Turn School Fundraiser Product Returns into Big Profit

Learn how to profit from leftover school fundraising merchandise

These days most schools collect the money up front with the order. Thus, it’s rare when schools don't do a prepay brochure sale. Those that do wait to collect money until the merchandise is delivered may have a good reason for doing so. For example, they may have experienced a problem with a couple of high school students who failed to turn in their orders after collecting, and then keeping the money from their customers on a previous sale.

Or, another example is an overly zealous group orders a large order of custom school tumblers and then realizes that they ordered too many. Both groups will end up having the same problem. They’ll have to deal with leftover items.

This can cause problems, including a loss in profit, unless a plan is already in place to deal with it. Here are two methods that can be implemented whenever you have any leftover school fundraiser merchandise:

Offer Unsold Fundraiser Items at Retail

So that you can maximize your profit as much as possible, start off by first attempting to sell off the unsold items at full retail price. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Offer special incentives to your most capable and responsible students who help 'sell off’ the merchandise.
  • Get other staff or organizations involved. For their assistance, offer to return the favor, or provide a service in some way to the group.

Sell the Items at a Discounted Price

Depending on the group, you have different opportunities. For example:

High school students can:

  • Buy 2 items at their normal price and receive a 3rd item for free…
  • Buy 1 item for $10.00 and 2 for $18.00 etc.
  • Offer students a cut of the profit, say $1.00 for each item that they can sell.
  • Offer a free item to every student who sells and brings back the money for 3 or items.
  • Advertise that you are having a ‘Clearance Sale’.
  • Provide the items to another organization at the school by offering them a portion of the profit for every item sold.
  • Sell the items at wholesale (This option should be a last resort).

Elementary schools can:

  • Promote the leftover products at the next staff meeting. Teachers may help especially if you are offering special pricing. Be careful not to reduce the price too much. The goal is to make as much profit as possible without it taking too long.
  • Display the items at your next parent-teacher meeting.
  • Advertise, and if possible, display the leftover products on the morning announcements.
  • Keep dropping your price as time goes on. As a last resort you can always offer the items as teacher gifts.

By placing a relatively conservative first order up front, you’ll help prevent leftover product on the back end. You can always place additional orders. In the event of a brochure fundraiser, simply make it a pre-pay sale where money must be turned in up front with the orders forms. Most groups have found that it’s a much easier way to raise money anyway.

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