One thing to think about when collecting money upfront
There was a time when schools collected money after the merchandise was delivered to their customers. Post collect sales initially looked good on paper because it was easier to get people to preorder without having to collect the money. The problem was actually chasing down the money afterwards. This was difficult because people often change their minds and decide that they didn’t want the product after all.
What also happened was people who moved away couldn't be located. As a result, schools had to deal with lots of returns.
Most fundraising companies were good about taking back returns; however schools were out the profit for those items. What made matters worse was that many schools had to collect money for months after their sale was over.
Prepay Fundraisers are Easier
The concept of prepay fundraisers evolved out of practicality. It was simply easier for schools to have the order forms and the money in their hands before their order was processed.
The One Advantage to a Post-pay Fundraiser
Yet there are still groups that collect money after they've received their merchandise. We recently worked with a smaller high school group that shared with us their reasons for collecting money afterwards. They preferred not to do a prepay sale because of some bad experiences and complaints they received from people in their community about dishonest students. These students would sell items and collect the money, but never turning in their order forms. Therefore, some people never receive the items they had paid for.
It comes down to Educating the Buyer
Fortunately, these are isolated incidents; however tracking down violators can sometimes be difficult unless people are able to identify these students. Customers can avoid this problem by only paying in cash to students they know and can follow up with. They shouldn't give cash to students they don’t know. All checks should be made payable to the student’s organization. If a student tells you otherwise, don’t buy from them.
Like anything else, there are some disadvantages to prepay fundraisers. However, the test of time has shown that the pros far outweigh the cons.