5 Ways School Fundraisers Can Get More Bang

Proven fundraising strategies that get results

Everyone tends to gravitate towards the things they love to do. Unfortunately, school fundraisers aren’t at the top of most people’s lists. They’re usually demoted to the ‘necessary evil’ column. Much like cleaning your house or paying your tax bill. It’s something you know you have to do but don’t eagerly look forward to.

To make matters worse, raising money takes a lot of time and effort. You would think the opposite was true with so many groups doing lots of fundraising.

Why is that? Most schools have high financial needs. Multiple fundraising campaigns are often necessary to reach a larger money goal. New playground equipment, for example, is costly. Or, they may just lack basic sales planning and implementation skills. What would ordinarily be accomplished in one sale now requires many.

Your first sale of the year is your most important. If it historically hasn’t been going well it’s easy to have built in excuses. You can blame it on socioeconomics or seller indifference. Looking outward is easy and will only help you justify your results. But breaking this cycle requires analyzing your shortcomings from the inside out.

So why are you failing to raise money? You’re either selecting the wrong product or the wrong method. Successful schools have figured out how to put their energy in the right places. They also invest the necessary time and effort before their sale. These schools can then look back and diagnose what worked and what didn’t. They document everything so they have a tracking system. This allows them to continue to build on their success.

So to reach your goal, you need an effective game plan. Here are 5 school fundraising ideas that can transform your next sale and make big profits:

1. Determine Your Fundraising Purpose

Have you even established your fundraiser purpose? Unfortunately raising money for the 'general fund' doesn't qualify. You'll get less buy-in from parents if they don't know where the money's going. It's analogous to a legal version of a 'slush fund'.

Participants will want to know why they should invest their time to help the group raise money. It's also important that they understand how they'll benefit.

Your purpose becomes especially powerful as soon as you're able to demonstrate it. Once your parents see that new marquee or playground, they'll see the fruits of their labor.

Take advantage of this opportunity to show that your money actually went where you said it would go. Announce it in your newsletter or have a ribbon-cutting ceremony. This will also help with future fundraisers as more people will tend to get involved.

2. Establish a Fundraiser Sales Goal

You can't set a goal without a purpose. But once you have one, you can establish the other. How much money do you need to raise? Once you know that, you can determine how many items each student needs to sell.

Crunching the numbers beforehand is important. After doing the math you'll want to present this information to your group.

Your students need to know what’s expected of them. For example, let's say you have 100 students and you need to raise $5,000. If your brochure items cost $15 and you make 40% profit, this equates to a $6 profit off every sale.

Each student would need to average a little over 8 items each to reach the $5,000 mark. Your student goal should not only be discussed at your kickoff, but throughout your sale as well. For more information, see our fundraiser goal setting guide.

3. Have a Great Sales Kickoff Meeting

The kickoff is when you get to make your sales pitch to your students and explain the process. When are the order forms due and to whom should customers write checks out to? The kickoff is the one opportunity you have to establish a strong foundation for your sale. It is where you need to establish momentum. A strong kickoff will set your group on a path to a successful sale.

So spend some time preparing for your meeting.

See elementary school fundraising ideas for great kickoffs

4. Tracking School Fundraisers

Now that your students have a goal, it's important that they stay focused so they can reach it. They need accountability. You can't change your results once the sale is over so you need to know how they're progressing. There's no excuse for lackluster sales when you could have done something about it.

So how do you keep track of your sales? The bottom line is you should know whose selling and who isn’t. This gives you time to persuade those students who may need some encouragement. Sales made online is easy to track. You can look at your dashboard. But brochure sales will take a little more effort, yet there are ways to do it.

The following is much easier to do with smaller groups but it can make a big difference in your outcome. Arrange to check in with your students 3 times throughout your sale:

  1. The day after your kickoff
  2. Halfway through the sale
  3. When the sale ends

Announce at your kickoff that you'll be checking order forms and money envelopes. Be sure to document sales made for each student using a tracking sheet.

It's normal to have some money collected, but maybe not for every order. For example, students may need to go back and collect some money after people get paid. As you progress through the sale though, a higher percentage of the money needs to be accounted for.

What you want to watch out for is some students may have several orders but no money collected. This may be a sign that they are inflating their sales numbers.

It's a good idea to post the progress for all to see. This creates a competitive spirit among your students. Some students will attempt to work harder so that they can outsell their peers. Our smaller group sponsors get a fundraiser tracker tool in their supply kit email.

5. Finish Strong

Strong runners surge before the finish line. Encourage your students to keep selling, even if they've already reached their goal. The prize program is designed to reward sellers based on how much they are able to sell, so the more the better. Hopefully, you're also offering a special reward for the top seller.

Once your end date approaches it's time to prepare your students for what's next. Order form and money collection. Since you've kept up with your students’ progress there should be no surprises.

Sponsors who experience successful school fundraisers know how to lead and inspire. They're able to motivate their group to reach and even exceed their goals. And when it’s over, there are usually no regrets.

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