A complete marketing guide to successful school fundraising
From seasoned PTA fundraising professionals to fresh-faced fundraising newcomers, every school fundraising team can get a little tangled up when marketing their campaign. This can be especially frustrating considering how important the marketing process is to a fundraiser’s success as it ensures that all the right people are alerted to, educated about, and motivated to support your fundraiser.
Whether you’re trying to totally revamp your team’s approach to campaign marketing or you just want to add a bit of pizzazz to your current plan, we’ve got you covered. Check out these five easy yet effective school fundraising best practices to start marketing your campaigns like a pro:
- Take a multichannel marketing approach.
- Market your fundraiser before, during, and after the campaign.
- Use prizes, merchandise, and other incentives.
- Get your entire community involved!
- Pick fun, engaging, and rewarding fundraising ideas.
Ready to host your best school fundraiser yet? Let’s dive into some of the top marketing strategies that your fundraising team can start implementing today!
Take a multichannel marketing approach.
Multichannel marketing is just a fancy way of referring to the practice of using multiple marketing channels—from bulletin board flyers to Instagram—to market your fundraiser. While there’s something charming about taping up posters for your fundraiser in the hallways, if you really want to reach as many people as possible then you’ll have to diversify your marketing strategy.
Be sure to pay attention to the following channels in particular as you consider the different kinds of messages you’ll use to reach your target audience:
- Hard-copy materials. Posters, flyers, and physical marketing materials are a timeless part of school fundraising that can add a more personal touch to your campaign. Hang them up in the halls or pass out copies for students to take home to share with their families.
- Social media. With students endlessly scrolling through Instagram and TikTok and parents taking to Facebook, these digital spaces have become incredibly valuable marketing tools in the fundraising world.
- Your school website. Your website is the first place your supporters will look when they want to know more about your school’s events, programs, and opportunities. This makes it absolutely essential to leverage your website (one of your most valuable engagement tools!) to market your school fundraiser.
- Email. Your emailing lists are probably filled with parents, PTA members, current students, alumni, and local community members—the perfect target audiences for your school fundraiser! Send them messages about your campaign and provide them with information about and links to ways they can get involved.
Some school fundraising programs you can partner with may even come with multichannel marketing tools readily available, such as flyers for you to pin up or even integrated digital marketing and sharing tools. When partnering with a pre-built fundraising program, ask them about their marketing services to learn what support or tools they offer.
Market your fundraiser before, during, and after the campaign.
One of the most common mistakes made by school fundraising teams is that they stop marketing their campaign once the event, program, or session begins. They think that once the big day of their fundraiser arrives, then it’s too late to keep building support for their campaign—everyone that will support their fundraiser is already on board.
But in reality, the day or days of your actual fundraiser are some of the most important times to organize last-minute support and maintain your fundraiser’s momentum.
Additionally, be sure to leverage your in-person and online marketing channels after your campaign wraps up, too. Doing so can help you check each box on your follow-up process by ensuring that:
- The event sticks in participants’ (and non-participants’) minds.
- You maximize the number of post-event donations.
- You thank your supporters and staff and applaud their efforts, encouraging future support.
From sending out final campaign updates to thank-you letters to donors and volunteers, don’t forget to end your fundraiser on a high note by continuing to promote it both online and in-person until the very end!
Use prizes, merchandise, and other incentives.
While many of your supporters will be excited to turn out and participate in your fundraiser to help support their school, it doesn’t hurt to add a few extra participation incentives.
Before launching your campaign, tell your supporters all about the rewards they can earn for helping your school meet your fundraising goals. In return for your fundraiser’s volunteers’ hard work, meeting your donation goal, or achieving whatever other benchmarks you want to set, you could offer your supporters prizes:
- Complimentary campaign t-shirts, hats, or merchandise.
- Small prizes that are redeemable through an online store.
- A grand finale party or meal at the end of the campaign.
Whether you’re putting together a celebratory pizza party or printing out custom-t-shirts, keep in mind who your target audience is and consider what they would most enjoy out of these incentives.
For example, according to Bonfire’s guide to selling and making custom merch, one of the keys to successfully engaging with your target audience is to make sure that the products you give them are not only comfortable and branded to your cause, but aesthetically pleasing based on their personal tastes. In particular, your students and younger supporters will enjoy kid-sized t-shirts with louder and more colorful designs, while adults might appreciate designs that are a bit more scaled back.
If you’ve taken your supporters’ tastes into account they will not only appreciate your prizes, but talk about, use, or wear these rewards for years to come—further promoting your fundraising campaign!
Get your entire community involved!
Don’t stop at just contacting your student body and their families to promote your fundraiser. Maximize support and create a community-wide school fundraising campaign by reaching across your local community for attendees, sponsors, and even cross-promotion opportunities.
For instance, beyond just encouraging different individuals to get involved, you could also target the following groups to provide additional campaign and marketing resources:
- Neighborhood clubs and groups can provide volunteers and notify their members and neighborhoods about your campaign.
- Local businesses can not only market your fundraiser to customers, but could also sponsor the campaign in return for your own promotion of their business.
- Local media organizations can provide print and video advertisements for your fundraiser.
Once you reach out to your community members, many should be excited by the idea of getting to engage with a fun campaign that also supports an important local institution: your school. However, to guarantee as much support as possible from these community groups and organizations, be sure to pitch your fundraising partnership as mutually beneficial and highlight how you can offer them valuable cause marketing opportunities.
Pick fun, engaging, and rewarding fundraising ideas.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but one of the most important marketing strategies that you have at your disposal is your fundraiser itself. No matter what eye-catching incentives or dazzling marketing materials you use to draw attention to your campaign, the fact of the matter is that it’s incredibly difficult to drum up support for a school fundraising idea that isn’t engaging.
Luckily, there are many worthwhile fundraising ideas out there that will not only earn revenue, but also give your participants an engaging or valuable fundraising experience. For instance, consider just a handful of some of the most successful school fundraising ideas from Read-A-Thon’s 50+ inspirational elementary school fundraisers
- Read-a-thon fundraisers. This is one of the fastest-growing school fundraising ideas in the world, allowing fundraising teams to raise money while also furthering student education and supporting a love of reading.
- Cookie dough sales. A classic and simple product fundraiser, cookie dough fundraisers give your donors the chance to indulge in a sweet treat that they can share with family and friends.
- Walk-a-thons. This timeless fitness event is sure to get your community involved in a fun day of fresh air, fitness, and fundraising.
Note that while all of these school fundraisers are very different, they each have important qualities—from educational value to the promise of delicious treats—that make them enjoyable for participants.
As you narrow down what fundraising ideas would be best for your school, be sure to think beyond just money and consider what events or activities your supporters would genuinely be interested in.
Between your budgetary limitations and the difficulty of securing students’ attention, sometimes it can feel impossible to effectively market your important high school, middle school, or elementary school fundraising campaigns. However, with these powerful marketing strategies in your fundraising toolkit, you should be in a great position to find new audiences, create engaging marketing materials, and make your next school fundraiser more rewarding and successful than ever.
Good luck and happy fundraising!