While we would all like to think kids would want to get involved in an activity that ultimately helps their school, the truth is that sometimes they need something extra to guarantee their participation. While some fundraising companies offer prizes and incentives as a way of maintaining motivation, if you are DIYing, here are some cheap or no-cost ideas that might encourage kids to try a little harder.
These might work for on-going or one-off fundraising programs or even as an incentive to bring in products for a white elephant stall, recycling or food drive.
Be the Boss for the Day
Teacher or principal – let the child take the reins and run the school or classroom for the day (or an hour). This may be a simple as allowing the child to do roll call and decide in what order the kids get to line up, or it might be allowing them to make announcements over the PA, be in charge of the photocopier, sit at the teacher’s desk or park their bike in the Principal’s car park.
When you want ongoing involvement in a program, and need regular incentives, consider making a bunch of mystery envelopes (or little boxes or bags) with the winner each week being able to select an envelope. Some may contain lunch or ice-cream vouchers from the canteen, one or two may have a larger prize (such as any on this page). You could also include a small chocolate or cool eraser, or approach local businesses and restaurants (or bakeries) to see if they will donate small prizes and vouchers.
Where the fundraiser event is organised by class, make the top prize a special class party, as simple as BYO party food, order in a pizza or arrange a free lunch courtesy of the canteen. You could also allow the class to have a free dress day.
Best Seat in the House
A special chair at assembly – it might be a comfy couch brought in from the staff room, a bean bag or even the Principal’s chair – this prize is made even better with some VIP trappings.
If students are competing within the class, then a special desk with a comfy chair or cushion and a tiny vase of flowers and some fancy pens/pencils could be set up for the weekly winner or most improved student.
When you need lots of incentives and need to keep the cost down, make special tokens or vouchers that the kids can trade for ice-creams, jelly or other treats at the canteen.
Also best for class incentives – allow them an extra period worth of recess or lunch.
Principal Sausage King
Tell the kids that the class who raises the most money/donates the most toys etc will have an exclusive BBQ catered and cooked by the Principal – all you will need is some sausages, sauce and buns and the use of a BBQ for an hour or so. The smell of cooking sausages at lunchtime will also encourage other classes to try harder next time.
Eat Your Cake
Another idea for classes is to have a volunteer bake a huge cake (every week/every assembly) which is presented to the winning class at assembly. If it is displayed beforehand it will make the rest of the school try a little harder the following week. The winning class then get to enjoy their prize at morning tea.
Choose a theme
Another great class prize is allowing them to choose the theme for the next mufti or free dress day, which then of course helps raise more money for the school with a gold coin donation. The winning class can vote on whether to make it a crazy socks, crazy hair, beach theme, superhero theme or any of hundreds of other ideas. Find some more here.
What other ideas do you have for low-cost incentives?