On many occasions, I have sung the praises of the PTO Today website, in particular the PTO Today message boards. Here, you will find incredible information from people, just like you, trying to raise money for their children’s schools.

Today, I’d like to share some ideas that I came across, which would be of interest to schools who have a large population of low-income families. There are thousands of schools in this situation, and they need to raise money, just like every other school out there.

So, the question is: How can you raise money in a low-income school?

Here are just a few of the great answers on the site:

Bring the outside community in. A mom at our school is a Zumba instructor. (Zumba is a fun latin dance that anyone can enjoy, young,old, any race….you could probably find one very easily in your area). They do fundraisers all the time. Here’s how it worked: she used her classes to promote to event, so MOST of the people who came were not even people from our school, they were community members! We did it in our gym, served water in big jug coolers, and it was huge! We raised almost $4,000 with little at all coming from our students!

Also, we found the food usually works. We found a local deli who gave us a deal for selling their sandwiches…they were cheap at $4 a sub and we made $1.50 off each one…that made us another $1500

We also held a car wash in our school parking lot. This was a big one! And we didn’t even need too many people to participate, we had a lot of staff that were happy to come. We advertised in the local community paper and in the grocery stores, being sure we let people know it was for our kids and the school! We made about $3,000 from washes and donations!

Box tops are a great fundraiser— they are on so many things– and again bring in the community– have drop boxes made and see about putting them in local stores. (hardware, grocery, churches) And at 10 cents each it does add up fast.

McDonald’s will let you hold a restaurant night every three months and they include anything that come in to eat- find other restaurants that include anyone that eats there- not just bringing in a flier or having to say your here for the event– this will also bring in outside funds.


We have found that Mom-2- Mom sales have been really beneficial for us– each sale brings in approx. $3,000.00. It doesn’t have to be parents that rent a table or come to sale– out of 132 tables at our sale – only 20 are actual school families– and if you are a lower income school- this can help your families as well- a great way to purchase slightly used kids items at a lower cost to them.

We are a very low income school and the second lowest school district in colorado.. With that being said i cant justify selling any type of food, drinks etc because most get food asst of some kind. People do have cash but not alot of it.

The best thing we ever did was open up a school store. It is hard to get parents to staff it everyday but it has worked out… I never sell anything over $1.00 and the kids come every day with handfuls of change they dug up lol… We make about $60-$100 a day depending on the time of month.

I’m also thinking of many new creative ways. We have an extremely small budget.

Oh also check out the skating rinks near you. We just started one and for $5 bucks they pick up the kids in a bus, skate, free piece of pizza, and they handed out hundreds of free ice cream and cotton candy coupons, and took them home all for $5!!! That was a huge hit and it was the easiest $400 we ever made.


This is how we run the sale– and in Michigan– these are very popular.

We make a contract that sells table space (our tables are 6ft. since that’s what we have at school-) and we’ve made a layout so we know how many tables we can sell (we are at 125) and we sell out.

OK– so we sell table space to parents, grandma’s, community families, anyone that would like to rent a table to sell child related items or home business-type items that help families everyday (like tupperware, avon, etc.).

Kids’ items are things like clothing, toys, books, etc. Items that a family has used, they no longer need but would like to sell in order to purchase something new or even shop at the sale themselves for gentely used items.

We also sell larger items in a special room — (cribs, strollers, pack-n-plays, bikes, etc.) We placed these items in one large room, to help shoppers compare items, easier to purchase and take out the front door, etc.

We have 3 of our PTO volunteers run this room. We charge $1.00 per item to be placed in the large ticket room– and there is a form that the seller fills out to go with the item.  It has the price, if they will come down in price, what’s their lowest price.)

We usually have 300 items in this room— then we advertise in the paper, have signs out and post everything on-line.


Photo by: John-Morgan