School fundraising is one of those things that people love to hate.

But regardless of whether you’d rather hand over $50 at the beginning of the year and ask to be left alone, or if you’re one of those with their sleeves rolled up, slugging away at the sausage sizzle every month – most people agree that fundraising at school is as guaranteed in life as birth, death, taxes and controversy on The Bachelor.

And, until this changes, passive fundraisers can be your new best friend. Passive fundraisers are usually associated with a particular business, and every time you make a purchase, a percentage of the sale is donated back to your school or community group.

The pros and cons of passive fundraising

The benefits of passive fundraising are:

–        They’re easy to set up

–        They run continually throughout the year, and can continue year after year

–        Can provide a constant stream of income

–        Usually involve minimal ongoing effort

–        There is a wide range of companies and products available

–        They are suitable for small and large schools as well as those based in remote and rural locations

–        Where applicable, you can provide your school code to people outside of your immediate school community to increase your earnings.

The downside of passive fundraising can be:

–        They rarely have the earning potential of a single, structured fundraising event such as a quiz night, or even a cake stall

–        People can ‘forget’ about them and so they still require regular promotion or marketing.

How much can we earn?

Although individually, a passive fundraiser might not earn a lot of money each year, when combined they can bring in a regular – and very easy – contribution to your fundraising coffers. It is entirely feasible to makes hundreds of dollars per fundraiser each year. If 1/3 of a school with 300 families make a $25 purchase once a year which offers a 10% donation – you will earn $250. Multiply that by four programs and you have raised $1,000 for not much effort.

Earnings are usually a percentage of sales, so the more your school/community shop at a certain store or buy certain products, the greater your passive income will be.

The percentage you can earn will vary for different companies, from 1-20%, and while some fundraising programs will reward you with cash (usually deposited once or twice a year), others will provide credit which you can then use to purchase goods from that same company.

Most passive fundraising programs are online, with the company providing the school a unique code which you enter at the time of making a purchase, ensuring that the donation is recorded for your group. This code can be shared with people far beyond your immediate school community – potentially increasing your sales reach (and income) to other cities and states.

What companies offer passive fundraising?

The range of companies which offer passive fundraising is constantly growing, and you should find out the current details of specific passive fundraising companies, but with so much choice, there will be some to suit every school.

Some companies include:

– grocery stores

– deals websites

toy catalogues

– personalised products

– online shops.

How can we maximise our passive income?

Passive fundraising might be minimal effort, but to maximise your earning potential you still need to constantly promote your programs and remind the school and local community that by shopping at these places, your school is earning much-needed dollars.

Make sure that your passive fundraising programs are included in orientation booklets for new families, and constantly remind current families with notices in the newsletter or a flyer at the start of each term.

If a company has provided promotional material such as posters or sample packs, use them to advertise the programs or offer giveaways during the year to increase awareness.

Depending on what programs you have chosen, run promotions and reminders at timely points during the year – for example since new lunch bags and labels are often required at the beginning of each school year, a dedicated marketing campaign could be initiated during Term 4 every year, reminding everyone to get their labels for the next year and help the school earn fundraising dollars.

Will passive fundraising work for us?

Passive fundraising can be a great solution for fundraising fatigue – where parents have had enough of fun runs and have eaten enough chocolate to last a life time.

Passive fundraising will work for any school or group – but like anything, you still have to put in a bit of effort. Set it up, make it easy for the school community to join (provide an email with all the links and codes) and remember to promote every term.

Have you ever tried passive fundraising? How did it go? Share with us below.

Image source Shutterstock.

  • fundraising is great but small country schools do find it tougher than the big ones


  • Very informative, thank you for sharing.


  • Our local school us a small country one. It needs and gas to do a lot of fundraising to get things for the kids


  • Our Primary School probably scheduled in too many passive fundraisers. The idea was to share the options across the school community, but it still seemed the same people ordering all the time.

    • Some put high profit margins on their products even if they have been donated to them, sometimes higher than the retailers are selling them for. The average person doesn’t want to pay a lot more than normal prices in the shops. Young families often have mortgages which take a fair chunk of their income. One school I know constantly has things during the year. Just about every month there is something. Sometimes you just have to say “no”. It often involves the kids buying things/different food treats and it may be something your child doesn’t like. Some have quiz nights for which you pay an entry fee, take a plate of food. They raise a lot of money as they run a lot of raffles during the night. It means that one person has to stay home to mind the children or get a babysitter.


  • These weren’t around when I did school fundraising. Every little helps I guess.


  • Think both passive and active fundraising are great ways to raise funds for schools.


  • Drakes Foodland IGA Supermarkets in SA have a scheme where you are given a special card. You have it swiped at the checkout. They donate a % of those docket totals to a variety of schools and charities. Originally they had a method where they have closed in shelves with slots in them labelled with schools and charities. You put your checkout docket in the one of your choice. They regularly emptied each one, totalled the dockets, calculated the the amount of donation and sent off cheques.
    Some schools have quiz nights and raffles. Businesses or people donate the prizes. On one occasion they also had a silent auction. If you wanted to buy one of the things you wrote your name and your price on a list. It is sold to the person with the highest bid. At one school the big prize from one of the more expensive was a discount on your child’s fees for the next year.


  • I’d rather be asked once a year than hit up constantly for a dollar or two – but I know that would be harder for a lot of people.


  • Yes I see a lot of creative thinking put into passive fundraising, and these are all good channels to use.


  • Our local supermarket used to but the big supermarkets moved in and they unfortunately where forced to shut down. Such a shame.


  • Our school does passive fundraising via bookclub orders.


  • No l haven’t tried passive fundraising but a great idea!


  • Our school does this with a Pizza shop and a garden supply shop. Its hard to remember sometimes that you need to mention the school but if you do it is a great way for the school to earn money.


  • Fundraising is always an issue for schools and groups.


  • A very interesting article. I think people get more excited about one-off events, but passive fundraising is a good additional strategy to have in place.


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