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The article's title, “Online Fundraising For Schools: Ideas + Tools For Success,” beside a young student reading a book in the park.

Online Fundraising For Schools: 11 Ideas + Tools For Success

Year after year, your school strives to provide top-notch learning experiences for its students. Between engaging classes, extracurricular activities, and field trips, you do plenty to promote personal and educational growth among your young scholars.

But you need reliable funding to continue doing all that you do. That's why online fundraising for schools is so important. Online school fundraisers are convenient, require fewer volunteers, and have a much larger reach than traditional in-person fundraising campaigns.

In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about school fundraising to help you rally your community and tap into more financial support. Here's what we'll cover:

  • Online Fundraising for Schools: FAQs
  • Read-A-Thons: The Best Online School Fundraising Idea
  • 10 More Standout Ideas for Online School Fundraisers
  • Top Platforms to Facilitate Online Fundraising for Schools
  • Tips to Improve Your Online School Fundraising Results

Your school needs quick and easy fundraising ideas so you can stay focused on creating rewarding learning experiences for your students. With software such as Read-A-Thon's platform on your side, you can raise more with less effort. Let's jump into the basics you need to know to launch a successful online school fundraiser.

Click through to sign up for a free Read-A-Thon fundraiser and start raising thousands of dollars to meet your online school fundraising goals.

Online Fundraising for Schools: FAQs

Before jumping into the most popular online fundraising ideas for schools, we'll walk through some frequently asked questions to set your team up for maximum success:

What are the benefits of online fundraisers for schools?

Online school fundraising is a popular choice among institutions of all types and sizes due to its numerous benefits, including:
  • Increased convenience. Rather than requiring parents and other community members to travel out to a specific location to support your school, an online fundraiser allows them to participate from wherever they are and whichever device they prefer. This increases your chances of engaging busy donors who might otherwise not have the time to get involved.
  • Expanded reach. Your students might have loved ones who don't live in your local area, but who are still interested in supporting your school. Online school fundraisers make it possible for people to participate no matter where they're located. This means your school can share its fundraiser with a larger network of supporters!
  • Reduced costs. When planning an online school fundraiser, you won't have to worry about renting a venue, setting up decorations, using team time to manage the event, or purchasing other physical event supplies. Cutting down on these expenses lowers your overall fundraising costs.
  • Fewer volunteers needed. An online school fundraiser requires fewer volunteers than in-person fundraisers since there isn't any physical set-up or clean-up involved. Because of this, you can spend less time recruiting and coordinating volunteers during your campaign.
  • Improved sustainability. Online fundraisers eliminate the need for transportation and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with it. You can also avoid the energy consumption that comes with in-person event lighting, air conditioning, and other utilities.

Plus, when all of your school fundraising takes place online, you can better measure your engagement and progress. With this information, you can pivot your strategies or make immediate adjustments as needed to reach your fundraising goal.

How do you prepare for online school fundraisers?

Whether your school is new to online fundraising or looking to improve its current efforts, follow these simple steps to lay a strong foundation for your next campaign:

Steps to prepare for online fundraising for schools, as discussed in more detail below.

Pick the right online school fundraiser.

To choose the best online fundraising idea that fits your school's specific needs and budget, start with your fundraising goal. Assemble your team and ask yourselves the following questions:

  • How much are we hoping to raise and how quickly do we need it?
  • What resources do we have? For example, do we have a strong volunteer base to rely on?
  • How much can we invest in online school fundraising?

Also, consider the impact that you're hoping to accomplish for your school and students. Use these details to guide you in selecting your ideal online school fundraiser.

Prepare your faculty, staff, and volunteers.

Via email, text, and other communication channels, share duties and responsibilities with your fundraising team. To keep everyone on the same page, create a detailed guide to reference throughout your campaign. Some platforms, such as Read-A-Thon, come with an official admin guide that will walk you through the process of organizing and executing your fundraiser successfully.

Promote your fundraiser to students and parents.

Ultimately, your school's students and parents will be doing most of the actual fundraising or donating. Therefore, it's essential to get the word out. For instance, you can:

  • Use popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to promote your campaign and share donation pages.
  • Send email announcements to your contact lists.
  • Create physical flyers or posters with QR codes to drum up more support.

By using multiple channels to spread awareness of your upcoming online fundraiser, you can increase the chances that people hear about and decide to support your campaign! Read-A-Thon's platform makes multi-channel marketing for your school fundraiser easy by supporting text, email, and social sharing. Plus, we provide flyers you can send home to families and ad sponsorships for your school.

Plan a memorable campaign kick-off.

Start your online school fundraiser with a bang by preparing an engaging presentation. You might include an animated video, a slideshow, or even a guest speaker explaining your campaign. You can even assemble students in your auditorium for a pre-fundraising pep rally. However you convey your fundraising information, make it fun and easy to understand to maximize participation.

Monitor your online fundraising progress.

Throughout your online fundraiser, you should always have an idea of how it's performing. Track metrics such as your total donations raised and conversion rates for your online communications.

While your specific metrics will vary depending on the type of fundraiser you've selected and your goals, these fundamental data points will help you figure out how your campaign is doing and where you need to improve.

Read-A-Thons: The Best Online School Fundraising Idea

Read-A-Thons are a popular, reliable way for schools of all sizes to raise money. Plus, they have the added benefit of enriching your students' education at the same time. With Read-A-Thon's intuitive online platform, you can earn thousands of dollars simply by encouraging students to read.

To start meeting and exceeding your online school fundraising goals with Read-A-Thon, simply follow these basic steps:

Steps to host a Read-A-Thon and make the most of this popular idea for online fundraising for schools.
  • Sign up for a free account. Read-A-Thon charges nothing upfront—that's how confident we are that your online fundraiser will be an astounding success! You can log in as a fundraising admin, a teacher, or a student. From there, the Read-A-Thon platform will guide you through the rest of our easy signup process.
  • Share your school fundraiser. There's no need to scramble to create marketing materials for your fundraiser. Read-A-Thon comes equipped with print, email, social media, and text resources to help you spread as much awareness as possible.
  • Track your online fundraising progress. After you've created your account and shared instructions for students to sign up and log their reading minutes, Read-A-Thon will take care of managing the rest of your campaign. Simply go into the platform to monitor your fundraising progress. You can examine data such as your students' reading minutes, number of sponsors, and total dollars raised at any given time.

Once your Read-A-Thon is up and running, all you have to do is encourage your students and watch as your fundraising revenue grows! Sponsors can donate using our secure credit card payment processing system and, when your campaign is complete, we'll mail your earnings directly to your school.

The Profound Impact of Read-A-Thons

Typically, we recommend Read-A-Thons last two weeks to give your students enough time to participate and maintain momentum from start to finish. The whole process comes with no upfront costs, requires little volunteer commitment, and—depending on the model you choose—you'll keep 75%-80% of total donations earned.

80% of children agree that reading aloud is a special time with their parents and frequent readers report experiencing better mental health than infrequent readers. With this in mind, Read-A-Thons are a win-win-win for your school, students, and students' parents.

To learn more about the benefits of hosting a Read-A-Thon, check out our brief video overview:

Learn everything you need to know about the Read-A-Thon platform!

As the video highlights, getting started with a Read-A-Thon is both fast and easy. It only takes five minutes to sign up and join 5,000+ schools that use Read-A-Thon to raise thousands every year. Howard Perrin Elementary and Sonoran Sky PTO are just two successful examples:

Testimonials from an elementary school and a PTO that experienced online school fundraising success with Read-A-Thon.

Plus, schools such as Prestwick Elementary and Westside Elementary noted the responsiveness of Read-A-Thon's support team in answering questions throughout their fundraisers. Whether you're preparing to celebrate Read Across America or simply looking to nurture a stronger love for reading among your students, Read-A-Thons can be an easy, game-changing addition to your school's fundraising strategy.

