How School Fundraisers Profit Without Costly Incentives

A guide to boosting sales without spending money

You get out what you put in. It takes money to make money. You reap what you sow. There’s a lot of truth to these sayings. It’s hard to argue against this philosophy.

To get better at a particular sport you have to practice. If you want to do well in school it’s important to study. Getting that promotion takes time and sacrifice. To make money requires hard work, and even more money. These are all vital and worthwhile virtues.

If you want to get your students excited about selling, you have to motivate them. And when they see something they want; they’ll do what they have to do to get it. Better prizes lead to bigger results. But big-ticket incentives aren’t in everyone’s budget.

So how do school fundraisers profit without adding prizes that every student’s going to want?

Regardless of the type of incentive, students need to understand what’s in it for them. It may be raising money to buy equipment that will help the team get better. Perhaps their goal is to win the district championship. This is intrinsic motivation. Or, it may be winning the big prize at the end. This is an example of becoming inspired to do something for external reasons.

So the question remains. How is it possible to raise more money when you don’t invest monetarily in your fundraiser?

Fundraising is no different than anything else. You just need to be willing to take full advantage of the little opportunities that others may not see. And small things combined together can add up to big results. If you’re willing to make these sacrifices you can get ahead. You can create an edge that will help you reach your goal without the fancy prizes.

Here's how you can generate free fundraising money.

Leverage Your Company Prize Program

Many fundraising companies provide complimentary prizes. Since this is ‘free money’, why not get the most out of them. Here are some ideas:

  • Post extra flyers around your school, especially high traffic areas. Add special artwork and messaging that will draw attention. Some companies offer large colorful posters which will help.
  • Start off with simple and easy goals. Early on, ask your students to sell 1-2 items. Most prize programs only require students to sell 1 item to get a prize. Getting started is the hardest part.
  • Remind students to sell a couple of items each day. Consistency always adds up in the end.
  • Engage them in the prize program by asking them to pick out their goal prize. If they need to sell 40 items to get it, that’s about 3 items per day. (Based on a 2 week sale)

School Fundraisers Need Consistent Promotion

This is free money that many schools unfortunately don’t take full advantage of. Sponsors are guilty of under-promoting their sale. Once the excitement of the kickoff has worn off, dead silence. What a shame. Especially when an effective promotional campaign doesn’t cost you any money.

Here are the ABC’s of fundraiser promotion:

  1. Hold students accountable to selling.
  2. Broadcast your sale daily.
  3. Be a cheerleader to the end.

Encourage your students to set their own personal goals. Then urge them to stay on course throughout. Be creative with your daily announcements. To do this you can:

  • Incorporate periodic prize drawings. This helps break the sale down into smaller short-term goals. Give students something to look forward to tomorrow.
  • Instead of reminding students to sell, ask them engaging questions. “How many have already sold 5 items?” “Who’s trying to win the glow in the dark soccer ball?”
  • Offer no-cost incentives that will keep your students engaged in selling. There are creative things you can do as long as you are willing to invest a little time. Here are some ideas:
    • ‘Free Dress Day’ Pass
    • ‘Extra Recess Time’ Pass
    • ‘No Homework for a Day’ Pass
    • ‘Line Leader’ for the Day
    • ‘Classroom Leader’ for the Day
    • ‘Principal for the Day’

See low-cost student incentives for your next fundraiser

Make the Most of Your Fundraising Kickoff

Real estate investors often say, “You make money upfront when you buy”. If you do well with your purchase you’ll likely make a better profit back when you sell. Schools that prepare for their fundraiser kickoff are laying the groundwork for success. They understand that this is where they need to sell their cause to their students. A good kickoff also helps establish needed sales momentum.

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Talk up your Fundraiser before the Kickoff.
  2. Have everyone at the meeting, including your teachers.
  3. Plan the right setting. PE and kickoffs during lunch are not as effective.
  4. Ask the principal to introduce you and your cause.

If you choose to invest financially into your campaign, make sure you’ve done your homework. Picking the right prize that students are talking about is key. This will help ensure a good return. But if you instead want to increase sales without spending extra money, you have options. But you'll probably need to invest your time, which can be priceless.

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