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Why Online Fundraisers Benefit Catalog Sales

By Clay Boggess on Sep 12, 2020
Why Online Fundraisers Benefit Catalog Sales

How to experience your best fundraising results this fall.

Even amid the coronavirus, we're finding more schools still want to use brochures to raise money. Is it because they know they work and aren't entirely sold on only selling online? This could be the case for some sponsors.

Schools profit over $1.4 billion each year by selling products. This type of success has been enjoyed for years. Thus, they may not be willing to let go of their brochure sale anytime soon. But times are changing. Online fundraisers now account for as much as 50% of school sales. eCommerce orders result in 3 times more purchases compared to traditional order forms.

So far this fall, 29% of our schools are doing online only selling without a brochure. That's a fairly significant number. But every situation is unique. Some are still completely virtual; others bring their students back in phases.

One fact remains consistent across the board. We're all concerned and don't know how things will play out. The focus right now is on getting students back to school safely, not so much on fundraising.

The pandemic is wreaking havoc on K-12 education. The CARES Act was passed in March, including $16.5 billion for states and school districts. But according to many, far more is required. Some estimate that as much as $250 billion will be needed to stabilize school budgets. School districts were struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic hit.

Where's the money going to come from? Federal, state, and local taxes will cover most of it, but what about the rest? Fundraisers help pay for extracurricular student activities like field trips and equipment. Many feel they may be called upon to do much more.

Brochure fundraising used to focus exclusively on face-to-face selling. To be effective, you had to approach people, show them what you had, and then ask them to buy.

In-person selling takes time and work. Some enjoy the process and are good at it, while others prefer other means. Selling online can be easy as well as productive. But what if you could do both?

Here's why raising money online is the perfect complement to a brochure sale. As you'll see, there's a reason for optimism.

Online Fundraisers for Schools Are the Perfect Synergy

No matter what, you can't meet with everyone you know in your community. Online selling offers a faster way to reach out to locals and those who live out of town. If you can do both, we recommend it. Schools that can sell out of a brochure online are raising more money. The numbers prove it. Here are some results a few groups are experiencing, as reported by one of our suppliers.

Early Fall 2020 Fundraising Success Stories

  • 70 Student Texas High School Group: Experienced a 550% increase in online sales compared to 2019.
  • Private Texas School: Increased their day-one internet sales by $4,000 over 2019. Through day 9, they have reached almost $29,000 in total sales.
  • Georgia Middle School: Selling out of a brochure and online. 89% of their students registered online to make sales. In 2019, they sold just over $6,000 online. With three days left, their 2020 web sales have more than doubled.
  • Georgia Primary School: 2019 internet sales were slightly less than $8,000. Their 2020 sales are almost $13,000.
  • Rural Georgia Elementary School: 600 enrolled (500 in person and 100 virtual). 2019 online sales were almost $6,200. In 2020 their internet orders improved to almost $10,000.

Internet sales are strong so far. It will be interesting to see how the brochure sales look once processed. If this small sampling is any sign, groups will experience record sales in 2020.

Improved Online Selling Tools

Enhancements in technology and the web provide new opportunities to sell online. It used to be that online sales made up a small percentage of the total sales. But that trend has changed as most are now comfortable buying items online.

Many schools are leveraging this technology and are reaping the rewards. Even small schools benefit—for example, another private school of 150 students raised over $5,000 online alone.

Learn how to leverage your online store

Convincing Slow Adapter Schools

Schools that haven't sold much online are now forced to make some changes. Fortunately, the learning curve is not that steep. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Students can invite friends and family to shop online nationwide, not just locally.
  • Products ordered online are shipped directly to the customer.
  • Online sales offer instantaneous sales tracking. Students, parents as well as the school can see real-time results.
  • Most suppliers offer free shipping if customers reach a certain order level.
  • A 'ship to school' option is even available for buyers who don't want to pay to ship a product to their homes.
  • Schools don't have to deal with deliveries.
  • Students receive prize credit for online sales (Brochure and online programs only)
  • Schools profit from each online sale.

It's up to fundraising companies to convince groups about these advantages. The industry needs to better educate schools on how to incorporate it into their sale. But the word is also spreading naturally as people are talking.

Everyone benefits from having a second revenue source, especially during these times. Schools want to be able to raise more money without having to spend any extra effort. And that's the beauty of selling online. It doesn't take anything away from brochure selling; rather, it compliments it.

How Online Fundraising Works

Schools get their own unique online access code to provide to their students. Once students register online, they can send invitations to friends and family. The access code allows the entire group to track their sales. This makes it possible for students to receive prize credit as well.

The Key to Maximizing Online School Fundraisers

Achieving success online comes down to one word. Registration. The more students you can get to register to sell online, the more money you will raise. Here are some actual results that drive home the power of registration:

Missouri High School Band

  • 2019 Registration 4% 2019 Internet Sales $364
  • 2020 Registration 79% 2020 Internet Sales $1526.50

Missouri High School Choir

  • 2019 Registration 9% 2019 Internet Sales $211.50
  • 2020 Registration 66% 2020 Internet Sales $1316.50 (sale still in process)

Nebraska High School Group

  • 2019 Registration 33% 2019 Internet Sales $799.00
  • 2020 Registration 88% 2020 Internet Sales $1265.50 (sale still in process)

Tennessee High School Group

  • 2019 Registration 0% 2019 Internet Sales $95.00
  • 2020 Registration 35% 2020 Internet Sales $3449.50

Oklahoma Elementary School

  • 2019 Registration 15% 2019 Internet Sales $4191.50
  • 2020 Registration 32% 2020 Internet Sales $10,947.00

Ideas for Online Fundraisers

If you want to know how to do fundraisers online, the key is promotion and awareness. The first step is to educate the sponsor, and the second is for the sponsor to reach their group. Here are some tips:

  • Sponsors forward our step-by-step registration information to their participants.
  • Keep reminding sellers to register throughout the sale. Here are some standard methods:
    • Make morning announcements.
    • Sending notes home.
    • If you have one, use your parent portal system.
    • Send periodic reminder messages using social media.
    • The access code is in the parent letter inside each student’s fundraising packet. Some letters even come with a scannable QR code for instant access.

If you can do both and sell in person and online, do it. But if you can't, online-only fundraising will work just fine. When it comes to school fundraisers anyway, 2020 may prove to be a good year after all.

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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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