5 proven school fundraiser ideas to implement before your next sale
There’s not a group in existence that initially intends to fail at fundraising; yet most fall short of their financial goals. Why does this happen?
We all have our own preconceived ideas about what we think will help us succeed. Some are definitely valid and can be backed up with circumstantial evidence, but there are many potentially false notions that should be reevaluated.
Every sponsor wants to realize a successful school fundraiser, but many just don’t recognize the important steps that it takes to achieve that.
For instance, it’s vital that sponsors determine the amount of money they need up front, and then calculate how much each student in the group needs to sell. Sam Ashe-Edmonds, who writes for one of the largest newspapers in the United States, the Houston Chronicle, makes an important point about this. In his article, “What Are the Most Important Goals of a Fundraising Coordinator?”, he states that goal setting is one of the most important functions.
The first question after establishing your need should be, “How much is it going to cost?” Many schools just want to “raise as much money as they can” so they can have available money in the general fund. It should be apparent but you won’t realize your full earnings potential with this approach.
Instead you should focus on building the foundation of your sale and promotional efforts around a specific predetermined money goal. Being able to determine how much money you’ll need to raise then allows you to establish a baseline for your success. The next step is to have strategies in place that will help you reach your sales objectives, like a tracking and accountability system.
Here are 5 easy to implement steps that you’ll want to incorporate into your sale that will help you achieve your school fundraiser objectives:
1. Determine Your Why
Raising money and then determining how you'll spend it later is a backwards approach. Some schools will wait to see how much they raise and then decide where they’ll spend the earnings. This is never a good idea because you will come across as indecisive and noncommittal.
We’ve already touched on this. It seems so basic and obvious but why are you having a sale? Everyone who’s going to become involved in some way should know the answer. Your “why” will become the engine that drives your eventual fundraising success.
As a result, every student needs to understand the importance of why they’re working towards a specific purpose or goal.
2. Calculate Your School Fundraiser Goal
Once you have a purpose, how much is it going to cost? Will your financial need be accomplished with one campaign, or will it take multiple sales? Knowing how much money you will need to raise and then communicating it to your students as well as your community from day one will add credibility to your cause.
Once you’ve established how much money you need to raise, you can go on any of our brochure or product pages and determine how many items each student will need to sell by entering your numbers into our ‘Calculate Your Profit’ tool.
Learn how to achieve your school fundraising goal
3. Set an Individual Seller Objective
Selling is optional but it should be expected if you want to succeed. Even if you tell everyone to “just do your best”, what does that mean?
Your students and parents need to know what’s expected of them. It’s therefore important that you determine their fundraiser goal. This way, they'll know how much they need to sell to help your group reach its objective.
We place what we call a ‘fair share goal’ in our parent letters that go out to every school group that we work with.
4. Meet with Your Students
If you don’t make a big deal about your cause, no one else will either. In order for your fundraiser to have a chance to thrive, your students need to be unified and feel that they are working together from the beginning.
Your kickoff meeting is where you drive a stake into the ground and establish your fundraising foundation. Everything starts here. Your students will need direction and motivation so tell them what you expect them to accomplish and by when.
5. Keep Your Students Motivated
For some groups this is harder to do than for others. Having a meeting to kick off your sale is great, but it’s even better if you can periodically get together with your students during your fundraiser as well.
This will give you the opportunity to check in with them on their progress and make sure they’re on track towards their end goals. This is where ‘check in day goals’ can come into play. If you’re a high school group, you can even incorporate additional incentives into your meetings. This is where we recommend our Money Fundraiser Incentive Game.
Sponsors that are able to keep their students actively engaged during the sale will usually end up experiencing better results.
Knowing what it will take to succeed and then acting on it is key. There is no substitute for proper planning and hard work. If you put the required effort into your sale up front, it will most likely pay off for you in the end. You may even be lucky enough to not have to have a second sale.
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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.