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The Best School Fundraising Idea Your PTA Isn’t Doing

Coming up with school fundraising ideas is the bane of parental existence. And to be frank, your PTA or PTO doesn’t love doing them either.

The lack of adequate funding in our schools makes them absolutely necessary, but a school fundraiser is a LOT of work, usually for very little payoff.

We’ve done all the school fundraising ideas you’ve ever heard of.  We’ve done the read-a-thons, the booster-thons, the dance-a-thons. 

Basically, we’ve done all the “thons.” 

School Fundraiser Idea Pin Image

School Fundraising Ideas: Looking Up

Recently our school’s PTA came up with the holy grail of school fundraising ideas:

  • It didn’t require a lot or planning or up front cost.
  • It didn’t ask parents to sell any products or ask friends and family for money.
  • It was super fun and very popular.
  • Most importantly, it raised a good chunk of money for our school!

What is this amazing school fundraising idea, you ask? How can your school replicate it? I’m happy to share that with you!

This simple, magical, ideal school fundraiser was called: Paint The Tiles Night.

Tile Fundraiser Details:

With the approval of our school administration, we sold the privilege of painting the drop ceiling tiles that hang throughout the building.

For $30 per tile, families came to the cafeteria during our Paint The Tiles school fundraiser and enjoyed a night of creativity together.

The PTA provided the tiles and the painting supplies. We took reservations before the event (to give us an idea of how many we needed to take down from the ceiling) and also sold tiles at the door.

We also invited a local dessert food truck to be present at the event. They donated 10% of their proceeds to the school as well.

kids paint ceiling tiles together for a school fundraiser

The day before the event, a group of PTA volunteers came in and took down the appropriate amount of tiles. We ordered paints and brushes in bulk which can be used again next year.

The night of the event, we covered the cafeteria tables with paper to make clean up easier. We laid out the tiles throughout the cafeteria, and distributed paper plates for mixing paint and cups of water for rinsing brushes. We collected payment at the door.

There was a fantastic response to this school fundraiser idea from the families of our school. Some families bought one tile per child. Some bought one to paint as a family project.

Many families showed up with stencils and their own imaginative designs. Some even brought their own brushes and special paints. There were lots of smiles and laughs, and lots of interaction between the families who attended.

Clean up afterwards mainly involved just throwing away trash and cleaning brushes. We left the tiles out on the tables to dry overnight.

In the morning, more volunteers showed up early before school to place the tiles back in the ceiling.

The final result was amazing!

The kids loved leaving their mark on the school, and the colorful tiles brightened up the hallways. So many kids chose to put positive, supportive messages on their tiles to encourage other students. It was heartwarming!

The best part was the looks on the faces of the kids as they came into school the next morning.

Those who had participated in the event were so excited to find their tiles on the ceiling. Those who weren’t able to make it wanted to know when we’d be doing it again so they could paint a tile, too!

There were a few things we realized during the course of our planning and executing this school fundraiser idea that would be helpful for you to know.

  • Don’t oversoak the tiles in paint. When they’re wet, they become very breakable.
  • Use paint sparingly, letting it dry thoroughly between coats of paint. Several families brought hair dryers to use to help speed up the drying process.
  • We had each person mark the names of the children painting the tile, the year it was painted and a phone number to reach the family on the back of each tile. In years to come, if we get to the point where we need to take tiles down and replace them with new ones, we’ll be able to try to contact the families who created the tiles.
  • Be prepared for spills and cleanups. Having lots of paper towels around came in handy!

This school fundraising idea cost us very little. Just the cost of the supplies, the time for promoting it, and the manpower to run the event. We sold plenty of tiles that night and made quite a bit of profit. This is definitely an event we’ll host again!

What’s been your most successful school fundraising ideas? Tell us in the comments!

Decorated ceiling tiles adorn the school hallways after this school fundraiser

The easiest and most lucrative fundraiser your school hasn't done yet!




Kerri Fields

Wednesday 12th of April 2023

Did your school district not have concerns about the flammability of acrylic paint? Did you have to use a specific brand? I would love to do this at my school.

Louise Emery

Thursday 13th of April 2023

The school did not seem concerned about the paint, but I guess you'd have to talk to your administrators to see if you though this might be an issue.

Dionne M

Saturday 19th of November 2022

Did you prime the tiles first?

Where did you order your supplies?

Louise Emery

Sunday 20th of November 2022

We did not prime the tiles, and we ordered supplies off of Amazon.


Saturday 13th of August 2022

Did you have set rules for the families to follow for the tiles? Like no political messages, etc?

Louise Emery

Monday 15th of August 2022

Yes, we did. That would be up to each schools administration.

Jennifer Benitez

Wednesday 4th of August 2021

I am trying to get this idea in the works on our campus but I’m getting some kickback about whether the fire marshal would not approve. I would like to know if there was a time frame for these to be in place or did you just keep them up indefinitely and simply add new ones each fundraiser? Many thanks for this amazing idea.

Louise Emery

Wednesday 4th of August 2021

Our school has kept them up year after year and has just added new ones as their made. There are thousands of these tiles in our school, so it will take a while for them to run out. Definitely check with your fire marshall. Regulations vary as to what they'll allow.


Thursday 29th of July 2021

How much did your PTA charge for each tile?

Louise Emery

Thursday 29th of July 2021

I believe it was somewhere around $20.