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Career and Technical Education (CTE) | Distance Learning | Teacher & Classroom Resources

Engaging Virtual Fundraising Ideas for CTE Programs

November 17th, 2020 | 6 min. read

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The last quarter of the year is often referred to as “giving season.” Studies have shown the best time for schools to host a fundraiser is in November and December. While school fundraisers have primarily been disrupted this year, there is still time to get creative, raise money and have student organizations supported. Before canceling fundraisers, consider whether planned fundraisers can be turned into digital or virtual fundraisers. Years ago, it would have been challenging to engage with virtual attendees, but with today’s technology, people are used to video chatting and engaging online.

We recently shared 7 Tips to Hosting a Virtual Fundraiser on our blog. In this article, we have compiled a list of virtual fundraising ideas for any student organization.

Virtual 5k

A virtual 5k is an excellent way to get people involved regardless of where they live. Participants register online, and runners/walkers finish the race at their own pace on a specific day. Many organizations will send t-shirts for participants to wear the day of the race. After the race, participants will share their results via email, social media or through an online portal.

Plan of Action: Begin planning the virtual 5k by identifying a date, registration plan and deciding if t-shirts should be mailed to attendees. Don’t worry about finding volunteers or arranging to have streets closed, a virtual 5k is much easier to plan than an in-person race.

Dance Marathon

As everyone has been stagnant during the last few months, a dance marathon gets everyone moving while raising money. A dance marathon can last anywhere from 12 hours to multiple days where students typically stay awake for the duration of the marathon. On the hour, everyone comes together for a group dance. A traditional dance marathon easily transfers to a virtual format. 

Plan of Action: Begin planning the logistics (time, day and dances) for the marathon. Line and group dances will keep the audience engaged while supporting your organization. Take the dance marathon to the next level by inviting a local rivalry and see who can raise the most money!

Partner with Local Businesses

Many local businesses and national chains help fundraise for their local communities. Local restaurants will often donate a percentage of sales on a particular day to an organization. For example, Culvers supports local agricultural programs by donating a portion of their sales to FFA and 4-H chapters. Culvers is just one example of a business and community partnership, other businesses are often receptive to partnerships with school programs. 

Plan of Action: Initiate conversations with local businesses. See if they would be interested in hosting a fundraiser at their restaurant once a quarter, month or year.

Invite a Local Entertainer

Invite someone “famous” from your local community to provide entertainment for the night. The entertainer could be a local author, musician, comedian or a motivational speaker. Additionally, inviting the high school band or state officers (i.e., FFA or FCCLA organizations) could draw supporters in your community.

Plan of Action: Brainstorm a well-known entertainer for the evening, and invite them to take part in the fundraiser. You could even have multiple acts throughout the night.

Virtual Gala

Sure, it may not be the same dinner plating and dressing up for a night out, but hosting a virtual gala is a great way to bring your community together. Sell tickets online and host the gala through Zoom or Google Meets. You can even suggest a menu for attendees to cook or order in. Hire a DJ, or invite a guest speaker, for a night of entertainment.

Plan of Action: Set a fundraising goal and begin planning the event. Arrange a date and time to work within your community. Invite board members and local officials to help spread the word.

Local Business Fair

Similar to a gala or conference, organize a local business fair for businesses to present their offerings and services. Depending on how many businesses and partners join, this could be a weeklong fundraiser with themes each night. Ask for donations from both businesses and attendees. This is a mutually beneficial fundraiser.

Plan of Action: Reach out to local partners and businesses to gauge their interest. Host the fair just like a conference. Make sure to share the fair details via email, on Social Media and through the school.

Virtual Tour

Social media live-streaming tools make it easy to walk and talk through a facility. Additionally, digital content from a virtual tour can be used in your classroom later. Tour ideas could include a greenhouse, school farm, museum or a local attraction. For example, agricultural teachers could partner with a local farmer for a tour of their facilities and to showcase industry practices. 

Plan of Action: Poll your organization to see what type of tour interests them. Make sure to invite the community to join the tour.


A virtual raffle works similar to a traditional fundraising raffle, except everything is happening online. The virtual format makes it much easier to keep track of donations, and students won’t need to go door-to-door selling tickets. Raffle off gift baskets, experiences or donated items. The key is to offer items people will be interested in. 

Plan of Action: Identify items to raffle. From there, arrange a day, time and platform to host the raffle on.

Game Night

Put the “FUN” back in fundraising with a virtual game night! Ask for a $5, $10 or $20 donation from attendees to reserve their spot. From Jeopardy and Bingo to Charades, a game night is an excellent way to get attendees involved and have some fun. 

Plan of Action: Decide which games you are going to offer throughout the night. Choose a video conference platform and begin inviting your community to join!

Community Cookbook

Ask supporters to email or mail their favorite family recipe. Compile all of the recipes into a book to be printed and sold. This is a great way to raise money while letting supporters feel involved in the community.

Plan of Action: Begin by gathering recipes. Have students each take a few to add to the cookbook. Students can spruce up the cookbook by adding designs and an appealing cover. This would be a great holiday fundraiser. 


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the immediate benefit of virtual fundraising is allowing you to comply with social distancing guidelines. Additionally, virtual fundraising has the benefit of opening up the event to a broader audience. With the ability to join online, donors from around the U.S. can be involved. Make sure to market the fundraiser, sharing on social media is a great, inexpensive way to reach more people.

We hope you enjoy one or more of these virtual fundraisers. If you host an event, make sure to tag us on social media (@icevonline). If you have successfully hosted a virtual fundraiser, share with us in the comments.