What you really should be asking
Every school sponsor that is in the process of searching for fundraising ideas have preconceived notions of what they think will make their sale successful. Everyone’s quest is unique. Some may have heard about the amazing results that another group tried in their area after selling a particular product.
As a result, they want to determine if it might be a good fit for their school. Still others may be at a point where their sale has grown stagnant and they want something new.
Schools usually fit into 1 of 2 categories. They’re either content with what they have and don’t want to change to keep things as simple and easy as possible, or they want to change because they aren’t satisfied.
Some who sponsor school fundraisers prefer to get the selection process over with before school lets out for summer. This way, it’s done and they don’t have to worry about it once the busyness of fall hits. One less thing to have to plan.
More common with schools that rely on ancillary groups like PTAs and PTOs, are to decide once they’ve gathered an adequate amount of information during summer conferences. These groups usually make their choice in the late summer, but before school starts as well.
Still the majority won’t decide until they’re forced to think about it. These sponsors wait until after school starts to decide on a fundraiser. Regardless, we expect lots of inquiries from people who call in at the beginning of the school year.
If you’re in the latter two categories, you may be asking some questions about what type of sale will give you the best results. To be honest, there are many questions that schools should be asking but don’t. There are some hidden gems that can make a real difference that many groups don’t even think about.
One good way to know if you’re asking the right questions is to jump on relevant online fundraising forums to see what others are asking. One that we recommend is PTO Today. Simply type your question into the search bar.
According to our experience though, there are 2 that sponsors typically ask the most:
1. What’s Your Top Selling Brochure?
We’ll get right to the point on this one. The brochure that will sell the most is the one that you believe in the most. When asked which brochure is our biggest seller, that’s what we tell people. When all is said and done, it won’t matter what we say, even if we told you which brochure historically has the highest overall sales. Every group is different and has unique circumstances.
Some catalog fundraisers work well in some areas, but don’t in others. And there are a variety of reasons for that. But if you’re excited about your choice, then you have a greater chance of succeeding. Why? Because you’ll be more inclined to promote it. The enthusiasm starts with you and will permeate through to your students, parents, and beyond.
Still another question to ask is, “How do others feel about it?” Have you done your homework by conducting a product survey with your parents and school staff? You may be surprised with what you find out. You should feel confident that you’ve found a brochure that a good majority of people will embrace.
2. How Much is Our Fundraiser Profit?
This is probably the most overrated question in fundraising. When we get asked this question, the first thing that comes to mind is a sponsor that wants ‘something for nothing’. Yet on the surface, this appears like a legitimate question. Why shouldn’t you be fighting for every piece of the pie? This seems logical enough.
However, what this question implies is that you’re more focused on making an additional profit off of the sales that you’re already bringing in, rather than finding innovative ways to make more sales.
Would you rather make 50% of $5,000 or 40% of $10,000? You do the math.
Sponsors feel that negotiating a higher profit percentage is going to be their best way to success. What we’ve found is that sponsors that rely on percent profit tend to be more complacent. We’ve found these schools to not be as attentive to the more important things, like selecting a better incentive plan and incorporating a strong promotional strategy.
Plus, fundraising companies are smart. Schools that end up getting a higher profit percentage are most likely giving something else up that they may not even realize. For example, they may have to settle for the standard prize program instead of one designed to increase student participation.
Keep in mind, no one takes profit percent to the bank, they take money. It’s always more important to focus on improving gross sales than on what percent profit you can get.
When all is said and done, what do you think will make your school fundraiser successful?