Many homeschool groups bring in needed income through fund-raisers. Through experience, I have found that some fund-raisers are much easier to conduct than others. 

Although a very common practice, selling products door to door is one of the hardest ways to raise money, because managing the orders, delivering the product, and storing inventory involves a lot of hard work. My homeschool group had tried selling products in the past, but we wanted an easier way to bring in funds. We found several ideas that have worked well for homeschool groups, including coupon and reward programs, fund-raising dinners, donation drives, and website income.

Coupon and Reward Programs

Several grocery stores and retail businesses make donations to nonprofit organizations, such as homeschool groups, as a reward for shopping with them. 

Box Tops for Education: This General Mills (GM) program is a coupons-for-cash program. Your members cut off a small 10-cent coupon from General Mills cereal box tops (or packages of other GM products), collect them, and then turn them in. In exchange, GM will mail a check made payable to your organization. What could be easier? Little organization is needed. You just need to apply to the program and find someone who is willing to be responsible for collecting the coupons. Everyone in your organization can do his or her part, and even small contributions add up. Here are some tips to get the Box Tops program working for you: 

  • Offer an incentive for participation. For every donation of box tops, our coordinator rewards participants with a piece of candy or a sticker.
  • Use a visual display. Make a poster that illustrates the goal (a thermometer or perhaps a big box of cereal!), and chart your group's progress.
  • Establish a financial target. For example, perhaps your homeschool co-op wants to purchase recreational equipment for preschoolers or some specialized school supplies. You can motivate families to collect box tops if they support the end result of the fund-raiser.
  • In order to participate, homeschool groups should meet the requirements described on the Box Tops for Education website: "Accredited home school associations, K-8, in the United Sates that are organized and operated primarily for educational purposes and have 15 or more students." General Mills does not define accredited, and many homeschool groups use this program as an easy fund-raiser choice. 

Shopping Reward Programs: Reward programs return a portion of a shopper's purchases (typically 2-4%) to a nonprofit organization of their choice. My co-op of fifty families received $500 when we participated one year. The amount earned can vary widely, depending on your members' participation. Typically the store issues a pre-paid card. The card is then used to make purchases and can be reloaded for more purchases. These reward programs are easy because your organization doesn't have to sell products door to door. 

eScrip is a fund-raising program that is similar to the store reward programs, in which businesses contribute a percentage of your credit card and debit card purchases to the organization of your choice. One homeschool group in California earned $1,468 by using eScrip. Visit the eScrip website to learn how it works. 

Food as a Fund-Raiser

We have pizza day once a month at our homeschool co-op. It has been an enjoyable and easy way to generate income. We announce (a week beforehand) that pizzas will be ordered the next week. We take orders for whole pizzas for $10 each. To keep it simple, we order only two types: cheese and pepperoni. Everyone brings his or her own drinks, paper plates, and napkins. Pizza Day has been very popular in our co-op. The kids love the food, the moms love the low price, and our co-op makes about $1 in profit on each pizza,  even after tipping the deliveryman. It adds up every month!