Fundraising is a key part of the SkillsUSA program of work. Without funds, it is hard to conduct most activities. In addition to helping to finance the local chapter, a fundraising activity can also provide many valuable learning experiences for students. From project management to forecasting profits, setting timelines, working in teams and being accountable for results, fundraising teaches many skills that will be needed on the job and in life.
There are many ways to raise funds for your chapter, from weekly donut or pizza sales to an annual health fair, car show, mulch sale, flea market, art show and other annual events. You can also team up with an established fundraising company to sell their products using their products and marketing materials. When possible, it is wonderful to incorporate the technical skills your students are learning as well as opportunities for students to speak to business partners and other adults. These are great ways to reinforce the skills being developed in the classroom.
To start, your chapter officers should work with you to determine a SkillsUSA budget for the school year to cover the costs of chapter activities, travel to competitions, official attire or contest uniforms, curriculum, equipment or other chapter materials. Next, determine what portion of the budget can be provided through student payment, a student activity fee or Perkins funding. The balance can then be raised through fundraising activities. Review your organization budget with your principal to be sure it aligns with school policy and procedure.
Student participation is an important factor in the management of money that will be raised for their benefit. Fundraising ideas should be approved by the whole chapter. And, all funds raised should benefit those students currently enrolled in your programs.
Below is a handy checklist for your fundraising activities:
- Obtain a copy of your school policy regarding fundraising
- Have students brainstorm ways to raise funds
- Request approval of any contracts for goods or services
- Be familiar with any school insurance available to protect against liability
- Inventory merchandise to be sure you received what was ordered
- Check with companies for their return policy of any unsold goods
- Require strict accounting of all funds handled
- Provide adult supervision for all fundraising activities
- Establish clear timelines and deadlines for the fundraiser
- Have students organize work teams so a few students don’t do all of the work
- Plan for safety and monitor safe work practices during all activities
- Employ a code of conduct for students who are participating
- Have students implement good financial procedures
- Assign one or two people to handle all receipts, expenditures and accounting
- Establish deadlines for any money to be turned in
- Require receipts for any chapter purchases
- Require two signatures on checks if your SkillsUSA chapter has a checking account
Here are examples of fundraising activities conducted by local SkillsUSA chapters:
Brooke High School in Wellsburg, W.Va.
SkillsUSA members: 19
Amount raised: $200
Project summary: Sponsored an annual 70’s dance and we got over 110 people to show up. Everyone had a great time, but the most important part in planning a dance is ensuring you have a DJ who will work the crowd. The day was on Friday night from 7-10pm. We also asked our students to ask their parents about donating food for the concession stand. We were able to giveaway free food. The students organize and run the event. The teachers only helped with the concession stand. The funds raised will be used to buy a red blazer for our newly appointed state officer. The rest will be put in our state conference travel fund. The dance was a 150 percent total success. Next year, we are doing a 50’s dance, and we can’t wait.
Best Tips: Get a good DJ. It impacts your dance like no other influence. Also, don’t go overboard on decorating. And give away a prize, like best 70’s dressed.
Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City,Oklahoma
SkillsUSA members: Unknown
Amount raised: $1,700.00
Project summary: We had penny war. We collected pennies to support Families who cannot afford christmas. Every penny counted as positive and a sliver counted as a negative. We raised 1700 dollars and supported 15 families.
Worth County High School in Sylvester, Georgia
SkillsUSA members: 6 members, various training programs
Amount raised: $1,400.00 annually
Project summary: The students in the welding class built propane cookers to sell. The cookers were designed and build by the students, and were sold to interested individuals for $200. The prototype was originally ordered by the school, to cook french- fries at high school basketball games. Once people saw what we could do, we perfected the design and the orders started coming in.
Best tip: Find out what is popular in your area and build on it. People around here love to cook fish so we built something to satisfy that need. Do the same and your club could prosper.
South Central College, North Mankato Campus in Minnesota recently held a Carhartt Grilling for Dollars event, reports Minnesota college president William Kramlinger. He is also his local chapter president.
SkillsUSA members: 295 members
Amount raised: $500.00
Project summary: Grilling for Dollars was used to raise money for Kids Against Hunger, a national organization that packages dry foods and sends them to impoverished countries around the world. This rice-soy-vegtable mixture is boiled in water and full of protien, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to a child’s development. It took about 20 people to make the fundraiser happen. A representative of Carhartt sent chapter banners, t-shirts and $250 for supplies. The Carharrt vendor, C&S Supply in Mankato, supplied the location and newspaper advertising. The college developed a press release and printed posters. The chapter provided the grill, crockpot and a display about the college and SkillsUSA. The group sold pop, chips and hotdogs, raising a total of $435, which is enough money to feed 1740 children through Kids Against Hunger.
