With severe educational budget cuts and limited discretionary income, school administrators and teachers can have a hard time finding the cash for field trips, art classes, library books and classroom helpers.

Around the country, parents are being asked to help pay for facilities, supplies and staff (think aides, librarians, and art teachers) that were traditionally covered by school districts, states and cities. That’s big money.

Many businesses and other organizations are willing to partner with school and parent groups to raise money for schools.

  • eScrip: Sign up for this program, the easiest moneymaker for schools. eScrip is a fundraising program that allows participating merchants to contribute a percentage of your purchases to the school you choose. Registration takes no more than 5 minutes. Register credit/debit cards and grocery store loyalty cards on eScrip's site, and designate your school as the beneficiary. Each school has a numeric school ID number.  No other steps are required. The school makes money from your purchases. Track your monthly contributions. For more information, visit http://www.escrip.com.
  • Save Grocery Store Receipts: Many local grocery stores will donate 1 or 2 percent of the money you spend at their store to schools. Just save and turn in receipts to your child's teacher or the front office. The school will work with the grocery store to get the redemption. Note: Most large grocery stores do not participate in this program, but many local/regional grocery stores do.
  • Box Tops for Education: Schools can earn money for every box top submitted. ($.10 cents per box top). Many everyday products offer participating box tops. Involve the kids in cutting out the tops so they feel invested in their school. Also consider shopping online through the Box Tops Marketplace btfe.com/marketplace. This program donates up to 8 percent to schools. For more information, visit www.boxtops4education.com.
  • Turn In Your Cartridges and Small Electronics: Recycle empty ink cartridges, used cell phones, laptops, PDAs, iPods, video games and consoles. Turn them in at a designated location in the front office, and the school will, in turn, donate them and receive money.
  • Register Your Target Card: Shop with a Target REDCard and save a percentage on all Target purchases. In addition, Target will donate 1 percent to your school of choice through its Take Charge Of Education Program. Learn more here.
  • Enjoy Restaurant Booster Nights: Schools regularly hold fundraising activities at local restaurants, ice cream shops and yogurt shops. Make a family night of it. Schools often get a 20 percent cut of the sales when diners bring along a special flyer. Often, the teachers are behind the counter taking orders and serving food.
  • Buy Spirit Wear: T-shirts, socks, sweatshirts, water bottles, and more. Pick up school spirit wear for your student at the front office or through your PTA organization. All profits go back to your school.
  • Labels for Education: A fun and easy program where families work together to earn free stuff for their school. Collect UPCs and beverage caps/sauce caps from over 2,500 participating products, and submit through the e-Labels for Education program. With bonus offers, schools earn points towards arts, athletics and academics merchandise. Learn more here.
  • Become a PTA Member or Simply Make a Donation: For around $10, become a PTA member at your school. Donate some of those coupon savings to the PTA which organizes events to benefit the entire student body.

This has been a guest post by Deborah from San Diego, CA
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

Editors Note: This is part one of a two-part series on innovative ways to make money for schools and school organizations. Check back tomorrow for the second part.

Easy and (Mostly) Free Ways to Make Money for Your School, Part 1