Pros and Cons of School Fundraiser Ideas

Fundraisers are a critical source of revenue for schools. At CharityMania, we do our part to simplify the process and maximize profit (70%!) with our fundraising platform. We also understand that one fundraiser is simply not enough. Schools need to use a variety of fundraising methods to prevent fundraising fatigue and bring in the donations needed to fund critical needs.

We work with a lot of schools and often hear about their trials and tribulations with fundraising. To help our school colleagues, we put together a few pros and cons of some of the most common fundraiser ideas based on the successes, and frustrations our school partners have shared with us.

Types of Fundraisers

There is an array of fundraising options. To find the right mix for your school, it can be helpful to consider the pros and cons of each fundraising idea and develop a plan for how and when to use them based on the time and resources available.


Events run the gamut from formal galas to casual get-togethers. They vary in complexity based on whether or not you include silent or live auctions and entertainment.

Pros: On the positive side, events are a great way to build relationships with your stakeholders, show them a good time, and showcase the good work that you do with students. Many schools hold annual events so that attendees can anticipate and look forward to the event.

Cons: Unfortunately, events often cost money upfront to secure a venue, purchase food, and pay for entertainment or other incidentals. They also require quite a bit of volunteer labor to tend to all of the details regarding set-up beforehand, service during the event, and clean-up after the event. In short, they are a lot of work.


Sweepstakes, which are the types of fundraisers that CharityMania offers, involves selling something of value (in our case music downloads) and promotional tickets that offer a chance to win a prize in addition to a “no purchase necessary” option to enter. A common misconception is that this is a form of gambling, however since purchasers gain something of value for participating, it is not. Raffles are similar in concept, but people are specifically purchasing a chance to win something and only certain types of organizations are qualified to hold raffles.

Pros: Sweepstakes are simple. It simply involves selling an item (such as music) and awarding the prize so there is limited administration required. In some cases such as CharityMania, the profit margin is much higher than most other fundraisers.

Cons: It takes the effort of a number of sellers to get out there and sell tickets.

Product Sales

Product sales are common among schools with everything from chocolate bars and magazine subscriptions to gift wrap and cookie dough.

Pros: Product sales are pretty easy to implement and potential buyers are often familiar with the process.

Cons: Because these are so common, school families have become reluctant to ask family members, neighbors and co-workers to buy stuff. Another primary drawback is that a good portion of the sales go to paying for the product, which reduces the amount of money raised. These types of fundraisers also typically require two visits to donors – the first to sell the product, the second to deliver it – which means more work for your volunteers.

Discount Coupons

Whether using online tools like Scrip or Shoparoo, or working with local or national restaurants or retailers, the basic idea is that the retailer will sell schools coupon books at a discounted price and let them keep a percentage (~5% of the proceeds).

Pros: These can make for a pretty easy sale if they are aligned with what people already purchase. Additionally, they don’t require too much time and effort to hold. These can be a great supplemental way to bring in some extra fundraising dollars.

Cons: While this can be successful, the profit is often pretty low and it does bank on the fact that people will shop or dine at the specific retailers and restaurants.

CharityMania: How We’re Different

We want all of our school friends to be successful in their fundraising efforts. That is why we have developed our CharityMania Fundraisers to be as simple and effective as possible. Through our easy-to-use online management system, a single person can organize and manage the whole program.

We offer six fundraisers throughout the year based on professional football, baseball, and hockey; college basketball; and major golf tournaments. [If you are interested in learning more about how our CharityMania sweepstakes fundraisers can help your school, please contact us for details!  We are always happy to help explain any aspect of our fundraisers.]

Image Credit: US Department of Education’s Photostream