How to get the most out of your catalog fundraiser
Everyone’s focused on the fundraising catalog. It’s as if it’s going to sell itself. Make no mistake, having a good brochure can help. However, this article is going to prove that it’s much better to have a good sales plan behind the brochure than to have a good brochure without one.
The other day we replied to a question from a high school student who was in charge of finding a fundraiser for their senior class. They were looking to raise money for their senior trip which was going to take place in two years. Like many people, he wanted to know which sales catalog performed the best. He wanted to know which one would raise his group the most amount of money.
In our response, we took a different approach. Instead of offering information on our top selling catalogs, we asked if his group had discussed things like setting fundraiser goals and planning how they would motivate their fellow students to go out and make sales. And of course, we explained why these things were important to his group’s success.
Questions to consider when developing fundraising strategies
Too many fundraising groups are focused on what products they should sell, and instead should be more concerned about how they can make their sale a real success. In other words, fundraising brochures alone don't make groups money. Here’s what we told him in more detail:
Have a Group Fundraiser Goal
First, determine how much money you need. Hopefully you’re not just raising money just to have money in the coffer. This is vital because you'll need to use this information to determine how many brochure items each student needs to sell.
In our example, since their senior trip was 2 years away, We told him that his group could actually do several sales and set more conservative goals for each one. Over time, the money brought in would add up. And who knows, they might even be able to do something really special.
Learn 5 steps to achieving your fundraising goals
Have a Kickoff Meeting
This is where the foundation is laid. Don’t just have people come by your office to pick up their fundraising information. Have a formal kickoff meeting with your group. After all, your sale is worth it. This is where you’ll have a chance to discuss the purpose and goals of your fundraiser and really motivate your students to sell.
It's important that everyone understands what they're committing to and that they work towards the goal as a team. Make sure they know how long they have to accomplish their goal as well. We recommend 2 full weeks to sell and collect the money.
Learn how to plan a great school fundraiser kickoff
Track Your Catalog Sale
We also shared with him that it would be vital for his sponsor to meet with his group on a regular basis throughout the sale. This would be important for accountability to ensure that everyone was staying on track towards reaching their selling objectives.
Tracking the sale is also important because it gives groups a barometer on how close they are to their goal. It allows them to make in-sale adjustments if, and when necessary.
Use Fundraising Incentives
How motivated do you want your students to be? As a sponsor, are you willing to also provide additional incentives, or will you only use the prize program offered by the fundraising company because it’s easier? Believe it or not, this is probably more important than the catalog itself. Even if a prize program is provided, additional incentives should always be a part of any program that wants to maximize sales results.
Set a Limit on the Selling Time
More selling time does not necessarily translate into more sales. Limit the selling to a specific time period. We suggest 2 full weeks. This will help create a sense of urgency in every student’s mind because there will be a starting point as well as a finish line.
We concluded our conversation with this student by then giving him advise on fundraiser catalogs based on his specific area and needs.
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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.