virtual fundraising ideas for schools

Virtual Fundraising for Your School: 13 Tried and Tested Ideas


Virtual fundraising has become somewhat of a necessity in recent years, but that is not the only reason we love it so much. Given the flexibility of virtual fundraisers and the large support networks of schools, the two go hand in hand. Therefore, they make the perfect addition to your fundraising plan

In our post-pandemic world, it is important to be ready to do everything online. Are you ready to get started? Here are 13 tried and true ideas to get you started, broken down by category. 

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Benefits of Virtual Fundraisers

Aside from the fact that they have soared to a status of necessity, virtual fundraisers open your organization up to a much wider audience. The students of the school make a huge supporter base, so you are already at a heightened advantage. 

Another benefit of online fundraising is greatly reduced costs. Plus, you can be far more flexible with the dates and times that they occur, which will increase the total amount of donations you accept for the event. Without having to participate in as much physical activity, that sounds like a pretty great tradeoff! Before planning your next fundraiser, give some thought into the most appropriate category for your supporter base. 


Sport Based

Most people love a reason to go do activities outside as a group, so sport-based fundraisers are often very successful. Of course, when we take them online, they look a bit different. Most virtual sports fundraisers have a social media aspect to provide updates on individual progress and results. 

#1: Virtual 5k

In a regular 5k marathon, everyone meets up at a physical location to run five kilometers together. People walk, jog, or run, and it takes anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours, depending on who is participating. 

anthony ready for a sport-based fundraising eventAnthony is ready for a sport-based fundraising event!

For a Virtual 5k, everyone pledges to trek that amount, and they time themselves when they do. With their pledge, they also pledge a donation to the online fundraiser. Everyone reports their timestamps online, and prizes can be awarded by mail.

#2: Virtual Walk-a-Thon

A virtual walk-a-thon is very similar to a virtual 5k. Instead of using the format of a race, a walk-a-thon tracks steps and distances. Again, everyone reports their time and distance. Offering an alternative to a running race can help engage even more people in the event.

Taking your walk-a-thon to the virtual realm can increase the turnout while also making the event much easier to participate in. In addition, these events are more kid-friendly, which allows families to participate as a team. Wherever your participants are, they can take the walk and send it in! 


Donation Based

Donation-based fundraisers are very straightforward crowdfunding campaigns. Directly asking supporters for funds for your cause is a direct and honest way of garnering fuel for your projects! 

#3: Text-to-Give

Keyword: texting. This form of fundraising allows nonprofits to accept donations via text message. With specialized software, you can accept a pledge via text message, and send the donor a form for their banking information. Once they fill it out, the donation is secured. Usually, there are set amounts, like $10, $25, or $30. 

Pro Tip: Keep in mind when determining your pre-set amounts that test-to-give donations are typically smaller donations. Note that requesting anything over $100 may be inappropriate for your audience.

#4: Facebook Fundraiser

When you limit your fundraiser to only Facebook, you can fundraise on a small, manageable scale. Facebook houses a very vast community of people who will share your posts with their own families and friends, which allows for a more simple, yet effective, marketing strategy. 

#5: In-Kind Donations

If your school is looking for certain items (e.g., shoes, school supplies, canned goods, or gardening tools), an alternative to purchasing them with donated funds is to ask for in-kind donations. 

Let’s consider an online shoe drive example. Your school can send out requests for students to come in with a pair of shoes for a child in need. This could be a pair of gently used shoes, or parents can purchase new shoes to donate. Many pairs can be collected at the school and brought to the donation location in one bulk package. If it is more convenient for parents to do so, the shoes can also be purchased online and delivered to the appropriate location for donation. 

This approach can be utilized for any products, and even services, the school needs. 


Online Selling

It is not uncommon for schools to send students home with a store catalog of images of items that can be ordered online. Online selling is another great way to gather resources for your cause, and to bring value to the community!

#6: Online Auction

In an online auction, you gather a set of much-desired items and set up an online stream for people to place bids on them. The idea is that buyers will pay more than the item is worth as they battle for the highest bid, and maybe even more so since they know it all goes to the school! Many schools receive physical donations in the form of items to be auctioned off at the silent auction event. 

salma ready to collect fundsSalma has her card ready to snag some items at an online auction!

#7: Product Sales

When you create an online product sale (e.g., cookies, candy bars, wrapping paper, holiday wreaths, mulch or flower sales, or magazine subscriptions), participants get a catalog or a certain amount of product. They sell as many items as they can within a certain timeframe. In certain situations, when parents, friends, and communities make purchases, the fundraising company may actually match the proceeds up to a certain amount. This is a fundraiser that can be done yearly, and people often get really excited about them, especially when they have a favorite product that they purchase each and every year! 


