Why Successful School Fundraisers Invest in Their Sale

Reap the rewards of properly investing in your sale

Schools need money now more than ever. We’ve been saying this for a while now. A 2016 school funding report said that the majority of states provided even less money in 2014 than in 2008. This trend still holds true as we head into the fall 2020 season. Pressure mounts as schools are having to fund more than just extracurricular activities. Either that or they’re forced to cut certain things out entirely.

School fundraisers continue to play an ever-increasing role. One survey found that 76% of schools hold up to 5 sales per year. And 20% have up to 10. Those numbers are striking and reveal one obvious conclusion. There’s too much fundraising going on in our schools.

So how do we get schools to do fewer sales? One option is to make some tough choices. There may be some things that our students will have to live without. Another solution is to start putting quality ahead of quantity. Think about it. What happens when your sale falls short?

You plan more sales until you reach your goal. Lots of fundraising also translates into more time and effort. This takes away from your group’s ultimate mission. If you’re spending all your time raising money, there’s no time left for what really matters. What if you instead put more effort into your first fundraiser?

It really comes down to this. Choose your poison. Put all your effort into one sale to make it a success is one option. Or you can choose to put minimal effort into several campaigns. If you choose the former, you’re giving it everything you have. No holds barred. But the advantage with this strategy is once you’re done, hopefully your fundraising is too.

But regardless of the outcome, it’s important to stay committed to only having one. Your students as well as your parents will respect you for it. Plus, next year you may get even more people to participate. They'll understand that you’re giving them one chance to raise money for necessities. Our goal is to convince you to choose the ‘one fundraiser option’. Not only will it save you time in the long run but your community will be relieved as well. They won’t have to see your students on their front door asking for money quite so much. Plus, extra fundraisers always have a diminishing return.

Here are some strategies that may help you achieve your goals with only one fundraiser.

Don’t Settle for Company Prizes Alone

If you’re doing a brochure sale, many companies offer a prize program. There are 2 primary reasons why:

  1. They use it as a sales hook.
  2. It helps grow the sale.

Those not as familiar with brochure fundraising might see it as a nice feature. And it is. The sponsor may have previously paid for their own incentives. There are no strings attached unless you’re being charged for the prizes.

One large company, that’s no longer in business, would discreetly add the prize cost to the school’s invoice. As schools caught on, it gave them a bad reputation. Many reps who worked for the company were ethical and informed the school up front. But some didn’t. Always make sure to clarify this with the company first.

Company prizes will help grow your sale. The appeal is to the younger students. They seem the most excited about winning these prizes. The more you sell the better they get. This encourages extra selling. But it’s not enough.

Many older students are critical of them so you have to address their needs as well. Using multiple incentive strategies ensures you’ll reach the majority of your students. Consider adding the following to supplement the company prize plan:

  • Prize drawings
  • Top seller prizes
  • Special privileges

We’ve found schools that use additional incentives almost always perform better.

Good School Fundraisers Leverage Their Prize Investments

You may be at a crossroad. Should you invest in extra prizes? If you've been experiencing lackluster sales then perhaps yes. But what if you spend the money and it doesn't help your outcome? That's what most sponsors who are sitting on the fence struggle with. It's a bit of a gamble either way.

If you've spent your own money on these prizes, make sure you get a good return on your investment. There are things you can do that can help build enthusiasm:

  • Do a presale promotional campaign on social media. This is a great way to notify parents about coming attractions. You have the opportunity to start talking about your cause, as well as your incentives. People are visual. Posting pictures of the top seller prize will help generate some enthusiasm. Or create anticipation by not revealing it but providing some exciting hints.
  • At your kickoff meeting, have your big prize featured on a table front and center. This way, students will see it as they walk into the assembly. Or, if it's still a secret, cover it up with a dark sheet. Then let the curiosity continue to build by revealing it at the end.
  • Show your prize during your sale by featuring it in your display case. If you have one, it's usually in a centralized high traffic area for all to see. Be sure to also show it off during lunch by bringing it into the cafeteria.
  • Finally, after the fundraiser is over, present the prize to the winner at an 'awards ceremony'. This also gives you the opportunity to share your results and remind people where the money is going.

TIP: The mistake that some sponsors make is waiting to purchase their prize until later. If you do this, you're missing out on some golden opportunities.

Take Advantage of Your Sales Tools

You're leaving money on the table if you don't. You may have to put in a little more work but fundraising sales tools can be well worth the time spent.

As the saying goes, you'll always get out what you put in. The nice thing about it is you don't have to forge your own path. Your company should make accessing this information simple. And the tools themselves should be easy to use. But most important, you should understand why you need to use them.

We’ve found groups that put our tools to work are usually pleased with their results.

Use Privileges Instead of Prizes

Can you actually offer prizes without spending any money? The answer is yes, and the more creative you are the better. When offering no cost incentives, it's important to understand what motivates your sellers.

For example, high school athletes may enjoy not having to run at the end of practice, or pick up equipment. As a result, you can exempt sellers who reach a certain sales goal from having to perform these tasks for the day.

One idea for elementary schools is to do periodic prize drawings. Whenever students sell 5 items they turn in a prize coupon. Announce your winners after pulling names out of the drawing box. This is also a great way to promote your fundraiser.

Here are a few special privilege ideas you can use to keep your students engaged in selling:

  • ‘Line Leader for the Day'
  • ‘Office Monitor for the Day'
  • ‘Free Dress Day Pass'
  • ‘No Homework Pass'

Properly investing in your fundraiser will help ensure that you reach your goals.

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