There’s no dancing around the fact that school budgets are tight, so here are some genius school fundraising ideas to try out in your primary school.

Donations and raising money are more in the news now than ever before. Just to keep a school budget afloat, teachers are abseiling and throwing themselves out of planes!

It was recently reported that a Headteacher was having to run the Great North Run just to raise money for school visits for children at his school.

There's no silver bullet for school budgets, and you shouldn't need to scrimp and scrape. We've talked to Headteachers & experts to create a guide to help with your budget, without sacrificing the things that matter

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A Headteacher's Guide to Maximising Your Primary School Budget

Includes insights on raising and saving money; from using business in the community for a free school makeover, to saving thousands on your intervention system

Dave Shaw at Spire Junior School in Chesterfield (the aforementioned marathon man) has already had to lose one teacher and one teaching assistant, he is teaching part-time himself and his deputy is teaching full time so they can save money.

The thing is, this is not uncommon. Teaching staff always go the extra mile to find extra pennies and raise funds needed for their school. Fairs, fetes, tombolas and non-uniform days have become the bread and butter for schools looking to raise money to help their pupils.

That’s why we’ve put together our top list of school fundraising ideas to raise money more effectively (and have fun while doing it)! Plus as a bonus, they don’t take an entire term to plan. Thank you extra mile-ers!

25 genius school fundraising ideas for your primary school

1. Primary school crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an online fundraiser that our running headteachers have used so think about how you could do something similar. Perhaps a walk-a-thon or running event?

Sites like Just Giving and Crowdfunder enable you to set up a web page and explain what you are collecting donations for and what it is you are doing. This a great way to let people know why your efforts are important and how they will benefit children.  A few shares on social media and donations could snowball as word gets around.

2. Community grants for primary schools

It is always surprising how few schools make the most of what and who is around them. Local businesses and companies might seem distant and uninterested but you’d be wrong. They are very often interested in supporting their local schools with a grant because they want the school and children to succeed.

A community grant is something that businesses offer to non-profit organisations so why not research the top companies where you live and find out if they make grants to schools.

3. make use of free information that’s out there on primary budgets

Free material is a great way for schools to get more information on raising money in innovative ways, so download what you can. Third Space Learning’s new guide to help maximise your primary school budget is a great place to start.

Created by talking to headteachers, former school inspectors and experts, it can help your school raise money without scrimping and scraping and without sacrificing the things that matter to your school.

Download the free guide to improving your primary school budget prospects here.

4. ‘Grants 4 School’

Visit Grants 4 Schools and find out about different grant schemes available to you. This site is a one-stop funding information service to schools. It provides a comprehensive grants database allowing schools to search for relevant grants and funding sources.

5. In-kind donations for your KS1 & KS2 pupils

This isn’t a common fund-raiser which is all the more reason for considering it. You could ask individuals or local businesses for an ‘in-kind’ donation. This might be to offer a specialised service (e.g. accounting), products for class, materials for events, resources for the school grounds and so on.

There are more people willing to give something away or offer a service for free than you realise.

6. Primary school ‘Amazon Affiliates’

Amazon Associates provide a share of all sales generated from links to its website. It allows schools and other non-profit organisations to generate revenue each time a purchase is made with an affiliate link. For every purchase made through these links, your school could earn up to 10% in advertising fees from Amazon’s affiliate program. To find out more visit the Amazon Affiliates website.

7. Click and fundraise

It’s not just Amazon either. The Easy Funding website is something else to get involved in. It’s effortless fundraising really.

Whenever a supporter (friends or parents usually) shop online, they login to the website and start shopping with over 2,700 retailers. Every purchase generates a donation for their chosen PTA from the retailer. For similar ideas try The Giving Machine and Go Raise.

8. Primary school lottery

It may be hard to imagine but one in four schools now have their own lottery and these are popular and an effective way of raising money. They also sound like a nightmare to run but they don’t have to be. Visit Your School Lottery for an easy way to get things up and running. Supporters can join for as little as £1 per week and it doesn’t cost the school anything.

9. Primary teacher baby photo competition

Always popular, teachers (and other school staff) bring a photograph of themselves as a baby into school and children have to match the baby photo to the member of staff.  This can be incorporated into a school fete or as a stand-alone competition.

10. Book fundraising in your school

Another great way to raise money for your school is through book project fundraising. It also helps develop children’s artistic skills and raises the profile of their writing skills.

The My Book Project provides schools with a choice of 3 book projects that can be created in lesson time. In just a few easy steps, schools can have a professionally created cookbook, short story book or poetry anthology.

11. Franchise your primary school

Tea towels, mugs, bags, cards, aprons, bags for life, bears, calendars, school labels – the lot. Personalisation is key because it fuels ownership. Every year of my teaching career I have been part of the ‘tea towel’ fundraisers.

Children draw an image of themselves and these are grouped as a class and a school onto a product. ‘Self-portrait’ fund-raising is always popular because it feeds into keep sake culture of sentimentality and children love seeing their artwork on merchandise.

12. Key Stage 1 & Key Stage 2 bake sales

It’s a classic. It’s tried and tested and it works. Parents, volunteers and supporters of your school can donate homemade cakes, biscuits and bread and an event can be held where these are sold off to raise funds.

When done in the style of a Great British Bake Off, they are a crowd puller and crowd pleaser and a reliable fundraiser that can generate a surprising amount of money.  They are a great social occasion, they get many people involved and they don’t cost much to set up and run.

Combine this idea with a cookbook fundraiser where parents and grandparents contribute their most loved family recipes which are then compiled and published as a school cookbook – including school dinner recipes too!

