Brochure Fundraising: Will it Work for Our School?

Discover if a brochure fundraiser is right for your school by evaluating the pros and cons of some popular options

When it comes to raising money, there are several things to consider. For instance, should you do your own in-house program, like a carnival, or work with an outside company?

No matter what type of fundraiser you may be considering for your school, they all have advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the goal is to choose one that has the most upside and least downside as possible. Once you determine this, the money will follow.

Some schools will hear about how well another school did with a particular in school event or brochure fundraising sale and use that for the basis of their own decision. The problem is, there may be some differences that may cause for the campaign to not go as well for them.

Determining the best possible way for your school to raise money is an important process that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Schools need to understand things like demographics, how money needs to be collected and the type of product that people might ultimately respond to.

So how do you know if a catalog sale is right, or wrong for your school?

Types of School Fundraisers

For simplicity sake, let’s assume that schools can choose between doing their own inhouse fundraising event, or working with an outside company.

Fundraising Events

2 classic examples of ‘DIY’ fundraising are the school carnival and auction. Often times these are combined into one event.

Carnivals are seen by many as a great way to get the families together for some fun and interaction. Tickets can be purchased in advance for a discount, and then additional money can be raised through the various activities inside. Many schools are successful raising additional revenue by incorporating a silent auction.

Other examples might plan a dinner where people are charged a certain fee to attend. Bringing in a guest speak can also serve to add value and draw in a larger audience. Some schools might also incorporate a dance.

Products and Services

Companies typically specialize in offering products for schools to sell and make a profit off of the retail amount. Brochure fundraising and selling products direct is probably the most common method employed by schools. In 2014, AFRDS, trade association devoted exclusively to the product fundraising industry, reported that schools and non-profits netted nearly $1.4 billion.

However, schools don’t have to sell a physical product when working with an outside company. Fundraisers that incorporate companies can take on many different forms. Here are just a few examples:

  • Scrip Fundraising – Schools purchase gift certificates from popular retailers at a discount in exchange for guaranteed customers and goodwill advertising.
  • Read-a-thons – A way to raise money by getting people to support students who spend a few weeks focused on reading.
  • Jog-a-thons – Students collect pledges from people per lap and then money is collected based upon how far they go.
  • Online Donations – Companies like Fundly offer online money raising platforms to schools in exchange for a fee.

There are many other ways that schools can raise money, like working to obtain grants from agencies, foundations or corporations. Some schools are fortunate enough to have individual donors.

Should You Consider a Brochure Fundraiser Company?

One advantage that these companies offer is convenience. Most of the preparation and promotional legwork is done for you. The fundraiser company already has systems in place that can be easily integrated. Of course, schools pay for this, but not after they’ve raised the money.

These companies typically offer 2 ways to raise money. One is to have students and parents show a sales brochure to friends and family. The school then submits the orders to the company for processing and deposits the money. This is referred to as the order taker method. In this case, payment to the company is usually made after the merchandise is received by the school.

Learn 3 ways to find the perfect school fundraising brochure

Some catalog companies also make their products available for purchase on their website. Schools usually submit a purchase order. As opposed to showing items in a catalog, sellers show the actual products to potential buyers. This is known as ‘direct selling’ or ‘point of sale purchasing’ because the seller exchanges the product for money in a single transaction.

There are pros and cons to each method so let’s look at both:

Brochure Fundraising

Pros:

  • Buyers usually have a larger selection of items to choose from.
  • Schools are invoiced for items that have already been preordered and paid for.
  • Payment is due to the company after the orders and money has been collected.
  • Most companies offer free prizes to motivate group members to sell.
  • Merchandise delivers to the school prepacked by seller.

Cons:

  • Sellers don’t have the actual product in their hands to show potential buyers.
  • Many people feel that the items in the typical catalog are overpriced compared to what they actually receive.
  • Sellers must visit their customers twice; once to take the order, and a second time to deliver the items.

Point of Sale Fundraisers

Advantages:

  • People get to see the item before they pay for it.
  • Single-visit transaction. Hand over the item and collect the money.
  • Students can sell many lower-priced items, like beef jerky, to their peers.

Disadvantages:

  • Potential leftover product due to ordering too much up front.
  • Occasionally schools report that money is not returned by the seller after the product has been distributed for making sales.

Determining the best possible fundraiser for your school may not be easy; however considering the pros and cons of the various options can help you make the right choice in the end.

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