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7 Things Good School Fundraisers Recommend You Do

By Clay Boggess on Oct 3, 2020
7 Things Good School Fundraisers Recommend You Do

The ultimate guide to school fundraising success.

We get a good gauge when first-time sponsors contact us about school fundraisers. It's easier to understand when we're on the phone with them. But we can also pick things up through online form submissions.

One daycare sponsor recently submitted a request for a super party incentive. It was apparent she didn't spend much time learning about this event. It's designed for large schools that must meet specific requirements to get it for free.

Another sign is when submissions don't include prize programs or bonus incentives. Our essential incentives aren't expensive, so why are they not selected? Schools provide extra prizes, but there are ways to offer them without spending money.

We also pick things up when speaking with inexperienced sponsors on the phone. A few begin by asking which product offers the highest profit. This is a sign they haven't done their homework. They may only be looking for something easy. They want that 'magic bullet'. A product will do the heavy lifting for them and sell itself.

Here's an example. We're currently working with a virtual fundraising school in California. The sponsor recently decided that she didn't want her students to have to register. This step is essential to invite friends and family to the school's online store. All she wanted to do was send the link to her group and get them to shop online.

When asked why, she replied that she didn't want them to have to do any work. She didn't care about tracking her sales. All that was important to her was receiving a profit check.

To be clear, we're not throwing anyone under the bus. Everyone who contacts us has a need. We want all groups to succeed. We aim to get every sponsor to understand why they should use our tools. They're there for a reason. Schools need to take a comprehensive approach to their campaign.

Fundraising is not easy and requires preparation and hard work. There's a specific strategy that's required if you expect to succeed.

Yet successful sponsors have high standards and expectations. They ask reflective questions and need the best possible solutions. Their questions are more advanced. They've taken the time to read and study the information on our website. Every sales tool must be available to ensure their students' success.

They already know how much money they need and have set sales goals for their students. They're experienced and understand what's worked and what hasn't. And they also have an idea about how they want to motivate their group to sell.

So here's a question. Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve your goals? If we interviewed successful school fundraising sponsors, here are seven recommendations they'd make.

1. Have a Clear-cut Fundraising Goal

With a well-thought-out purpose, you'll establish a foundation for a decisive outcome. But, it's amazing how many groups only fundraise for some future "yet to be defined" need. They know they will need money at some point during the school year. So they decide to have a fundraiser.

No one seems to ask, "Why are we raising money?" Instead, everyone seems to shift into zombie mode. These schools are easy to recognize. Their purpose in their parent letter almost always reads, "For the general fund".

People need to know more. If you want them to try to help, they deserve to know why. How hard could it be to define your purpose? Most schools don't have to search far to find a financial need. Is there a fear that people won't support it? Or worse. Many sponsors don't want to commit to a specific purpose. What happens if they don't reach their goal?

Influential sponsors understand one thing. Committing to a well-thought-out purpose and money goal is a must. They've sold their purpose up front and are confident they'll have the support.

Learn how to set and reach your school fundraising goal

2. School Fundraisers Need Attainable Goals

Fundraising is a voluntary endeavor. So why is it not in your best interest to only ask your students to go out and do their best? Most won't if they have something else they could do with their time. If you take this approach, they may not treat your mission with the urgency you know it needs.

It's incredible how many sponsors expect their sales to happen. Handing out your fundraiser materials and then hoping for results is inadequate. These types of sponsors are grateful for whatever money comes in.

They assume they'll have another good year if they reach last year's goal. But if they fall short, they could have done nothing to affect it. And if they happen to do well, they don't know why. This mindset is the norm for far too many groups.

Influential sponsors know how much money they need and how much each group member needs to sell. Then they inspire them to reach their targets. Sales goals have been predetermined and are attainable.

One school we work with wasn't satisfied with raising $30,000 yearly. They knew that far too many students weren't participating in their fundraiser. As a result, they made a few changes and now bring in over three times that amount with every fundraiser.

3. Track Your Fundraising Progress

Successful sponsors raise more money because they track their student's progress. Most schools don't know how their fundraiser will turn out until the end. Once it's over, you can't affect sales.

Tracking your progress allows you to make in-sale adjustments. This means influencing sales performance before it's too late. Here are three tracking tools we recommend building into your fundraiser:

4. Don't Settle for the Basic Prize Plan

Most companies offer a free prize program with their fundraiser. Inexperienced sponsors assume this is all that's needed. Yet good sponsors know they have to do more.

To maximize their outcome, they offer their students additional fundraising incentives. This helps get more students involved. Plus, on top of improving participation, the average sales made per student goes up as well.

New sponsors may think adding prizes will cost them money. But there are ways to improve fundraiser sales without using money.

5. Motivate Students to Sell More

Great sponsors understand they have to be influential leaders. They know how to motivate students to succeed. They incorporate the perfect blend of accountability with optimism. This not only impacts students. Their fundraising team, teachers, staff, and parents are beneficiaries too.

6. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Good sponsors don't go it alone, prioritizing recruiting others to help them run their sales. They understand the need to get teachers and parents on board as well.

And understanding people's strengths means plugging them into the right spots. They do a great job of recruiting and delegating.

7. Strive for Fundraising Credibility

Reputation is everything. If you're credible, everyone takes you at your word. But when you're not, the opposite can happen. There's nothing worse than making promises without following through.

Here's an actual example of what not to do. We worked with a sponsor who promised a limo ride for every student who sold 15 or more items. When we followed up to find out how their students enjoyed the limo, they said that they didn't do the limo after all. It was only used as a decoy to attempt to bring in more sales.

How do you think the parents and students felt? Word spread fast. Many found out that the limo ride never happened. Unfortunately, they weren't concerned about how this would affect future sales.

The best school fundraisers always come through, no matter the hurdles. Their students and parents trust them to follow through. As a result, good sales results usually follow.

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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