6 Top School Fundraising Campaigns You Can Learn From

Megan Donahue
Megan Donahue

If you’re a school administrator, or on the PTO, do the words “school fundraising” strike terror into your heart?

Are you picturing hours and hours of thankless admin, crates of wrapping paper or lollipops to sell, or shuffling piles of order forms and sign up sheets?

It doesn’t have to be that way. Bring your school fundraising into the future, and launch a streamlined, easy-to-manage online campaign with CauseVox. You’ll raise more money with less effort.

Take a look at these top school fundraising campaigns, and their top fundraising takeaways to get started.

1. Bike-a-thon: Strathcona Initiative

Campaign Overview: Student teams bike for 24 hours, raising money for a nonprofit

Funds Raised: $560,000

Number of Participants: 151 teams

Number of Donors: 3969

Every year since 2008, Strathcona High School has united to raise money for important causes with the Strathcona Initiative. Students form teams to raise money, culminating in a stationary bike-a-thon in the school’s gymnasium. Working together, teams try to keep their bikes going for 24 hours. 

CauseVox fundraising pages make school fundraising simple
$388,580 raised online, and $171,420 from offline efforts–way to go!

In 2019, the Strathcona Initiative raised $560,000 on and offline for Doctors Without Borders. Students formed 130 fundraising teams, easy to manage on CauseVox.

Takeaway: Make Students The Leaders Of School Fundraising

“Initiative” isn’t just the name of the project, it’s the secret to its success. Students show tremendous initiative as they create their fundraising teams, goals, and campaigns. 

“We try to empower the student voice in every part of the planning. The students end up voting for the nonprofit organization we support,” says curriculum coordinator Tom Yonge.

Students choose the name of the campaign, the campaign logo, and make their own fundraising pages with CauseVox. 

While top-down decrees are a hard-sell for teenagers, putting them in charge has had great results: “When they set a goal for themselves, they will achieve it. They use peer to peer networking, it’s a world they understand. They’re able to activate their network.”

Students use online fundraising with CauseVox, as well as in-person fundraising like selling treats at lunch hour, to meet their goals. They become social entrepreneurs, learning skills like marketing, cooperation, and storytelling. 

Strathcona Initiative's Google Drive

“The best teams that we’ve seen upload pictures and send updates to their networks,” Yonge notes. The school offers students a fundraising toolkit, organized simply on Google Drive, to help everyone follow best practices.

The students set ambitious fundraising goals, but they’re determined to meet them. 

“When they have that real autonomy and they have the tools, they can really actualize their hopes and make their goals become a reality,” says Tom. 

#2 Walk: Mercy High School

Campaign Overview: Students commit to walking 5k to raise money for school programs. In 2019, they raised money for renovating the library.

Funds Raised: $102,429

Number of Participants: 515 fundraisers

Number of Donors: 2320

Mercy High School has hosted a walk-a-thon fundraiser for 15 years. Each of the 400 students was expected to raise $100 for the walk-a-thon, and they did. With 100 percent participation, the school consistently raised about $40,000. Not bad, but it was time to grow.

Susan Devany, Director of Advancement, formed a committee with all interested stakeholders–students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. 

They concluded that if they took their campaign online and used social media, they could raise a lot more. They launched their campaign on CauseVox with a fundraising goal of $100,000.

Mercy High School's fundraising campaign

Instead of a general campaign to raise money for the school, they focused on a specific goal: renovating the school library to be a modern learning center. This goal resonated deeply with the school’s greater community. 

Parents, students, and alumni all had different reasons a renovated library was important to them, but united around a common goal. 

Takeaway: Include Your Community

CauseVox’s social sharing tools made spreading the word to the larger community easy. 

Each student made her own fundraising page on CauseVox, then shared her personal fundraising link across all of her social media channels. “Once we put all the pieces in place, it actually was pretty easy,” Susan says.

Meanwhile, Susan and the team at Mercy, including the Director of Alumni, communicated about the campaign with every possible audience. 

“We used every channel possible,” Susan says. They sent letters to alert their network that a fundraising email was coming. They shared it on social media. They contacted each class of alumni, sent postcards, and mailed invitations to attend the walk-a-thon. 

The community got into it, following the campaign on CauseVox, where they could instantly see progress. 

“Everyone had it on their phones and were able to see how close we were getting to our goal,” Susan says. “People really wanted us to be successful with this.” 

By the day of the event, they’d reach $90,000, already more than double their previous years’ totals. “We had the entire day to raise the final $10,000. We all had our phones, and whenever a donation came in, the entire parking lot cheered.”

By the end of the day, the walk-a-thon raised $102,000 from 2,316 donors. “When we hit $100K, it was a big party here. We knew people were cheering with us,” Susan says. 

#3 Dance Marathon: Cardinal O’Hara High School 

Campaign Overview: Students raise money and perform a line dance for 12 hours straight.

Funds Raised: $88,000

Number of Participants: 463

Number of Donors: 1755

O'Hara's dance marathon school fundraising page

Takeaway: Be Personal

The Danny Hammond Dance Marathon is personal at Cardinal O’Hara High School. It’s named in the memory of a Cardinal O’Hara High alum, who passed away at age 20, after a long battle with cancer that began when he was only 9-years-old. 

