Find out our 30+ easy and creative fundraising ideas for your school’s PTO!

If you’re a member of a parent-teacher organization, you already know that PTOs are the frontline of support for your school’s community.

Schools of all sizes increasingly rely on their PTOs to help provide unique events and essential resources for their students. While PTO fundraising can definitely be a challenge, there are plenty of ways to raise money for your school and recruit the support of your broader community.

To help kickstart your group’s fundraising efforts, we’ve selected some of our favorite (and most reliable) PTO fundraising ideas!

Use the navigation below to jump between the categories of our top picks:

While the majority of these ideas are most appropriate for elementary school PTO fundraising, a creative team can easily adapt any fundraising event to upper grade levels, so be sure to read through the whole page.

In a hurry? Check out our top PTO fundraising idea now. Funds2Orgs is a perfect partner for easy school and PTO fundraising for groups of any size!

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Check out our favorite PTO fundraising idea: shoe drive fundraisers!

Our Favorite PTO Fundraising Idea

Shoe Drive Fundraisers

Shoe drive fundraisers are a perfect way to raise money for your PTO!

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Shoe drive fundraisers are an excellent pick for all kinds of community or school-based organizations!

Here’s how it works: a shoe drive fundraiser facilitator like Funds2Orgs will provide your PTO with all the materials you need to collect pairs of gently worn, used and new shoes. Funds2Orgs then picks up the shoes, and your PTO receives a check!

But why shoes? There are tons of benefits to hosting a shoe drive fundraiser, like:

  • There are no out-of-pocket costs for your PTO to conduct a Funds2Orgs shoe drive!
  • Every family in your school certainly has used pairs of outgrown kids shoes to donate.
  • Donating shoes sets a great ecological example!
  • Shoe drive fundraisers make perfect standalone campaigns or can be easily combined with other events.

The Funds2Orgs shoe drive fundraising process is an incredibly easy and effective way for your PTO to raise funds without ever needing to ask for money. Parents will be happy to clear out some clutter and support your organization at the same time!

For more context on how these fundraisers work and what kinds of benefits they can offer your school, check out this explainer video:

Schools and parent-teacher organizations have raised thousands of dollars this way! If a shoe drive fundraiser sounds like a smart move for your PTO, contact Funds2Orgs for more information.

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Check out these easy and reliable PTO fundraising ideas!

Easy PTO Fundraising Ideas

For many parent-teacher organizations, the most important element of any fundraising idea is that it be easy to plan and conduct.

These classic school fundraisers tend to be among the simplest and most reliable ideas for PTO fundraising, especially when your organization gets the broader community involved.

Check out our top picks for easy PTO fundraising ideas:

1. Community Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding is a reliable way for your PTO to engage the community and raise funds.

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Online crowdfunding campaigns make it easy for individuals all over your community to support your PTO’s work.

Set up a campaign to raise funds for a specific project or upcoming event, or your PTO can use a crowdfunding platform to solicit support more generally. Since crowdfunding campaigns are typically promoted through social media, you can reach every corner of your community by making an effective appeal or even offering special rewards.

Check out this comprehensive list of the 40 Best Crowdfunding Websites to get started choosing a platform!


2. Community Tour

Organizing a community tour is an easy way for your PTO to fundraise.

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Organizing a themed tour is a great way to get the whole community involved in supporting its schools and your PTOs work!

Think “Springtime Tour of Gardens,” “Holiday Decoration Showcase,” or “Neighborhood Yard Sale Extravaganza.” Then recruit volunteers to host stops in the tour and create a route for participants to follow.

By selling route maps, tickets, and refreshments (or even charging 1 or 2 pairs of shoes for your shoe drive fundraiser!), your community tour can be a perfect way to bring neighbors together for a good cause, supporting their local PTO.


3. Text-to-Give Campaign

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Offering text-to-give tools is an easy and smart move for any organization!

Letting your supporters and community simply text you a donation is an extremely effective fundraising method, largely because it makes the process simple for the donor. Check out some top text-to-give services for more information on how these donation tools work.

A text-to-give campaign can easily serve as a standalone way to raise funds, but it also makes a perfect tool to add to your PTO’s fundraising toolkit. Imagine letting attendees at all your future events or your school’s sports games quickly and easily make a donation!


4. Funny Run

Hosting a themed fun run is a great fundraising idea for your PTO!

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Come up with a wacky theme for your next fun run event! Getting kids excited to spend the day exercising with their family is a perfect fundraising idea, and it’s easy!

