PTO Today Q&A

Question: How many fundraisers are too many?

How many fundraisers should a PTO have each year, and who determines this? At our previous elementary school, there were one or two main fundraisers. However, it seems like this school has one every month! Candy, gift wrap, coupon books, cookie dough—my family is tired of selling it all. Does it ever end? I’m becoming more active in our PTO and would like to influence some changes.

Asked by



Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

Tired of selling? If you’re like most parents, you’re probably even more tired of buying! Elly can’t say she blames you; it sounds like your group may have gone a bit overboard. For this very reason, some school districts put a limit on the number of fundraisers each school can hold that involve the children selling items. Fundraising is an important tool for a parent group, and it should be used wisely—with great discretion. Most groups don’t want to be seen merely as a fundraising machine.

Ideally, PTO leaders should discuss all the aspects of fundraising, such as the goals, the expectations, the number and type of fundraisers, and what other fundraisers will take place in the school. Then consider what you are trying to accomplish and what funds are really needed. Based on this information, decide how to proceed.

While there is no magic number, many parent groups hold one major fundraiser each semester, such as a product sale or a large event. A PTO may also have ongoing programs such as Box Tops for Education, ink cartridge recycling, or various sales rebate programs that raise some funds without using the children as a sales force.

Talk to other parents who feel similarly, and share your concerns with the PTO board or at a meeting. You could offer to serve on the fundraising committee, to research fundraising ideas that might have a higher return or to assist with a parent survey. If you want to influence change, bring the matter up in a constructive fashion. You will be most effective if you are willing to be part of the solution.

Community Advice

STLMommy1 writes:
Our preschool (ages 6 weeks - 6 years old) has done the following events with success: Innisbrook Gift Wrap (Before Labor Day) Note Card Sales (we did this ourselves and made a KILLING b/c profit margin was huge) Lunch with Santa Family Fun Night at Monkey Joes (scheduled in February) Silent Auction (scheduled for April) I think the goal is to have fundraising but not have it look like fundraising. The parents responded well to Innisbrook and Lunch with Santa. I think as long as parents see what they are getting for their money, they are more inclined to buy into it.

Community Advice

firstnoel writes:
I agree our PTA has had more fundraisers and they have not been that successful. We tend to do very well with the Book Fairs because the children want to show their parents a book they want. The kids and parents need to be able to interact. Our PTA has run about 5-6 fundraisers and it is only January. Quite a few of our parents think that we overdoing the fundraisers. Unfortunately, we have a fundraising chair who is money hungry. I agree with STLMommy1 that parents like to see what they are getting for their money.

Community Advice

PTOPres2yrs writes:
Our PTO , through trial and error, have discovered that 4 major fundraisers is enough in one school year! This gives the Parents time to breathe. The first fundraiser is encourages the students to work together to win a Fun Fair (September). The second fundraiser is either a chocolate bars(November). We hold a Holiday Shop for the students in (December) where they can buy gifts for their families. Finally, we have a cookie dough fundraiser in (March). This combination works well for our school. In between, we sell Popcorn every Wednesday as a middle of the week treat for the kids. They look forward to that! Hope this helps!

Community Advice

FoxMom writes:
I think it depends on what you are trying to accomplish-- at our school 1-2 main fundraisers wouldn't be enough to cover all the expenses we cover every year-- so we send home a menu in the beginning of the year showcasing every fundraiser or family event that we have for the upcoming year and when it is scheduled-- plus a letter that states welcome... with a -- we know you can't do it all-- please don't try-- you will burn yourself out and get put off by the school-- think of our fundraisers and events like a menu-- and listed everything under a category of appetizers, main course, dessert-- that way parents know what we are offering and when and that we don't expect them to participate in everything-- only what they can. This has a great help and has worked for us-- and we are constantly changing events that don't have the appeal they did at one time-- so there is new choices each year-- with our long time favorites staying the course.

Community Advice

dreeves writes:
The main reason so many schools have too many fundraisers is that the fundraisers they are having are not effective. This is almost always due to lack of participation. No school should ever have to do more than two fundraisers per year IF they are getting enough participation. If our schools took a little time to stress accountability to the children and families about how much they matter in the success of these endeavors everyone would benefit by having to participate in less. Make sense?

Community Advice

maria56m writes:
I think it depends on the size of the school. Our elementary has 500 students and we have four fundraisers a year - Sept Wraps, Oct Book Fair, Feb - auction, May - Carnival. Most require a lot of resources and a lot of planning but are fun and include the kids and community and have a good rate of return.

Community Advice

SleepyF95 writes:
I just wanted to make the point that not all fundraisers throughout the school year are run by the PTO. I know our librarian ran a fundraiser and some are just by the school in general, not the PTO. It may seem overwhelming, but just remember, it's not always the PTO's fault.

Community Advice

sarahchase1971 writes:
Two things have been great for us...first, the No Frills fundraiser that just allows busy parents to make one donation for the year. You pick an amount that's comfortable and donate. No meetings, no mandatory items to buy, nothing. The second way is to get kids involved. In middle school, kids use social media. If you push some of your efforts through them, it can get viral (for lack of a better word!) We are launching an online food drive this year with two middle schools competing against each other. The site ( offers regular online drives (like a wedding registry) and also offers a mechanism where you can compete in real time. I can't WAIT to see how much food we get!!

Community Advice

LauraJan1 writes:
Try an Ink & Toner Sales Ongoing Fundraiser with Everyone buys ink and toner all the time. They budget for it, so it makes for a perfect fundraiser along with whatever else you are doing. It's free for your school or group to use. They give you your very own unique link, flyer(s), online banner ads for social media efforts and donate based on total GROSS sales unlike most online fundraisers. No cookie dough or candy. Your school, parents and supporters save up to 75% off on ink and toner and get FREE shipping PLUS your school receives 15% on all sales made. Contact them at Good luck.

Answer this question: