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Creative ideas for fundraiser incentives that are free, inexpensive, or worth-every-penny — including some I’m pretty darn sure you’ve never seen before!
Offering a variety of fundraiser incentives, or prizes and rewards, as they’re also known is a surefire way to boost your fundraiser results.
Fundraising incentives don’t have to be expensive or flashy to help you raise far more than you would without them. You can use incentives to
● Make your fundraiser fun and exciting
● Teach kids about goal setting and teamwork
● Increase family participation
● Increase the average amount contributed or raised by each family
● Reach donors (e.g, relatives, friends) outside your community of school families
● Or all of the above
Increasing participation - The total number of families that donate
To max out participation, offer a variety of fundraiser incentives at both the group and family level. You don’t have to offer multiple incentives at every level to boost results, but the minimum I would recommend is one student level + one classroom level incentive. The bigger your fundraising goals and the more buzz you want to create, the more incentives you should offer. (Don’t worry -- prizes don’t have to break the bank, as you’ll see from the idea lists below.)
Schoolwide fundraising incentives
Principal stunts and antics (sometimes called Principal torture or punishment), like kissing a pig or getting slimed in front of the whole school, are wildly popular with kids and create a lot of buzz and motivation. Stunts by other teachers or staff members also work as school-wide, grade-wide, and class incentives.
Grade-level fundraising incentives
Offering a prize to the grade with the highest participation encourages student bonding and friendly competition between grades. Encouraging this friendly rivalry between grades, through regular announcements and possibly a leader board someplace, like the cafeteria, increases participation across all grades.
Classroom-level fundraising incentives
Offering classroom level incentives -- for students AND teachers -- is a powerful combination for boosting participation. If you can only offer one group-level incentive, the classroom should be your top priority. This is where kids will be paying the most attention and encouraged to follow the instructions you need them to complete (e.g., return completed form, remind parents if needed).
Including teachers in your incentive plan (e.g., giving them a gift or entering them in a drawing for helping, or if their class hits a certain goal) is just a nice way to show appreciation for their efforts. It will also make a make a big positive difference in your fundraising results that will far exceed the cost of any incentives you decide to give them.
Student/family fundraising incentives
Giving every family at least a small gift and recognition for participating will boost your fundraising results and strengthen your community. To help create buzz and speed up participation, distribute student prizes (e.g., homework passes, keychains, stickers) soon after forms are received. It will spark other students who want to get their prize to remind parents about the donation form.
Rewards that will get students, parents, and teachers excited
Below is a long list of fundraising prize ideas that are free, inexpensive, or worth-every-penny. You can mix and match them to add excitement to your fundraiser and boost your fundraising totals. Privileges, experiences, and challenges are popular with kids and are either free or low cost. Physical prizes, from low-cost to pricey, that your group purchases or receives as donations from businesses, are also worth considering.
Keep prize costs low by requesting prize donations from businesses
Free and Low-cost incentives will go a long way towards increasing excitement and participation in your fundraiser. Pricier prizes, ranging from small gift cards to amusement park passes and limo rides, can add wow factor that skyrockets your results. The trick is to avoid spending so much on prizes that you’re scrambling to cover the costs with higher donations.
One way to do that is to ask businesses to donate items (e.g., gift cards, free passes, services, gift items) for you to offer as fundraising incentives. When requesting donations, contact businesses at least three weeks before your fundraiser if you’re looking for small items (e.g., gift cards). For larger items that you’ll want to highlight in your marketing materials (e.g., theme park passes), aim to contact them at least 60 days in advance -- the earlier the better.
Tailor fundraising incentives to motivate the whole school, smaller groups, and individuals
Incentives can be tailored to motivate and reward groups of all sizes (e.g., whole school, a grade, a class, top performers, raffle winners) as well as individual students, families, and teachers. Challenges or “stunts” by the Principal and other staff are some of the best incentives for adding excitement and boosting participation schoolwide.
88+ Fun rewards for students, families, and teachers
Pick from this list or use it to brainstorm lots of other possibilities. If you’d rather have this long (valuable!) list of ideas as a handy PDF file, scroll to the end of the list for access.
The possibilities are endless! And it’s fun to brainstorm new fundraising incentives and prizes. What should I add to this list? Let me know and I’ll credit you when I update the list. Just comment below or click the email icon.