Schedule a call with a Read-A-Thon representative to learn more about how you can raise thousands of dollars with our online school fundraisers.

10 More Standout Ideas for Online School Fundraisers

If you're looking for more tried-and-true fundraising ideas to inspire your planning, check out the following:

1. Library Fundraiser

Speaking of educational fundraising, library fundraisers are another great way to support a love of learning while bringing in critical funds for your school. Library fundraisers encourage students to collect online donations for their school or local libraries and in turn gain access to virtual books of their choice.

All you have to do is partner with a dedicated library fundraising platform that can host your entire fundraiser, such as Love My Library. Just sign up, create your event, and encourage students to create donation pages to send to family and friends. It's as simple as that.

Your school will receive half of the donations, while the other half goes toward your students to reward their fundraising efforts. Schools can either use their donations to buy books for their libraries or receive the funds in cash. Students have the opportunity to shop Love My Library's online reader store and choose from over 1,000 titles that will be shipped to your school at no cost.

Sign up for free to kick off a virtual fundraiser that students, sponsors, and community members will be inspired by!

2. Online Auction

Auctions are a popular and highly lucrative type of fundraiser, and now modern auction software has made it possible to not only make your next auction completely virtual but also mobile-friendly!

Online auctions work in much the same way as a regular auction—excluding the cost of a venue, entertainment, and catering. Just be sure to pick out high-value goods and experiences that participants would be willing to bid on, partner with a reliable auction software provider, and promote to parents and community members.

3. Custom T-Shirt Sale

Branded merchandise such as water bottles, bracelets, and (of course) t-shirts are a great way for students and parents to show a bit of school spirit and raise money for your institution.

To begin selling your own custom merchandise, create an online store on your school website. Then design and bulk order your gear from a custom t-shirt designer and advertise your online products. Soon enough, you'll be making a profit while also encouraging school pride across your local community.

4. Matching Gifts

Matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy where companies will match the donations that employees make to charitable causes. While this sounds like matching gifts are exclusive to nonprofits, there are actually many companies that match gifts for schools!

Take advantage of these readily available corporate gifts by sending out newsletters and alerts about corporate matching gift programs. You can even integrate a matching gift database into your online donation form to make it easier than ever for donors to submit a matching gift request to their employers.

With this online tool, you can create a long-lasting, hands-free online fundraising initiative that could potentially multiply the worth of every donation going through your donation portal. Research even indicates that one in three donors would give a larger gift if they knew it would be matched!

5. Text-to-Give

Mobile giving is a simple and effective way to appeal to donors on the go and take advantage of the widespread use of mobile devices. After all, Americans spend an average of four and a half hours on their phones every day.

Take a multi-channel marketing approach to ensure that students, parents, and the community are aware of your upcoming text-to-give campaign. From physical flyers to email blasts, be sure to instruct donors that by sending out a special text keyword to a specific number, they will be directed to a mobile-friendly online donation page. With the help of a trusted text-to-give service, your donors will be able to give in a matter of seconds.

6. Watch Party

Who doesn't love a movie night? Turn this timeless event into a fresh and inventive online fundraising idea by using platforms like Facebook Watch Party or Teleparty to host a virtual watch party. These streaming services do much of the heavy lifting, facilitating mass streaming for however many donors choose to participate in your event.

Send out a vote for the best family-friendly movie to watch, charge a virtual "admission fee" before sending out the link to your stream, and press play as donors enjoy a fun movie night from the comfort of their own homes. You could even sell popcorn and other snacks in the weeks before your event for participants to snack on during the opening night!

7. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding leverages social media and online marketing tools to gather many small donations from a large audience of potential donors online. The idea behind this fundraising type is to cast as wide a net as possible and gain a lot of support in a short amount of time.

