For some parents, school fundraisers are getting out of hand. They do not want their children selling items door to door. Others are frustrated with the items that are peddled through fundraising catalogs, concerned that the items kids are selling are not particularly useful products.

Though schools generally find it effective to send out students out to do the job of fundraising, it appears what families need are good activities and ideas that will help bring in a little spending money for special school needs and events.

Sarah Lorge Butler lists great tips and ideas for fundraisers in her CBS Money Watch article on Shine! Yahoo, Parents Fight Dumb School Fundraisers, including having a walkathon, or asking local businesses for donations in exchange for advertising at a school game or other event.

Here are a few more useful ways to raise money for schools:

1. Combine a Fundraiser With a Service Project

Talk to local businesses in the school neighborhood about sponsoring a clean-up, where children, with adult supervision, clean up trash in the neighborhood surrounding the school, and around those businesses. Ask for a donation or a certain amount of money per hour, per child.

2. Have Students Sell Items at Events Already Sponsored by the School, and Make Sure to Choose Items People Want or Need

  • Baked goods donated by parents or local restaurants
  • Gift wrap and stationary products (especially at Christmas)

3. Sell Services at School Events That Fall in December, Including Conferences, and Have Students Help

Set up a gift-wrapping table, supervised by school volunteers or parents, and have students help wrap gifts families can bring during conferences. This can be done during a family's meeting time with a teacher. Charge a small fee for each package wrapped, or ask for donations.

A few seasoned parents, all veterans of school fundraisers, offer advice from their own experiences:

Consider School-Based Fundraisers

Micaela, mother of five children, likes fundraisers based at the school building (bake sales and carnivals) rather than the ones that require children to sell in the neighborhood:

"No one feels pressure, people get to socialize, and the things people buy are things they need or want."

Just Ask for Donations

Shari, mother of four and former PTO officer, says she loves planning bingo nights and basket auctions:

"We even gave our parents the option of 'cashing out' of fundraisers. We told them how much we were hoping to raise for the entire year and how much that came to per student. We encouraged them to just send that much in a check and feel guilt-free whenever a new fundraiser began. Lots of families chose that option."

Utilize Home-Based Businesses

Amanda, mom to a college-age son, agrees that most people do not need the useless items that are pedaled via door-to-door sales. She suggests checking with home businesses:

"Several home-run businesses, like Pampered Chef, offer fundraiser opportunities with nice, usable items. They will usually do something at the school versus door-to-door."

What thoughts do you have on school fundraisers?