Collecting money for a teacher gift often falls squarely on one person (and we’re guessing it’s you). While other parents have only one responsibility — giving money — your list includes: choosing, requesting, collecting, tallying, purchasing, prepping, delivering. Does it feel like a lot?

Don’t fret: Cheddar Up was tailor-made for multi-taskers, so we’ve learned a thing or two about how-to. Here are our responses to the most common group-gifting conundrums.

What’s the best way to collect money for a teacher gift?

We see two primary methods for teacher gifting — a classroom parent collects for one teacher, or the PTA/PTO collects gift funds for the entire faculty/staff

For class parents (or other go-getters):

Reach out to other students’ parents to let them know you’re collecting for a teacher gift and to request any donations. (Most schools won’t release other family’s contact information, but you can create your own form, to be sent home by the teacher, to collect those details. Create a free custom form right here!)

School-wide gifting processes vary:

Some allow you to choose a teacher to donate to, where others accept any donations to one “pot”, then divide the total funds among all faculty and staff. NOTE: Check your PTA bylaws because, in many, it’s not permissible to use existing funds (which includes membership money) to purchase personal gifts. It must be a separate, disclosed collection, where all money collected goes to gifting.

    Whichever method you’re going with, Cheddar Up makes it happen in less than 5 minutes — and keeps a running tally for you. No math and spreadsheets needed.

    Should I buy gifts for school support staff too?

    In short, yes. School support staff and specialty teachers sometimes get overlooked because they don’t have dedicated classes (thus, no class parents) — but they give just as much of their time and energy to your child’s education and well-being.

    Here’s a non-exhaustive list of other staff to consider:
      • Office staff and school nurses
      • Lunchroom workers
      • Library, art, music, drama, P.E., and other specialty teachers
      • Foreign language and elective/adjunct instructors
      • Teacher assistants and learning specialists
      • One-on-one aides
      • Custodians
      • School resource officers
      • Bus drivers

    How early should I start collecting money for a teacher gift?

    If you’re just shopping for one teacher, count backwards three weeks from the class party (or other designated gifting day), and that’s your start date. Give yourself at least one week each to plan, to collect money, and to prepare the gift. If you’re collecting for multiple gifts, we suggest adding a week at the end since purchasing and prepping will take the most time. Also add an extra week if you’re ordering something to be shipped.

    Don’t have that much time? We have ideas in that case, too.

    How much do people typically spend on teacher gifts?

    Based on more than 4000+ Cheddar Up payments, the average contribution for a holiday teacher gift is $25-$30, and end-of-school-year gifts is $35

    Hot Tip:

    Our data also tells us that collectors who ask for “Any Amount” donations raise 45% more than set amounts.

    What are the best teacher gifts?

    We asked, and they told us: the ones that are thoughtful. But practically, what does that look like? It means finding out what’s important to your teacher. Get to know them and how they spend their out-of-school time. One teacher mentioned that the class parent discovered she wanted a new sewing machine, and they raised money to cover the amount. Another teacher received an Amazon gift card to cover the cost of her children’s Christmas gifts — a thoughtful gesture to remove a stressor during a busy season.

    Ask teachers to complete a favorite things questionnaire to help you pick something they love. (We love this printable one, or we made an online form template to use as a guide!) But when in doubt, or short on time, go by the “short shelf life rule” — stick to consumables. Teachers told us that, but it’s been validated by our users.

    We recommend you choose the gift before asking for donations. It can help you determine a suggested amount, and people like to know what they’re giving to.

    Here’s what 4000+ Cheddar Up payers bought their teachers:

    78.5% of families bought their teachers a gift card

    Here is a closeup of the gift card category:

    • #1: Staff Choice* (40.3%) 40.3% 40.3%
    • #2: Amazon (11.4%) 12% 12%
    • #3: Target (3.8%) 5% 5%
    • #4: Local Shop (3.8%) 5% 5%
    • #5: Personal Shopping (2.5%) 3% 3%
    • #6: Spa (1.9%) 3% 3%

    *Staff choice means the collectors essentially let teachers “shop” a gift card list.

    Runners-Up

    These gifts followed gift cards in popularity: 

    Cash
    Class Need
    Gift Basket

    How do I ask other parents for money for teacher gifts?

    The No. 1 thing we’ve learned is to present an opportunity, not an obligation. In fact, collections that use broad, inviting language like “any amount”, “thank you”, “appreciative” raise more donations per person. (You can find more wording examples here.) Clarity and transparency are also extremely important: Providing as many details upfront can encourage more prompt payments because people don’t have lingering questions — or suspicions. 

    Be sure to include:
      • Who you’re gifting to
      • Why you’re giving a gift
      • What gift you’ve picked out
      • Suggested donation amount
      • Giving deadline

    Here’s an example teacher holiday gift collection letter:

      Hi parents,

      As part of organizing the first grade holiday party, I’ll be collecting money for a group gift for Mrs. Thomas. She mentioned to me she could use a new tablet organizer for the classroom, so I’d love to purchase one of those. It would be about $10 each, but please feel free to give whatever amount — more or less — works for you. If we have any remaining money, I plan to grab some gift cards to her favorite restaurants.

      If you’d like to donate, please use the link provided by December 5. (Cheddar Up is secure and requires no account to pay!) At the same link, you can also include a personal message, which I will print and present with the gift. If you choose not to participate in the group gift, that’s perfectly fine too!

      (Insert collection link)

      Thank you so much!

      With a Cheddar Up collection, you can send this message straight from your dashboard, which will automatically provide a link to view the collection — or you can create a customized URL and/or QR code to text. The beauty of Cheddar Up for payers is that they’ll find all the information they need on the same page they pay, so it’s a seamless, straightforward experience.

      In short, before you go

      Collecting money for a teacher gift is a big job. Cheddar Up gets it done in 5 minutes — for free. Create a Cheddar Up collection, at least a month in advance of gifting day, to share the details with a large group and to collect money for gifts for teachers AND the school’s entire staff. Most people give anywhere between $25–$35, and we recommend using it to purchase gift cards (teachers’ top choice) or other consumables. 

      You'll want to ask your group's organizer for a link. For privacy reasons, it's not possible to search for this on Cheddar Up.

      Learn more about paying on Cheddar Up

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