How to choose the best fundraiser for your school
There are limitless ways to raise money. If you have fundraising experience you may be looking for new ideas. And if you’re a new sponsor, you may not know where to start. You can have an event, like a walkathon, auction, or carnival. These are great ways to bring your community together. They’re fun, engaging, and help build camaraderie. But many don’t like the amount of work needed to set them up.
When it comes to choosing school fundraisers, the bottom line is getting a good ‘bang for the buck’. Before deciding how you’re going to raise money it’s important to establish your need. This takes listening to your parents and community. Have you done your homework? Are you aware of what’s lacking? If it’s not obvious, do a survey. You may be surprised by what you learn.
It’s important to follow up with your parents once you’ve collected your data. Schedule a meeting to report your findings and then get people to commit to taking action.
But how do you put these ideas to work? Before you can move forward you need to get your school community to buy into your cause. There’s a ‘way’ to raise money but there’s also the ‘why’. Your ‘why’ needs to be compelling.
If you’re fundraising to replenish the general fund, you won’t get much interest. You need to be more specific. This will make your cause tangible. For example, the P.E. teacher has expressed a need for new equipment. Or the librarian may be looking for better ways to teach information literacy.
So when you do your survey, include a question about needs. But instead of an open-ended question, consider a multiple choice option. Ask people to choose between 2 to 3 things.
Yet, probably most important is to sell the benefit. With new playground equipment, students will have an improved and safer experience.
Have you noticed? We still haven’t answered the question about the ‘how’. Many sponsor’s have this in reverse order. They discover a cool product that they think will work. Then they give it to their students to go out and sell. This makes gaining support more difficult. Parents are often blindsided and students aren’t prepared to provide a reason for the sale.
Once you’ve gained support for your cause, it’s time to decide how you plan to fundraise. The the results of your survey come back. Parents are more interested in selling a product than having an event.
As it turns out, they’re not alone. Schools and non-profits end up selling a lot of products. In fact, they raise $1.7 billion each year selling popular consumer-based items. And 8 out of 10 people end up supporting these types of sales.
Your next step is to choose the product. Questions are sure to come up. Should you sell a product or take orders for it first? If you choose a brochure, will the items sell? Will your prize program persuade your students? Would a different product bring in more money?
These are important questions to think about. You need your fundraiser to resonate. Especially because you’re limited to a certain number of sales. Plus, it’s important not to oversaturate your community or burn out your parents. You have one shot to pick the best possible product that will get you to your goal. So what do you do? Here are some things that should go into your selection process.
Items in a typical brochure range from about $8 to $60, or even more. Although this may work well for many groups, some schools may need to offer less expensive items. Maybe your area will do better with less expensive products. Consider quick, impulse buy products like peanut-free candy bars or lollipops. They're popular, inexpensive, and easy to sell.
Nearby School Fundraisers
What are other groups selling in your area? You’ll want to avoid selling the same items as another competing group. Otherwise, try to sell your product first. You may even be competing with groups at the same school. Make plans to reserve your sale as early as possible. This should protect you from a group that’s attempting to sell something similar at the same time.
Do We Need a Change?
Sometimes it’s important to mix things up a little. It’s nice when people are looking to buy a specific item each year from a certain group. For example, a high school band may hold an annual wreath sale. But occasionally selling something different can be refreshing. This is especially true if your sales are sluggish or worse, in a decline. You can always go back to it again at some later point.
Motivating Your Group
What types of incentives are you offering your group? Are you only focusing on the students or also the parents? Many students are unsatisfied with the prizes offered by fundraising companies. Most students end up with the cheap prizes after only selling a few items. What do your parents think?
It’s important that everyone feels they have a chance to win a prize. Offering prizes to the top 3 sellers is good, but many students may feel left out. Consider multiple ways that students can win.
The best way to improve school fundraisers is to first establish your ‘why’. Then determine the ‘how’. This will give you the proper foundation needed to achieve ultimate success.