13. Primary school bingo night

A sociable and popular game, bingo is a fun and easy to set up making it a great fundraiser that parents and children can do together. To raise more money, you can always sell food and drinks too.

A bingo night linked to a certain day or festival makes the evening extra special and allows for more fun, for example St Patrick’s Day.

A twist on traditional bingo nights is ‘Rock and Roll Bingo’ which replaces bingo balls with clips of popular music from the last 5 decades and the numbers on the card with the artists and song titles – see the Rock and Roll Bingo website to get started.

14. Primary quiz night

Quiz nights are also relatively easy to organise and can raise significant sums of money. They are an excellent way of bringing parents, teachers and pupils together in a fun social context as well as other members of the local community. For primary schools, ‘are you smarter than a ten-year-old’ is always a great place to start. It’s hugely fun to watch your pupils beat their parents on matters of the curriculum.

This could also become a regular feature in the school’s event calendar.  Food and drink can be included in the ticket price (e.g. £10 per person in teams of 6 including a fish and chip supper). If it’s adults-only, get an events licence from the council and sell alcohol for extra cash. It’s also a good chance to throw in a free raffle (everyone brings a prize).

15. Bollywood ball for primary pupils/parents

For a really fun evening, you could organise a Bollywood extravaganza with Bhangra music, Indian food, dancing lessons, decorations, Henna tattoo – the opportunities are endless. Transform your hall space into a Bollywood set and ask everyone to dress in a Bollywood theme.

Alternatively, the classic international evening is always popular too and this showcases music, food, dance and dress from around the world.

16. Don’t neglect to recycle primary school supplies

If you have empty ink cartridges then you can recycle them to raise cash for your school by visiting Empties Please. They collect used printer cartridges and donate the money raised straight back to the school. It’s a great way to raise green awareness and there shouldn’t be a shortage of cartridge donations from the across the school population.

Think about doing the same for mobile phones, DVDs and CDs, currency and jewellery – check out Fone BankForgotten Mobile and Music Magpie for all your recycling needs.

Plus, generate some extra money through donating your clothes, accessories, shoes, bedding and towels with Rags 2 Riches 4 Schools.

17. Buy a primary school brick

Brick fundraising is a new way to raise money for schools and has been used in sports and social clubs for many years.

The idea is simple – supporters buy or sponsor a brick to be put towards a new building project. This is then symbolically recognised by having a commemorative brick or engraved brick bearing the donor’s name. Visit Engrave Bricks for more on this.

Talking of bricks, what about getting LEGO bricks personalised as a fundraiser? Try out Fab Bricks.

18. Local scarecrow trail

Hold a scarecrow trail around your locality. Families register to build a scarecrow and pay £5 to £10. Scarecrows are placed in front gardens and people buy a trail sheet from the school for £1-£2 including a map of the route.

The trail involves some puzzles to solve and guess the scarecrow (these can be themed and people guess who they are – from Elvis to Hagrid!). They’re great publicity for the school so make sure to get the local press involved.

19. Online auction

What about hosting an online auction to raise money for your school? Using a site such as Jumble Beeyou can easily list any number of donated items that your children, parents, and teachers would enjoy bidding on. An auction can be opened up to everyone in the community to raise more money!

For more of an event, hold an auction of promises where parents and the local community pledge something that people bid for, for example a meal for two, babysitting service, taxi service, gardening service, or even dog walking.

20. Primary school car wash

Open up the school playground, car park or field and hold a fundraising car wash. It is easy to organise and fun to do that can involve lots of helping hands. Whilst customers wait, offer them some refreshments to make a little more money.

21. Key Stage 2 sleepover

Parents will probably pay a lot of money for this! Children will love the idea of spending the night in school.

Obviously, lots of helpers would be needed and all child protection concerns need triple checking but they can be a lot of fun once a year! Instead of sleeping in school, why not ask families to pitch a tent on the school field from Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning?

22. Primary school spelling bee

A popular in the US for many years, why not consider having a spelling bee fundraiser for children and/or adults. These are more appropriately done in teams rather than as individuals as this lessens the pressure and makes an event a lot more enjoyable. Rounds can be themed according to a topic or subject.

23. Wine tasting

It’s not difficult to see why a wine tasting evening is a money-spinner. One of the best ways to organise this is to involve a local wine merchant who could provide wine as cost price and run the evening for you in exchange for promoting their business.

You could operate the evening as a quiz with a blind tasting. Combine with some cheese too! If wine isn’t the tipple of choice, hold an Oktoberfest instead with beer and music. For something along the same lines, you could suggest a pop-up restaurant and transform your canteen and hall into a professional restaurant.

24. Race night

Race nights showing greyhounds or horses can generate a lot of interest. Companies such as Race Night by Moonlighting and The Events Company and can host a professional and glitzy race night with packages including compere, tickets, film equipment and race footage. You can throw in food and a bar for extra revenue along with a good old raffle.

25. Primary school circus (sound familiar?!)

It’s possible! A truly memorable event is to invite a circus to your school and generate plenty of interest and money. Circus Pazaz provides a fun-filled show and circus lesson skills for lots of guaranteed laughs. Other providers include Happy CircusNational Festival Circus, and Circus Sensible.

Remember, fundraising doesn’t mean running yourself into the ground. With the ideas above you can raise money for your school in a way that doesn’t take an entire term to plan. If you use any of the ideas mentioned above, tweet us @thirdspacetweet and let us know about the awesome events you set up!

Enjoyed this? Read more on school leadership: Confessions of a Primary Headteacher: The Secret to School Leadership.

John Dabell , Teacher , Former School Inspector

A former school inspector with a background in teaching and education, John frequently writes for the Third Space blog on a variety of topics.