An essential list of do’s and don’ts to use when approaching friends
A friend of mine who is a father tells the story of school fundraising season at his job as a “break room full of candles, pies and cookie dough.” This familiar and funny portrait is one of the realities of school fundraising. Parents selling fundraising products to coworkers and friends is a time-honored approach to helping students meet their fundraising goals.
Like politics, money and religion, fundraising might make the list of things not to chat about over lunch, however. Asking for money is a touchy subject in some circles, and while parents often share a mutual understanding about the need to support one another’s kids, some are more receptive than others.
If you’ve experienced discomfort in the past when it comes to pitching your child’s fundraiser to friends and coworkers, consider these “do’s and don’ts” before making your asks this year. Employing the proper etiquette can help you help your child succeed, while avoiding awkward encounters with those in your personal circles.
Do Check Workplace Guidelines
Fundraising at work is something we know works well for many parents. Passing a fundraising brochure around the office is a quick way to get items sold, raise money and ensure your child meets their goals for rewards. It also helps fit fundraising into busy parent schedules.
We do advise checking your employee guidelines for things like this. Some folks might be especially sensitive in the workplace to being asked to give, as it may cause them to feel unduly pressured. Many businesses have explicit policies against asking for donations in a work setting beyond what the company chooses to endorse.
The best practice is to not use company time to fundraise. If you’re friends with coworkers, and you have a tradition of supporting one another’s kids, share a fundraising brochure with them before or after hours, or on a lunch break (which might just be an apt time to sell some chocolate covered pretzels!).
Don’t Ask Parents with Kids also Fundraising
School fundraisers can pose a challenge when your close friends also have students participating, since you know you’re all competing for the same resources. Asking parents who are trying to help their own children meet fundraising goals will likely result in money getting awkwardly shuffled around.
Avoid this situation altogether, and focus on prospects who you can reciprocate for down the road.
Do Find Casual Ways to Ask
The best part about friends is that they often have a sixth sense that helps them intuit why you’re asking something. Take advantage of the comfort of close relationships and skip the fundraising formalities. A simple, “How do you feel about two tubs of cookie dough?” is a more friend-focused entrée to the fundraising conversation than a whole sales pitch.
Don’t Fundraise in a Group Setting
Lunch bunch, supper club, Bunco or men’s coffee offer captive audiences of friendly faces. These may seem like prime opportunities to make 10 sales, but they also introduce a sense of pressure to conform within the group.
Making assumptions about the willingness of coworkers and friends to participate is slippery ground. In our experience, it’s best to approach friends individually, so that if they want or need to decline to participate, they won’t feel embarrassed or out of place by doing so. Exercise deference to all customers’ dignity, no matter how well you know them.
Do Thank Friends
Good fundraising programs strive to cultivate donors. That means fundraisers must treat everyone—friend or stranger—with the same level of gratitude and appreciation. If someone you know well has made a purchase in support of your child’s fundraiser, it’s a great chance to go the extra mile and offer him or her a personalized note or message of appreciation. In the hustle and bustle of fundraising, it can be easy to take those closest to us who offer their support for granted.