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You’re on your way to World Finals, and now you’ve got another creative problem-solving opportunity – raising funds to make the trip! There are many ways that a team can fund a trip to World Finals. If you haven’t been funded through your state budget, or you haven’t convinced your School Board to sponsor your team, it’s up to you to raise the funds.


Here are some ideas that have worked for other teams, but make sure you have cleared these ideas with your school administration:


Sell ice cream or snacks in the lunchroom each day.


Sell bottled water or juice after school for students staying for an activity.


Do a car wash outside a local big box store.


Present your team’s solution at a civic club and ask for donations from the organization.


Sponsor a spaghetti supper (have students throughout the school bring in ingredients), and for entertainment have the team perform its long-term solution.


Put a teacher in jail. Recruit several teachers who would be willing to be put in jail for a day (choose the most popular teachers). For a fee let the students vote on which teacher they would most like to put in jail. The teacher chosen will be placed in a cell (creatively made by the Odyssey of the Mind team) for the day and the students will be allowed to tease the teacher. With the cooperation of the principal, a substitute will cover that teacher’s classes.


For a fee team members can paint faces at the school’s field day.


Have a talent show. Open the auditions to anyone in the school, making sure the students show a talent and/or ability. This would involve one day for auditions, one day for a rehearsal and one day to present the show. Students will pay $1 to get out of class to come to the show.


Sponsor a school dance and/or school fashion show and sell concessions.


Make up commercials and perform them on the morning school announcements to promote the idea that on an upcoming Friday, anyone who brings $1 can have the Odyssey team take their spelling test for them and get the grade that the team member makes.


Teams can also raise money in their neighborhoods:

Get the word out in the community. The more publicity you can get – newspaper, TV, radio, etc., the more people will support the team. Then if you have a fundraiser, such as a barbecue at a local Fire Station, people will be more likely to support it.


Write letters to local businesses asking for support. Use information about how Odyssey of the Mind fits into the corporate workplace to help businesses understand how they can benefit from sponsorship. If a team member or relative of a team member knows someone in the business, have that person sign the letter or write a personal letter to accompany the form letter.


Appear at local functions selling Blow Pops to “blow them away” at World Finals.


Sell hot dogs and soft drinks at a popular store on a Saturday.


Online campaign

Use the press



Other ideas from past coaches and notes regarding the process they used.


One school’s ideas: 

We found 2 fund-raising ideas that worked very well.  Both also included the entire school from which the team originated and helped to foster great "school" morale.


The first was "Penny Wars."

The teachers and Principal loved it as it became a focus item each day to teach principles of Math and problem solving (game strategy) at the elementary level.  It was also a great boost to school spirit.

The winning class gets a predetermined prize. A pizza party or ice cream day or ......


The game works as follows:

Each classroom gets a big jar for "penny" deposits. The Jars should be clear so the contents can be seen.

The jars are in an area of the school where they can be seen by the students and overseen by a responsible adult. It could be the cafeteria, or outside the Principal offices, etc.  We had a parent there each day to supervise.


The contest or "war" lasts for a fixed period.  I believe we used 3 weeks. Each day, students are encouraged (with their parents’ permission) to bring in change for the jars. A letter sent home with the students, describing the Odyssey team, problem, and the fund-raising effort can both bolster support for Odyssey and the current team.


The goal is to have the most "pennies" in your jar at the end of the contest. Pennies in your jar count as positive deposits. All silver coins (nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, etc...) count as negative deposits.


Therefore the object is to load up your jar with pennies and other classrooms jars with silver coins. Whom to make the negative deposits to, is part of the strategy.  For a team to win, negative deposits in other teams’ jars can be more important that positive pennies in their own. A key point to remember is that other teams will be making both negative and positive deposits and a strategy one day will change drastically the next.


We emptied the jars each afternoon and counted the contents. The net balance or score for each classroom was tallied and announced/posted on the jars each morning, in preparation for the next daily battle. This is the task that will require some time from the parents/boosters of the team. It must be completed each night. But each evening you will have a running balance of the amount raised. It grows amazingly fast. We placed the empty jars out each morning with the running score written on each jar


We did make a few exceptions to the rules to maximize the amount of money earned.

Paper money was accepted with a signed voucher from the teacher that defined whether it was a positive or negative deposit. Checks were also handled this way.


We were surprised by the generosity of the community and the staff at the school. Some of the checks were large. If you have access to an automated coin counter you have it made. We used the manual way, with plastic tubes and lots of coin roll papers.


The second fundraiser that worked well is "Hat Day."


Our school does not allow hats to be worn during school hours and in class. Kids love to be able to wear their hat at school and will pay for a "hat pass" Permission from the Principal is required, and some obvious rules apply to the appropriate nature of the hats.


You can collect $1 from each student that wants to wear a hat on the way into the school each morning.

Running "hat day" one day a week allows it to be repetitive event over many weeks.


More ideas:

Applebee's and Pizza Hut both offer "fundraising" nights.  you sign up with them and receive a percentage of the profits.  Checks need to go to an officially registered non-profit organization with a "number".  We went through our boosters and PTA.


We sold lottery calendars for month of June at mall with chocolate bars.  Each calendar had a number and if that number came in for NY lottery any day in June, we paid out.


Krispy Kreme donuts fundraiser. Call company and set up.


Sold Odyssey wrist bracelets.


Staff/senior basketball game.


Pancake breakfast through firehouse


Donation letters to local business/politicians/private people/alumni/

Over 300 sent.  97 replied with donations.  Some companies gave $500. 


Benefit with kids area, hourly silent raffles, food, music.


Rollerskating party, track concessions,c andy sales in school, raffle-monies that were lumped and deposited together.


We have a Family Fun Extravaganza where we have a dodge ball tournament, silent auction, raffles, food, ice cream sundaes, a cake wheel, local entertainment, performances by the teams, tricycle obstacle course, face painting, hair braiding/feathers and carnival type games. Each year someone makes a new "feature" game ... we have miniature golf, a shooting game and this year a claw game! It is a really long and hard working day, but it is worth a long day of hard work instead of having many, many small events. It is truly a community event. Tons of support from local business for auction items, raffle items and donated food.


Next week we are starting a new fundraiser... a scrap metal collection. One of our local businesses contacted us and said he would donate the proceeds of what people donate to the teams- I have no idea how this will do, but figured it was worth a try.


We also had a local garden center donate a percentage of their sales on their grand reopening on Saturday. We made $500 for advertising the reopening for them at our fundraising event.


A letter campaign:  We craft a well-worded letter possibly with a color photograph of the team doing something Odyssey-ish and send it to every person on the planet that we have ever met. If each team family creates a list of old friends, present neighbors, relatives, community people they know well, etc. you would be amazed at how quickly those $10-$25 checks add up. Look to a local printing business to run the letters and see if someone might donate the postage. It's worked for us in the past. Best of luck!

If you have a suggestion for an activity or strategy that worked well for your team, please share it below.

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