Schools have never been able to cover the cost of things like computers, school marquees or field trips with conventional funding. Add in the prevalence of continued budget cuts, the need for money has never been greater.
At the same time, we know that raising money is considered a ‘necessary evil’, but why is that? School fundraisers require involvement and hard work, from the people behind the scenes to those who are doing the actual selling. And to top it off, they take precious time out of our already busy schedules.
So why do we often dread it when our children bring home their fundraising packets? Here are some hurdles as well as some possible solutions that may help:
Just like receiving an unexpected bill in the mail, when students bring home their packets, we aren’t ready for them. It becomes an added burden to an already taxed schedule. Do schools simply assume that parents will understand? Anything that arrives unannounced is uncomfortable unless it’s Ed McMahon at your front door with a large check. So what can schools do to ease the inevitable?
The Same Old Brochure
You’ve heard it said many times. People are tired of the same old cheap brochure items. These items look great in the brochure but the actual products are much smaller than expected. What's worse is that we feel guilty approaching friends, family and neighbors with the same brochure. People who do end up buying, either purchase items out of guilt or to simply choose to help someone they know win a prize.
Solutions for Parents
Provide Advanced Notice
- Send home a presale courtesy notice beforehand that lets parents know what's coming. This does 2 things: 1) It gives parents an advance courtesy notice and 2) It helps promote your sale.
- In your presale notice, talk about your purpose and exactly where the money will be spent. This will help justify the sale and add credibility.
- You may also want to talk about your sales goal and how many items each student will need to sell. This shows that you have a vision and a plan.
- Why not also talk about your prize program? Often times, parents will want to know what their children will be able to earn for selling. This can be especially effective if you are offering a unique or exciting incentive that you perhaps haven’t previously offered
Have Fewer School Fundraisers
Why do schools end up having so many fundraisers? When that first sales packet comes home, they already know that it is only the first of many more to come. When this happens, many parents either choose which one they'll participate in, or not sell at all. What are the solutions?
- Convince your school staff and parents that one or two big fundraisers are better than several smaller ones. Commit to it in writing by announcing it at the beginning of the school year in a notice that goes home with the students. In addition, talk about it at you first parent night.
- Plan to put extra time and work into the one or two campaigns that you commit to. The additional effort will pay off in the end and the entire process will be over before you know it.
- Stick to it. It may take a year or two to gain parental trust that you really plan to limit the number of sales. You will find that more parents will jump on board as time goes on. They'll realize that they're not being inundated with selling opportunities.
- Make it clear that you will stop after 1 or 2 sales campaigns, no matter how much money you make. Everyone must learn to live with what they get. If some people aren't satisfied, they can push the sale harder next year.
Offer a Better Quality Brochure
- Offer high-quality products like consumer-based household items that people ordinarily buy from the store anyway.
- Offer something completely new and different that people haven't seen before.
Present an Exciting Prize Program
Parent probably roll their eyes once they see the prize program that their child’s seem so excited about. Let’s face it; you can probably get better prizes at the dollar store. Many parents usually end up doing that anyway so they can get out of having to sell. It’s obvious that people are tired of the same prize programs. So are there viable alternatives? Schools that have been using our big event fundraising prize programs have learned that going to an exciting event is much more exciting than winning a cheap plastic toy.