7 Ways Education Nonprofits Can Boost Funding Virtually

Number two pencils in a ceramic pencil holder

In March of 2020, all across America, school parent organizations were putting the final touches on their spring fundraising events, when the world changed in a day. The declaration of COVID-19 as a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization sent businesses and organizations scrambling to operate in a new and challenging environment. Both school-based nonprofits and larger education-oriented organizations need to think of creative ways to move forward, including virtual fundraising ideas for schools.

While every organization has its challenges in the current uncertain environment, schools have a certain advantage in that the donations are going to a single destination, often for the benefit of relatives or friends. Fundraisers should keep these advantages in mind and recognize that the families of the students who go to the school are going through a shared crisis and that they should be inclined to be supportive even if the circumstances are less than ideal.

With those factors in mind, let’s take a look at 7 creative fundraising ideas that nonprofit groups can use to maintain financial solvency in a troubling time.

Donation Pages 

There are probably no virtual fundraising ideas for schools that are easier to do than a donation page. If you don’t have one, you should set one up immediately. There are plenty of guides on how to do this easily.

You can request donations for general operating expenses or for a specific campaign (such as new books for the school library), or you can create a menu of prices for specific needs, such as masks or cleaning supplies. Similarly, you can create, or visit an existing, Amazon Wish List to purchase needed goods directly. 

Sell Candy and Other Items – and Make a Game Out Of It

If you have kids, you were probably tempted to turn and run when a student approached you on the playground with a box of candy. But there is a reason these kinds of fundraisers are so popular with teachers: whether we’re talking about candy, cookies, cookie dough, wrapping paper, or lightbulbs, these sales raise a lot of money and companies are lining up to facilitate this process. They’re also easy to make into a fun game for participants, with opts for digital tally-keeping and incentives for different levels of sales.

So when you’re casting about for virtual fundraising game ideas for schools, why not go back to basics? Of course, you won’t want kids selling on the street or door to door, but orders can be made online and students can deliver orders to the donor’s doorsteps.

Virtual 5K

Five-K races have become increasingly popular as school fundraisers and can be great virtual fundraising ideas for schools. They offer an opportunity to get together outdoors with friends, do something healthy, and raise money for a good cause. While it’s not currently safe to gather in groups, all the other elements of a 5K are still doable. Participants can get pledges from their friends, family, and coworkers for how far they run and complete the course at a time of their choosing. Set a date by which everyone must finish their run. Then get together for a Zoom gathering in which prizes are announced for the top performers in each age group. 

Virtual Auction

Fundraising auctions are a favorite of school nonprofits. They offer an opportunity to dress up, get out of the house, and—for those who can afford it—a chance to donate large amounts of money ostentatiously. This is what makes them such great virtual fundraising ideas for schools. While it may be difficult to capture the energy, your invitees will appreciate the effort.

Let people know that the event is “formal,” at least by 2020 standards. After eight months of going to work virtually in sweatpants, they will welcome the opportunity to dress up, if only from the waist up.

Keeping people glued to a screen for more than an hour is a challenge, so keep proceedings moving quickly to be sure your audience is engaged. Let people design their own paddles. Prepare for  the inevitable snafu. Not all the guests will be Zoom-literate, but little screw-ups generate laughs and are part of the experience.

Virtual Yard Sale

Another of the virtual fundraising ideas for schools whose time has come is the virtual yard sale. This idea combines the financial interests of your school with the shared sense that many people are having these days that the walls are closing in around them. Here’s your chance to pair down the clutter for a good cause.

Post photos of your items to the school’s fundraising page. Invite bids. All the proceeds go to the school, and the original owners of the items can deliver them to the buyer and enjoy a brief socially distant chat in the process.

Talent Show

This last of the virtual fundraising ideas for schools may be the most fun: a virtual talent show. While every school has its share of highly talented youngsters, parents can perform too. Encourage elaborate costumes and campy performances. Take the opportunity to laugh and appreciate the generous community of which you are a part. 

If 5Ks or talent shows are not your idea of a fun event, there are many virtual fundraising games to try. If gaming is prevalent in your school, there are a wide range of other games to center an event around.

In the end, our community will welcome any you have for virtual fundraising ideas for schools. These may be difficult times but they are inspiring innovation and a renewed commitment to community—if only at a distance.

For help developing a creative fundraising strategy for your educational nonprofit and help running your nonprofit during times of uncertainty, reach out to our experts to get started.