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Fundraising for Charity and Helping Others: Ideas for Schools

Linda Crampton is a writer who is concerned about social issues. She hopes to encourage anyone who is able to do so to help people in need.

The Power of a Group to Help Others

The power of one person to cure social ills and support those in need should never be underestimated. A collection of people may have a greater potential to help humanity on this planet, however. This is not only because more people are involved in the effort but also because in a group people can encourage and support each other. A school is an ideal group for helping people in either the local community or the global one.

I believe that one role of education should be to help children develop empathy for others and the ability to help people who are less fortunate than themselves. Parents and teachers can guide children in this learning process. Young people are often enthusiastic when something interests them. Their enthusiasm for helping others can spread to less motivated people in the school community, in their families, and in the wider community where they live.

Bake sales are popular fundraisers.

Bake sales are popular fundraisers.

School Fundraising Events for Charities

There are many possible events that students can organize to raise funds for charities. Most of the activities in the lists below have been done by the high school students that I have taught.

Students develop organizational skills and practice teamwork as they prepare for a fundraising event. In the last school where I taught, we had a student-run community events committee. The students in this committee suggested, planned, and held fundraising events and activities (with a little staff guidance and supervision).

Most parents have no problem with their children participating in school events designed to help others, but the parents should be informed about an event in advance. This will enable them to withdraw their children from an activity if they object to the children raising money for a particular charity or participating in a certain event.

Candy may not be healthy, but it sells very well as a fundraising treat.

Candy may not be healthy, but it sells very well as a fundraising treat.

Some Fundraising Ideas for Schools

Fundaising ideas for schools include the following:

  • Run a sale: Popular examples include bake sales and candy sales, but many other items could be sold. These include potted plants, produce grown in a home garden or on other land owned by the family, and homemade crafts.
  • Collect donations: Items that could be collected include bottles and other items that recycling centres accept and pay for and donations of coins or bills. Even low-value coins or bills can create a helpful donation if there are a lot of donors.
  • Organize car washes: These are great events for enabling families to work as a group. They require quite a lot of effort from the car washers, though, especially if the cars are very dirty. The organizers should make it clear whether only the exterior of the vehicle will be cleaned or the exterior and the interior and whether the exterior will be polished as well as washed.
  • Organize guessing games: For example, people could guess the number of candies in a jar. People could pay a small fee to enter the competition. The person with the closest answer would win the candy.
  • Sell raffle tickets: The tickets could be for donated items, plants that students grow from seed, or art and crafts created by students or their families. Local businesses may be willing to make donations for a worthy cause. This is especially useful if the students' families can't afford to do this.
  • Sell tickets for services: These services could be performed voluntarily by parents or students. A student could sell a ticket to mow a lawn, babysit, or pet sit; a parent could sell a service related to his or her career, training, or practical experience, such as making a cake, cutting someone's hair, cleaning gutters, etc.
  • Sell tickets for a special event: This event would be one in which all performers provide their services voluntarily or in which all of the items used at the event are donated. Examples include a drama performance, a school dance, or a potluck meal. In return for a little publicity, businesses may be happy to donate food.

More Fundraising Ideas

More fundraising ideas include:

  • Hold a "bring and buy" sale or a garage sale: Families donate items that they no longer want and other families buy them.
  • Sell cookie dough, frozen pies, or gift wrap: These could be provided by fundraising companies. Students may receive prizes from a company if they reach certain sales goals.
  • Hold a competition that has an entrance fee: A paper airplane competition could be great fun. Sports events could be enjoyable, too.
  • Participate in a 24-hour famine for charity: Students stay at school the whole time, participating in interesting events and sleeping when necessary. They are given fruit juice at regular intervals but don't eat food. Students get sponsors to support their "famine" monetarily. Parents must sign a permission slip for this event. The slip should clearly state the conditions of the famine.

Senior High School Students Can Help Others

The students in a high school graduating class are often very keen to raise funds for their graduation ceremony. They frequently have lofty ambitions for the event. It would be great if they used some of their enthusiasm for obtaining money to help others.

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Grads might agree to donate a small percentage of the money that they raise to a charity. This could be made a requirement if fundraising is done on school property, but I think that it's better if the students decide to donate money voluntarily. They may need a gentle suggestion to do this, though.

Students or schools need to decide how money for charity will be used once it's collected. Students may decide to help a local organization or an international one. Oxfam, Unicef, and Save The Children are three organizations whose websites provide fundraising ideas and suggestions for helping communities in need. Supporting these organizations may be appropriate for some schools.

Creating music can benefit others.

Creating music can benefit others.

Some Activities to Aid the Local Community

It's good for students to sometimes leave the enclosed world of their school and explore the conditions and needs of their community first hand (as long as this is a safe activity). Here are some suggestions for activities other than fundraising that will help people in the community.

