When it comes to a successful fundraising year, balance is key. Different types of fundraisers work for different schools, and many groups don’t have the bandwidth to hold more than one or two big events in a given year, if any. What’s more, you want to avoid fundraising fatigue, which can wear down parents quickly. Your best bet is to incorporate a mix of product sales, event fundraisers, and collection programs with passive fundraisers and smaller events like restaurant nights and penny wars.

Here’s what a balanced fundraising year might look like based on common fundraisers and the most popular seasons to hold them, plus a broader checklist of key tasks for each season. In fall, your group might hold a larger event like a carnival and then, later in the season, a food or product sale. Similarly, if you’re choosing to hold a winter event that will require a lot of effort and volunteers, like a do-it-yourself holiday shop, choose something smaller for spring. The main point is to balance your fundraising efforts with the other essential work your group wants to do. Choose a few that will work best for your community rather than trying to do them all.

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Back-to-School
Publicize your passive fundraisers; new parents won’t know about them.
Review the fundraiser information on your group’s website and update as needed.
Assemble a winterfest committee to start determining logistics (such as location), activity stations, and business donations needed.
Fall Fundraising Plan
Family event such as a school carnival or fundraising event such as an auction
Finalize contracts with holiday shop vendors.
Let parents know how profits from an upcoming product sale will benefit the school.
Start regular committee meetings for a spring event like a carnival or fun run.
Set a date and secure a location for a spring auction.
Remind parents that the first Box Tops for Education collection deadline (Nov. 1) is approaching.
Hold a restaurant night fundraiser close to Thanksgiving, when families are looking for a night off from cooking.
Winter Fundraising Plan
Family event such as a winterfest
Secure volunteers for a spring fun run and start publicizing the event to families.
Consider holding a penny war fundraiser if your group needs a small amount of quick cash with low effort.
Check clearance sales for next year’s do-it-yourself holiday shop right after the holidays (and throughout the year).
Finalize contracts and confirm dates with administrators for a spring product sale or fundraising event.
Spring Fundraising Plan
Fundraising event such as an auction or family event such as a fun run or carnival
Finalize contracts for next fall’s product sale.
Remind parents that the second Box Tops for Education collection deadline (March 1) is approaching.
Set dates for a family event for next fall, such as a carnival.
Before school ends, have the outgoing fundraising chair meet with the new one to bring her up to date and pass along important information.
Before school ends, thank families for their support and tell them how your group spent fundraising profits.