Learn 3 no-cost practical ways to jumpstart your high school fundraiser and turn it into a big success
Elementary school students can become excited over the simplest things. They’re easy to please. You can convince them by simply showing them a few prizes that they can win and they’re ready to go sell to the world. High school students, not so much. They’re a bit more of a challenge. “What’s in it for me?”, is probably the first thing that comes to mind. They need to know the ‘why’. Older students are not so easy or forgiving. They often appear skeptical, and worse, are simply disinterested.
When you think about it, the younger student also needs a ‘why’. Their ‘why’ is having an opportunity to win a prize. So why can’t you simply do the same thing for a high school fundraiser? Well, you probably could, but the prizes would most likely need to be very expensive, so you return on your investment would probably be in jeopardy.
Students who are ‘easy to please’ don’t need much motivation, so winning an off-brand prize won’t break the bank. The right prize can motivate almost anyone to go out and make sales, no matter how old the student. However, that’s not realistic. So we’re probably going to need to approach the high school student a bit differently.
The good news is that there are ways to inspire older students to get out and sell without having to spend any money. And they can be just as productive as their younger peers. It’s just a matter of understanding their unique characteristics and what their hot buttons are.
Here are 3 easy ways that we’ve found that can lead to very profitable high school fundraisers:
1. Take the Time to Plan a Fundraiser Meeting
High school groups that experience the highest participation rates become sold on the purpose. And sponsors need the time to sell it. Some are content to simply wait for their students to drop by and pick up their sales materials. Others will hand out the sales catalogs at the end of class, or after practice, and tell their students to bring back any money they happen to collect at the end. These approaches are definitely not recommended.
If you want your sale to succeed, you'll need to commit to a scheduled fundraiser kickoff meeting with your students. You’ll need to develop a plan that will convince them to become involved. A good place to begin is to simply ask yourself, “Why should they participate?” For starters, they’ll need to know how many items you expect them to sell and how much time they have.
To do this, you need a block of time, and everyone’s attention. In addition, you have the opportunity to establish unity with everyone together at the same time. Accountability can become a natural biproduct because everyone will leave the room with the same expectations.
Don’t think you have to offer the world to high school students in order to get them to participation in your fundraiser. It’s not ‘all or nothing’. Give your students more credit. They just need to be convinced, that’s all.
See our Starting a Fundraiser section for more information on how to properly kick off any grade school group.
2. Consistently Meet with your Sellers
Elementary school sponsors can easily be lulled to sleep with complacency after witnessing a high level of enthusiasm at their kickoff assembly. Unfortunately, most sponsors, regardless of group age, feel the kickoff meeting is enough. Granted, some groups have logistical challenges, making periodic meetings difficult.
This begs the question, “How much ongoing accountability and motivation is enough?” No one, if they’re being truly honest, will be able to answer that. However, we’ve found that it's well worth the time and effort to occasionally check in with your students on their progress, while at the same time reaffirming your objectives.
This strategy does a couple of things. First, it’s reinforces the importance of the fundraiser to your sellers. Second, regular meetings with your students will send a strong message of accountability. For some groups, you’ll need to continue to remind your students when and where the meetings will take place.
3. Offer Additional Sales Motivators
If sponsors want a productive high school fundraiser, they’ll want to incorporate what we call additional incentives. And the key is to offer them during your sale while they can have an impact on the outcome. If students know they have a chance to walk away with a prize 2 days from now, whether it be receiving a special group privilege or even cash, they’re going to work harder. One program that works very well with high school groups is our money game.
We understand that most high school groups have little to know money to start. So get creative. You don’t need to give away cash, or even prizes. Instead, you can provide special privileges that you know will motivate your group to sell. For example, baseball players who sell a certain number of items by Tuesday don’t have to do sprints at the end of practice.
There are probably several unique ways that you can motivate your specific group that will help keep them focused on selling.
Like with anything else, sponsors who put the necessary time and energy into their sale, will usually reap what they sow.