Virtual fundraising

Planning events is tricky when the guidelines on public gatherings are constantly shifting. Here’s our pick of safe activities that can be run online

Run a text raffle

There are several benefits to this fundraiser: you can hold it at any time, it’s significantly less work than a traditional raffle, and your supporters can text to enter from across the UK. Digital fundraising charity DONATE charges a 4.5% admin fee to hold a text raffle on behalf of your school charity (PTA or school fund).

Raffle ticket prices are set at between £1 and £10. All you need to do is choose a one-word name for your raffle and people then enter by texting the word to a five-digit number. An automated draw takes place on a date chosen by you.

Online prizes such as cash donations, vouchers and entry passes to local attractions are ideal for a text raffle, so ask your local business community for support. Remind businesses that the raffle will help publicise their goods and services, as well as giving them positive publicity, and then promote the raffle as widely as you can.

Don’t forget that you’ll need a local authority licence, just as you would with a physical raffle. nationalfunding

Hold a virtual balloon race

This eco-friendly alternative to a traditional live balloon race has gained popularity and momentum since our write up in FundEd’s spring issue. The race takes place entirely online, avoiding issues with litter or balloons endangering wildlife. Straightforward to set up, the ‘race’ uses real weather data and geographical positions on Google Maps to create a realistic event that participants can follow virtually.

Participating schools have the chance to win national prizes – such as £500 in cash, an iPad and Waterstones vouchers – from organiser, and they can choose to supplement these with their own local prizes too. To encourage participation and make your race more fun and competitive, you could try setting up teams of classes, families and workplaces.

Participants pay an appropriate charge (around £3 for an individual balloon), and can decorate and personalise their balloon online prior to the race. You can increase support by creating a build-up to the launch, and sending text reminders and updates on the progress of the race (usually run over one week).

Publish a story book

This is a lovely fundraiser that encourages pupils to be creative through a collaborative sharing project, even if they can’t be in school. There are many options to explore with your teaching staff, from asking every child to write a one-page story to running a competition for cover designs.

You could publish the resulting collection as an online book and ask for donations, or organise professional printing of books that can be sold to your school community. You could even branch out into ‘lockdown’ poetry anthologies. Consider offsetting the printing costs by asking local businesses to sponsor the books. Depending on the size of your school and number of contributions, you could publish one book or one for each year group or class.

UK-based offers free online resources, and options for parent-funded sales or parent-funded fundraising and sponsorship. US website offers free writing and illustration tools that help bring literacy to life, and allow students and teachers to collaborate online on writing projects. It charges US$24.99 to publish a hardback book, US$16.99 for comics, and US$3 for PDF downloads. FundEd readers can use the discount code SCRIBBLE20 to get 20% off published printable items until the end of 2020.

Organise an online auction

If you’re confident of gathering some impressive lots then this could be a high-profile fundraiser. Seek out one-of-a-kind donations such as VIP tickets, the use of a luxury car for the weekend, or a week at someone’s holiday home.

You can post each lot on Facebook and bids are placed in the comments section. Alternatively, sites such as provide an easy way for people to view lots and start bidding. You could also accept sealed bids by email.

Alternatively, go to a specialist company such as charity fundraiser D&G Group. It can compile a brochure and supply prizes (in addition to those sourced by the school), charging a fixed supply margin for items that are sold. It can also set up a digital leader board that shows each bid as it’s placed, as well as contacting winners, taking payments and even chasing up late payments.

Introduce a school lottery

This is a good way to generate a regular income stream that you can link to the promotion of your school ‘wish list’, as supporters are often willing to buy a ticket when they know they are contributing to a good cause.

Your School Lottery runs lotteries for individual schools, with 40% of sales coming back to your school. Tickets cost £1 and a winner is guaranteed in every school community each week, with prize amounts depending on how many players you have. All players are also entered into Your School Lottery’s national draw, for the chance to win a top prize of £25,000. Players log on choose their numbers and select either the direct debit or pay-as-you-go option. Your School Lottery organises the draw and contacts the winners – all you have to do is promote the lottery to your supporters and announce any winners.

Earn commission

Shopping affiliate platforms are a good way for schools to raise money through online shopping. Give as you Live Online, for instance, has more than 4,300 retailers on its site, including Argos, John Lewis & Partners and Amazon. Retailers pay a percentage of each spend back as commission, and 50% of this comes back to your school. 

Set up regular giving

School crowdfunding website DonateMySchool facilities regular online giving, without the need for standing orders or direct debit forms. It also recovers Gift Aid from HMRC. Both and CAF Donate ( are free of subscription or joining fees.

Receive spare change

The Roundups app ( enables users to donate their virtual spare change. It rounds up card payments to a whole number (to the nearest 10p, 50p or £1) and donates the pennies to your good cause.


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