A guide to script fundraisers for schools.
Script is a term that is used for the substitution of legal tender such as currency. Since its inception in the late 1980s, script fundraising has had its ups and downs. The idea is to move people away from going out and making sales.
People instead purchase gift cards that can be used at places they ordinarily shop at while the school makes a small profit. So they don’t have to change their behavior other than using the gift card instead of their credit card.
Cards are purchased by the consumer at face value from the school, which in turn makes a profit because the school buys them from a script fundraising company wholesale.
This sounds good on paper; however, how practical is it, and more importantly, does it work? Many public and private schools have made this work quite well, but there are things to consider before deciding if it suits your school. Here is a list of advantages and potential disadvantages to doing a script fundraiser that may help:
Advantages of Script Fundraising
- Families don’t have to sell anything to others.
- Consumers can use gift cards to make everyday purchases from stores they ordinarily shop at.
- Items can be purchased with gift cards at the same price as credit cards.
- Schools benefit when people make these everyday purchases.
- Done correctly, organizations can create a steady income stream over the school year.
Disadvantages Worth Considering
- Schools make a lower profit (2-15%).
- It works best when people can plan their purchases instead of impulsive buying.
- It requires that a substantial amount of people use the gift cards consistently for the school to benefit.
- Getting people to modify their behavior and use gift cards instead of credit cards may be difficult.
- Most script companies don’t offer an effective tracking system to keep track of gift card orders.
- Many people choose credit cards for the added benefits, like earning free airline travel, so they may be less apt to use a gift card instead.
Profits usually start low, but the money earned can be substantial if organizations can increase participation over time. In other words, how effective the program becomes depends on the number of families that the organization can sign up for and how religiously they use the script program. For example, an organization of 150 families can easily spend upwards of a million dollars a year on food. This can translate into $40,000 for the organization without people having to spend more than they ordinarily would.
The key is finding ways to convince people to use the program over time. Unfortunately, breaking old spending habits can be difficult. Once the program builds up over time, and you have a couple of experienced people to run and manage the orders, script fundraising can work quite well.
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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.