme drives. There is only one in WA so people go NUTS over them.

    One year we there was a comedy night where we had a comedian come in, had an auction & a bar open. That raised HEAPS,

  18. Get the kids to do some work. What about having a bunch of the children, maybe dressed up in fun outfits, offering a tour of the school for $5. There would be lots of people that would see it as a nice way to make a donation, and think it was fun to have a couple of kids show them their school for a quick tour.

  19. Ok, so we have the same amount kids at our school. For just over 20 years we have been running an annual Art show/exhibition. All local and district artists who would like to exhibit for a long weekend can. We take 30% commission… We have a small art auction on opening night of donated art pieces, we have a raffle for one piece of art and wine in the month before. We charge a $2 entry and serve tea and coffee and homemade snacks inside. It is a hell of a lot of work… But we raise up to $8,000. In profits each year. It’s a bit different, we have sculptures, paintings, local glass blowers work, felting, instillations fro the actual kids.. It’s great stuff … But as I said a lot of work. But it’s outside the square for sure!

  20. My kids went to large primary schools so that made life a bit easier with regards to fundraising.

    The craft stall at the fete always worked well however that involved 12 months of preparation and many Mums to make it successful. A couple of things however sold really well and didn’t involve too much work. We made girls tiaras (for want of a better word). I have pinned it on pinterest under craft to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. They don’t cost much to make and at $5 each, we sold out in the first hour. We were kicking ourselves for not making more however you just don’t know what will work. Another thing that was popular, funnily enough, was a soap wrapped in a washer with a ribbon….I know, go figure.

    Another idea, although I haven’t tried it, is to get the green thumbs in your school community to start putting some cuttings into pots and have a plant stall. Probably just enough time to make this happen. Also 100% profit in most cases.

    Good luck! I’m happy our fundraising days are done.

  21. We too have a tiny school – 19 kids. When it comes to fundraising we often rope in some of the former students who are now at high school. They are all proud to have been to the school, and love to come back and help. Particularly good for things like face painting and temporary tattoos etc.
    We have a cow drop lotto at our fete. Mark squares on the oval, rope off and let the cow loose. Which ever square gets “dropped” on first wins a prize. Very country!

  22. Tombola style stall. Everyone donates a bottle of something. It doesn’t cost anything and everyone gets a prize. Alternatively a mens’, ladies and kids stall. Donated prizes for each category. Again, lucky dip idea. Our school did this. It’s fun and everyone loved their prizes.

  23. Fairy floss stand! That was one of ‘my’ class stalls at last year’s school centenary fete. I paid the extra for the ‘operator’ to come along with the machine hire, and all I had to do with one of the kids was decorate the stall (gotta love those $2-style-party-decs-shops for pink and blue plastic bunting) and take the money. I made more than $1,000 in profit and it was stress-free πŸ™‚

  24. My son went to a private boys boarding school in Sydney and the best fundraiser always was the Chocolate wheel for cash. No donations of goods or services, just pure luck on the wheel. Raises thousands.

  25. My kids go to a very large (1800 students) private (we’re not allowed to go the local public) school. So while fundraising for the school isn’t an issue, the school often raises funds for local charities (Syrian refugees, the local special needs school, etc). The things they do that always raises good money is a movie night, by the time you sell tickets, popcorn, etc. they make a fortune and the school community loves it. They’ve done it both at the school and one time got the local cinema to donate a movie session to the school (so that session was only available to students/families at a cut price rate and the charities got all the profits). The other thing that raises a lot of money is the school’s second-hand uniform shop. Probably helps that they have a large student number that turns over regularly.

    Despite being at a big school I’m the only Australian who ever volunteers for International Day, which is one of the biggest school events of the year. This involves manning a stall representing Australia, talking to all 1800 students and their families throughout the day about Australia. This year Bega cheese has given me cheese samples to hand out and a local cafe is making lamingtons. Which is a big leap forward since my first International Day when I made a few Vegemite sandwiches, only to see the other nationalities have local restaurants fully cater their stands (for free). I keep threatening not to do it as it’s such hard work, but my kids would be so disappointed if Australia wasn’t represented.

  26. lissyloulou says

    Our school is 350 kids & the biggest money spinner at the annual fete is the choc toss. Get a 6×4 trailer, cover it with steel mesh then place family size blocks of chocolate in a single layer over the mesh with a small gap between the blocks. People stand at mark on the ground (we have age specific marks; the older you are the further away you must stand) and toss a gold coin at the trailer. If the coin lands on a block they take home the block but most of the time the coin slides off the block, into the gap between the blocks and through the mesh into the trailer. As you give away chocolate you restock from your stash. All school families need to donate a block plus the local supermarket donates some. I know this stall raised $1400 last year!!!!

