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How to Improve on Your Previous Fundraiser

By Clay Boggess on Sep 15, 2014
How to Improve on Your Previous Fundraiser

How to analyze your last fundraiser and apply what you learn going forward

Unless you are willing to take note and learn from previous fundraisers, history will usually repeat itself. Many groups seem content to put their sale on auto-pilot. As long as nothing goes wrong, they’ll just keep doing the same thing year after year. Who has the time to plan a fundraiser from scratch anyway?

And if it isn't broken, why fix it? It’s sure a lot easier to maintain the status quo than it is to examine where you might be able to improve.

For those sponsors who want more because they’re tired of the same, or even declining sales results, here are some ideas that might possibly improve your outcome:

Analyze Previous Fundraising Results

If a school with 100 students is bringing in $15,000 there is not much more room for improvement. However, a school that has 500 students that also raises $15,000 is considered average, at best. There are two measurements that can be used to analyze results.

Items Sold per Seller
One way is to look at the average number of items sold per seller. Smaller groups usually have higher averages than larger groups. For example, a typical high school group may average between 10-15 items per seller. Cheerleaders tend to average even more. Their groups can easily exceed 25-30 items sold per seller. Elementary school typically average between 5-8 items per student. Any school below the 5 items leaves definite room for improvement.

Student Participation
Another way is to look at student participation. Again, it's easier for smaller groups to realize higher participation averages than for larger groups. A typical high school group can have 90% or more of its students participate where as a large elementary school can be as low as 10-15%.

Most school fundraising companies provide sales reports to help groups analyze their results. Once schools have taken the time to understand these numbers they can look for ways to positively affect them.

Take Negative Feedback Seriously

If you are hearing negative feedback about your fundraiser, you might want to take a closer look at why. Are people complaining about the same thing? Do they have a problem with the quality of the merchandise? Perhaps they're tired of the same brochure. What about the prize program? Are your students and parents willing to sell for the prizes that are being offered? Maybe people just want to know why they are selling and where the money is being used. If these problems continue to go unanswered, you're probably experiencing a negative impact on your sales. Obviously you're not going to be able to please everyone, but by taking your complaints seriously you'll definitely help your cause. It's also important to tell people what specific steps you'll take to address the issues.

Be Open to New Fundraiser Ideas

If your school has been selling the same type of brochure over time and you have been noticing stagnant sales, perhaps it’s time for a change. Simply changing the type of brochure you offer might help. Or, maybe even try something completely different. Another thing that can help is to have fewer sales over the course of the school year. Find ways to focus on making one sale more productive rather than simply throwing additional ones out there for people to complain about.

It is important that schools take the time to look at their previous fundraiser results as well as get feedback from their parents. Groups that take these steps to improve usually experience more success than those who don’t. Why not spend more time on fewer sales?

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