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Building Social-Emotional Skills Through Fundraising

Participating in fundraisers can be a valuable opportunity for kids to develop and learn various social-emotional skills. 

These experiences are particularly beneficial for children with autism and ADHD, as they provide structured settings where these skills can be practiced and reinforced in engaging, real-world situations. 

Social-Emotional Skills Involved in Fundraising:

Some of the social-emotional skills kids can develop and grow through fundraising include: 

Teamwork and Collaboration: 

Fundraisers often require working in teams to achieve a common goal. This can teach children the importance of cooperation, understanding different roles, and supporting peers. 

For children with autism and ADHD, structured group activities can help them learn to navigate social interactions and understand social cues within a clear and purposeful setting.

Communication Skills: 

Fundraising activities require interacting and communicating with peers, teachers, and members of the community. 

This encourages children to practice verbal and non-verbal communication, such as speaking clearly, listening, and interpreting body language. For both children with autism and ADHD, structured opportunities to communicate can improve their clarity and effectiveness in social interactions. 

You can help autistic children succeed by providing them with a script to use within their role in the fundraiser. For example, provide a clear script to read when asking community members for donations. The interactions they’ll be having are more predictable than in unstructured social scenarios, so it’s a prime opportunity to help them be highly successful.

Goal Setting and Planning

Fundraisers provide a clear objective and often a step-by-step plan to achieve it. This helps children learn how to set goals, plan tasks, and follow through. 

Setting, planning, and tracking goals is an excellent way to empower kids to develop problem-solving skills, perseverance, a sense of achievement, and boost self-esteem. 

Goals teach kids how to organize their activities and focus on long-term objectives. It can also help children better understand sequencing and cause-and-effect relationships.


Building confidence in our children is crucial for their overall development and well-being in a world that constantly challenges them. Confidence is a powerful tool that empowers children to navigate life’s challenges and develop resilience.

Successfully contributing to a fundraiser can significantly boost a child’s self-esteem. Completing tasks and receiving positive feedback for their efforts help children feel valued and competent. 

Problem-Solving and Flexible Thinking

During fundraisers, unexpected issues may arise, requiring quick and flexible thinking. 

Engaging in problem-solving helps children learn to deal with frustrations and obstacles. This is especially beneficial for children with ADHD or autism, who may face challenges with impulsivity, frustration tolerance, and flexible thinking skills.

If challenges do occur, involve them in the problem-solving process, brainstorming, and deciding on a solution together.  

Fun School Fundraising Ideas

Here are some fun school fundraising ideas that cover a variety of interests and allow the students to be active participants in the fundraising process. 

  1. Walk-a-Thon: Participants collect pledges for each lap or mile they walk. Roles include organizers for setup and check-in, lap counters, and cheerleaders. Students can walk, help organize or encourage participants.
  2. Bake Sale: Students and parents bake goods to sell at a school event. Roles include bakers, salespersons, and cash handlers. Students can help bake, set up the sale tables, and manage transactions.
  3. Art Auction or Craft Sale: Students create art or crafts that are auctioned or sold. Roles include creators, auctioneers, and sales assistants. Students can create items, help set up displays, and assist buyers.
  4. Book Fair: Books are donated or sourced to sell at the fair. Roles include book collectors, sorters, and sellers. Students can bring in gently used books from home or request donations from people in the community and then sell them. Then, they can help organize the books, run the sales booth, and assist shoppers.
  5. School Carnival: This event features games, food, and entertainment. Roles include game booth attendants, food servers, and ticket sellers. Students can help run booths, sell tickets, and manage games. Popular booth and game ideas include ring toss, face painting, cake walk, duck pond, bean bag toss, photo booths, and obstacle courses. 
  6. Penny Wars: Classes compete to collect the most pennies, with silver coins counting against their total. Roles include coin counters and strategists. Students bring in coins and help strategize their class’s approach. Learn how to do penny wars here.
  7. Pajama Day: Students pay a fee to wear pajamas to school for a day. Roles include collectors and promoters. Students can collect money and promote the event in advance.
  8. Recycling Drive: Collect recyclable materials to exchange for cash. Roles include collectors, sorters, and transporters. Students can collect, sort, and help transport materials to recycling centers.
  9. Read-a-thon: Students gather pledges for each page or book they read. Roles include readers, pledge collectors, and timekeepers. Students read as much as possible and help track their own and others’ progress.
  10. Fun Run: This is similar to a walk-a-thon but with a short, fun obstacle course. Students can run, help with setup, or cheer on runners.
  11. Movie Night: A movie is played at the school, and tickets are sold for entry. Students can sell tickets, manage concessions like popcorn and drinks, and help set up the viewing area.
  12. Sponsored Silence: Students are sponsored through donations to remain silent for a designated period. Students participate by collecting sponsors, staying silent, and helping monitor time. 
  13. Ice Cream Social: Ice cream and toppings are sold to the community at a social event. Students can help serve ice cream, handle money, and promote the event.
  14. Sports Day: A day filled with various sports activities and competitions. Students can compete, help organize events, or serve as referees.
  15. Principal Challenge: The principal agrees to a challenge if a fundraising goal is met. Students can help raise funds and promote the challenge to the community. Common challenges include spending a day in “jail,” taking a pie to the face, letting the students spray them with silly string, or wearing a silly costume for a day. 
  16. Selling Chocolate Bars or Other Products: The students raise funds by selling products such as chocolate bars, cookie dough, candles, etc., to members of the community. 
  17. Parents Night Out: Parents pay for their children to be entertained at school for a couple of hours while they enjoy an evening out. Older students can help entertain younger students and organize games or crafts to keep the kids busy. 
  18. Community Dinner: A dinner event for the community with tickets sold in advance. Students can help sell tickets, prepare food, serve guests, and organize the event setup.

By participating in fundraising activities, children contribute to their communities, enhance social and emotional development, and build important skills. 

Through engaging in fundraisers, students can actively participate in their community while building essential skills such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. 

This is particularly important for kids with autism and ADHD because these structured activities offer them a structured way to practice social interactions and achieve goals. 

Ultimately, school fundraisers are not just about raising money; they are crucial educational tools that empower students, boost their self-esteem, and prepare them for future challenges.

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