Home Based

#8: Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

When you empower parents and students to raise money on your behalf, you have more time to focus on projects. Peer-to-peer fundraising relies on your supporters to reach out to their networks and create fundraisers for you. Parents may bring it to their workplaces, churches, or local businesses, reaching into a wide pool of potential donors. Many companies are willing to match donations up to a certain amount, all it takes is asking!

#9: T-Shirt Fundraiser

Fundraising sales made simple: place your logo on a t-shirt with the name of your fundraiser, and ask supporters to sell them on your behalf! This is another fun way to fundraise that can give students a way to remember the school year. Bonus points if you can put something on the shirt that is highly relatable to the students. It is a very common method among many schools and workplaces, and the t-shirts are likely to circulate for years to come! 



Educational materials are an amazing way to provide unique gifts to your audience. When you put effort into bringing something valuable and powerful to the table, people are more likely to feel confident that their donation is well-placed. 

#10: Online Read-a-Thon

In a read-a-thon, supporters pledge to pay a certain amount once a student reads a certain amount of books. These pledges often come from family members, coaches, or neighbors, and they can be for any amount of money or books. Sometimes, a large company will pledge or match a large sum if the whole school achieves a certain goal. This encourages your students to learn more, which many people are glad to support with a pledge. 

#11: Online Workshop

Schools have access to many intelligent individuals at any given time: the teachers! These people are highly specialized in their subjects with tons of value to offer. Get together with your team and create a webinar or a workshop to offer to your supporters for a small fee. It could be speaking on a certain subject like teaching a recipe, focusing on mindful parenting, or another area of expertise. Students will share about it, and might be uniquely interested in seeing a different side of one of their teachers. 

Pro Tip: To spice things up a little, it could be fun and unique to ask the students to lead the workshop! The final product will be a heartfelt memory for years to come, and it could encourage additional donors to sign up for the fundraiser. 



Fun campaigns are often in line with common trends. With a spirit of connection, approaching your fundraiser with a carefree attitude could encourage the same response from your viewers!

#12: Social Media Challenge

Social media challenges are always fun ways of reaching a wide range of people. For example, the ice bucket challenge was a viral concept that was intended to raise money for a very rare disease. If you were nominated online, you would have to make a choice: donate $100, or dump a huge bucket of icy water on your head and donate $10 instead. To choose the latter, you need video proof within 24 hours, and the videos were hilarious to watch. 

sadie is all-in for fun fundraising ideasSadie is all-in on these fun fundraising ideas!

To put it in context, your school does not have to participate in such an intense challenge. There are dance challenges, art challenges, and various kinds in between. There is something for everyone, with just a little mindful research! 

Pro Tip: This option is particularly useful for high school fundraisers as high school students are among the most talented social media users out there! Conversely, be mindful of utilizing social media for younger children (elementary and middle schools) as parents will need to consent.

#13: Video Game Tournament

In a typical video game tournament, attendees chip in a certain amount of money to compete. Spectators may also pay an entrance fee to access the stream. Once someone wins, the total funds are split among the team members. In a fundraising video game tournament, those funds go straight to the school. 

Either way, they can be a hugely successful and inclusive method of fundraising. It is always a good idea to have a livestream of the competition for people to tune in to, as they may visit your online donation page during the tournament. 


Final Thoughts

Thanks to the ever growing list of web conferencing platforms, hosting online is easy! These methods of fundraising have been practiced time and time again, and they are great ways to connect with a large number of people online. Covid-19 has changed our world substantially, and participants are often far more comfortable with doing business online. It can make a difference in your success if you adapt to the methods of audiences. 

All in all, when your fundraisers are online, you rely on fewer volunteers to set up and break down fundraising events. Whether you are creating a walk-a-thon, a read-a-thon, or a social media challenge, there are tons of fun ways to raise funds for your cause with far less effort. When you offer something of value to your community, keep things engaging, and ask directly for donations, you cannot go wrong. Hopefully, you now have some extra ideas for your next virtual fundraising events at your school! 

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💡How can I raise money virtually for school?

With powerful virtual fundraising software, of course! You can host all kinds of fundraisers online. Plus, you have a greater reach than you would with an in-person fundraiser. Find out more. 

🔑 What are good fundraiser ideas for school?

You can host peer-to-peer fundraising events, silent auctions, or a virtual 5k race. There are t-shirt fundraising opportunities and even educational fundraisers. Oh, and don’t forget about bake sales. Find out more. 

📝 How do you make virtual fundraising fun?

By choosing a fundraising option that is more fun. There are video game tournaments, which people can tune in to spectate or play. You could also create a social media challenge by following the trends. Find out more.  

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