A circus, zoo, pirate, or even zombie theme is a great way to get everyone involved. Borrow your school’s playing field or running track for an afternoon, and be sure to offer all kinds of prizes!

Charge a registration fee for participants, and always offer refreshments. A themed fun run is a great chance to promote and collect used running shoes for your shoe drive fundraiser, too!


5. Family Game Night

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A classic school and PTO fundraising staple, game nights are a cheap and easy way to raise some money and entertain your supporters.

Gather some age-appropriate games, or ask families to bring their favorite board games. Or maybe consider hosting a special Lawn Games Day if the weather permits! Pick a night and space, then promote your event to your members and the school community.

Raise funds by requesting a suggested donation, selling tickets, or offering pizza or other refreshments.


6. Community Supper

Hosting a community supper will engage your supporters and raise money for your PTO!

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Your PTO’s community supper event can become an incredibly popular local event!

Borrow your school’s cafeteria or find a local event venue to host your event, then organize a delicious meal for the whole community. Recruit plenty of volunteers and plan your dinner well in advance.

Simple spaghetti dinners are a classic fundraising example since it’s a relatively inexpensive meal to prepare, or maybe a themed international cuisine night would be a hit! Either way, families love the opportunity to enjoy a meal out while supporting their local PTO.


7. Raffle Night

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Raffle events make great additions to any of your other fundraising nights.

Solicit some great in-kind donations from local businesses to offer as prizes, then sell raffle tickets in the week leading up to your game night, community supper, or standalone raffle night.

Depending on the prizes you offer, raffle nights can be extremely effective fundraising events for parent-teacher organizations of all sizes! If you’re also conducting a shoe drive fundraiser, consider offering free raffle tickets in exchange for shoe donations!


8. Giving Kiosk

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While not a fundraising event in themselves, giving kiosks can make a perfect fundraising tool for your PTO.

Simply offering an easy way for in-person donors to use their credit card can go a long way to increase donations. Use a giving kiosk at all your meetings and events!

For an idea of how to incorporate a giving kiosk into your events, check out how a chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation used a DipJar to collect donations, sell raffle tickets, and raise nearly $2,000 at their fashion show event.


9. Field Day Olympics

Creating some extra games at your school’s field day is an easy fundraising idea for your PTO.

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If your PTO’s school hosts an annual field day for students, create some special competition events and give attendees the opportunity to register to compete.
Parents will love to get involved, too! Choose some fun challenges to add on to the regular field day activities. Sack races, obstacle courses, and egg-balancing challenges are some classic options.

Plus, offering these add-on challenges is an extremely cost-effective way to bring in some extra donations for your parent-teacher organization!


10. Book Fair or Swap

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Book fairs and swaps are another classic PTO fundraising method.

There are plenty of companies out there that can bring a book fair to your school, but consider hosting your own book swap event, too! Promote your event, then allow students to donate books in exchange for tickets, which can then be used to ‘purchase’ other books.

Give students the option to purchase tickets, too! This can be a great way to promote reading while raising some quick funds.


11. Restaurant Spirit Night

Contact a local restaurant to organize a percentage fundraising or spirit night for your PTO.

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Contact a local chain restaurant and ask about their school fundraising policies.

Many restaurants happily partner with local schools and PTOs to host special percentage fundraiser events. Be sure to contact any independently-owned local restaurants, too! They’ll likely appreciate the larger dinner crowds, and you can help promote a local business.

Parents and students love these events, so they’re sure to be a hit with your whole school community.


12. Fall Festival

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Another classic PTO fundraising event, a fall festival is a great way to combine all kinds of fundraising methods into one.

First, solicit in-kind donations from local businesses. They can help you with food and equipment in exchange for promotion. Then, incorporate other fundraising tools into your festival. For instance, hold a special raffle or silent auction, promote your text-to-give options, and offer special rewards for donations of gently used shoes!

With some careful planning, it’s easy to host a fall festival your whole community can enjoy as they support your PTO’s work!


13. Coupon Books

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Coupon books are a surefire way to engage your PTO’s broader community!

Contact local businesses that are popular with families in your community and ask them to create special promotions or deals to include in your PTO’s fundraising coupon book. With the right deals, your coupon book could be in high demand!

Your PTO’s only related expenses would likely be for printing the booklets, so a great selection of deals can translate into an incredibly successful fundraiser!


