How to prepare your order forms for processing.
You can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. The selling is complete, and your students have just finished turning in their order forms and money collection envelopes. What's next?
Now it's time to prepare your order to be mailed off for processing. The better you organize your order forms, the easier the fundraising company handles them. This, in turn, can also make your delivery go smoother.
For example, if you take the time to label your teacher's envelopes, it'll be easier to sort your boxes because they'll have both the students and the teacher's names. Here's what you'll want to do:
Count and Secure Your Money
Arrange for extra help to count your money. Hopefully, you're going to need it. Find a quiet and secure location and start by ensuring the money matches what's reported on the order forms. Once you're done, secure it by depositing it into your group's bank account. Accepting checks lets you know if they've cleared relatively quickly.
Deal with Fundraising Order Discrepancies
Some companies provide a report that shows any discrepancies for you; however, it's a good idea to have already addressed this before mailing in your order. If you find any orders that don't match up, you can send home notices or make phone calls to inform people what they need to do. You'll need to collect additional money on short-paid order forms; otherwise, it'll cut your profit. Unpaid items still get processed just like paid items do.
You can collect outstanding money before mailing off your order forms or wait to collect money after delivery. If you attempt to collect before mailing, you risk having your order held up; however, collecting afterward can also be challenging. Some sponsors will cross out an unpaid order. Regardless, make sure to let people know what your policy is in advance. This way, people will understand the consequences and maybe more diligent about turning in their money.
Handle Bounced Checks
If your bank has notified you of any bounced checks, you can send notices home with your sellers or contact your parents directly. Some sponsors let everyone know up front that they'll pass on any returned check fees from the bank.
Prepare Your Order Forms
We recommend waiting an additional week after your order forms are due before mailing them. This gives you time to collect late orders. You'll then be able to send everything together instead of dealing with separate late-order shipments. Make sure not to announce your plan for handling late orders until after the due date. Otherwise, people will wait the extra week to turn in their orders, and you'll be a week behind.
Separate your order forms by the teacher. Most order forms can then be separated so you can keep a copy for your records. The company should provide a copy inside each student's box and their merchandise.
You may have teacher envelopes for your order forms, so place each teacher's name and room number or grade on the outside. If you don't have envelopes, paperclip them and put the information on sticky notes.
Once you've separated the order forms, place them in a box and mail them to the company. Some companies provide a postage-paid mailing box.
What You May Not Know
- Some sponsors add their orders and place the totals at the bottom of each order form. This will help you verify the orders; however, it's unnecessary because companies process orders based on the item numbers.
- It's not necessary to verify that the correct prize code number is placed on the order form unless you're using a 'pick a prize' program. The company determines what prizes should be awarded based on the number of items reported on the order form.
- For students who turn in more than one order form, make sure and staple the company copies together before mailing. Do the same for your copies as well.
- Some companies have the school or group data enter their orders. They attempt to sell this as a benefit; however, it only creates more work for you. All you should have to do is send in your order forms once you've counted your money.
Remember, your company can only process your fundraising order in the manner that you send it to them, so make sure you do an excellent job of organizing it beforehand.
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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.