First, seek out a crowdfunding platform or use your own crowdfunding website. Then create your crowdfunding page. Finally, encourage students, parents, and your supporters to share this page across the internet.

While this fundraising type can be a bit trickier and require some research, crowdfunding has the potential to bring in massive amounts of revenue for your school!

8. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Let your supporters take charge of your online fundraising campaign with a peer-to-peer fundraiser! Reach out to your student body, faculty and staff, members of your PTA, and local community members to create donation pages in your organization's name and share them with family and friends.

Using social media, email, texting, and other online resources, peer-to-peer fundraisers give your donors the chance to raise money on your behalf.

9. Virtual Art Class

From sip-and-paints for adults to arts and crafts nights for your young students, virtual art classes are a simple way for you to engage your different volunteers at little to no cost.

Simply select a teacher or guest host to guide your art night, list materials that your supporters will need in advance, and send out a virtual meeting link to interested participants in return for a small entrance fee. From that point on, you're free to customize or expand your virtual art class to best suit your specific group of participants.

10. Shoe Drive Fundraiser

A shoe drive fundraiser provides an easy way for students, their families, and other community members to support your school without directly giving money. To get started, find a partner, like Funds2Orgs, that will accept gently worn, used and new shoes and provide funding in exchange for these donations.

Then, encourage people to search their closets for shoes that they can contribute. Your school can gather all of these in classroom collection boxes and arrange for pick-up by your partner. Once the partner has processed your collected shoes, they'll issue you a check. This effective fundraising idea combines convenience for your supporters with sustainability to make an impact on your school and the environment.

Top Platforms to Facilitate Online Fundraising for Schools

Successful online school fundraising doesn't have to be labor-intensive. There are plenty of platforms designed to streamline fundraising activities for your school. Let's take a look at some of the top options:


Read-A-Thon simplifies every step of your school fundraising process. When you sign up, you can immediately start encouraging your students to read and collect donations based on how many minutes they put in.

A screenshot of Read-A-Thon's website, which discusses why it's such a popular option for online fundraising for schools.

The Read-A-Thon platform's key features include:

  • Marketing. Leverage a variety of tools and templates to spread the word about your Read-A-Thon far and wide. For example, we supply all printed materials that your school can use to promote your fundraiser to students' families. Plus, we provide both printed and digital resources for businesses wanting to support or sponsor your Read-A-Thon.
  • Daily Event Calendar. To help you maintain your fundraising momentum, you can reference a daily calendar on your Read-A-Thon dashboard that suggests additional steps for success. For instance, we'll recommend when you should distribute take-home sheets and send out specific promotional messages. With our pre-written templates, all you have to do is copy and paste the text into your school's messaging system!
  • Reporting. Track total donations, total minutes read, top readers, and top classes all on one dashboard. To find participation details related to a specific student, simply navigate to our “Find a Reader” tool and type in their name. Plus, you can generate daily reports to get a summary view of reader activities.
  • Prize Store. Incentivize student participation with Read-A-Thon's prize store of over 200 toys, games, and books. If you select the Read-A-Thon prize store model, every reader receives 15% of the donations they collect to spend in the store. Then, we'll handle the entire shipping process.

Additionally, you can access a wealth of free resources to support your online school fundraising success, including kick-off videos, and printable reading logs. Read-A-Thon is free and easy to launch in minutes!

Click through to sign up for a Read-A-Thon and start benefiting from this easy online school fundraising idea in less than 10 minutes.

Love My Library

Love My Library is a cost-effective online fundraising solution that allows you to set up easy, engaging online or hybrid book fairs to generate revenue for your school and inspire your students to read.

A screenshot of Love My Library's website, which explains how this type of online school fundraiser works.

By signing up, your school will be able to:

  • Get customized printed flyers to promote your book fair.
  • Provide students with 50% of donated funds to choose books, toys, and games from Love My Library's online store.
  • Either receive donations in cash or use them to order from over 1,000 titles in Love My Library's store that will be shipped over for free.
  • Use Love My Library's platform to spread the word via text, email, and Facebook.