  27. Hi Beth, long term reader, first time commenter. You are frickin hilarious by the way for a stay at home mum who doesn’t get out much except for kindy and school pick up. So I am a playgroup coordinator and now on the kindy fundraising team. Word on the street for bang for your buck is:

    – sausage sizzle of course. Nothing like the sweet smell of fat and onion to rope people in
    – a crazy hair stall. Apparently you can make a killing by having two peoe put kids hair in pony tails, throw in a few PPP cleaners for effect and coloured hair spray. At $5 a go with kids annoying their parents all day for crazy hair apparently you can make a killing ($2000 which is big for us) for minimal outlay and not much effort to organise. I want to give this a go. Beth you can sit down for that one.
    – a scratchy tree (ie scratch its) $2 a raffle ticket for the whole tree
    – a good old 50/50 board. Whatever stall you do you must include this. It’s gambling at its finest with zero fuss and usually the winner (70%) will dinate it back. 100 squares on thin cardboard, sell the squares for $1 or $2 (I’ve had both for those who whinge that they only have change) and spit the revenue with the randomly drawn winner. A great supplement money maker.
    – plonk in a sock. Gambling theme hear but the public love it. everyone donate a bottle of wine, in an old sock and then customer buys a numbered sock not knowing what’s in it. It’s a win win for buyer and seller. Lucky dip for grown ups.
    – those awful warmed popcorn machines minimal effort, okay return.
    – lob a choc (gambling for kids). Do ares chocolate put into a mesh aware crate and kids throw money at it and win the choc. Apparently good money maker if choc donated and the kids go crazy for it.

    I hope this helps. Love ya guts. Love ya blog.

  28. If your looking for something a bit different, simple to execute, and definitely more healthy than some traditional fundraising solutions……check this out. It provides a solution to the age old problem of what to do with the bucket load of rip snorting artwork kids produce. can turn kids art into some really cool stuff.. like clocks, cushions and high quality tea towels.

  29. My favourite fundraisers are the ones where they say “each person’s contribution is Blah$$$, money can be paid to the office by blah”. I HATE fundraisers and would rather just hand over a cash donation, I am also not in a school THAT small either, so I can understand why this doesn’t work for everyone.

  30. little schools rock – for 250 pupils we make $45,000 at our bi-annual gala. Kills us all. Actually we left last year after a 12 year association, but I am certain I will be roped back to organise the book stall as I have done it 4 times in 8 years. Always have raffles at stalls – could a few families band together to do like a gardening one, a toy/game/book one/ a food hamper?

    I am a bit mad with schools at the moment with the amount of dollars being asked for – $1800 for a state high school incl uniform, I-pad (well we are not buying the so called compulsory thing and my kick ass kid does not want one), $500 voluntary fee including subject fees which you apparently get hassled over and threatened with debt collectors if not paid…. etc. Schools make choices and I am really over trying to keep up with the Joneses in education – just educate them! But maybe NZ schools are not as well funded as well as Aussie ones (and yes I run a school here being a parent rep on the school board and also work in another, so I really do know financial ins and outs etc)

  31. My family used to help out at the Simmental stand at Ag Quip every year. The big fundraiser was a guessing competition where people had to guess the weight of a steer. $2 a guess and the person closest to the mark won the steer. As its Easter maybe you could fill up a giant jar of Easter eggs and people have to guess how many there are?

  32. What about a recipe book? This was a successful fundraiser for our school. All of the school staff contributed recipes but you could include the parents as well. Local businesses were happy to sponsor a page for a bit of advertising on back covers even if the sponsorship is only $5 it is enough to pay for the paper and photocopying. The book was nothing flash, simple layout, photocopied and stapled ourselves, but gee the recipes were popular and I still use mine (4 years worth) all of the time.
    Works well alongside the cake stall.

