How to get more out of your sale.
There are two mistakes sponsors make when they sign up for a fundraiser with us. One, they don't offer any prize program to their students. And two, if they do, there are no extra incentives. Why is that? Perhaps they're confident they won't need them. They may feel students have bought into the cause and don't need them. Their group has enough internal motivation and drive to make sales.
For example, cheerleaders need uniforms. And they're not cheap. If mom can't simply write a check, guess what? Both will probably be choosing the school fundraiser.
A football coach hands out five discount cards to each player on Monday. He then expects them to be sold by Friday. What player will elect not to participate?
These are examples where students are intrinsically motivated. But a lot of assumptions are made. The problem is not everyone is equally inspired to get out and make sales. Some may need some external encouragement.
If you offered an incentive, would you have anything to lose? Here are some things worth considering:
- Company-offered incentives are free, so your profit percentage is not affected.
- Students see that you're offering them something and may respond accordingly.
- Incentives offer some excitement and can even make selling fun.
- Some are more externally motivated than others, so offering prizes can help.
If you haven't been pleased with your fundraising results, perhaps it's time to add incentives. But finding the right prize plan that gets results can be a challenge. Your goal is two-fold:
- Improve sales made by those who are already participating.
- Get those who don't participate off the fence.
Many sponsors don't know that fundraiser company prize programs are free. That's a big reason groups don't do them. Others don't want to bother with them. They see prizes as a nuisance and one more thing to deal with.
Yet even if you offer the free prizes, they may still not be enough to get you over the hump. This is where adding even more prizes can make the difference.
If used correctly, additional school fundraising incentives improve sales. Here are five ways you can leverage them to achieve maximum benefit:
1. Turn Your Students Into Advocates
If you're offering a top-seller prize, you will want students to discuss it. Why? Peer influence is a powerful motivator. If their friends say it's cool, they'll be more likely to want it too.
Your results can become exponential if you get your students to spread the word for you. Your goal is to create a buzz among your students. And the more they talk, the better.
Students are more likely to sell if they sense the incentive is worthwhile to others. As long as students are talking, you'll get some free advertising. And if parents get involved, it's because of their students.
2. Promote Your School Fundraiser Incentive
You can get a better return on your investment if you incorporate a promotional strategy. Keep your incentive top of mind by continuing to talk about it. You can do this by:
- Promoting it before your fundraiser kickoff meeting. This will help build anticipation.
- Announcing it at your meeting. Better yet, raise the excitement even more by showing them your big prize.
- Keep it interesting by coming up with different ways to discuss it during your sale.
- Making it visible throughout your sale. Put it in your display case for everyone to see as a reminder. Get creative by placing artwork behind them and reminding students how they can win.
- Talking about it every day during morning announcements.
- Sending occasional notes home to your parents during your sale.
- Posting a blurb and picture about it on social media.
- Making a big deal about who gets it so the next time, even more students will want to win.
3. Make Your Incentives Worth the Effort
There's nothing worse than offering something that's not all that exciting. You may as well offer nothing at all. Prizes should generate enthusiasm for selling. This will help get your sale off to a strong start and to keep the energy level high until the end.
So go all in, or not at all. Offer something unique, even if you have to spend a little more on it. You will generate more passion than if you cut corners on something mediocre. There's nothing worse than wasting your money on something that's not worth selling for.
4. Attaching Some Strings
Great things can happen to those who put in the work. This means that not everyone's going to win. This makes getting it unique and the pursuit of the prize worthwhile.
Some students may not feel it's worth the effort, and that's ok. Others may try for it at first, then give up. At least they attempted and sold more than they would have otherwise.
Be prepared for parents who don't like it because there are strings attached. For instance, students must sell at least five items to gain admission to our Big Event Magic Show. You may have parents who don't like the fact that their child won't get to go to the assembly if they don't sell.
Strong sponsors stick with the game plan and weather the complaints. They understand that their main goal is to raise money.
5. Free Incentive Ideas
Getting a return on your investment is essential, especially when you're spending money. But what if you could improve sales without using money? Even better. You can do many creative things that will impact your bottom line.
For example, you can do a prize drawing incentive using prize coupons. Everyone who sells five items gets entered. Among the special activities students can earn are:
- Lunch with the principal.
- Free Dress Day
- No Homework Pass
- Line Leader
- Library Pass
You can even make your privileges unique based on your school's circumstances.
Putting the extra work into promoting your sale will help ensure its success. To top it off, you may not need to do any more school fundraising for the rest of the school year.
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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.