Put the "Fun" Back into Yearbook Fundraising!

Raising money for the yearbook doesn’t have to be a painful process of sending endless mailings home, begging students to remember to pay early, or barraging people in the hallway to purchase some meaningless swag that will only put pennies toward the yearbook.

Not only can yearbook fundraising be a fun activity, but with the right ideas, you can raise major bucks and provide some colorful content for your book. Here are some inspirational “fun”draising ideas that will not only get you through the grind of making yearbook money, but may actually ignite your entrepreneurial spirit.

  • Senior Calendar: If you have a good group of spirited seniors, this fundraiser is for you. Hold a stylized photo shoot for a custom calendar and encourage participation from all seniors – not just those that get a lot of athletic or academic attention. There are many approaches to the calendar; you could have them dress up likes the season, i.e. Halloween costumes for October, Santas and elves for December, luau attire for August, and so on. Everyone will want to purchase this one-of-a-kind calendar, whether it be parents, teachers, or underclassman with crushes.
  • Mr. (Hometown) Pageant: Flip the traditional beauty pageant on its head! Instead of having the school’s most popular ladies strut around in dresses or give overly-rehearsed speeches, it’s time to let the guys shine. Have a pageant that focuses on the studs and shy guys alike, because this fundraiser will truly be all in fun. Keep all the traditions of pageants intact – an opening song/dance number, dress wear, talent portion, and final speeches. Then let the guys loose! They won’t take the pageant as seriously as ladies, so whether their talent is chubby bunny, drumming like Blue Man Group, or reciting poetry, this event is sure to provoke some uproarious laughter!

The talent portion of a Mr. (Hometown) Pageant is an entertaining yearbook fundraiser.

  • Battle of the Air Bands: People will flock to participate in this event because there is no talent necessary… just a willingness to get up in front of a large group of people, disregard possible embarrassment, and have a blast. It’s a simple formula: air “bands” sign up to sing to their favorite tunes, without ever humming a note. All they have to do is mouth the words, maybe play some instruments, real or fake (lacrosse sticks work as great guitars), and have some fun!  The audience will vote on which band they think performed the best. Tie? No problem… pick a random song and have an air “sing” off.
  • Dollar Dance: If you’ve never heard of this, it’s a traditional dance at a wedding where a song or two is played, and guests pay a dollar each to dance with the bride and/or groom for a few seconds during the song. You can implement the same idea for your yearbook fundraiser. Whether you have some sought-after senior hotties or not, underclassman will always pay for the chance to have one dance with their crush. No matter what, keep the price at a dollar per person – and you’ll see a little can go a long way.
  • Student Art Show: Every school has dozens of talented students just waiting to get their work out there, and maybe even make a little money off their work. You can take one of two approaches: 1. Ask students to donate some of their artwork that you can use to reprint on items like mugs and t-shirts, and then sell those items, or 2. Hold an in-school art exhibit, sell reproductions, and split the profits with the student artists.
  • Powder Puff: The senior girls will play flag football against one another while the boys cheer them on from the sidelines – pompoms and short skirts optional. The concept is simple, the entertainment is high, and the profits are always large – community members, parents, and underclassman love to cheer on their senior class!
  • Murder Mystery Dinner: This is a great opportunity for talented students to show off their flair for the dramatic! There are dozens of murder mystery themes online, or if you want something truly original, scout creative writing students to help create a captivating script. The students will perform the who-dun-it in front of a paying audience and encourage participation by walking around during scenes and staying in character as they interact with the audience. If you want to keep overhead low, hold a spaghetti dinner and ask a local grocery store to donate the food, and have other students or parent volunteer to cook.

A murder mystery dinner is an innovative and creative way to raise yearbook funds.
Image source: Flickr user Lee Mueller

  • Board Game Tournament: Entrants pay a small fee (maybe $10) to participate as an individual or team, depending on the game. This can be a day-long tournament with each round featuring a different board game. It’s a good idea to stay away from games that are very time consuming (i.e. Monopoly of Settlers of Catan), and stick to those games that can be played in an hour or less each – Scrabble, Battleship, Connect Four, Twister, Cranium, Apples to Apples, etc.
There's nothing boring about this board game tournament!

Get students away from video games and computer screens and encourage them to participate in the board game tournament fundraiser.
Image source: Flickr user peddhapati

  • Hands on a Hard Body: In this game, participants put their hands palms-down on a car, and the last one still touching the car at the end of the day wins the car. But not to worry if your school isn’t rolling the dough – you won’t have to raffle off the car, but rather use it as a fundraising tool for some competitive participants. Have people pay to get into the competition and raffle off a smaller prize – like a shopping spree, gift certificates, etc. Just be sure to tell people up front that the car isn’t actually the prize!

Besides raising beaucoup dollars for your yearbook, these fundraisers will provide amazing photo-ops and must-use candids that you can include in the book, and fondly (embarrassingly? hilariously?) look back on for years to come!