Fundraising Incentives for Students

Students give a thumbs up for fundraising incentives. Here are some that really work. |

Incentives – no matter what the age…they just work. Here are some fundraising incentives that will motivate your sellers!!!    [Click to Tweet]

The ole dangling “carrot”.  Most of us love them and are motivated by them!  An incentive encourages people to compete with others and themselves and also generates excitement.  So how does a leader understand what incentives to offer their fundraising group?

Start with your fundraising company.

Do they offer any support materials for the kick-off event? Showing off the fundraising product immediately as part of a kick-off event helps to generate excitement. Can you put together a fun display?  Can you use samples as prizes for a kick off drawing?  Or maybe a weekly drawing?  Find out if the company you are working with offers any prizes or prize packages for individual sales or overall group sales.  Prizes can range from gift cards to electronics to parties.   Ask these questions first and begin building your incentive plan.

100% Participation is the goal.

Another way to motivate kids is through participation.  The goal for any fundraising group is 100% participation so why not reward everyone who participates, even the child who only sells one item? The Satori Charter School didn’t just reward their top sellers. Anybody who sold even one bag of pasta, got to put their name into a “pasta pot” for drawing to win. This really energized the group and everyone felt like they had a chance to win!  If one item seems too little, set up multiple goals with prize tiers. For example, the incentive could be for every 6 items a person sells they get a chance to win a gift card.  Another idea is to reward anyone who participates with an ice cream party, extra recess time, or anything that you think might motivate the sellers.

Offer prizes throughout the fundraiser to gain momentum and build excitement for the “grand prize” at the end. One idea that has worked is to reward the “top seller” each week the fundraiser is running.  This helps keep up the excitement level and keep the sales coming.  This is really important for groups running an “online only fundraiser” as they can last up to two months and leaders need to keep the sharing of their online link alive. Communicating the weekly winner can be a great reminder!

Know your group and know your sellers.

The key to choosing incentives that will motivate your sellers is to know your group and knowing your sellers. Consider your seller’s ages and interests. What appeals to and motivates one group may not motivate another. While it may be easier to motivate elementary age students with trinkets and tangible prizes, junior high and high school students may be more motivated to make sales with non-monetary incentives like a “free detention pass” or a “no homework coupon” or even a “Blue Jeans Day”. The Berea Midpark Orchestra Boosters gave their seniors $5.00 towards their prom ticket for every 5 items they sold for the fundraiser they ran this year. 


Don’t overlook or discount “non-monetary” prizes. They are very effective.

 The benefit of the non-monetary prize is that they cannot be duplicated or purchased by the parents. One caveat to small prizes and trinkets is that parents can always buy their child the stretchy bracelet or bouncy ball from the dollar store and avoid participating in the fundraiser. But the “events” cannot be replaced.  And kids typically do not want to be left out.  If you offer incentives that appeal to your sellers then they will be motivated to sell!

One elementary school allowed the child who sold the most to choose the sport or game for PE class that week.  Kids also love it when their coach, teacher, PTO leader or Principal agrees to do something outrageous or fun when they reach fundraising milestones. Is your principal willing to dye his/her hair? Will your coaches take “pies in the face”? What if your top seller got to be “Principal for a day”? Wouldn’t those be great prizes?

Be creative and have fun when considering all the incentive ideas and options out there.  Balance the age of your group with the ideas you think will motivate them the most….maybe even ask for their input?!  “Buy in” is key and when your group feels motivated to sell you will have the best chance for a successful fundraiser!