Environmentally friendly school fundraiser? Reader Q&A

Kids KonserveI’m trying to find a good elementary school fundraiser for my daughter’s
school to change things up a bit in the coming school year. I’d love to do
one that doesn’t involve that ubiquitous cookie dough or wrapping
paper….and would be thrilled to find one that is green or at least environmentally friendly. -Dina

Having bought my weight in both gaudy wrapping paper and 75-ingredient cookie dough all in the name of fundraising, I am all for spreading the word on more interesting alternatives. Here are some of my favorite ideas that not only do some good, they’re products we may actually want to own. –Christina
Kids Konserve (shown at top) helps schools earn money while also reducing the amount of lunchroom waste. Products range from a stainless steel beverage bottle to an entire waste-free lunch kid. And, during the month of April, they’ve increased the percentage they’ll donate back to schools to 25% in honor of Earth Day. 


Smencils pencils and pens are super flexible to sell because the cases are purchased upfront and sold on your own timeframe, with profits of at least 45%. A single Smencil only costs a buck, and although these recycled newspapers-turned-colored pencils smell like root beer or bubble gum, they aren’t another sugar-filled treat.

Equal Exchange

A great lesson in fair trade, organic products and supporting sustainable farming, Equal Exchange’s fundraising program lets people chose from products they’ll really use like coffee, tea and snacks. Especially the coffee, if you’re in school auction mode.

Immaculate Baking Co.
Immaculate Baking Company is not just another ready-to-bake cookie company–we absolutely love these guys, and even Jet Blue carries their prepared cookies. They use ingredients I’d use if I had the time to make from-scratch cookies. Their school fundraising program isn’t formal, but if you contact them directly they can set up something for your school.  


I love TerraCycle’s program that literally turns trash to treasure by collecting used juice boxes and other wrappers and using them to make everything from backpacks to waste baskets. Set up a collection drive at your school and put the earnings to good use.
Flower Power
Giving new meaning to “green,” Flower Power fundraisers make it easy to sell flowering bulbs, plants and vegetables. Plants come from Vermont’s Garderner’s Supply catalog and are shipped directly to consumers meaning you won’t be up late figuring out who ordered the dahlias. Plus, I love that catalog sales can be supplemented with online sales which gives shoppers two ways of helping the school, and lets you make use of social media to do the hard work. (thanks for the tip, Dina!)

For sheer volume of products offered, you can’t beat Greenraising which helps you raise money through both traditional catalogs and online sales. Kids sell some of our favorites like Zebra Cupcake Mixes and Twist eco-cleaning supplies. Oh, yeah, they do sell gift wrap too. But hey, at least it’s recycled.


Senior Associate Editor Christina Refford loves homeschooling, running, cool kids’ music, and coffee. Not in that order.


  • Reply April 8, 2010


    Chico bags has a fund raising program too.


  • Reply April 8, 2010


    As a professional fundraiser, I click through on anything about the topic. The best advice on any question about how to support any institution is to simply ask and give money. Fundraisers that require purchases often create a lot of work for volunteers and staff and they dont drive home the point that the school really needs your help. The message is “Buy something” instead of “Give something” and the truth is, those with any amount of discretionary income could be learning the value of supporting their communities even with small gifts without getting any THING in return. The return is the pay it forward feeling you get by doing good, and the ability for your school or church or whomever to be able to continue to the important work that they do.

  • Reply April 8, 2010


    I think you can also order customized (or regular) reusable bags from RuMe and Envirosax. See http://www.rumebags.com and http://www.envirosax.com. Much more useful than wrapping paper, and if you get your school’s name/logo on the bags, a great way to promote the brand! LL Bean also does customized Boat & Tote canvas bags with screen-printed or embroidered logos, but those are way more pricey.

  • Reply April 8, 2010


    Personally, I opt out of having my kids do the fundraising, and just donate the money. Dean’s Beans, a fair trade coffee roaster out of Massachusetts, does a great fundraiser, and they roast amazing coffee too!!


    Also this year, our PTO did a fundraiser before Christmas selling gift cards. It was perfect, something we could actually use!

    And it’s not only the junk they sell, but the junky prizes they “earn” by selling the junk! Ugh.

  • Reply April 8, 2010


    Thanks for these awesome cool mom picks!

    My daughter is starting 1st grade at a new school next fall and they are very much into fund raising & community service. I’m looking forward to sharing these wonderful ideas with the school. I think we start planning this late spring for the 2010-2011 school year.


  • Reply April 8, 2010


    Another great fundraising idea for Spring are the My First Organics seed starting kits at http://www.myfirstorganics.com.

    They include kid-friendly favorites like cherry tomatoes and come in their own eco-friendly packaging.

    My friends run this family-owned business and offer a very generous fundraising model. For every kit sold, $8.95 goes directly to the school.

    Kits are all shipped directly to the customer, so school has virtually no work- other than promoting the fundraiser.

  • Reply April 8, 2010

    Lori Z.

    Check to see if local business will do profit sharing type fundraisers. Our local farmers’ market goes to one elementary school every month and protions of their profits go to the school.

    Pizza and ice cream restaurants also usually have fundraiser nights.

  • Reply April 8, 2010

    Kristine Stevens

    I love these ideas and look forward to telling other Board members that I’m on the PTO with!

    I work with Tastefully Simple and we also do an awesome fundraiser for products you actually can use! We even offer an 100% satisfaction guarantee and everything ships direct so NO DELIVERY.

    Check out my website and email me if you want to know more! http://www.tastefullysimple.com/web/kstevens

  • Reply May 3, 2010


    I love this idea! Let’s get rid of cookies and candies!

  • Reply January 12, 2011


    There are some really great ideas highlighted here. Eco friendly and healthy fundraisers can have a huge impact on young kids. And you don’t have to worry about sending conflicting messages by preaching a healthy lifestyle and then selling sugary treats.

    I came across this article while looking for green fundraising ideas and it looks like Go Green Fundraising has some interesting ideas in addition to those highlighted here.

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    Ashlea Larrow

    You recognize thus considerably in terms of this topic. You made me a believer and now I am interested in learning more about how I can contribute to the “Go Green” Movement. This is just my opinion, but I feel like men and women don’t seem to be involved unless it is something to do with Lady Gaga! Your post is excellent! Always keep up the good work!

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