Fundraising For Schools

Heather Bates, Pali Institute Sales


We know there is always a need for funds, whether it is for field trips, new equipment or extra-curricular activities. Pali Institute has done some research on the best ways to fundraise – without having to go door to door, wash cars or sell cookie dough! Here are some of the most effective ideas Pali visiting schools have utilized to help underwrite their Outdoor Education experience:*

The Planning Process

  • Create a Timeline—Decide when you will start fundraising and what your push and goal is for each month. Create a sense of urgency.
  • Start Early & Work Together—Is your school able to fundraise for a 5th grade trip in 3rd and 4th grade? If other grades are fundraising as well, work together on a larger event or project and share the money raised.
  • Be Creative & Form a Committee—Brainstorm with your parents and teachers about what they are interested in doing to reach your goals and what they can offer to a fundraiser. Enlist the help of your PTA or parent coordinators whenever possible!
  • Double Down—Many employers offer matching gift programs for donations. Are donations to your school tax deductible? Encourage families to ask their employers to double the impact of their donation for students through matched gifts.


Ways To Fundraise


These are funds distributed to schools or nonprofits without need for re-payment. Grants require time and work, but can definitely be worth the effort. Generally, grants are awarded to non-profit organizations, educational institutions and programs. Proof of non-profit status and tax id numbers are required.

  • http://creec.org/grants-contests/
  • http://www.teacherscount.org/grants/
  • http://www.insidephilanthorpy.com/grants-for-k-12-education
  • Walmart – Community Grants – Award $250 – $2,500
  • Target – Field Trip Grants – Award $700
  • Safeway & Vons – Our Foundation Grant – $2,500 – $10,000
  • Macy’s – District Grants
  • Nordstrom Cares – Community Support Grants


Scrip Fundraisers

Scrip fundraisers provide programs where companies sell gift cards at a discounted rate to a school or non-profit organization which can then be resold at full face value. Buyers can then use their cards to shop as usual. This is a great way to pay for your monthly groceries while raising money for your school!  Participating retailers include grocery stores, restaurants, online and chain retailers, gas stations, airlines, and more. Visit https://www.shopwithscrip.com/for more details on how the program works.

Chain Restaurants

You can take a night off from cooking and have dinner out with your family while supporting your school. Many restaurants offer up to 50% of the nights’ receipts to your school when a printed flyer is presented at purchase. Families do what they would have done anyway –  eat dinner – while supporting your school! Participating restaurants include:

  • Chipotle – Do Good With Burritos – https://www.chipotle.com/fundraisers
  • California Pizza Kitchen – https://www.cpk.com/Company/KidsFundraisers
  • Red Robin – https://www.redrobin.com/company/givingback/fundraising.html
  • Panda Express – https://www.pandaexpress.com/fundraiserlogin#/index
  • Panera – http://fundraising.panerabread.com
  • Applebee’s – http://www.flapjackfunds.com


Organized Fundraising Program – Stuck On You

Stuck On You is a convenient program that doesn’t involve paperwork and is completed online, tracking all funds raised so you don’t have to. The program offers personalized products designed for your students such as duffel bags, backpacks, water bottles, clothing and labels for your campers’ gear. Stuck On You provides a URL to share with friends and families that will link them directly to your group’s fundraising page where your school will get a percentage of all sales that are sold using your URL. Stuck On you will also provide you with a range of digital files for you to use for marketing.

School Events

Events organized through your school such as carnivals and science fairs are a great way to get the school community involved in FUNdraising.  Dinners, silent auctions, online auctions, and garage sales are awesome ways to get parents and school families involved.   Recycling drives are also effective because you can collect items such as clothes or shoes, printer cartridges, or old cell phones from families in your group and turn them into money.

However you raise funds, start early, engage students, parents and your community, and make it FUN.

*Pali Institute is not affiliated with any of the organization of the programs listed below.



About the Author

Heather Bates is an Outdoor Education Specialist for Pali Institute, the only residential outdoor education program accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC) and the Association for Experiential Education (AEE). A former teacher and coach, she spent 10+ years working with students both in and outside the classroom. Through her years of experience she understands the importance of giving students the opportunity to extend their learning beyond the walls of the classroom.

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