Why School Fundraising Sales Tracking is Essential

How to monitor your sale and experience success

Is fundraising a sprint or a marathon? This is actually a trick question. It’s actually a combination of both. Think about a long distance runner who’s training for a 10k race. If they want to improve their time, they do what’s called interval training. Otherwise known as speed work. The idea is to do several short sprints with slower recovery intervals. This ultimately makes you a faster runner.

But how do you know you’re getting maximum benefit? The key is how much rest you give yourself between sprints. This requires a stopwatch. In other words, you need accountability. If you rest too long, your benefit will be lower.

Long distance runners usually know what their 10k pace is. With speed work, experts say 400 meter intervals should be run 10% faster. 200 meters should be 12% faster and 100 meter sprints 15% quicker. This requires knowing your numbers and keeping track of your progress.

Tracking school fundraising progress is no different. A 2 week sale can seem like a marathon. But to make it effective, it needs to be broken down into shorter sprint intervals. For example, let’s say you need each member in your group to sell 25 items. If you tell them to just bring back the money in 2 weeks, you’ll get a mixture of reactions.

Some might say that 25 items is a lot and will feel a bit intimidated. They may not even get out of the starting gate. Others may begin at a sprint and burn out. The best approach is to give your students periodic measuring sticks. Otherwise known as sales progress markers.

How is this accomplished? Brochure fundraisers require regular follow up meetings with your students. Specific target goals should be communicated up front at your kickoff meeting. For example, if after 2 weeks your students need to sell 25 items, consider the following short term goals:

  • Sell 5 items after day 1
  • Be at 12 items after day 5
  • Total 18 items after day 10
  • Achieve your end goal of 25 items after day 14

This example provides a clearly spelled out path for your students to follow.

Overcome Brochure Fundraiser Limitations

But how can you know if your students are selling? This is the disadvantage of doing a brochure sale. Here's a typical scenario that happens a lot. You meet with your students and feel they understand the process and seem eager to get started. You remind them to turn in their order forms and money envelopes at the end of the sale.

Then it hits. You discover that only about 15% of your students turn in their order form. And worse, most of those only had a couple of items sold. What happened? Your initial optimism quickly morphs to a feeling of frustration and disappointment. Your euphoric high is a distant memory.

Could you have prevented this from happening? If only you had known sooner that most of your students were off to a slow start. You might have been able to turn things around before it was too late. A lot can happen between the kickoff and the end of the sale.

Larger groups, like elementary schools are somewhat limited. But there are still things they can do. If you happen to sponsor a smaller group you have even more latitude.

Once students know their short term goals, arrange actual check in meetings. Explain at your kickoff meeting that sellers will need to bring their order forms. To prevent them from just writing down names, ask them to also have their money envelopes as well.

Once you've documented each order form, put the information in a tracking sheet. This way both you and your students know where they stand. Tracking your fundraiser in this way creates accountability while building confidence. Students receive feedback on their progress as they chip away at the end goal.

Why Track your School Fundraising Progress?

It's a little more work for you but there are huge benefits to tracking the progress of your sale. Here are just a few:

  • Students are held accountable to keep up with their selling.
  • Early detection of a slow start allows you to make needed adjustments before it’s too late.
  • Students know you're serious about helping them reach their goal.
  • Tracking orders can be motivational and make selling competitive.
  • You can use fun school fundraising incentives that coincide with your check in days.

The Advantage to Online Fundraisers

School fundraising during the pandemic has created some interesting challenges. Virtual roadblocks such as not being able to meet in person as a group has been difficult for some. But with no order forms or money to have to collect, we’ve seen a 3-fold increase in the number of virtual sales.

There are pros and cons. One advantage is the ease of use of the sales platform and increase in potential customer reach.

A disadvantage is getting students to actually use it. Virtual fundraising can be very impersonal. This makes it especially important that you stay in touch and check on your student’s progress. Even if it's over Zoom.

And another plus to online fundraisers is everyone can see sales progress immediately. Because transactions update in real-time, both you and your students receive immediate feedback.

Time is a priceless resource. Why not put everything into making your next school fundraiser a success? After all, once it’s over there’s no turning back the clock.

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