Effectively minimize late orders by using 3 simple steps that ensure a smooth and easy money collection day
No one likes a straggler. They hold up the line, make everybody late, and worse, put us all in a bad mood. If everyone else can make sacrifices to meet deadlines, why can’t these procrastinators? Your goal is to achieve a smooth and fast school fundraising money collection day.
Waiting for late orders to come in puts added stress on you, while at the same time creates frustration for the rest of your parents. If you delay mailing in your order, be prepared for a delayed delivery on the backend as well as phone calls from unhappy parents.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your money collection date. In fact, setting it up properly requires advanced discussion and strategic planning. How do you envision the process happening? More than likely, your teachers will be collecting the money from their students and turn it into you. Easy enough. But how will that happen?
Research has shown that most sales are made within the first 3 or 4 days after the kickoff. Your main objective should therefore be to have your students reach their individual money goal as quickly as possible. We recommend 2 full weeks of selling. During the first week you’re working to generate as many sales as possible, while a good portion of the second week is spent reminding sellers to start thinking about your turn in date.
It’s worth mentioning that contrary to what you may think, giving people more time to sell won’t necessarily translate into a bigger profit. Additional selling time removes the ‘sense of urgency’ and often leads to procrastination and complacency. Prolonged sales can also be harder on you because you’re having to manage and oversee the fundraiser for a longer period of time.
Consequently, everything about your sale should be geared around what we commonly refer to as “Money Day”. PTO Today, an online school fundraising resource, shares some money handling tips in one of their articles. They even suggest that you should give people the option to turn in money before the deadline date. For more information, refer to the section under ‘Handling the Money’.
Here are 3 things you can do to ensure a productive money turn in day.
1. Emphasize Your Turn In Date
As already mentioned, make sure your end date never leaves the minds of your sellers. You should be constantly reinforcing the due date with everyone, including you school staff and parents. Not only is it important to announce it at your kickoff meeting, but throughout your sale as well. Publicize your end date is in your parent letter as well as on social media.
We provide our larger school wide sponsors with our school fundraising guidebook which includes bilingual parent reminder notices that you can send home. Even if you think people are sick of hearing it, your goal is to keep emphasizing when order forms and money are due.
2. Set Consequences for Late Orders
Be ready for the stragglers beforehand by having a late order policy already in place. If you decide to accept order forms after your end date, let people know how much time they have. We suggest a 2 day extension. Then stick with it. Otherwise the continual 1 or 2 item late orders will drive you crazy. The one exception might be someone who has contacted you in advance who will be turning in a larger order. You can handle these on a case by case basis.
On our fundraising timeline page, we ask our sponsors to mail in their order forms 1 week after their end date. In reality, this give you time to deal with most stragglers. However, we’re all familiar with the saying, “Give an inch, and they’ll take a mile”. If you tell people that they have another week to turn in their orders, they may "exceed your expectations".
Yet, we even have a plan for the ‘late-late’ orders. We recommend faxing in any late orders that come in after you’ve mailed in your order within 2 days. Any orders that come in after that are not guaranteed to arrive with the original order. And don’t be afraid to tell people that. Of course it’s up to you as to whether or not you decide to accept any really late orders.
3. Follow the School Fundraising Plan
You may find it difficult at times to stick with your plan. If you waiver, you’ll make the money collection process much more difficult for yourself. No matter how tempted you might be to cut corners or make exceptions, avoid doing so if possible. If people see that you’re enforcing your policies on a consistent basis, they'll be more apt to fall in line.
On the other hand, there’s definitely room for flexibility within structure. Just use your best judgement. Following these principals will help ensure a successful fundraiser turn in day because people will know in advance what you expect.
For more information on this subject, check out another article that we wrote called Best Fundraiser Tips: How to Get Money Turned in Quickly.