Best Tip: During the event they divided volunteers between the grill, money handling, servers, and promoters to talk about SkillsUSA and Kids Against Hunger. The success came from getting media attention. The event was mentioned on radio, in the local newspaper and was also featured on the local news. Not only did the group raise money for their cause, but they also promoted SkillsUSA in the community. When they heard about the fund-raiser, MICO Inc., a local employer that manufactures and distributes hydraulic components and brake systems, donated an additional $3,000 to Kids Against Hunger, which is enough to feed more than 13,000 children.
Stafford High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia has held an annual citrus sale for the past 21 years.
They earn an average of $1400 per sale.
SkillsUSA members: 64 members, various training programs
Amount raised: $1,400.00 annually
Project summary: They inherited the sale from FFA in 1988, and have customers who’ve been buying for more than 30 years. They run the sale during the month of October. The funds raised are used for all SkillsUSA members to help cover competition fees and expenses. They also award two scholarships, one for a student going directly into the workforce and one for a student going on to higher education.
Best tip: We award a catered lunch from Chick Fil-A to the training program that sells the most boxes of citrus per student. The chapter officers take all of the sales order forms and put the information into an Excel spreadsheet, so it’s easy to keep track of who sold what. We were hoping this would encourage more people to participate. Keeping track on a progress chart (like a thermometer) so students can see how the sales are progressing is also encouraging.
The Career and Technology Education Center of Licking County (C-Tech) in Newark Ohio has held an annual craft show for the past 19 years, reports advisor Tina Hummel.
They earn an average of $9,500 each year including $5,000 for vendor spaces, $3,000 at the bake sale and $1,500 admission ($1 per adult shopper).
SkillsUSA members: 421 members, various training programs
Amount raised: $9,500 annually
Project summary: This is their only SkillsUSA fundraiser so all training programs and instructors take part. The funds are used to support all student travel to competitions at the regional, state and national levels as well as socials, popcorn days, medals, officer training, summer leadership camp and guest speakers. Students make all the baked goods that are sold at the craft show.
Best tip: They hold a spirit award contest the week of the craft show and programs compete against each other to earn one of the top eight spots and the first place traveling eagle trophy.
Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Mississippi holds an annual golf tournament at a local golf club, reports advisor Lourie Barnett.
Students and instructors help plan the event, which is held on a Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the winners announced at the end.
SkillsUSA members: 44 members, multiple training programs
Amount raised: $4,000 annually
Project summary: The school asks different organizations to sponsor a hole on the golf course at $100 per hole. Companies they do business with typically sponsor more than one hole. Funds raised are used for travel to SkillsUSA competitions in April and June
Best tip: Get all of the students involved
Jo Daviess Carroll AVC in Elizabeth, Illinois holds monthly food sales for students, says advisor Cathy Moon.
Students do the cooking and take orders as if they are in a restaurant. Their customers are both students and teachers.
SkillsUSA Members: 32 members, culinary arts
Amount raised: $150 to $300 per event
Project summary: They have two monthly food sales for students, offering breakfast and lunch, which gives students practice in customer skills, organizational skills, and a chance to handle money and give change. It takes about 2.5 hours per day, including set up, cooking, and clean up. Students run the whole event and they choose what type of breakfast items or entree, such as cheeseburgers and fries, to sell.
Best tip: After food costs are deducted, the money raised is evenly divided among the students, which they can then use towards their State Leadership Conference trip. They also apply funds to purchase supplies for contests such as Job Skills Demo A and Culinary Arts and Baking. Getting the students as involved as much as possible in the fundraising decisions is important. The ownership of the fundraisers gives the students the determination to them successful.
Russell County Career and Technology Center in Lebanon, Virginia sponsors a golf tournament each fall, says advisor Jennifer Fields.
They have a lot of assistance from the principal and teachers at the school, and serve a meal to the golfers after the tournament.
SkillsUSA members: 250 students and teachers
Amount raised: $2,500 annually
Project summary: They solicit hole sponsors and sell sponsor ads. They put up signs with the company names on each holes. Teams also pay to register. They give away nice prizes at the end of the day, which encourages participation by the community. The funds are used for activities within the SkillsUSA program. They also use the money to send students to district and state competitions.
Best Tip: Talk with other people who have done this type of activity before. It is a simple, effective way to make money for the organization.
Russell County Career and Technology Center in Lebanon, Virginia sells home interior candles as a SkillsUSA fundraiser, reports advisor Jennifer Fields.
SkillsUSA members: 250 students and instructors
Amount raised: $2,700 annually
Project summary: The candles are sold each October or November to friends, family members of students and to neighbors and church members. They use the funds raised to pay for their fall and spring socials, and to help cover travel expenses for competitions. They also have an end-of-year picnic for our members.
