Are discount cards right for your group?
Discount card fundraisers can be highly profitable and easy to execute. However, it's essential to know about the pros and cons. Unlike a catalog sale where you've collected the money before the order is placed, discount cards must be ordered upfront. If you order too many cards, you must sell the leftovers. And if you don't order enough, you'll need to order more, which may interrupt the momentum of your sale as you wait for the additional cards to come in.
So how many discount cards should you order? To answer this question, you have to know two things. First, you have to know your fundraising goal. And second, the size of your group. The amount of money you need to raise is determined by your purpose. Do you need money for a school bus to get to an event? Perhaps you need to do a cheerleader fundraiser, and you're squad needs money for new uniforms. Once you know how much money you need, you can work backward and determine how much each student needs to sell.
Even after receiving your cards, in a not-so-perfect world, you'll still need to contend with too many cards or insufficient. Some students won't sell their fair share, so others must pick up the slack. Or, if your fundraiser is a huge success, you may need to place a second order. Either way, you need to have a plan to deal with each situation.
If you're still on the fence, here are some things you may want to consider first:
Discount Card Fundraiser Advantages
- They're useful. Who doesn't want to save money? Discount cards provide savings at the stores consumers already shop at. Once potential buyers see the shops and corresponding savings on the card, the cards usually sell themselves. Plus, the cards will typically pay for themselves after the first couple of uses. There are not many fundraising products that can make that claim.
- The discounts last. Unlike any other product, discount cards can be used daily for a year. In addition, customers can benefit from any of the discounts on their cards.
- The benefit to local businesses. Any business that agrees to be on a discount card receives free advertising. They don't have to pay anything, and the potential for increased foot traffic increases. Businesses are also seen in a positive light because they're seen as supporting the cause of a nearby school fundraiser.
- Variety sells. A typical card usually offers 10-15 business discounts; however, some cards can have up to 25. This can make the card more desirable to a wide variety of people.
- They're easy to sell. Unlike many products, you're offering a single card to the customer. They can see what they're getting. This makes everything easier for both the buyer and the seller. Your delivery is hassle-free as well because the card is small and non-breakable.
- They promote your group. Because the front of your card can be customized with your group information, people in the community will find out about you. The front of your discount card can even be used to promote your team's schedule or players.
- Multiple card purchases. People often purchase more than one card for other family members or as a gift for a special occasion, like someone's birthday.
The Possible Disadvantages
- People forget to use them. As convenient as having a product the size of a credit card ready to use in your wallet, that doesn't necessarily mean it will get used. Probably the most frequent complaint we hear is that people don't remember to use their cards. Some people don't think about using the card until after the fact.
- Not everyone likes the offers. You can't please everyone. Even though your card includes some of the most popular businesses in your community, some people don't frequent them. In addition, if you're only using local vendors, people from a nearby town may not be interested in your card. This may limit your selling radius.
- Cards take time to build. Unlike your standard brochure fundraiser, discount cards take time to build. Reaching out to business owners and getting them to agree to be on your card is a process. Therefore, you won't be able to start selling right away. Building a card usually takes about five weeks.
We feel that fundraising companies that want to do it right will take the time to build exclusive cards for schools from scratch. This is an advantage. Your fundraiser will be unique. The businesses you want on your card will be exclusive to your group. On the other hand, some companies use businesses from an existing database that you may or may not want.
If a company promises to send cards immediately, this usually means that other groups in your area are selling cards with the exact offers. If you want a quality card, you'll need to plan your fundraiser.
- No returns. Because of the time invested in building a customized card for a school, companies typically don't take back unsold cards. This is why it's important to determine upfront how many cards you think your group can reasonably sell. You can always order additional cards with a short turnaround time. Any cards that come back can usually be resold fairly easily. Learn how to resell unsold discount cards.
- You are only offering one type of product. Unlike a fundraising catalog that usually offers a variety of items, either people will be interested in your card or won't.
- Discount card programs are popular. This is good, but it can also be a negative. Before committing to a discount card program, check around and ensure you'll be the only group in your area selling them. It will help if your card is exclusive; however, most people won't buy a second card if they've already bought one from somebody else.
If your group is raising money this fall and you're considering a discount card fundraiser, now is the time to start planning it.
Are you looking for more fundraising tips and advice? Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, where we share our expertise in school fundraising best practices and other helpful information.
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.