It used to be common for elementary schools to collect thousands of dollars in orders, only to find that they were still trying to collect the actual money from people months later. Back in the day, school fundraising companies were successful in convincing schools to collect money after the merchandise arrived.
The post-collect method worked well for the company because they knew the school was under obligation to pay the invoice for a fundraiser with overinflated sales results. At the same time, many schools were fearful that if they decided to instead collect money up front with the order, it would ultimately hurt their sale. They felt people would not want to order and pay up front based solely on what they saw in a brochure.
The main reason for the shift to pre-collect was that schools grew tired of chasing down the money after the sale was over. Many schools began to look for other viable ways to raise money. Some companies saw this as a problem and began selling schools on the idea of collecting money up front.
Pre-collect sales turned out to be much easier to run. Plus, schools didn’t have to deal with lost profit due to the return of unsold merchandise.
Pretty soon all fundraising companies jumped on board and the pre-collect method became the standard for the industry. As a result, most groups now collect money with the order.
In addition to making sure that you collect fundraising money up front before submitting your order for processing, you'll want to communicate and enforce the importance of this throughout your sale. Here are the times to talk about the importance of money collection:
1. During Your Kickoff
The kickoff is not just about fun, excitement and what the students can win for selling. It’s also about making sure that they understand the process. Reinforce the idea of collecting money with the order by asking them questions like, “When do we start collecting the money?” and “When is the money due?” If you don’t hear a unanimous answer back from everyone in the audience, then go over it again and repeat your questions. Another way is to use reverse psychology by asking, “Is it ok to not collect the money with the order?” This is also a good time to reinforce who checks need to be written out to. Most companies require that checks be written out to your organization.
2. Throughout Your Fundraiser
You’re doing daily announcements, correct? Then make sure you reinforce what you've gone over at your kickoff by reminding students about how you want money collected and when the turn-in date will be.
3. Before Money Collection Day
Reinforce the on time turn-in of money and order forms with your parents. We provide schools with a personalized parent letter that initially goes home in each student’s packet. However, it won't hurt to send home an additional reminder just before the end as well. Make sure and state in your notices that money must be collected up front with their orders and is to be turned in by the due date. We automatically provide this notice inside your School Fundraising Guidebook.
Everyone needs to know how serious you are about enforcing a prompt money collection process. This will help ensure that everything stays on schedule while helping to make your life much easier.