5 Fundraising Mistakes You Don't Have to Make

Let’s face it; most groups don't enjoy having to raise money. Therefore, since you'll probably want to limit the number of selling campaigns as much as possible, the last thing you want is for a sale to fall short of its financial goal.

How then can you help ensure that you’ll be successful and can put your best foot forward starting with your first one? There are proven methods that work, but you have to invest the time to implement them into your program. It can also prove to be just as beneficial to know what not to do before you commit to a sale.

Here are 5 fundraising mistakes elementary school sponsors don't have to make:

1. Failure to Set a Good Fundraising Purpose

If parents don’t buy into your purpose, you'll have an even harder time convincing them to participate. Oftentimes people think their idea is best, only to find out that others didn’t agree. If you're well plugged into your school community, finding essential needs shouldn’t be that difficult. Did you speak with the principal? How about teachers or other staff members? Did you send a survey home to the parents, or even discuss ideas at a parent meeting?

2. No Established Sales Goal for your Students

If you didn’t establish a good purpose, it will be hard to set your sales goal. Even if you have a good purpose, people need to know your expectations. How much money will it take to achieve your purpose? Did you find out how much it will cost? Can it be done with one sale, or will it take two? How much will each student need to sell and is the goal reasonable? Setting a financial goal gives everyone something to shoot for, and possibly exceed.

3. No Advance Advertising about your Fundraiser

Most people feel the most important form of advertising is getting their students excited at the kickoff. However, why not build even more hype before your kickoff? You'll want your kickoff to be a really big deal so here are some things you can do to build it up:

  • Start announcing your sale every day, about a week before the kickoff.
    • Embellish on your prize program as well as your top seller prize.
    • Or, consider leaving your students in suspense by telling them a little about the incentives but not revealing any specifics.
  • Send home an advertisement that promotes your fundraiser. This is also a good opportunity to attempt to sell your parents on your purpose.
  • Announce your sale on your website as well as on social media.
  • If you're able to have your kickoff shortly after your back-to-school night, talk about it first at the meeting.

4. Failure to Plan Your Kickoff

Since the kickoff is the most important promotional opportunity, why isn't it given top priority? Some schools kick off their campaign with very little fan fair. Other schools simply pass out their student packets at the end of the day. Worse, some just provide them to the parents without any kickoff at all. If you don’t schedule a time to gather all of your students together to announce the launch of your sale, you're missing an opportunity to energize them. What do you hope to accomplish at your kickoff? How will you introduce the fundraiser to your students? Your kickoff should be able to persuade your students to participate.

How to prepare for a successful kickoff

5. No Promotion During the Sale

Don’t think the promotion of your sale is complete just because the kickoff is over. Unfortunately many schools don’t say a word about their sale again until it’s time to turn in the order forms and money. By then it’s too late. It’s possible that most people have already forgotten to sell. Students have short memories, so the momentum established at the kickoff soon subsides. Don’t end up in that situation. Instead, be sure and perform the following throughout your program to ensure that lots of sales come in at the end:

  • Daily encourage students to keep selling. Remind them about what prizes and incentives are at stake. It only takes selling a little bit each day to be successful.
  • Take your reminders a step further by incorporating prize coupons. Every time students sell 5 items they get to submit a prize coupon. You then select and announce the winners.
  • Be sure and send home occasional announcements. Schools should at least send out a reminder half way through, as well as just before the end.
  • Announce your sale periodically on your website. Social media also works well to keep people informed.

By preventing fundraising mistakes as much as possible, you're helping to ensure your success.

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