By CELA on 19 Dec, 2023

Whether you're aiming to fundraise for new equipment or resources for your service, or to support others in the community, having a fun, fresh idea can really help to ignite enthusiasm.

We've compiled six ideas that could enhance your fundraising efforts and community engagement this year.

1. Annual "a-thon" event  

A-thon fundraising events typically involve participants engaging in an activity for a prolonged period or accomplishing a set goal, such as read-a-thons, walk-a-thons, or dance-a-thons.  

The key appeal of these events lies in their ability to combine fun, community involvement, and the spirit of competition, making them especially engaging for young children and their families. They are also easy to organise and participate in, and don’t require much investment to set up.  

For preschools, a-thon events serve as an excellent platform to foster a sense of community and shared purpose. Children get to participate in enjoyable activities while learning the value of contributing to a common goal.  

Some services host a-thon events on an annual basis, varying the theme each year. This approach is incredibly flexible, offering limitless possibilities – the only boundary is the imagination. Some interesting ideas we’ve come across include pyjama dance-a-thons and pirate treasure hunt-a-thons.  

Read about Beerwah Kindergarten’s obstacle-a-thon event in the Courier Mail

2. Water balloon fight fundraiser 

A water balloon fight offers a fun and relatively easy way to raise funds for a childcare centre, especially during warmer months. Imagine transforming your outdoor space into a battleground, where children, parents, and staff engage in a friendly skirmish.  

For this fundraiser, participants can purchase water balloons, with the proceeds going directly to the centre. Additional fundraising opportunities include selling tickets for spectators, offering refreshments, and setting up a "soak the teacher" booth where for a small fee, children get a chance to drench teachers and educators.  

To amplify the excitement, the event can be themed — perhaps a pirates vs. mermaids water battle — encouraging everyone to dress up.  

3. Billy cart rally 

Billy cart races offer an engaging way for communities to support their local early education and care services. The emphasis is on community participation, where the process of building and racing carts serves a dual purpose: entertainment and generating resources for childcare services. 

Selecting a safe venue is crucial, and local parks or closed-off streets are ideal. Safety must be a top priority, with strict guidelines for the carts and mandatory safety gear for all racers. 

A highlight of the event is the building of the billy carts. Workshops can be organised where children, with adult supervision, build their carts. This not only fosters a sense of achievement but also strengthens community bonds. For those less inclined to build from scratch, ready-made billy cart kits can be an option.  

The race itself can be the main fundraiser, with a small entry fee for each cart. Additionally, local businesses can be approached for sponsorships, adding to the funds raised. 

Need some visual inspiration?

Each year, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park community and staff come together for the much-anticipated Yulara Billy Cart Bash, a fundraising event for the Yulara Child Care Centre which has been running for 31 years. The event involves building and auctioning billy carts, and is accompanied by barbecues, raffles, and the awarding of prizes and trophies. Check out some photos from their 2024 event: 

4. Let the children lead the way

A child-led fundraiser serves as an empowering experience, bolstering children’s confidence and self-esteem as they assume leadership roles. Such involvement cultivates organisational skills, teaching them task management, coordination efforts, and seeing a project through from inception to completion.  

Participating in a fundraiser also imparts a practical lesson in financial responsibility, introducing concepts of money management, budgeting, and the value of resources. As they collaborate and interact with adults, children hone their communication skills, learning to articulate ideas clearly and collaborate effectively. Engaging with the wider community through these events further develops their social skills and deepens their understanding of their community role. 

Children's remarkable imaginations, unencumbered by notions of "what's possible", frequently bring fresh and unique ideas to the table, significantly enhancing the appeal of the fundraiser. 

Earlier this year we shared the story of how a desire for books ignited a child-led lemonade stall fundraiser at J.A.C’s Learning World in Yeppoon, Queensland.  You can read more about the initiative here

5. Art exhibition and art sale 

Hosting an exhibition of children's art is a fantastic way for a preschool to engage in fundraising while celebrating the children's creativity. To give the exhibition a cohesive look, a theme can be selected, which could be anything from a seasonal motif to a concept inspired by a story they’ve read.  

The venue for the exhibition can be the preschool itself or a local community centre, with artworks displayed prominently on walls, easels, or tables.  

A few years ago, we ran an article highlighting the Sutherland Preschools Alliance art exhibition that was on show at Hazelhurst Sutherland Arts Centre. While it wasn’t a fundraising exercise, members of The Alliance saw it as a way to engage with members of the wider community, showcase the wonderful work of the children at their centres and allow the children to connect with a local organisation. 

Read more about the exhibition in our archived article.

6. "Boxing day" party

This idea was inspired by Roseville Childcare's boxing day provocation. You can't beat the cardboard box as an open-ended resource, and why not make it the feature of a fundraising day too? 

Begin with a box fort building contest. Invite children and their families to unleash their creativity by building imaginative forts or structures using an assortment of cardboard boxes. Provide various sizes and some decorating materials to spark their imagination. Charging a small entry fee for participants and offering a prize for the most inventive fort adds a competitive edge and helps raise funds.

Next, set up a box art workshop. This station allows children to transform cardboard boxes into artworks, vehicles, or costumes. It can be an open-ended activity or guided by themes. A small participation fee or a charge for the boxes can contribute to the fundraiser.

Incorporate a community and recycling angle with a Recycled Box Sale. Encourage families to donate gently used items, which can then be sold from cardboard box 'stalls'. This not only raises funds but also promotes the principles of recycling and reuse.

Add some physical activity with Box Relay Races. Create a fun and challenging obstacle course where children have to navigate while carrying or wearing a cardboard box. A small entry fee per team adds to the fundraising tally.

For a memorable keepsake, set up a photobooth with box props. Use cardboard boxes to create unique props like oversized glasses and hats, and charge for polaroids or prop hire.


Whether it's through child-led initiatives, embracing the simple joy of cardboard boxes, or celebrating children's creativity, we hope these ideas boost your fundraising efforts in 2024. 

Further reading: 

Amplify! Market Day at Milford Lodge

Amplify! With all due respect… what’s professional about pyjamas? A provocation from Molly Rhodin

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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