Fundraising for Charity and Helping Others: Ideas for Schools
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 community.
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.
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 my high school students.
Students develop organizational skills and practice teamwork as they prepare for a fundraising event. In my school we have a student-run community events committee. The students in this committee suggest, plan, and hold 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.
Some Fundraising Ideas for Schools
Fundraising ideas for schools include the following:
- bake sales
- candy sales
- bottle drives
- penny drives
- car washes
- paying to guess the number of candies in a jar (The person with the closest answer gets the jar of candies.)
- selling raffle tickets for a donated item, selling donated items such as plants that students grow from seed, or selling 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.)
- selling tickets for services 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.)
- selling tickets for a special event in which all the 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:
- holding a "bring and buy" sale or a garage sale (Families donate items that they no longer want and other families buy them.)
- selling cookie dough, frozen pies, or gift wrap provided by fundraising companies (Students may receive prizes from a company if they reach certain sales goals.)
- holding a competition that has an entrance fee (such as a paper airplane competition)
- participating in a twenty-four 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".)
High School Grads Helping 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 have to follow a uniform dress code. Being allowed to wear clothes of their own choice for a day is very motivating for them.
- Collect items for the food bank at special events. My school holds two drama/music/dance productions a year. Tickets are free for parents and other family members, but we ask that the audience members bring a donation for the food bank. Many of them do.
- Students could also make a collection of donated clothing and blankets or collect donated toys for children. Many areas have local charities that are delighted to accept these items.
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.
For several years, some students in my school have 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's 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 is fun and educational for high school students. The event takes place in an arena. Entertainers who are popular with teenagers perform. In addition, speakers—many of them famous—talk to the students about childhood poverty or social issues. The event is free for students to attend.
We Day is a highlight of the school year. The goal of the We organization is to help people all year long, however. Students are encouraged to help people in need after the arena event is over. They are asked to participate in one local and one global initiative to help others during the school year. Their efforts will allow them to attend the next We Day event, which is generally held in the early fall.
Some of the students in my school organize 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 is spreading to other countries. It currently operates in Canada, the United States, the UK, and the Caribbean. The video below describes the possible benefits of the event.
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.
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.
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 which 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 Those in Need
My school has used many strategies to raise funds for charities and help communities. We are a small school, but I'm sure our efforts have been helpful. Hopefully the students will continue to support charities and communities after they've graduated.
I think that helping others is an important school and life activity. If you have other ideas for projects that are suitable for schools, I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below.
A Useful Resource
The We Day website has become quite large and contains useful information even for people living in places where no arena event is held.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Linda Crampton