  33. We were at a small school for kindy and every kid did a self portrait (face only) and they got every face on a tea towel and took orders – I know we bought 10 and sent them to family πŸ™‚ We aren’t at that school any more but I LOVE it when that particular tea towel comes back into rotation, as does my daughter, seeing all her old friends – good times, good memories and who doesn’t love a new tea towel πŸ™‚ Current school (much bigger) does artwork on a mouse pad/greeting cards/calendar etc as a fund raiser – your kid does the art in class, we order the item we want it on and then voila! Happy to send more details if interested, although one of our families just moved your way and I think the kids are at the same school πŸ™‚

  34. I am very involved with Can Too and raised 5k for them so my ideas are…
    Bunnings sausage sizzle (these can make about 1k)
    Make and deliver lunches to local businessss. (I made meatballs and pasta and sold them for $10). Obviously you donate the ingredients.
    Auction off husbands so people can borrow their ‘skills’ for two hours. For example your hubby might be a web designer and someone else’s hubby might be an avid gardener. People can bid for the skills they want to use for two hours and pay what they think it is worth.
    Get every business you know to donate something and have a mega raffle – I did this and ended up with photography, hair products, a night in a hotel, a facial and sell the tickets at school and local businesses. Also a trash and treasure sale.
    Good luck!!

  35. Thanks for this post….are some fantastic ideas on here. LOVE the idea of the cow pat bingo! We are a small school of only 26 in country Victoria and have a Mother’s Day Fete every year. Surprisingly we consistently raise about $5K, which is fantastic, given the small committee involved. Our biggest money spinners on the day are the raffles (we generally have 5 different ones), baked potatoes and the plant stall.

  36. that fete looked amazing last year beth!
    it is a wealthy area so the money box thing in a lot of shops donation
    maybe the 10c thing?
    used to be on the art/craft committee for my daughter’s school but many moons ago!
    fresh food and produce is always a winner donations from growers!
    second hand good quality clothes, potted plants, face painting,
    master chef mother and daughter team from mkr a few years ago
    don’t they live in the area?! … demo with fresh produce salads etc…
    just ideas thrown into the circle! love ideas m:)X

  37. Shit I thought I posted that at our little country school we did a car washed (overpriced of course) but it was a good way to get all the dirt road cars cleaned and raise money!

  38. Josie Mcbride says

    Some great ideas here in the comments that I might borrow.
    Our big fundraisers last year were a walkathon, school fete and a cookbook. Obviously the more sponsors the better, we are lucky to have some very generous members of our local business community.
    What about pony rides? Surely one of you country folk has access to ponies? Lemon cordial stand – easy and cheap to prepare, can be stored so you are not squeezing lemons the night before?
    Look forward to seeing what you come up with good luck x

  39. Laurie-anne says

    A recipe book, nothing beats one from a country school. You can also put in handy hints. I will always buy one, you get the best recipes in these types of cookbooks.

  40. Our small school ran a ‘Mystery Chef’ fundraiser. We sold 100 tickets for $20.00 each and then drew 1 winner. The winner won a 3 course meal cooked for 8 in their own home. The P&C did the catering and cleaning up on the night. Lots of interest, the tickets sold very quickly. People asking for same this year.

  41. Our school is considerably larger than yours too but we have also done a walk-a-thon and it raised more than a fete ALSO every winter we do a pie drive; teaming up with a local bakery. This is also a very successful fundraiser. Good luck!

  42. Face painting and balloon animals are always a hit at these events. Decorate your own cupcakes was popular at our fete, you just give each child an iced cupcake with a small cup of lollies and sprinkles to decorate. I ran a rainbow jellycup stall and it was a real hit. You can also walk around with a tray of jelly cups selling to the crowd. Don’t put freddo frogs etc in them, they go yucky and you really don’t need them.

  43. It has taken me forever to get through all my email, so just seeing this post.

    We do a “Fun Run” every year for our fundraiser. Great event for the kids and community! People love that it’s healthier too. We ask the parents to donate by “sponsoring” their child for the run, but this year we also did a Paypal account so that grandparents, friends, and family that didn’t live nearby, could sponsor them too! Each kid that raised $15 got a water bottle (super cheap online in bulk) and we raised 20k. The night of the event we also have a silent auction with items that were donated…American Girl donated a doll, Disneyland donated 4 tickets, a local dentist donated a set of braces, movie tickets, hotel stays, etc. We set up a little track oval at the school and have a DJ play kid friendly music/start the race. Such a fun community event!

  44. disgusted says

    Why raise money for the P & C. The children should just be sent to school normally and no donations asked for anything. Do those that ask for donations ever donate themselves.
    The government should ban this asking for donations all the time.

  45. Great tips from everyone in the comments. I actually gather a few new ideas for fundraising. Thanks so much

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