Beyond Bake Sales: 5 Ways to Raise Money for Your School

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Kids schlepping through town selling their wares in the name of school fundraising is quickly becoming the subject of childhood urban legend. Grandma may have had to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow. However, Mom had to walk both ways uphill in the snow AND sell wrapping paper, candy bars and hoagies out of her knapsack.  Take THAT Grandma. Not only are some schools opting out of the traditional door-to-door fundraising format, several local school districts are banning the practice altogether. This shift in how monies are raised to fund vital school programming and subsidize class trips has required parent organizations to get creative.

A positive side effect of this change is that mutually beneficial relationships are deepening between schools and local businesses. Schools are able to fund their programs and businesses are given exposure to a large client base. Win-Win!

Take off your creative fundraising thinking caps because we’ve rounded up 5 local businesses that are ready to show you the money.

1. Bridgeport Coffee

Bean me up, Scotty! Who doesn’t love to start their day with a cup of perky punch? Bridgeport Coffee provides their 12-oz. Organic and Fair Trade coffees and teas to schools at a wholesale price of $7. Parents place orders paying $10-$12 per bag and the school keeps the profits. Set up a Coffee of the Week or Coffee of the Month Club for which your customers receive quality products throughout the year and the school receives a steady stream of funds. Bridgeport Coffee will even work with schools to create a custom label for each bag.

3101 S. Morgan St.

2. Chicago Cubs


Root, root, root for the home team, while making loot, loot, loot to fund your school’s dreams. Purchase $5 game tickets for select dates listed on their website and sell at the price suggested by the Cubs. It’s that simple.

1060 W. Addison St.

3. Itzy Ritzy


Chicago moms have already shown their love for Itzy Ritzy by voting them winners of two 2012 Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards in the categories of Best Mom-Run Business in the Chicago Region and Most Awesome Snack Bag. Put these products you love to work raising money for your school.

Itzy Ritzy offers their Snack Happens and Travel Happens bags, and Lunch Happens bento lunch boxes at 40 percent less than retail price. Schools sell the products at the suggested retail price and keep the profits. Place bulk orders to hawk product at a school function or store, send order forms home in backpack mail or have Itzy Ritzy set up a personalized website for order placement.

You’ve got spirit (yes you do!), so show your pride by customizing the bags with a school logo or name.

1665 Quincy Avenue, Unit 179

4. KH Photography


Remember grandma who was walking uphill both ways in the snow? She’ll soon be contributing to the fundraising efforts when she sees the photos of your little bundle of awesome, created by Kevin Hammett.

Choose from several options. The ABC Project, geared for younger students, entails having their photos taken while laying on the ground in ABC formations. Multiple students form each letter, A-Z. Alternatively, students can spell the name of their school. Frame the photo and sell it as a silent auction item. Another more traditional option is Head Shots. Kevin will take individual headshots of a class or entire school and sell the 5 x 7s to families, giving back all money to the school. Lastly, he offers a Discounted Sitting Fee. Set it up for your school families and 80% of the sitting fee and 10% of any purchase goes back to the school.

KH Photography donates 100% of its time and materials to these projects. Schools pay for frames or can work with a local frame shop to have them donated.

1001 W. Webster Street
Lincoln Park

5. LEGOLAND Discovery Center


Toys have come and gone, but kids’ love for LEGOs has remained constant. LEGOLAND’s Brick By Brick School Fundraising Program provides order forms for parents to use to sell admission tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Schaumburg. A portion of the profit for each ticket sold goes back to the school. The more you sell, the higher the potential profit. Tickets can be used anytime within a six-month period.

Streets of Woodfield
601 N. Martingale Road

These ideas can be implemented by not only schools, but any non-profit organization. We’d love to hear stories on ways your school has raised money! Leave your comments below.

— Maria Barnes

Photos: Courtesy of Bridgeport Coffee; Anjanettew via Creative Commons; courtesy of Itzy Ritzy; courtesy of KH Photography; courtesy of LEGOLAND Discovery Center