How to Improve Schoolwide Fundraiser Participation

Good fundraiser incentives help drive sales. And if you’re able to get more students to participate, sales will increase. Therefore, finding new ways to improve student participation should be a high priority. However this has been proven to be easier said than done.

Many schoolwide fundraiser groups average less than 20% student participation. Larger schools that sometimes gross up to $25,000 seem excited about the amount raised. However, they often don’t realize how much money they’re leaving on the table because 80% or more simply aren’t selling. Just think what increasing participation by another 20% would do to their sales.

There are a few reasons for this, one being fundraising burnout. There are simply too many groups trying to have too many sales. In other words, fundraiser quality has become trumpeted by the sheer quantity. Let’s fundraise as much as we can and we’ll take whatever we bring in.

Another reason is seller complacency. People are simply tired of repeating the same fundraiser and prize program over and over again. So what can you do to improve schoolwide fundraiser participation?

Give More Students Access to Better Prizes

You might think that this costs more money, but it doesn’t have to. Here are 2 possible solutions:

1. Big Event Fundraising

For years, we’ve been advising groups to move towards having fewer high-quality fundraisers that will ultimately raise more money. This includes replacing the cheap ‘dollar store’ toys that students have grown so accustomed to winning with more unique and worthwhile prizes. This is the purpose behind big event fundraising.

When we initially launched the idea of students trading in their toys for a chance to earn their way to a fun school event back in 1999, we didn’t fully realize how much student participation would be effected. What we found was that an overwhelming number of students were willing to give up their prizes in exchange for an activity. The results have been overwhelming. Why?

Significantly more students are winning the big prize because unlike with the traditional prizes, they understand that it’s easy to obtain. Traditional prize programs require a huge amount of selling to win the better prizes. This discourages most students from even trying. So what’s the big prize? Gaining admission to the big event. For example, to get into our Big Event Magic Show, students only need to sell 5 items. And even though there are higher prize levels, the big prize is getting to go to the event with all of their friends.

Another reason is that parents are more supportive of this new and refreshing prize program. They want their students to be able to go to the event so they’re much more inclined to participate in the fundraiser.

2. Add No-Cost Incentives

How can you add extra incentives that don’t cost any money? It’s simple. Incorporate privileges instead of prizes that students will want to sell for. Here are some examples of free 1 day passes that you can offer to students every time they sell 5 items:

  1. Free dress day
  2. No homework
  3. 1st in line
  4. Library card
  5. Lunch with the principal

You get the idea. The point is, if you give more students the opportunity to win, the greater chance they’ll sell.

See our additional fundraiser incentive ideas

Create High Seller Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is contagious, and so is selling. If you’re able to create additional excitement for your prize program, you’ll increase your chances of having more students jump on board. Who wouldn’t want to join in on the fun? You can get the word out by continuously showing off your prizes during morning announcements, or at lunchtime. You don’t want to give your students the opportunity to forget about your fundraiser once you’ve kicked it off.

You can also increase seller enthusiasm by rewarding incentives during your sale as opposed to just at the end. This is where your special privileges come into play. And when students see their peers winning, they become inspired to sell too.

See our brochure fundraisers

Join the discussion