When and why schools use big event incentives.
Our big event fundraising incentives are one-of-a-kind prize programs that are designed to help school-wide elementary and middle schools increase their student participation. These programs have been proven to improve brochure sales compared to a standard prize program significantly.
Instead of offering prizes, big events incorporate the use of fun and exciting parties or shows that are brought into schools. Students who sell enough items out of their brochure automatically gain free admission. And qualifying is relatively easy because students only need to sell a few items to attend the event.
This is the reason for the increase in participation. Most students already understand the catch with a traditional prize program. To win the exciting prizes, they need to sell a lot which most students aren’t willing to do.
Big event incentives aren’t intended for every school. But for the right group, they can be a benefit. What follows are some suggestions that can help you determine whether big event fundraising incentives are worth considering for your school.
When to Use a Traditional Prize Program
Our big event incentive programs are better at getting more students to sell than increasing the sales made per student. In other words, schools with a high percentage of sellers won’t benefit as much by using a big event prize program. And the schools that usually have the highest participation rate are smaller. These schools don’t have much room to grow.
For example, we recently worked with a small private school of 150 students. Their brochure sales the previous year were around $30,000 using a traditional prize program. They were initially interested in our reptile show incentive. However, when they realized their students only needed to sell five items to gain admission, they feared that students would stop selling after they qualified for the reptile show. The reptile show would not be their best choice since they already had many students averaging 15 items or more. So they chose one of our traditional prize programs instead.
Where to Use a Big Event Fundraising Incentive
The schools that benefit the most are larger schools with low participation. Most students become bored with the standard prize programs because they offer the same old prizes year after year. Since selling just a few items gets them into a big event show or party, most would gladly trade in their cheap prize.
Now let’s take a school with 500 students. If they end up having 15% sell eight items, that’s 75 students who gross around $7,000. This assumes that the average price in the catalog is $12.00. If they can increase their participation rate to 40%, their sale will grow to almost $20,000. Schools like this have room to grow, which makes a big event prize program ideal.
Here’s an actual example. We’ve taken a school raising about $30,000 with a traditional prize program to consistently over $90,000 yearly with our super party prize program. Their enrollment is around 900 students, and we’ve helped them more than double their participation rate from about 25% to just over 55%. The average number of items sold per seller with their recent fundraiser was just under 13. They had 458 students sell 12 items or more. Is it no coincidence that to get into our super party event, students needed to sell 12 items? Most schools start with our 8-item goal super party.
Many schools already have experience with brochure fundraisers. They know what their sales are with a standard prize program. We’ve found that schools that switch to a big event incentive plan will almost always experience a substantial improvement in sales.
The take-home message is to know your participation numbers. Do you have room to grow, or are you already maxed out? Your answer to that question will help you decide which prize plan to choose.
Want to learn more fundraising news and advice? Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, where we share best practices, insider scoops, and more.
Clay Boggess has been designing fundraising programs for schools and various nonprofit organizations throughout the US since 1999. He’s helped administrators, teachers, and outside support entities such as PTAs and PTOs raise millions of dollars. Clay is an owner and partner at Big Fundraising Ideas.