Schools are constantly in need of money, and every parent knows the fun and frustration of having to participate in another fundraiser for the cheerleading team, the soccer team, or even just the school itself. It’s hard when you get bombarded with requests to buy product, to sell door-to-door, or what many schools are doing these days – just to give money.
With the need for a constant revenue stream to keep up on school maintenance, buy uniforms and textbooks, and accommodate a growing number of schoolchildren, schools are sometimes resorting to fundraising methods that, while still legal, are not very savory to parents who already feel obligated to support their children’s school.
As well, some fundraisers work, and some fall short – why is that? We’ve provided some fundraising dos and don’ts so that this fundraising season will be an easier and more profitable one.
School Fundraisers to Avoid
It’s tough to be a school administrator and be forced to stick to a budget – but that doesn’t mean that you should resort to asking for money without giving anything back. Unfortunately, because putting on a fundraiser involves a lot of time, effort, and in many cases, volunteers, school administrators have resorted to simply making “begging calls”. A fundraiser which involves volunteers calling potential donators or sending letters out to families is called a donation-based fundraiser, and it’s a big no-no when it comes to schools.
There are several reasons for this: for one, you’re essentially guilt-tripping parents, grandparents, and friends of the students to donate simply because the student attends the school. No one wants their kids to miss out on the fun of activities or equipment, so they’ll donate, but then feel resentful that you’ve obligated them to give money. The next time you have a fundraiser, they may not feel like they should donate because they already have. You can also potentially damage relationships with your community contacts by pestering them for money.
Secondly, when you put on a fundraiser, one of your biggest goals should be to involve and teach the children more about earning things that you need. The world doesn’t work on donations without getting something back – it’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Letting kids participate will not only raise energy and morale, but will teach them that by working hard, you have a better chance at getting what you want.
Thirdly, are fundraisers just about getting money? Money is the main focus, but so is working together for a common goal and putting pride in your work. When you raise money for your drama club through selling tickets to a play, everyone involved feels good about doing a good job for their organization. Fostering this attitude will ensure that your next fundraiser is a success. Simply asking for money eliminates any of this pride in your work and in your school.
If you’re going to do a donation-based fundraiser, make sure that you’re contacting members of the alumni association. However, the best way to ensure a successful fundraiser is to turn to other methods that allow everyone to be involved.
Do’s and Don’ts of School Fundraising
So, you’ve decided on your fundraiser, and now it’s time to organize. Whether you’ve decided to sell product or put on another type of event, you’re going to need volunteers, time, and resources. What’s the best way to use them? How can you ensure a successful fundraising effort? Here are some dos and don’ts we’ve compiled to make your fundraiser go smoothly:
- Host a brainstorming session and involve the students. You’ll be surprised at the ideas they may come up with!
- Get everyone involved. This includes students, parents, and volunteers – anyone who wants to help. The more help you have, the better your selling season will go, whether you decide to host a scratch card fundraiser or sell chocolate bars.
- Provide an incentive to get people to sell more. Check with your product companies or participating businesses to see if they have any incentives or items to donate for this purpose.
- Schedule your fundraisers at different intervals throughout the year. Make sure to limit them to one every season, at most. People will not want to give money too often.
- Set goals and deadlines. If you’re selling product, you’ll want to allocate a selling period of a few weeks. Make sure to stick to them, or your fundraiser will have a lesser chance of being successful.
- Rotate your volunteers (taken from http://www.school-fundraisers.com ). The same parents and teachers shouldn’t be responsible for multiple fundraisers in a row – they will lose interest and motivation. Instead, create a list of volunteers at the beginning of the year and then delegate fundraising events to different people.
- Advertise heavily if you are creating an event that requires attendance from the community, like a music festival, art show, or dance.
- Order your product at least six weeks before major holidays, especially Christmas, because there’s often a backlog in shipping.
- Use the same fundraising idea over and over. People will get tired of constantly buying the same product, or doing the same thing, several times a year. While there is merit in a tried and tested method that works, using it too often will decrease your profits.
- Do a fundraiser that requires a lot of effort on the parents’ part if the kids are old enough to fundraise themselves. Case in point: if your elementary school soccer team wants to sell candy to raise money, let the children do the selling (but chaperone them, of course). You’ll often find that you’ll get better results when little Billy asks the crotchety old man at the end of the street for money than if you have the parents take the candy to work or do the selling themselves. Remember, the kids are the ones who will be using the equipment or benefiting from the money – let them participate!
- Create a group event like a Games Day or Fun Fair as a class fundraiser and charge the children a certain amount of money to participate. While this will make money, there are always going to be children who will not be able to pay the fee for some reason. It’s not very fair to exclude certain members of the school just to make money, and it can lower morale. Instead, create a group reward for top sellers and make sure that everyone gets something for participating, even if it’s a thank-you button or sticker.
- Schedule your fundraisers when you know other schools are scheduling theirs – and try not to do the same fundraisers that they’re doing! You want to make the most money and provide an event that people will want to participate in – when other schools are doing the same thing; your profits will be lower.
When you work hard to create a good fundraising season, and you don’t leave students out, you’ll find that everyone will be willing to work hard to get good things for the school. After all, everyone knows your need – you can’t play sports without equipment, or send children out to play without a playground. The one piece of advice we’ll leave you with is this – make sure that you never lose sight of what you’re really fundraising for. Kids are in school to learn and money helps facilitate that learning (and lets them have great extra-curricular activities, too). Fundraising is an important part of that reality, and is a great teaching activity for the real world, too!
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