Reading, writing and arithmetic may be the basics of a curriculum, but these subjects are only part of why attending school is a necessary and extremely viable childhood experience. Beyond gaining certain socializing skills, the arts as well as athletics have a prominent places in the classroom. So do practical endeavors in categories such as culinary, shop, and auto mechanics. But how is it possible to get enough money together to make all these programs possible when many are being dropped due to lack of funding? Fundraisers are a great way to raise money for important student programs. Consider the following endeavors that eradicate boring fundraisers by using creative tactics to produce a bounty of bucks and a bunch of fun and friendly interaction.

Battle of the Bands

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What high school kid who belongs to a garage band wouldn’t jump at the chance to get on stage and show off his or her groups’ own special talents? Add to that the competitive nature of this particular scenario and you’ve got a hot box office business happening before you know it. Not only should the bands play off against each other, but certain ones can get together and perform the same song at the same time for a change of pace during this evening of music. Perhaps the funds earned from this sort of shindig can go to augmenting your school’s band program or to individual music lessons given as part of a special curriculum.

School Carnivals

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A smaller and more modest reenactment of what happens in most communities when warm weather arrives, school carnivals can be as varied as your imagination. Even though big time machinery like ferris wheels need not apply, other interactive trappings like bouncy houses and water slides can definitely be put up as part of the action. In addition, other low tech activities like kissing booths and face painting parlors tend to attract loads of attention to extroverted participants. Shyer fun-seekers can enjoy throwing a few basketballs through specially suspended hoops for the chance to win tickets to prizes donated by community members.

Fashion Shows

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Search out the sartorial talent in your school by holding a fashion event that puts style in your school. Create categories that allow everyone to get in on the action, from pairs of teachers showing their best duds to couples dressed to coordinate their clothing. And don’t forget parents who always enjoy modeling with their kids or even each other. Regarding the latter, don’t just invite the typical mother/daughter combination but instead, mix it up a bit and have a dad take a catwalk run with his daughter, a mom walk the runway with her son, or all members of the clan strutting their stuff at the same time. Want variation? Try dressing for a day at the beach, an evening at the ballet, or a night at the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”


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Make a simple competitive concept into a money-making venture by holding certain challenges that bring on a variety of tantillizing treats to be tasted and, ultimately judged. While one group might battle to take first place in the requisite chili category, another group could fire up some ribs while others could try to take blue-ribbon honors for the best hotdog trimmings. Options are as endless as the foods we love.

Photography Shoot-Off

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Take the fundraiser inside and put up an array of images donated by anyone connected with your school, including the kids, the families, the teachers, and even local professional photographers. Then hold a silent auction to see who will get to go home with their favorite photos. Meanwhile, to liven things up, hold a digital contest where pictures are taken by phones and cameras during the event where photo bombing is invited. Then, at a certain hour, judging can take place by putting the photographic candidates up on a screen for all to scrutinize. The winner, decided by which shot gets the best reaction, wins bragging rights and a printed copy of the very image that caused all the hoopla in the first place.

Walk/Run Competitions

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Getting physical on the school track is always good for the body and sou, but this endeavor can also be good for the fundraising pocketbook. Why not try a twist on a known entity? Throw a pajama run/walk that starts before dawn and ends just after the sun rises with a hearty breakfast enjoyed in the school cafeteria. Or how about a zombie crawl (literally) that has everyone starting in the direction of their choosing so the phrase “running into one another” ends up having new purpose? There are plenty of ways to ramp up the competition by putting a spin on the typical walk/run, especially if entry fees go to a cause near and dear to the heart.

Talent Show

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Not only does the school play or musical have a limited run, but often the production needs more money to plan for next year’s offering. Select one scene or song-and-dance number from the current year’s effort and take it to the boards again as the basis for a fundraiser. To make this special event even more colorful, use the same stage as a way to show off different student, teacher, and parent talents. So, whether that person is a closeted comedian or he or she is a singer who uses the bathroom as the designated place to practice, you’ll discover that America does have talent in a whole lot of unexpected ways.

Game Night

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Hold off on those video games for an evening and instead, get back to old school days when everyone loved to get together for board games. Simply set up an admission booth and then spread out in the gymnasium to spend quality time with faculty and friends by competing on a very basic level. Is Monopoly your game? Go for it. How about checkers? Set ’em up. Want to take part in a serious round or two of chess? No problem. Whoever wins after a set time in each game category wins the night and the right to imperiously hold that championship over the heads of everyone who participated.

Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on