Parent Power: 4 Ways to Boost Involvement in Fundraisers - ABC Fundraising

Parent Power: 4 Ways to Boost Involvement in Fundraisers

A father and daughter sitting together and reading a book.

Whether your school is washing cars, selling popcorn, or hosting a fall festival, you’ll likely need to hold some kind of fundraiser during the year to supply much-needed funding to students and teachers. However, recent trends indicate that it may be getting harder for educational institutions to secure enough fundraising revenue.

While the education sector remains one of the top supported causes, donations to K-12 schools fell by 4.3% in 2022. Statistics like these can be discouraging or even fear-inducing, but there are things you can do to curb their impact on your school. Prioritizing parent and community participation is one of the best ways to engage your most loyal supporters and reach donors.

In this guide, we’ll explore four strategies you can use to inspire more parent involvement and make your next school fundraiser a success.

1. Rally support through parent associations. 

Parent-teacher associations and organizations (PTA/PTO) are groups of parents, other student family members, teachers, and school staff that aim to connect parents to school activities and increase their involvement.

Take a look at your school’s parent organization—are you doing everything you can to engage parents, motivate them to attend school functions, and attract new members? If not, try out the following tactics to strengthen your PTA or PTO:

These are tactics schools can use to strengthen their PTA (explained in the text below).


  • Enhance your communication strategy by using multiple communication channels, including email, social media, newsletters, and your website.
  • Hold regular meetings with specific goals (e.g., voting on whether you will sell cookie dough or have a bake sale for your next fundraiser). Share an agenda ahead of time to attract interested parents.
  • Focus on inclusion and accessibility by holding hybrid meetings at times that work for parents, welcoming new members, and having leadership that reflects the school and community.
  • Develop and communicate tangible, long-term goals that parents can help you achieve (e.g., securing 10 new business sponsorships in the next year).

When making these changes, be sure to meet with staff and teachers to discuss why you are improving your PTA or PTO. Getting everyone on the same page will ensure that parents have consistent, positive experiences, and it gives staff more insight into your school’s broader goals.

2. Choose fun, engaging fundraising ideas.

In addition to factors like a lack of communication, some parents choose not to get involved in school fundraisers because the campaigns don’t fit their needs or interests. Maybe the idea is difficult to “sell” donors on, or perhaps it will require a larger time commitment than most parents can afford to give. 

To overcome this obstacle, consider selecting one of 99Pledges’ PTO-friendly fundraising ideas:

  • Walk-a-thon: For parents and students who enjoy being outdoors and getting active, walk-a-thons are the perfect fundraising idea. Simply plan a route for the walk, have students collect pledged donations from friends and family, and launch the event! Parents can join in as participants, watch from the sidelines as spectators, or serve as volunteers.
  • Family Fun Day: This idea allows parents to relax and have fun with their families. Organize an event complete with games, food, and musical performances that parents and their children will enjoy. To raise money, sell tickets ahead of the event.
  • T-Shirt Fundraiser: Create and sell branded school t-shirts with your name, logo, and colors. Parents can then sell the shirts to family and friends who want to support your school. To maximize revenue, you could offer other items like sweatshirts, hats, water bottles, and magnets for those who aren’t interested in a t-shirt.
  • Best Seat in the House: Parents of student-athletes want to watch their kids compete from the front row. This fundraiser is a type of raffle in which parents, family members, and other people in your community purchase tickets to win prime seats at a school sporting event. To ramp up participation, you could even offer these as season tickets. 

Consider getting parents’ input on which fundraising ideas you choose. To avoid getting an overwhelming number of ideas, start by asking parents which campaigns they liked from the past, what kinds of fundraisers they dislike, and one or two suggestions. Then, put together a short list of ideas based on the most popular suggestions and hold a vote.

3. Clearly communicate goals and progress.

If you’re asking parents to step up and play a larger role in your fundraising efforts, you can’t keep them in the dark. Communicating specific goals, motivations, and fundraising progress makes parents feel like valued members of the team.

When fundraising, parents need to be aware of factors such as:

  • Why your school is holding the fundraiser (e.g., selling discount cards in order to purchase school supplies for teachers)
  • How and when the funds will be used
  • The fundraising goal or target
  • The timeline for the campaign
  • What fundraising methods will be used (e.g., product sales vs. events)
  • Logistical information about the event, such as the date, time, and venue (if applicable)

Convey these key details to parents multiple times across various channels. The information should be easy to access and understand. Specifically, cover the details in meetings and acknowledge any questions that come up. Then, publish the information on your school’s website and add it to emails and newsletters.

During the fundraiser, keep parents, donors, students, and other participants up-to-date about your fundraising progress. Fundraising software will help you accurately track how much you’ve raised. Post updates on your social media accounts or over email, using fun graphics like fundraising thermometers.

4. Create a feedback loop.

Parents are likely to be your most loyal donors and volunteers—to keep them coming back, you need to show that you value them and care about their input. 

As eCardWidget’s guide to volunteer appreciation explains, neglecting feedback could cause you to miss out on their unique perspectives and creative ways to improve your fundraisers. So, employ a framework like a feedback loop to collect and manage thoughts and suggestions from parents. In a feedback loop, your school will take feedback from parents, whether it is positive or negative, and use it to improve its campaigns.

For example, let’s say your school’s read-a-thon was a success financially, but parents found that tracking and reporting the minutes their students spent reading was a hassle. The next time your school holds a read-a-thon, you use fundraising software that has a built-in reading tracker to make the process run more smoothly.

Having a team of dedicated parents with a few fundraisers under their belt can be an extremely powerful tool for your school. By building a robust PTA of PTO, you’ll establish more useful connections in your community, have a base of reliable volunteers and donors, and instill a sense of trust and loyalty to your school.