Best Tip: Give a prize to the top selling student. Chapter members are naturally competitive and will work harder to win a $50 prize.
Eastland Career Center in Groveport, Ohio has done magazine sales to support their chapter, reports advisor Rick Roberts.
This one fundraiser pays for all of their chapter activities, including travel to state and national conventions.
SkillsUSA members: 400 students and instructors
Project summary: They conduct a QSP Reader’s Digest magazine sale. Students are asked to sell a minimum of two orders. All students are involved and the fundraiser lasts about 10 school days. They hold this event annually in October and teachers and parents are the primary customers.
Amount raised: Between $4,000 and $10,000
Best Tip: Make it as easy as possible! Two orders are not that much for a student to handle, and this brings in solid profit. All students are asked to participate and we encourage them by offering a grade for this activity.
Saginaw Career Complex in Saginaw, Michigan conducts a can and bottle drive as their student fundraiser, reports advisor Mark Gurnee.
Members: 10 students, automotive technology
Project summary: The Saginaw students put on their SkillsUSA blazers and go house to house as a group in our community to college cans and bottles. In Michigan, these are worth .10 cents each, which adds up. They announce this activity in the local paper to let the community know the days and times so they will expect the students and have cans and bottles ready. They go out as a team of four students with one advisor as the driver and say the best time to go is between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. weekdays when people are likely to be home. They have tried this project on the weekends with less success.
Amount raised: It varies depending upon how many days they go out to collect
Best Tip: The students are very polite and sometimes homeowners will donate cash if they have no cans or bottles. They have been given as much as a twenty dollar donation just for asking for cans and bottles, and being polite.
Madison Career and Technical Center in Madison, Mississippi builds a child’s playhouse each year and raffles it off for $10 per ticket, says advisor Wallace Boteler.
They send out an announcement to all instructors in the school system. The funds go into the building trades SkillsUSA account and are used to fund travel to conferences.
SkillsUSA members: 24 students, building trades
Project summary: They build a child’s playhouse each year and have a raffle sale. The tickets are $10.00. Students are directly involved in the construction and sale of the tickets. The raffle was held in April this year. The playhouse was 4′ x 8′, with furniture and lights. The style was Victorian and it had a built-in desk, vinyl floor, and shutters.
Amount raised: We invested $600 and hoped to raise up to $10,000
Best Tip: Build a product that will appeal to the most people.
Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland, Oregon uses the Grilling for Dollars Event, sponsored by SkillsUSA industry partner Carhartt, report advisors Bill Cooper and Mary Ganoe.
Each official “Grilling for Dollars” event is about four hours. Other hot dog sales have varied from two to four hours. At the Grilling for Dollars events our customers are anyone visiting the local Carhartt retailer. At school, our customers are students, teachers and parents. Money raised is used to help cover expenses at both state and national conference.
SkillsUSA members: 174 students and 18 instructors, mixed training
Project summary: They have done two of these events so far and plan on making Grilling for Dollars an ongoing effort. During the Grilling for Dollars event last December they added a gift-wrapping station (with the blessing of the Carhartt store because they did not offer gift wrapping to their customers). The Carhartt-sponsored events went so well that we have been doing hot dog sales at a variety of events at Benson, including the school’s annual technical education open house. Students primarily run the event with assistance from advisors and parents.
Amount raised: $450-$700 per event
Best Tip: More schools should take advantage of the Carhartt Grilling for Dollars program. It’s a fundraiser without the downside of having to pay for your supplies yourself! You can make a profit from your first sale!
Sullivan South High School in Kingsport, Tennessee raise funds by selling concessions during NASCAR races, reports advisor Toni Phelps.
Students learn and utilize many leadership skills such as teamwork, customer service and professionalism. These funds raised are used to pay for expenses related to leadership conferences and regional, state and national competitions.
SkillsUSA members: Up to 20 cosmetology students
Project summary: The students and their advisor work concession booths for three days during the twice-yearly Bristol NASCAR races and once a year at the IHRA drags. The students work from early in the morning until late in the evening serving race fans fresh-squeezed lemonade, hot pretzels and ice cream products. The event is held at the Bristol Motor Speedway and The Bristol Thunder Valley Dragway. The NASCAR races are in March and August and the drags are in May. Each event allows the group three days of working time.
Best Tip: Look for a fundraising venture the students enjoy. If students find it exciting, it increases participation, which leads to a more successful event. Students enjoy the atmosphere of the racetrack.
Mission Trails Regional Occupational Program in Salinas, California sells prepared steak dinners as their fundraiser, reports advisor Chuck Felice.
