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Principal Ideas: Fundraisers

Just think of Principal Ideas as a virtual show-and-tell for principals. Each week in the coming school year we'll present five new principal-tested ideas. Send in your idea today! See the sidebar to learn how to be part of Principal Ideas.

Plan a "Best-a-Thon" to Raise Money

From Ed World's

Do you think giving free-homework passes sends the wrong message? If the students can really do without that homework, why assign it in the first place! If a teacher knows he or she needs students to do all of their homework, a Late-Homework Amnesty Coupon might be a good alternative to the free-homework pass. With the amnesty coupon, students can turn in a homework assignment with no penalty for being late. There are always lots of good reasons for not doing homework (I was sick, it was my birthday, I had to finish my science project, it was my grandparents' 50th anniversary), but with amnesty coupons you don't have to listen to all those excuses.

Source: Diane Butler, WANTED: Rewards, Rewards, and More Rewards

Students raise money for our school by being their best! Each student selects an activity that he or she enjoys, then they pledge to do their best at it. Activities range from reading to drawing, from free-throw basketball shooting to board games, and everything in between. Students use pledge sheets to earn money for doing their "best activity." Parents are invited to come supervise the activities. Students enjoy doing things they enjoy, they learn the lesson of being rewarded for doing their best, and parents are thrilled to not have to "sell stuff." The Best-A-Thon has become a school tradition that is looked forward to by both students and their families.
Thanks to Patty Jones, principal, Col. Wm. Casey Elementary School in Columbia, Kentucky

Fifth-Grade Picnic

Our school is a grade 5-8 school. As you can expect, many of the incoming fifth graders are a little apprehensive about coming to our middle school. That's why we always do a fourth-grade visitation day in the spring. On that day, students come over to the middle school with their teachers. They do a couple classroom math and language arts activities, then they tour the school. But that's not all we do! We always wanted to have a more informal orientation that would involve the students' families too, so a couple of years ago we held a Back-to-School cookout for our fifth graders and their families. We mailed each family a personal invitation to the event, which was held in the evening a couple of weeks before school began. We always have an excellent turnout for this event. We provide a brief orientation to middle school for parents and kids in the media center, and then we go to the cafeteria for our meal. Older students are available to give tours through the building. This year, we invited the PTSA to come and give a presentation as well. All the fifth-grade and special teachers come with their families too -- and everyone has a great time. Connections are made during this no-stress meeting that ease the way for future interactions.
Thanks to Virginia Strong Newlin, principal, Rock Hall (Maryland) Middle School

Bookstore Partnership

Keeping a school-business partnership viable requires a lot of communicating. We have set up a partnership committee among our faculty to ensure this happens. Among our partnerships is a unique one with a nearby independent bookstore. A teacher arranged that partnership as part of her master's degree coursework. The storeowner, whose children attended our school years ago, was looking to reconnect with us. The store is a short distance from our school, so several classes have taken walking field trips there. While at the store, students participate in interactive literature activities. The bookstore and school have teamed up for many other events. Last year we had a "Kids Love a Mystery Night" at the store. The owner arranged to have the local high school's drama class act out short mini mysteries for the students. Students played an interactive role in the skits and had to solve the mystery based on the clues. The bookstore also displays students' stories. It is a real thrill for students to take their parents to the bookstore to see their books on display. During Black History Month, the school paid for an appearance by author Glennette Tilley Turner (Running for Our Lives, Take a Walk in Their Shoes), and the bookstore arranged for the drama students to return to act out skits about famous African-Americans. The store even rented out a movie theatre to host a discussion about the movie and book Holes. Families attended the private screening and discussion.
Source: Joe Corcoran, "School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools of All Sizes" ( -- September 16, 2003)

Yours for a Song (and a Dollar)

Singing telegrams are a method some schools use to raise funds. For a $1 charge, on someone's birthday or another occasion, a group -- such as members of the school chorus or the school's a cappella group -- shows up in the celebrant's classroom and sings "Happy Birthday" while carrying a hand-made sign and a crown that can be used to mark the occasion (and the celebrant).
Source: "Fund-Raising Ideas: Raise Money Without Selling Door-to-Door" (, 1999)


Join the Fun -- Share an Idea!

The ideas presented in this article come from the Education World archive and from principals just like you. Since these principals have been kind enough to "show and tell" an idea, now it's your turn! Share an idea you've used to

- Celebrate Students
- Welcome Students Back to School
- Motivate Teachers
- Involve Parents
- Raise Money
- Plan a Special Event
- Make Graduation Day Special
- Liven Up Your A.M. Announcements
- Plan an Effective Staff Meeting
- Get Some Good PR for Your School

or any other topic of interest to principals.

Send your idea today to [email protected].

Be sure to include your name, your school name, and your school address because if we post your idea in Principal Ideas, we'll send you an Education World mug!

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