Sticky space

3 School Fundraiser Questions that Need to be Asked

By Clay Boggess on Jun 20, 2020
3 School Fundraiser Questions that Need to be Asked

Teach your sellers the importance of goal setting

Fundraising is hard work. There’s no way around it. So many people are looking for the magic bullet. That unique product that everyone’s going to buy. If only we can find the right incentive to motivate more students to sell. Or better yet, increase participation. According to Forbes, over 50% of nonprofits are set up to fail.

But unlike nonprofits that rely on donations, the school fundraiser is here to stay. Thanks to the support of our tax dollars, most public institutions survive regardless. So there will always be a need for extra money. But there is a correlation between the two. Both are dealing with similar identity issues.

Nonprofits often complain about donors not spending enough. And schools whine about low student participation. So each has a money problem. Many groups raise money just to have it in the coffer. Instead, the real question that should be asked is, “How much impact do our fundraisers have?”

So what is our purpose and how is it going to affect those around you? Just as significant is how effectively you promote your cause and get people to buy in and help.

Our approach to fundraising is often backwards. We’re trying to raise money by attempting to sell a great product. Instead, we need to draw people in by convincing them of the need, and what problem is going to be solved.

What impact is the money you raise going to have on your community? Will people get to see, or better, experience the results? If your fundraiser exists to ‘fill the coffer’, people will never see where the money’s going. Sales campaigns becomes routine and mundane. No wonder participation is waning. Instead, it should be seen as a mission that people care about and can rally around.

Successful school fundraising projects thrive because they’re focused on a purpose. And they constantly make their community aware of it. Fortune 500 companies solicit customers by promising to solve challenges. So schools need to do the same. It’s much like increasing brand awareness. Once you’ve solidified your cause it’s time to set fundraising goals to help fulfill it.

You're going to have to do some math before your sale if you want to achieve your objective. Do you know how much money you need to raise? Once you have a number you can calculate each seller's goal. Here's a simple formula:

Total $ Needed = Number of Students x Amount Sold / Student

The amount sold per student is your student's sales goal. Say you're doing a popcorn fundraiser and selling $5 bags. If you're making 50% profit then you'll end up making $2.50 a bag. You then need to raise $5,000 with 100 students in your group. How much does each student need to sell?

$5,000 = 100 Students x $50 raised

Each student would then need to sell 20 bags of popcorn.

20 bags x $2.50 profit / bag = $50

These are simple numbers and some assumptions are made, but it gets the point across. To be successful, your fundraiser needs a purpose and your students need a set goal.

Here are 3 questions to ask before your next school fundraiser:

1. Why Are School Fundraising Goals Important?

This question may sound obvious but it isn’t that straight forward for many sponsors. It's true that fundraising is a voluntary endeavor. This leads many to take a more conservative approach. They only ask students to "do what they can" to help. Maybe they're afraid that giving them set goals is too bold and will set some up to fail.

Rather, teaching students about goals is what will help move them forward in life. They give us a compass and provide feedback. Goals also teach students the importance of committing to a task and completing it.

Fundraisers without goals also communicates a lack of confidence in the campaign. Some schools have the mentality that they'll figure out how to use the money once they have it. This is backwards thinking and 'puts the cart before the horse'.

Many won’t support a fundraiser unless they know where the money's going. This gives you the opportunity to establish trust and accountability. Why? You get to show the fruits of your labor. Once that new awning goes up, everyone will see it and experience the benefits. This also helps build trust towards future campaigns.

2. How Do We Communicate our School Fundraiser Goal?

Once you've established your goal it's important to communicate it. Here are some suggestions:

  • Have a formal kickoff meeting to discuss your objectives with your students. Be sure everyone involved with the school is present. This includes teachers and staff.
  • Your student packets should contain a parent letter that goes home the day you kick off your sale.
  • Make arrangements to announce your fundraiser at a back to school night function.
  • Use social media and put it on your website.
  • Post it on your marquee.

3. How Can We Help Students Succeed?

Make sure your students are working towards their goal by reminding them to sell every day. If you sponsor a high school group, you can actually track fundraising progress Ask your students to show their order forms at various times during the sale. Students can also receive incentives during your check-in dates. One way that can help students reach their goal is to use the money game.

Elementary schools usually encourage sales by doing daily announcements over the intercom. Some schools get more creative by incorporating prize drawing coupons into their announcements. This is a great way to make your fundraiser interactive and engaging. If you do video announcements, show students winning prizes. This will encourage others to sell.

Establishing your purpose and then achieving your goal takes work. But everyone will know in the end that it will be well worth the effort.

Want to learn more fundraising news and advice? Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, where we share best practices, insider scoops, and more.

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.

Join the discussion