14. Car Wash

Hosting a car wash is a classic and effective PTO fundraising idea!

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Another classic PTO fundraising event is the tried-and-true carwash.

Ask your PTO’s school to use the parking lot for a Saturday, then promote your car wash to the community. Encourage parents and older kids to volunteer by offering special rewards.

An old-fashioned car wash is also a great chance to promote your shoe drive fundraiser. Let drivers exchange several pairs of shoes for a car wash! Be sure to offer refreshments for sale to drivers as they wait, too.


15. Community Sponsors

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Offer local businesses the chance to support your PTO’s work in their community’s schools in exchange for some promotion.

Discuss some possibilities with your PTO’s school. Maybe a fence or an electronic entrance sign would be great spots for a small to medium-sized banner thanking your community sponsor for their support.

Donor recognition walls, plaques, and signs are an excellent way to ensure continued support and build stronger relationships in the community.

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Check out these creative PTO fundraising ideas.

Creative PTO Fundraising Ideas

Sometimes offering new, unique, and engaging events is the best way to get the attention of your community and raise some funds.

More creative fundraising ideas sometimes require more planning or resources, but the donations you’ll receive more than make up for the effort.

Check out our top fundraising ideas for your parent-teacher organization to engage your school’s supporters in memorable events that everyone will love!

1. T-Shirt Design Contest

A t-shirt design contest is a great PTO fundraising idea!

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Students are always happy to buy their special school shirt, and grown-ups love unique t-shirts that commemorate events or fundraisers!

Custom t-shirts are the perfect opportunity for your PTO to raise some funds while getting the whole school involved in designing a new school shirt or special event t-shirt. Find a great t-shirt fundraising platform and then hold a design contest!

Top t-shirt fundraising printing services give you the option to either conduct a crowdfunding style campaign or directly order your custom shirts in bulk, so be sure to consider exactly how you’ll want to offer your new shirts to the community.


2. The Great PTO Cookoff

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Combine the reliable fundraising power of cookoff events with the popularity of cooking competition tv shows!

First organize a community cookoff. BBQ and chili are some favorite classics. Then create some special challenges for the entrants to complete! Mystery ingredients and timed challenges are some effective options. Find some local judges to participate, then promote your cookoff event!

Charge competitors a registration fee and offer tiered tickets with different numbers of food vouchers to attendees for the greatest fundraising impact, or accept a donation for your shoe drive fundraiser in exchange for tickets!


3. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are a great way for your PTO to include creative events in your fundraiser.

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Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are the best way to engage your PTO’s supporters online!

Campaign volunteers host their own fundraising pages and promote them to their social networks. Check out Re:charity’s rundown of the top peer-to-peer fundraising platforms for more information about how these campaigns work.

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great choice for school-based organizations like PTOs because they’re most effective when combined with events. Plus, these campaigns make it easy to create special challenges and offer rewards that will get your whole school excited!


4. Mystery Week

Stage a mystery in your PTO’s school then reveal the truth at a special fundraising event!

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Create some mystery in your PTO’s school! This idea can be tricky to pull off, but it’s a fantastic way to get your school’s students and families involved in supporting your PTO.

Stage a mysterious crime in your elementary school. For instance, a school mascot or trophy might go missing. Then, throughout the week, set up some prominent clues for students to notice. Be sure to loop parents in on the mystery, too.

On the next Friday or Saturday, host a special event like a game night or fall festival, and dramatically reveal the culprit! This can be an excellent way for your PTO to boost event attendance and ensure increased donations.


5. The Pucker Up Challenge

Find a willing barnyard volunteer for your PTO fundraiser, then let students vote for a victim with donations!

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If your community is in a more rural area, it’s very likely that a family at your PTO’s school has goats, pigs, or cows.

It may sound silly, but nothing will get your school’s students more excited than the idea of one of their teachers puckering up for a kiss from a farm animal! Organize the special pucker up event, then let students vote for their teacher by donating to classroom collection jars during the preceding week.

Consider hosting a pucker up challenge during your fall festival, or accept donated pairs of shoes as votes in the challenge.


6. Art Project Auction

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Parents love collecting and displaying their kids’ artwork. Organize a special event where they can support your PTO at the same time!

School auctions can be extremely effective fundraising events when organized well, and their children’s artwork might be among the best motivators to get parents to donate. Ask students in the school’s art classes to contribute their creations to the auction, and then promote the event to the community!

