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Why Student Prize Programs Fall Short

By Clay Boggess on Apr 7, 2011
Why Student Prize Programs Fall Short

Reasons to rethink your prize program

Anyone who’s ever experienced a kickoff assembly can tell you how excited students get once they see the prizes. Their first reaction is usually one of optimism and anticipation.

Yet the discouragement usually doesn’t set in until after students start selling and realize how many items they have to sell to win the more worthwhile prizes. Most fundraising companies offer poor quality prizes at the lower prize levels so they focus instead on the better prizes at the kickoff.

Students learn quickly that in order to win the bigger and more worthwhile prizes, they have to do a lot of selling. Once they realize that, they often become discouraged. Most end up selling very little, if anything at all.

This is one reason many school fundraisers experience low participation rates which negatively affect overall sales. Here are some additional reasons why many people feel that student prize programs fall short:

Parents are Tired of the same Prize Programs

Many parents don't look forward to seeing the student packet come out of their child’s backpack. They dread it even more once they see how excited their children are about the prizes. They then have to explain how difficult it will be to sell all of those items in order to win the prizes they really want. The alternative is to sell a few items and win a cheap, junky prize which parents know they can get at the dollar store. Parents often justify it by saying they're helping their child’s school while giving them a chance to get something so they won’t feel left out.

Older Students aren't participating in Fundraisers

Seller apathy is the main reason most school fundraising campaigns experience low student participation. A big reason is the older students stop participating because they know what to expect. They are the ones who are drowned out by the excitement of the younger students at the kickoff assembly. These students don’t need to be told by their parents that the better prizes will be too hard to work for because they already know that from past experience.

Prize Quality is a Disappointment to many Students

Most students who sell will qualify for the first couple of prize levels. Once these students get their hands on the prizes they become discouraged by the quality. The prizes don’t work like they expect them to and even break after a short time period. Even some of the better prizes, that require a lot more selling, can be disappointing. Students who win stereos, for example, find the sound quality very poor. As a result many students end up not selling as much, or not at all the following year.

The question is, why do groups continue to select these types of student prize programs to motivate their students to sell? What has your experience been with your school’s incentive program?

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