The students and teachers work together to sell the dinners and to get donations to support the fundraiser. All items are donated accept for the meat. The funds are used for State Conference hotel costs and travel, hotel and food for the National Conference.
SkillsUSA members: 25 students, cabinetmaking
Project summary: The school offers a steak dinner for four people for $20. The meal includes a grilled tri-tip (bottom sirloin) steak, a bag of salad and dinner rolls. The students and teachers work together to get donated items such as one-gallon zip lock bags for the rolls and steak, bags with handles from local grocery stores for the meal. We also have to get firewood for the grills. The event is generally held either the first or second weekend in March. Our primary customers are the teachers and staff from the local schools and the community.
Amount raised: $3000.00
Best Tip: Have everyone work together and find out how they can best help. If the students have a parent who works in produce, try to get the salads donated. If the parents work in a grocery store, perhaps they can help with zip lock bags and handle bags for carrying out the meals. If you don’t have parents in these industries, then write a letter explaining the fundraiser to take to local businesses. Ask your school district if you can use their tax I.D. number to save the tax on any supplies purchased.
Crossland Technical Academy in Temple Hills, Maryland sells snacks and juices as their fundraiser, reports advisor Georgene Arneson.
The funds raised are used to support State Conference costs and expenses for hosting regional competitions.
SkillsUSA members: 65 students, Cisco Networking Academy
Project summary: The students sell snacks and juices to other students and staff on school days.
Amount raised: approximately $300 a week
Best tip: Once people know you will be selling snacks, they come to rely on you and will make regular purchases. Students also learn about planning their work and handling money. They are proud when they do a good job.
Career and Technology Academy in Prince Frederick, Maryland hosts a county-wide Bowl-a-Thon, reports advisor Elaine Bradley
The funds raised are used to fund the school’s state and national competition participation.
Project summary: In March of every year, they have a Bowl-A-Thon, which is a county-wide event. They have businesses, school staff members and students that put teams together to bowl. This is an all-day event held annually. Teams sign up for a two-hour time slot to bowl. They solicit door prizes and send out letters for sponsorship. Door prizes are given out all day and there’s an optional 50/50 raffle for those who would like to participate. This is considered a “fun-raiser” and all who participate seem to have a great time.
Amount raised: $15,000
Best tip: Keep students involved as much as possible!
Other Fundraising Ideas
- Offer services to shovel snow, landscape or plant flowers
- Hold a battle of the bands
- Hold a Cutest Dog beauty pageant
- Before a school dance, host a beauty salon for hair, nails, makeup
- Sell donated formal dresses at a Prom Dress Sale
- Hold a sale for used books, CDs and video game
- Carve pumpkins
- Fashion Show
- Bottle drive
- Trick-or-Treating for donations to SkillsUSA (dress up in work attire)
- Spaghetti dinner
- Haunted Forest
- Texas Hold-em Tournament
- Dodgeball or Basketball tournament (students against teachers)
- Sell handmade quilts
- High School Idol Talent Show
- Couch Potato … Place a couch at 50 yard line and raffle “VIP Seats” off
- Principal for a day raffle
- Parent/student baseball game
- Car Wash
- Sell concessions at school play or sports events
- Cook-Off (Best BBQ, Chili, etc.)
- Sports Tournaments
- Apple Pie Sales
- Poinsettia Sales
- Sub Sales
- Pretzel Sales
- Holiday Card Sales
School Policies on Fundraising
Before undertaking any fundraising, be sure to check with your school administration on any school policies or procedures for handling money. Be sure to issue receipts for any goods provided to others and have a system to record all transactions. Check the local school fundraising policies and be sure each activity undertaken falls within the guidelines. It is a good idea to obtain written approval from the principal or campus administrator for any fundraising activity.
The purpose of student activity funds is to promote the general welfare, education and morale of all the students, and to finance legitimate co-curricular activities of the student organizations. Schools or their central office or school board generally adopt policy statements to govern the management and control of student activity funds, and how funds can be raised by students. Such policy statements create parameters within which all student groups like SkillsUSA can operate effectively. Projects for raising funds should contribute to the educational experience of students and, if possible, should enhance the instructional program.
Many schools have a forms for organizers to fill out annually that specify the goal of the fundraiser, the type of activity, the time it will take, how the funds will be collected and the number of students involved. When planning an event, keep in mind that students or staff should never be coerced or compelled to participate in fundraising activities. Students may be rewarded for participation in a fundraiser, but they should not be penalized because of a refusal to participate in fundraising activities conducted on behalf of a school.
Please fill out this form to share your fund-raising ideas with other chapters. If you have more than one fund-raising suggestion to share, please fill out the form again. The best ideas will be shared online later this year.