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High School Fundraising Ideas that Actually Work

By Clay Boggess on Oct 24, 2020
High School Fundraising Ideas that Actually Work

Your ultimate guide to a successful high school fundraiser.

Why do some high school groups succeed while others fail? Some believe that it's a feeling they get when they add up the numbers. If they raise a specific dollar amount, they feel good. "Wow, this feels like a lot of money". We made more than we thought we would. This now means our group can experience some things we hoped to do.

Others are convinced that they're successful only if they reach a measurable goal. So who's right? Both are. To fully experience success, we need to be able to reward ourselves by enjoying the fruits of our labor. Both philosophies must work together. The most effective high school fundraising ideas incorporate goals and passion. Enthusiasm is what leads to the goal.

One thing is for sure. Success doesn't typically happen by accident. Is the group who feels good about how much they made surprised? Sure, but that's bound to happen. Goals are "accidentally" exceeded for various reasons. For instance, there may have been a "runaway" product in a brochure that no one anticipated.

But while desire and enthusiasm are important, setting goals is essential. Too many groups put all their hopes into a product or prize program. If the product is appealing, more people will buy it. Or, if we offer a great incentive plan to our students, more will sell. Both the product and prize program are essential. No one's arguing that.

Yet there are other vital components that groups are leaving out. There are reasons many become disappointed in their results. Even those who didn't set a goal know when they fail. Some become frustrated and conclude that their efforts were a waste of time.

Success isn't just feeling wrong about a low number but rejoicing about a higher one. The real question is, did you have a number before you started?

High school student fundraising objections can also be uniquely challenging. By this age, many claims to be tired of selling or are busy with other commitments. Or they've convinced themselves that selling is not worth the effort.

But there is some good news. Hurdles like these aren't impossible to overcome. To get the results you want, sponsors need to do three things:

  1. Convince students of the purpose
  2. Equip them with the necessary tools
  3. Motivate them to take action

1. Engage Your Students in the Cause

You may know why you need the money, but does your group? You can tell them, but knowing why is not enough. Students should believe in your cause as much as you do. They need to feel compelled to get involved.

So why are you raising money, and what thought have you put into how you'll achieve your goal? Will your students understand why they need to take action? Every group needs money. Why should they put in the effort to sell for your organization?

If you give this little thought, then so will your students. But, if you take the time to prepare beforehand, you'll probably make a better case. The more persuasive you are, the more convinced your students will be. A vital purpose is the foundation for every successful sale.

It's important to know what you're up against. You're competing against many distractions and commitments in a student's life. You need to make your high school fundraiser compelling to them.

Another way to help them appreciate your mission is to have them comprehend the numbers. Tell your students what it will take to achieve their sales goals.

Beyond the why, high school students must grasp what it will take to reach a specific fundraising goal. Once they appreciate that, they'll be more apt to internalize the cause.

When students know the numbers, they take more ownership of the fundraiser. This is powerful because they'll understand what they must do to achieve your objective.

Ultimately, they need to be able to answer the question, "What's in it for me?"

Learn how you exceed your high school fundraising goal

2. Take the Time to Prepare Your Students

This sounds logical. High school students should already know what to do, right? They've got lots of selling under their belt. It's not enough to hand out the sales brochures and then tell them to return the money on the due date.

This is a common mistake. Don't assume they'll know what to do because you're dealing with older high school students. Do they understand the process? How much does each student need to sell? What are the registration steps required for online fundraising?

You also need to ensure that your students are well-equipped to sell. Do they have the tools needed to be effective? Here are two powerful ways to better equip your students to bring in more money:

  1. Make a Buyer Prospect List: Help your students plan who they should approach first.
  2. Use the NOW Selling Method: Provide an easy way to ask for the sale.

Students are much more likely to participate if they know what's expected of them. Thus, be sure to take the time to sit down with your students and provide them with a practical roadmap.

3. High School Fundraising Ideas that Motivate

So how else can you get your students off the fence? Provide some effective external incentives. To do this, you need to understand what motivates your group. For most high school students, a monetary incentive is a powerful influencer.

You may think your cause is enough but have nothing to lose. Many companies provide free fundraiser prize programs. Plus, you can always add in your rewards. This is where you can get creative by leveraging your group. For example, sell five items by tomorrow, and you don't have to put equipment away after practice.

These incentives usually don't cost you anything besides a little extra time. And perhaps the best thing is that prizes can also help make selling fun.

Are you looking for more fundraising tips and advice? Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, where we share our expertise in school fundraising best practices and other helpful information.

Author Bio Clay Boggess, Author

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.

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