With no contracts, minimums, or need for volunteers, it's easy for your school to get started with Love My Library.


With Bonfire's t-shirt fundraising platform, your school can design custom t-shirts and raise funds by selling them to parents and other community members.
A screenshot of Bonfire's website, which explains how you can use its platform for online school fundraising.

Some of the platform's main features are:

  • Easy t-shirt design tools.
  • Custom campaign page creation for selling t-shirts.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • Dedicated customer support team.
After your t-shirt fundraising campaign, Bonfire will handle printing and shipping the shirts to everyone who purchased one. Then, you'll take home 100% of the profits your school raised.


GoFundMe is an online crowdfunding platform that makes it easy for schools to reach a wide audience of supporters and meet a variety of fundraising goals.
A screenshot of GoFundMe's website, on which you can host online school fundraisers.
Whether your school is looking to raise money to purchase new computers or expand your extracurricular offerings, the platform allows you to:
  • Set up and personalize a GoFundMe fundraiser.
  • Use a mobile app to manage your school fundraiser on the go.
  • Share your school fundraiser via text messages, emails, and social media.
  • Access 24/7 support from Customer Care Specialists.
Unlike some other crowdfunding platforms, with GoFundMe, your school doesn't even need to hit its fundraising goal to access the funds you earned.


When you partner with Funds2Orgs, you can host a shoe drive fundraiser that generates revenue for your school and supports micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries.
A screenshot of the Funds2Orgs website, which explains how this online school fundraising platform works.
The process of fundraising with Funds2Orgs looks like this:
  • Your school signs up to receive a starter fundraising kit.
  • You'll encourage students and their families to collect gently worn, used, and new shoes.
  • Funds2Orgs picks up the shoes you collected at the end of the fundraiser.
  • You receive a check for the shoes you collected.
While there are physical elements of this school fundraising idea, your students and other community members will be able to participate whenever is most convenient. All they need to do is check their closets for suitable shoes to contribute to your fundraiser!

Tips to Improve Your Online School Fundraising Results

Once your school has chosen its next online fundraising idea, it's time to lay the groundwork for success. Regardless of the type of campaign you launch, follow these tips to make the most of your efforts:

Tips to improve your online school fundraising results, as explained in more detail below.
  • Promote on multiple platforms. Everyone in your school's community has differing communication preferences. Some enjoy scrolling through social media while others prefer a personalized email to catch their attention. Make sure as many people as possible are aware of your fundraiser by sharing campaign information through multiple channels.
  • Incentivize participation. Incentives, such as fundraising prizes, can provide an added boost of inspiration that can result in more participation from your students. For example, Read-A-Thons encourage students to read books they're interested in and raise funds that they can later spend a portion of on prizes.
  • Follow up with donors. Your donors support your school because they want to play a role in enhancing the educational experiences you provide to your students. Whether they're a parent, grandparent, or community member, be sure to follow up and explain how their generosity made a difference. For example, you might share that the funds raised during your Read-A-Thon allowed you to invest in more digital learning materials.

Remember that, at the end of the day, each online school fundraiser presents an opportunity to bring your school's community together and celebrate your shared commitment to student learning.

Download our free brochure to learn why 5,000+ schools love using Read-A-Thon for online school fundraising.

Wrapping Up: Making the Most of Your Online School Fundraiser

Many engaging online fundraisers, such as Read-A-Thons, can become repeat initiatives for your school. After your campaigns, take the time to evaluate your results. Consider the amount you've raised, the number of donors who contributed, your return on investment (ROI), and other relevant data points. Then, you can use these insights to identify ways to improve your approach the next time around, so each fundraiser is more successful than the last.

If you need a little more school fundraising inspiration, check out some of our top additional resources:

Click through to sign up for a free Read-A-Thon fundraiser and start raising thousands of dollars to meet your online school fundraising goals.

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