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Boost Elementary School Fundraising Profits by 300%

By Clay Boggess on Mar 7, 2020
Boost Elementary School Fundraising Profits by 300%

Improve elementary school sales with a new motivational approach

Every company seems to be able to make claims on how they can make you more money. Simply use their brochure and prize program and the money will follow. Wouldn’t it be nice if it really worked?

No doubt, finding the right product to sell is important. So too is motivating your students with incentives that they’ll really want to work for. So if you're looking for elementary school fundraising ideas that work, consider changing your prizes.

Cheap, junky, but enticing prizes to a 4 year old appear at the lower levels, and ‘mind-blowing’ prizes can be found at the higher prize levels. The only problem is that you have to sell so many items to get the more exciting toys.

When it comes to reaching sales goals, most sponsors can appreciate the need for incentives. Student enthusiasm has always been the engine that drives any school fundraiser. The more excited they are about the prize program, the better the sales.

The problem is most prize programs are predictable. They all seem to work the same way. Just ask your older students who’ve already experienced them. Is it any wonder that some of the lowest participation rates come from these students?

See Why Fundraiser Prize Programs Need an Overhaul

The good thing is you don’t need to work very hard to get a prize. Sometimes selling just a single item is enough. But you won’t be overly impressed with what you get either. Bigger and better prizes await those students who sell a lot. But sadly those students are a rarity. The vast majority end up with the ‘cheap & junky’ prizes.

Because your seasoned students understand the process, they usually stop participating after the 2nd or 3rd grade. So how do you overcome the apathy issue?

Unfortunately many schools remain complacent, afraid or unwilling to change, and thus will usually stick with the status quo. Your sales results are “ok” because you get by every year. But what if you can raise more? A lot more.

You can always incorporate additional prizes, but this will take more time and energy. PTO Today offers great fundraising incentive ideas that schools can do to generate more sales.

Another option is to reevaluate your current prize program. Some schools have actually made a change.

Big Event Prize Program Differences


To help solve some of the well-known traditional prize programs drawbacks, our solution has been to offer an activity instead of prizes. But to make it better we did 2 things:

  1. Put the event, which is the most exciting part, at the lowest prize level to improve participation.
  2. Still offer higher prize levels to encourage students to sell more.

Here’s a side by side comparison of what happened when schools switched to a Big Event prize program the following year after using a traditional incentive plan.

Good Elementary School Fundraising Ideas Get Results



School Traditional Prizes Big Event Incentive $ Increase % Increase
Webb Elementary $20,000 $43,000 $23,000 115%
Noonan Elementary $8,000 $27,000 $19,000 238%
Kostoryz Elementary $12,000 $31,000 $19,000 158%
Milton Elementary $24,000 $42,000 $18,000 75%
Meadowbrook Elementary $12,000 $27,000 $15,000 125%

The question then becomes, “Should we take a chance and offer something new, or continue down the same path and play it safe?” Why change when you can raise the same amount of money every year?

To help answer these questions, here’s a list of advantages and disadvantages between traditional prize programs and Big Event prize plans.

Traditional Prize Programs



  1. Familiarity
  2. Easier because you don’t have to change.
  3. Prizes come inside each sellers box.


  1. Cheaper prizes at lower levels discourages participation.
  2. Students and parents may be disappointed with the quality.
  3. Results show that the majority of students only sell enough to reach the lowest prize levels.

Big Event Incentive Plan



  1. Students don’t have to sell much to gain admission to the event. This has proven to increase fundraiser participation and sales.
  2. Students can still choose to sell more and win the bigger prizes.
  3. The event is embraced as exciting and new by students and parents.
  4. No parent complaints about a lack of prize quality.
  5. No broken prizes to have to deal with.


  1. Additional work is required to have the event.
  2. School must share in the cost of bringing in the event if sales don’t reach the minimum.
  3. Some may feel it's unfair for students to have to sell to attend an event at their school.

Deciding whether to stay with a traditional prize program or try a big event may be worth considering if your school:

  • Has experienced stagnant or declining sales.
  • Has a larger enrollment with less than desired participation.

Selecting the right incentive plan is important to the success of your fundraiser, so it's best to do a thorough analysis and weigh all of the pros and cons first.

Learn about fundraising events for schools

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