CauseVox makes it easy to personalize school fundraising

His compassion for others and determination to help people inspired the dance marathon fundraiser that bears his name. Danny’s story is a major part of the fundraising appeal.

Students made a hopeful video to motivate participation and giving, with many students expressing why they dance in the marathon. This video is a great reminder that stories and authenticity are what move people. It’s simple, but highly engaging. 

With CauseVox, it was easy for students to personalize their fundraising pages. 

A student's personal fundraising appeal on CauseVox

Each student started with an auto-filled template that explained the campaign, but many chose to add personal details like how many years they’d participated in the dance marathon, what they’d learned, and how their own lives had been touched by cancer.

The students definitely touched the hearts of their community. They raised over $88,000.

#4: Peer to Peer Fundraising: Heritage High School Instrumental Music Foundation

Campaign Overview: Students created personal fundraising pages for a peer to peer fundraising campaign

Funds Raised: $22,843

Number of Participants: 154

Number of Donors: 301

school-fundraising with a peer to peer campaign

Takeaway: Use Peer to Peer to Show Impact

Anyone who was ever in band probably remembers selling candy bars or something similar to try and raise money. That kind of fundraising requires inventory, physical proximity, and doesn’t directly connect to the cause. Heritage High School Instrumental Music Foundation (HHSIMF) modernized with peer to peer fundraising with CauseVox. 

Peer to peer fundraising let the HHSIMF expand their reach. Out-of-town grandparents and friends could easily contribute and share the campaign. Fundraising online with CauseVox made it easy to communicate the impact their fundraising would have: –instruments would be fixed, they’d have new music, and be able to travel for performances.

A student's fundraising appeal on CauseVox

With CauseVox, it was easy for students to create personal fundraising pages and join teams. Each graduating class made its own team, spurring competition and enthusiasm.

Team pages on CauseVox drive school fundraising
Watch out, seniors! The freshman are on the rise!

#5: Capital Campaign: Eberwhite Elementary PTO

Campaign Overview: Parents and supporters raised funds peer to peer, to speed construction of a new, safe playground

Funds Raised: $89,000 at Play-A-Thon, $266,781 overall, 

Number of Participants: 18 teams at Play-A-Thon

Number of Donors: 743 for Play-A-Thon, 169 general campaign

Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) are a stalwart of school fundraising. They often take on major projects, including capital campaigns. Fundraising with CauseVox declutters capital campaigns, creating one online home to tell the story, build enthusiasm, process donations, and rally supporters.

The Eberwhite Elementary PTO is pursuing a multi-phase capital campaign to rebuild their playground. They’ve completed fundraising for Phase I, and are gearing up for Phase 2. So far, they’ve raised $266,781 online with CauseVox.

Host a capital campaign on CauseVox

Takeaway: Use Online Tools To Keep Capital Campaigns Exciting

Fundraising over the long haul, in multiple phases, can risk donor fatigue if you don’t update donors on progress. The Eberwhite PTO has avoided this by using CauseVox’s built-in blogging tools to keep their community in the loop. 

CauseVox's update tools engage supporters with school fundraising

They’ve also added a shorter peer to peer event into their fundraising plan, creating an opportunity for the parents of students to create personal fundraising pages in the names of their child along, grouped by class.

Fundraising teams help rally the community for school fundraising

With a short timeline and smaller goal, they were able to engage their community and create momentum, and giving them a fundraising “win” earlier in the campaign. Their “Play-A-Thon” raised more than $89,000. 

#6: Trivia Night: Oak Hill School

Campaign Overview: Parents and supporters raised funds to participate in a trivia night to benefit the school.

Funds Raised: $86,657

Number of Participants: 77

Number of Donors: 581

Peer to peer events are easy with CauseVox

Oak Hill School serves students ages 6-22 with autism and other developmental differences. The students are referred from a wide geographic area, and there aren’t very many of them, just 45.

Parents aren’t usually on campus, so there isn’t a close-knit community for a school fundraiser to tap into. Director of Finance Michael Reilly found the solution: a trivia night fundraiser. 

Takeaway: Make School Fundraising Easy For Parents and Participants

Interested parents and supporters form their own trivia teams, and commit to raising at least $6,000 to participate in the trivia night. It doesn’t require a major time commitment and is accessible to a wide range of people. 

Michael used CauseVox to make fundraising simple for participants. He created templates for teams and individual pages. People could go deeper and personalize their pages if they wanted to, but nobody had to create content to start fundraising. 

He created images and sample social media posts participants could share, and gave them a selection of CauseVox articles on fundraising.

Michael found this kind of fundraising much more relaxing than a traditional fundraising event. Unlike a gala, where you might not know how much you’ll raise until the end of the night, the money was already in the bank by the time the trivia night started. How much? More than $60,000 their first year. 

Declutter School Fundraising With CauseVox 

As you see from these campaigns, there are a lot of different ways for school fundraising to be successful. 

Whether you’re hosting a peer to peer event, or going long-term with a capital campaign, the right fundraising tools and techniques are what really matters to get you to your goal. Let CauseVox declutter your school fundraising and help you raise more. 

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