You might choose to conduct a silent auction, traditional auction, or even mobile app auction, so be sure to research your options ahead of time.


7. Video Game Tournament

A video game tournament is a great PTO fundraising idea to excite students and parents.

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Hosting a video game tournament is a perfect way to catch the interest of your students and their parents.

Choose some retro, age-appropriate video games that the parents in your community will remember from their own childhoods! Contact a local arcade or find individuals with access to these games to borrow or rent them for the day.

Charge a registration fee for parent and child teams to compete in the tournament, then be sure to sell refreshments, too!


8. Science Challenge Event

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Work with teachers in your PTO to design a series of unique science challenges!

For instance, let students race paper airplanes to demonstrate aerodynamics, build tin foil boats to see which design can hold the most cargo, or even race potatoes down a hill to see how momentum affects speed. The challenges can be silly, but younger students will love them.

Organize an event and promote it to students and parents. Offer special registration tickets and refreshments, then watch your school’s students have fun while learning!


9. Dog Costume Contest

Hosting a dog costume contest and parade is a creative fundraising idea for your parent-teacher organization.

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This idea is fairly simple, but your school’s community will love it!

More dog-owners than ever dress up their pets for Halloween, so give them a stage to show off. Let parents register to bring the family dog to the school blacktop on a designated afternoon, then hold a mini parade. Let students vote on their favorite costumes!

Be sure to offer refreshments for both human and canine attendees.


10. School Store

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This classic PTO fundraising method requires more extensive planning, but it can be hugely successful!

Solicit in-kind donations or source some affordable school supplies and small toys to purchase in bulk. Work with your PTO’s school to find an empty classroom or build a special cart, then invite classes of students to shop! A visit to the class store can be a special reward on Friday afternoons or around the holidays, for instance.

Be sure to recruit parent volunteers to staff the store, and offer special promotions, too. Maybe students who donate a pair of used shoes for your shoe drive fundraiser can win a free toy.


11. Dance Studio Night

Find an instructor to volunteer for your parent-teacher organization, then host a special dance class night to raise funds!

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Many schools and PTOs have found great fundraising success with this idea!

Find a dance instructor in your community who’s willing to donate their services to your organization for an evening. Ballroom, hip hop, and Zumba could all be hugely popular with your students and their parents if you offer them a fun night out together. Just make sure the instructor has experience teaching children.

Let supporters purchase tickets during the week before the studio night and be sure to offer them bottled water during the event!


12. Themed Basket Auction

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Themed baskets are a reliable fundraising staple that let your PTO get creative with how to best attract donors.

Organize an auction event or raffle for unique themed baskets full of goodies. Maybe your community might love your “Tropical Island Treats” basket, or maybe “Brunch in Paris,” or “Golfer’s Delight.” Think about your community, your target donors, and their interests.

A mobile bidding platform might be the perfect way to generate some healthy competition!


13. Family Arts and Crafts Night

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Let the families in your community enjoy spending time together while making some crafts and supporting your cause!

Younger children and their parents will particularly enjoy this event. Collect plenty of craft supplies and maybe enroll the help of the school’s art teacher, too. Promote your event, then ask parents for a suggested donation as they arrive.

This is a great event to promote your shoe drive fundraiser! Or maybe you can offer small picture frames or memento boxes for sale so parents can display their child’s work!


14. Trunk or Treat Tailgate

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This is a perfect event to offer some not-too-scary Halloween fun for students and raise some funds for your PTO.

Use your PTO’s school’s parking lot for an evening. Ask participants to register ahead of time to reserve their spot, then have them compete to see who can create the best, most imaginative Halloween decorations for the trunks of their car! Each competitor displays their decorations and hands out treats as attendees tour all the entries.

When organized well, this event can be a very low-cost, high-impact earner for your PTO!


15. Kite Contest

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Let your community have some old-fashioned fun and display their creativity in a kite contest.

Your PTO will bring the materials, and your registered participants will bring their know-how and experimental spirit. Let parent/child teams compete to see who can create the most original design, the most beautiful kite, the highest flyer, and the worst disaster!

Offer refreshments and take the opportunity to promote any of your other fundraisers, like a giving kiosk or used shoe drive!

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Check out these free PTO fundraising resources to keep the ideas flowing!

Free School and PTO Fundraising Resources

Looking for more guidance on the best ways to raise funds for your school or parent-teacher organization?

Check out some additional free resources on school fundraising for even more ideas and insights!

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