  • Perform for the elderly: Sing Christmas carols or play music at a home for elderly people. Usually all that’s required to arrange a visit is a phone call to the home staff. They are generally only too happy to welcome a school choir. Make sure that the choir or music group rehearses well, even if it’s only a temporary organization. The audience deserves the students’ best efforts.
  • Volunteer at a food bank: Spend an afternoon helping at the local food bank or another community organization and consider doing this several times during the school year. The amount of time that the students help may not be very significant for the food bank, but the visit is a wonderful opportunity for students to see that some people need help in obtaining something as basic as food.
  • Run a food drive: Collect non-perishable items for the food bank in school. The winning class or group can receive a small reward. For example, students in my school had to follow a uniform dress code. Being allowed to wear clothes of their own choice for a day was very motivating for them.
  • Tie the food drive to school events: Collect items for the food bank at special events. My school held two drama/music/dance productions a year. Tickets are free for parents and other family members, but we asked the audience members to bring a donation for the food bank. Many of them did.
  • Organize a clothing, toy, or book drive: Students could also make a collection of donated clothing and blankets or collect donated toys for children and books for all ages. All of the items should be in good condition. Many areas have local charities that are delighted to accept these items.
Warm blankets are appreciated by many people in need.

Warm blankets are appreciated by many people in need.

Another Activity for Helping the Community

Consider participating in special events designed to help others or draw people’s attention to social problems. For example, my school once participated in a well-organized event in a local park. Admission was by donation to the local food bank. The main aims of the event were to create the largest peace sign ever made from people’s bodies and to be mentioned in Guinness World Records.

We failed at both of the main goals because there weren't enough people present to break the world record. However, we were successful in respect to two additional goals, which were to raise awareness and to support the food bank. The event was publicized in local newspapers and brought the idea of peace to people's attention. In addition, aerial photos of the peace sign were used to create a calendar to raise funds for local schools.

WE Day and Beyond

For several years, some students in my school attended an exciting event known as WE Day. The event was created by the cooperation of two organizations—Free the Children and Me to We. It was designed to inspire school students to help children and adults who are living in poverty or suffering as a result of social problems.

WE Day was fun and educational for high school students. The event took place in an arena. Entertainers who are popular with teenagers performed. In addition, speakers—many of them famous—talked to the students about childhood poverty or social issues. The event was free for students to attend.

WE Day was a highlight of the school year. The goal of the WE Charity was to help people all year long, however. Students were encouraged to help people in need after the arena event was over. They were asked to participate in one local and one global initiative to help others during the school year. Their efforts allowed them to attend the next WE Day event, which was generally held in the early fall.

Some of the students in my school organized a number of projects to help the local community during the school year. After one WE Day, they encouraged the student body and staff to participate in the "Adopt a Village" project to extend the range of the school's help.

WE Day originated in Canada but spread to other countries. Readers should know that in Canada there has been a recent controversy about the WE Charity in relation to finances. The organization seems to feel that it has done nothing wrong, but it has now ended WE Day in Canada. The charity and the organization's website are still operational, however. In addition, the organization has started a new division called the WE Charity Foundation, or the WCF.

Readers in Canada and other countries may want to investigate the controversy before they make use of the organization in order to help others. They may also want to see how the WE Charity Foundation develops, since it's still in its early stages of formation.

Helping Others With Knitting or Crochet

If students like to knit or crochet, they could create squares for blankets. (This is a great project for adults, too.) The squares can be completed on the students' own time or during a lunch time knitting or fibre arts club. Some organizations accept the squares and then sew them into blankets to donate to people who need them. The students could create the blankets themselves for their local community.

The Knit a Square organization accepts squares to support children. My school has never donated squares to Knit a Square so I can't give a personal recommendation, but the organization's website looks interesting and the people involved seem to do important and useful work.

More Ideas for Aiding Others

  • Sponsored runs or walks: Students can participate in a run, walk, or other athletic event and collect donations from sponsors. The donations can be used to support either an international or a local charity.
  • Social networking: Most high school students love social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Social networking may be a very helpful way for students to learn about charities, since many charitable organizations have Facebook and Twitter accounts. The sites can also help students publicize a worthy cause that they wish to support.
A sponsored walk or run can be fun, good exercise, and helpful for charities.

A sponsored walk or run can be fun, good exercise, and helpful for charities.

Guest Speakers for Encouraging Students

While listening to a guest speaker doesn't enable students to help people directly, it may stimulate their interest in this topic. After one WE Day event, a speaker from the organization visited my school. She gave an energetic and enthusiastic presentation that included photos and a video. Students asked her a lot of good questions afterwards, expressing their interest in her presentation.

The success of a guest speaker depends heavily on the person who visits the school. The best speakers are interesting and informative. They hold the students' attention instead of just making them happy that they're missing a class.

Big and Small Schools Can Help Others

My school has used many strategies to raise funds for charities and help communities. The school is small, but I'm sure its efforts have been helpful. Hopefully, the students will continue to support charities and communities after they graduate. I think that helping others is an important school and life activity. It can benefit both the recipients and the donors.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Linda Crampton

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