School Fundraising

School Carnival Fundraiser Ideas

School Carnivals make great fundraisers for schools. An enterprising approach to school carnival fundraising is creating a community wide extravaganza. Going beyond recruiting your community as sponsors, and involving other nonprofits in the event creates a much bigger splash. Community wide school carnival fundraiser ideas have many arms to their mighty octopus. They become the carnival act people will travel to see.

Diving into this unique fundraising concept involves hosting several fundraisers throughout the carnival life span. Holding a vibrant carnival for a four day weekend, with other fundraisers happening in tandem is the idea. The carnival is the main axis point.  An example of nonprofits working together would be a walk-a-thon for one organization on Saturday, and another holding a 5k race on Sunday. Each day of the carnival with a nonprofit fundraising event nearby creates lots of shared fundraising energy.

School Carnival Fundraiser Ideas Community Wide

Envision a unique carnival with school drama clubs and local theater groups performing acts never seen before. How about live tables serving beverages with a student or teacher sprouting out of the center? These are just a few tantalizing school carnival fundraiser ideas we’ll delve into.

Community Wide School Carnival Fundraiser Ideas

The first step is to meet with other nonprofit organizations in your community. Sell them on the idea that by joining together you’ll create an environment of merriment. The more the merrier is the old saying, with nonstop illusionary carnival fun behind the curtain.

What are the specific steps in getting buy-in and igniting partnerships with other nonprofits?

  • Write a script to use in your pitch to other nonprofits. Gather a group of your board members, staff, donors and volunteers to write it.
  • Use these notes to create emails and place calls to set appointments with philanthropy teams of other charity organizations.
  • Create an invitation to other nonprofits asking for their participation. Try to get them involved in the initial planning stages. They may feel more excited at this juncture to join in and know they have more say.
  • Create a plan in writing detailing your exciting school carnival fundraising ideas and goals. Put your ideas, plans and goals on paper. Presenting an outline of your plan is a nice first step. Your complete plan may be shared when you meet with nonprofits in person, or ahead of time.
  • Contact food and beverage vendors ahead. Show these organizations the footwork you have done already. Put together a list of committed vendors, and add it to your overall plan.
  • Pursue in-kind donations for prizes and share a list of committed donors. Consider stuff kids like and can use for learning. Prizes for adults should be procured too. Celebrate the winners of the crowdfunding events held by each nonprofit. Hold celebrations at the end of each event at the carnival!
  • Propose some dates and times. Put into consideration the weather and other community events. Give the other organizations some leeway and buy-in on the dates.
  • Find a location that coincides with your proposed dates and times. This grand fundraising concept is well suited to an outdoor setting. Yet a large armory or indoor setting would be equally as fun and less risky when considering rain. Get a solid commitment for whatever location you choose to show your nonprofit partners how far along you are in your plan.
  • Permission from the city to have a carnival at your chosen location is next.
  • Put together a budget with all the costs of your school carnival fundraising ideas. Break down how the carnival proceeds will be shared.
  • Each organization has considerations regarding insurance. Start with your nonprofit and show in your written plan that your school is permitted to have a carnival.
  • Present the potential for marketing and bringing in new donors and volunteers. This is a grand opportunity to share videos and photos of each event over four days. List all the ways: social media platforms, nonprofit websites, fundraising websites and Facebook Live.

Propose a schedule of fundraising events for each day of the carnival held by your nonprofit partners:

  1. The first event may be a school Fun Run, with a starting point across town that finishes at the carnival. Keep the carnival theme threading through the event with tables handing out water, or perhaps mimes.
  2. A color-run befits a carnival for day two! The crowdfunding teams may be asked to dream up some Victorian costumes. Imagine the photos you’ll have for your nonprofit website homepage and newsletter.
  3. Day three could mix up the pot with a Saturday early evening concert. Start it just before you close the carnival for the day. Perhaps one of your partnering nonprofits is a small and just getting their start.This can be a low cost way for them to start fundraising.
  4. And the final day may be a chalk festival held close to the carnival as a part of the grand finale. Plan several blocks of chalk art and present maps on your event flyers and carnival fundraising website.

School Carnival Fundraising Ideas

A carnival is an elementary school PTA fundraising favorite. Include all kinds of games for elementary kids and their families, including a bouncy house, win-a-fish, lucky duck and soda toss ring games. And everyone loves face painting! Here are some other unique carnival ideas:

  • Magic Lantern Shows performed by theater groups and school drama clubs bring a rich slice of history to children. Create interest and excitement for children in science, art and literature using a slide projector. Layer in narration, invite audience participation for sound effects and add live instrumentation. Stories and songs may be performed in magic lantern shows. The videos you’ll have on your homepage will be most entertaining and entice new donors.
  • Perhaps the school library wants to get involved to fund some library initiatives. Include a used book sale and allow students to pick up old used books and magazines, with the funds going towards the library’s fundraising efforts.
  • Living Tables used for serving beverages and food are very fun school carnival fundraiser ideas. Picture teachers, parents and students dressed in costume and planted in the middle of the table! Cut out the center for the server dressed in different costumes. Dress them as crackers and have them sell crackers and cheese and crack some cheesy jokes. Let your imagination get involved and come up with some very fun ideas.
  • Walkabout Acts are literally performers who walk about the carnival dressed in costume. They are good for ticket sales within the carnival. Dress them in many creative ways. How about a pair of actual stars on stilts? Or two high school students on roller skates dressed as mimes sound fun. Ask them to pass out flyers on the 4 fundraising events on your schedule.


School carnivals are beloved school fundraising traditions in many schools and communities.  One reason is that they can be customized to a community, becoming as simple or extravagant as you wish. When theater groups are involved the potential for acts never seen before is high, with people traveling from afar to see them. Bring new donors on board by impressing them with a community wide carnival, showing your ability to form partnerships and support other organizations.

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Maureen Peine

About Maureen Peine

Maureen has been writing and marketing for DoJiggy for over 7 years, and has a strong background in nonprofit fundraising. While with The Nature Conservancy for 7 years prior to DoJiggy, she learned the inner workings of marketing to the State of California within the external affairs department. Her heart is in her writing as she believes in the power of change through nonprofit organizations.
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