How To Raise Money for a School Trip [With & Without Kids Involved]

Schools today give kids so many amazing options – whether it’s a trip to New York City to take in a Broadway play, a visit to another part of the state to perform in a debate competition, or even international travel to broaden their horizons and solidify their foreign language skills, the opportunities can blow your mind.

But, for parents, these opportunities can also be stressful. If you’re like me, when faced with helping your child’s school group pay for a trip like this, you might feel overwhelmed. Where to start? How can you quickly raise that much money?

In general, the best way to raise money for a school trip is to have the kids work together on shared fundraising events and odd jobs. This way, everyone is involved, and the kids are learning the benefit of working hard toward a goal. However, there are many other good ways to raise money for a school trip, whether parents want to do most of the fundraising themselves or whether they want the kids to contribute as well.

I’ve researched many ways to fund a school trip, and here, I’ll share my top ten:

  1. Have the kids earn money through odd jobs
  2. Host a neighborhood event
  3. Have a yard sale
  4. Consider crowdfunding
  5. Make and sell craft items
  6. Have a car wash
  7. Go caroling
  8. Stage a flash mob
  9. Use a school-sponsored fundraising program
  10. Ask local businesses to sponsor the trip


1. Have the Kids Earn Money through Odd Jobs

There are many jobs kids can take on in their neighborhoods and for friends and family to earn money to put toward the cost of a school trip. The added benefit of this approach is that the kids will value the trip much more if they’ve put some sweat equity into paying for the opportunity!

Some great jobs kids might do to earn money for their trip expenses (including the general cost of the trip as well as spending money they may want to take with them for souvenirs and other optional purchases) include mowing lawns or weeding, shoveling snow; babysitting; tutoring younger kids; pet sitting; dog walking; driving younger kids to after-school activities; or running errands for busy adults (picking up dry cleaning or groceries, etc.).

2. Host a Neighborhood Event

Everyone loves a good neighborhood movie night or block party. Consider having several families collaborate on hosting an event like an outdoor movie night. Set up a large screen or even a white bedsheet and project a fun family movie onto it.

Guests can be asked to bring their own outdoor chairs or blankets for watching the movie. You can charge a small admission fee, and sell concessions like popcorn, candy, homemade snacks, and drinks. Be sure to let your guests know that your kids are using the money to pay for a school trip!

You could do something similar to hosting a party. It could be a block party in your cul-de-sac (provide music and some sort of entertainment, and again, sell concessions or charge for admission).

What about a kids’ event? Most parents with young kids would be delighted to pay a small ticket price for your older kids to keep the little ones busy for a couple of hours with games, face painting, bubbles, and other outdoor fun.

Or, try hosting a neighborhood baseball game. Again, you can charge admission and sell snacks, and you’ll find lots of interest from young and old alike.

3. Have a Yard Sale

Yard sales are a great way to reduce the clutter in your home while also raising a bit of money. Your kids can help sort out toys and clothing they no longer need, while you can probably also find other household items to add to the offerings. Consider kitchen items, lamps, knick-knacks, and decorative items you no longer enjoy, DVDs, books, CDs, and anything else around the house that is ready to be cleared out.

Yard sales are most successful when you have multiple families offering their goods altogether. This gives your shoppers more to choose from and helps you draw more traffic to your sale. Work together to spread the word, place signs around the neighborhood, advertise on your neighborhood listserv or Facebook group, and let everyone know that their purchases will help your kids go on a great school trip!

4. Consider Crowdfunding Your Trip

Sometimes, you’ll find that family, friends, other school parents, and even strangers are willing to support your kids in going on an amazing school trip even if you’ve not provided them a service or event in return. You may also find that families with more resources available can help anonymously fund their kids’ friends using a mechanism like this.

You can use a variety of crowdfunding platforms (the best known is GoFundMe, but do a little research first to find the best fit for your needs) to get your story out there and see who might be willing to contribute. Be sure to really explain why this trip is so important, and have the kids give quotes so you can share their excitement in their own words.

