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What School Fundraiser is Best for Your Group?

By Clay Boggess on May 2, 2020
What School Fundraiser is Best for Your Group?

How to raise more money for your school

Someone recently called us and asked, "So how does fundraising work?" This is a very broad question because there are so many factors to consider. What is the money goal and purpose? Affordability and socioeconomic considerations are also important. There are many options so it’s important that you understand your group as well as your community.

One common school fundraiser is selling a product. Schools generally have 2 ways to sell products. One option is to order a product up front and then sell it direct to the community. For example, a popcorn sale. Another approach is to have people first take orders out of a brochure. The product is later delivered to the customer. The most popular are seasonal shoppers where people buy gifts for the holidays.

One of the most popular ways to make money selling products these days is online. Many companies now offer access to their products through eCommerce stores. Students can register and send out electronic invitations to friends and family. Groups then track their sales in real-time while students receive prize credit.

Schools can raise money through a brochure, a brochure and online, or online only. Doing an online only fundraiser has become more popular in recent years. The advantages are that sales happen without making physical contact with others. Plus there’s no school deliveries to worry about.

These things are especially important in light of the recent corona virus pandemic. People are already going to want to be more cautious and practice social distancing.

In recent years, crowdfunding has gained in popularity. Doing a fun run, raffle or auction is a great way to get the community involved. And many of these types of events offer a health benefit to your students. Healthy schools initiatives are emphasizing proper diet and exercise more than ever. This is where a fun run has an advantage over a pie fundraiser and can send an important message to everyone.

And of course, there’s always the school carnival. This is a great way to bring the school community together for a single event. Although these are all great social building opportunities, there are some drawbacks. Setting up events to raise money takes a lot of upfront time and work. The other concern as of late may also be the issue of social gathering.

Schools raise $3.3 billion annually selling merchandise. This makes product fundraising one of the most popular ways to raise money. But before deciding if a product sale is best, you may want to know a little more about them. Let’s take a deeper dive into the following types:

  1. Brochure Fundraiser
  2. Direct Selling
  3. Online Sales

How Brochure Fundraising Works

With a brochure sale, groups show items before receiving the actual product. Sellers use an order form and money envelope to collect orders and money. The price of each item shown in the brochure is the retail amount. The school is then billed at wholesale prices for the sold items and keeps the rest as profit.


  • Brochures can offer more diversity. Compared to selling a product like candy, seasonal shoppers can have up to 150-200 items.
  • Schools like brochure sales because they only pay for what’s ordered. This means no unsold products to deal with.
  • The money is already collected before placing the order with the company.
  • Schools usually make more net profit due to the increase in retail cost of each item.


  • Potential buyers can't see the actual item they are purchasing. This can lead to disappointment on the back-end.
  • Students have to make 2 trips to the buyer. One to collect the order and the second to deliver the product.
  • Items are often more expensive and don't work as well in some communities.

Selling School Fundraiser Products

With product sales, schools can order the actual item up front. Then turn around and sell it to their community. This is often referred to as direct selling. Sponsors usually submit a purchase order to get the product. Then once they receive their shipment, payment is due within a certain time-frame.


  • Sellers can show the product to a potential customer before they buy.
  • Students don’t have to go back a second time to deliver the product.
  • Many students find a candy bar fundraiser for example, easier because the price is lower.
  • Selling products like candy or popcorn lend themselves to more impulse buying.


  • Knowing how much product to order. Left over merchandise can be an issue.
  • Collecting money from sellers can sometimes occur.
  • Sellers eating the profit. Sometimes the product never makes it to the buyer.

What About Online Product Fundraising?

It's hard to keep up with all the changes. Digital technology will always be improving. Even 15 years ago, face to face selling was by far the most popular way to raise money. But with security enhancements and usability improvements, online fundraising is now very popular.

Sellers can go to a website, register and send emails to their friends and family. And they don't have to worry about what to write because the templates are already set up. Social media promotion and 'text to give' platforms are also a part of the process.

Automation is key as schools are raising more money than ever before online. And because of the need for social distancing, fundraising in the age of the corona virus will be an issue.

The pandemic may have a profound effect on in-person fundraising. But nonetheless the financial needs will still be there. Is online fundraising the future? Only time will tell.

When it comes to picking the best school fundraiser, we encourage you to consider all the options.

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