Even a few dollars here and there can really add up, so having crowdsourcing as one of your fundraising strategies is a great idea. It doesn’t take much effort to set it up and you can have some money coming in from this source alongside all the other efforts you’re working on with odd jobs, yard sales, etc.

Keep in mind that depending on the crowdfunding platform you use, there may be a delay required between a request and when you can withdraw your funds for use. In addition, you may have to pay a fee to the platform, so take that into account in your planning.

If you want to avoid the fees and setup, and get your kids more directly involved, consider old-fashioned crowdfunding: going door to door to ask for donations. You will probably find that if your kids go around the neighborhood and explain the trip they’re trying to save up for, some neighbors will be willing to help out.

5. Make and Sell Craft Items

It’s likely that lots of the kids who plan to travel in your group have craft skills that could be put to good use in raising money for the trip. Kids can sell their crafts at local craft fairs, at the school (with permission!), or even online on platforms like Etsy.

Consider seeing if the kids can make any of the following to sell: knitted or crocheted items (scarves, baby blankets, etc.); homemade jewelry; small drawings or paintings; handmade wreaths or other household decorations; homemade pottery; decorative canvases, towels, napkins, bookmarks, etc. with cross-stitch or needlepoint designs; or hand-sewed items such as clothing or purses.

Most crafts take some time to make, and the supplies also cost money, so this tactic may not work for every group. If you have the resources to acquire supplies and have a long period of time to raise your trip funds, though, crafting can be a useful strategy.

Bonus: this approach also exposes kids to some financial skills, such as how to set the price for their craft to appropriately account for the cost of supplies and their time in making the craft.

6. Have a Car Wash

If you’re raising money in the summer, a car wash can be a really fun way for the kids to cool off while also raising money for your trip. You can hold your car wash in a neighborhood area with good access to water, or ask a local gas station with a large parking lot if you can have your car wash on their site. (This can be a real win-win as the gas station will likely get extra traffic for gas and snacks as people stop to get their car washed!)

Designate some kids to do the washing and others to hold up posters to encourage passing drivers to stop by and get a car wash.

You can charge for the car wash, or you can ask for donations and explain to your visitors about the school trip you’re raising money for. If you go the donation route, you’ll probably get more people to stop (who doesn’t want a free car wash?) and most people will likely end up donating.

Some will donate more than you would have charged for the car wash, so that difference often covers the few people who choose not to donate.

7. Go Caroling

If you’re raising money around the time of the winter holidays, consider sending your group around to local homes offering caroling and asking for donations to support their trip. This is of course an especially appropriate option if you’re working to send a choir or other performing group on a trip, but any group of kids can give this a shot!

8. Stage a Flash Mob

If your group of kids is a performing arts group, they might really enjoy finding a way to make some of their performances into a flash mob type of performance at a local mall or similar setting.

The kids will have a blast doing the performance (and get good practice in, too!), the audience will enjoy the surprise, and you can ask for donations afterward. (Be sure to get permission from the venue where you’ll be performing to ensure they’ll allow you to ask for donations at their facility.)


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9. Use a School-Sponsored Fundraising Program

If you have a longer timeframe to work with to fund your trip, you can work with your school and an outside vendor to set up a school-affiliated fundraising program. In programs like these, your kids will be engaged in selling items in the local community, such as wrapping paper, candy, or popcorn.

In general, kids can sell these items door-to-door, and parents can also take orders from colleagues at work to help bolster sales.

The vendor providing the products will take a cut of the profits, so be sure to look carefully at program terms before you sign up to ensure that your efforts with your chosen program will net enough money to be worthwhile.

10. Ask Local Businesses to Sponsor Your Trip

Local businesses love to give back to their communities and spread their company names around in the process. They often sponsor kids’ soccer or baseball teams to get their logos on the team shirts, for example. So, why not ask whether they’d be willing to sponsor your school trip?

Consider ways that you could help publicize the business in return for their donation. For example, perhaps you could bring a promotional item with their business logo with you and take photos of your kids in a cool location during the trip, holding up or wearing the item with the logo. The business could then share this photo and a related story about their sponsorship in their blog, newsletter, or social media feeds.

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