School fundraisers can reach the next level with insights from experts
When school fundraising time rolls around again, slim budgets and limited time are sure to call for some resource savvy. In the nonprofit and for-profit sectors alike, “best practices” is buzzword on everyone’s lips right now. Typically, a group’s “best practices” will carry a lot of weight within an organization, because they’re methods or protocols that get the desired results.
Businesses and special interest organizations have found that sharing these best practices are a powerful way to engage audiences and meet new users. This means that fundraising groups have more access than ever to top-level insights about team-building, leadership and what does and doesn’t work when it comes to fundraising.
Big Fundraising Ideas has compiled and reviewed a list of our 10 favorite fundraising blogs and resource hubs to provide you and your team with a powerful toolkit of ideas and—yes—best practices to save you time and help you meet your fundraising goals.
Before you get going on your search for fundraising inspiration, it’s worth noting that integrating ideas into your school fundraising program can be tricky. You’ll find that some translate easily into your community’s goals and culture, while others are far more “built for business.” When checking out these awesome blogs and resources, use the following checklist:
For this idea, should I:
- Reuse: Take it as you found it! It’s a great fundraising, leadership or communications tactic that aligns with your goals and will help you campaign.
- Reject: Nope, no way, no how. This just doesn’t feel right. Toss it.
- Redeem: With a little bit of tweaking, this could be a real asset to our approach.
As a disclaimer, some of these sites sell their own products and fundraising training solutions. We are not offering any review or endorsement of these products, and are only recommending the free tips and resources for your inspiration. Let these guideposts inform your thinking, and help you filter through hundreds of great tips for leading an amazing school fundraiser.
GIFT: Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training
A good blog and a good acronym are hard to find, but GIFT has both. GIFT is something of a one-stop shop for small nonprofits and grassroots fundraising groups. Their blog and website covers lots of topics, ranging from training and consulting to webinars and classifieds. For your purposes, the fundraising category of their blog speaks to topics like donor retention, donor appreciation and even data.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the density of information; much of this information is meant for nonprofit organizations building donor portfolios, rather than products-based fundraising. Nevertheless, many of the donor-relations principles can be reused seamlessly in your school fundraising program. One of the best things about GIFT is that it is focused on audiences with few resources and small overhead, and school product fundraisers share many qualities with grassroots organizations. They emphasize the importance of getting to know your donors (or, in your case, customers) and building relationships for sustainable growth.
Since Big Fundraising Ideas is based in Texas, it’d be poor manners not to share some amazing fundraising insights from an Austinian neighbor, Amber Cooney. Cooney’s credentials are impressive, as is her experience. Having worked on a breadth of nonprofit and philanthropy projects, Cooney surfaces the common-sense issues of fundraising in a modern context that even the fundraising program novice will understand. Moreover, she’s taken the unique approach to incorporating her expert insights on fundraising and marketing and weaving them in as part of her personal blog.
So, while you’re exploring topics like “Finding the Perfect Fundraising Fit for your Team” you can also see her adventures in Austin, her latest foodie find and brush up on some millennial marketing skills. Cooney’s blog is great for the fundraising hobbyist—that rare breed who isn’t afraid of the almighty “ask” and who seeks out opportunities to support local fundraising opportunities. It’s trendiness and relevance can inspire some hip ideas to make take your school fundraising idea to the next level.
Since Cooney’s insights come a professional background, some of her ideas will require a bit of scaling to make them applicable for the best school fundraising practices.
Parents of elementary and middle school aged children will fall in love with Challenge4Kids, a program devoted to developing leadership skills in children based on principles from Dale Carnegie (“How to Win Friends and Influence People”). As a formal program, Challenge4Kids offers a video based course for schools in the Mid-Atlantic, but their site offers quite a few free resources that are perfect for school fundraisers.
C4K integrates a fundraising component into their program, and offers a handful of short and simple blogs that highlight the character-building benefits of fundraising. While this site is great for some fundraising basics, it has practical parenting tips to spur conversations about gratitude and hard work. It also discusses the intangible gifts that a school fundraising program can offer children.
The insights you’ll gain from C4K add a layer of richness to the fundraising experience and what it can teach children, offering a source of inspiration for parents, teachers and faculty members at any stage of your school fundraising program.
For the tech-savvy, millennial fundraiser, there are endless “content hubs” out there where you can get all the latest and greatest in digital fundraising tactics and strategies. The reality, however, is that school fundraisers and product fundraising programs rarely cross paths with technology when you get down to brass tacks.
SalsaLabs is a software company, so don’t be intimidated by the sophisticated suggestions that you’ll come across in their well written strategy blogs. Instead, approach this and other “giving platform” blogs with a “redeem” lens, asking how you can possibly use their mapping techniques and questions in a way that works in a school setting with your product fundraising solution.
School fundraising brainstorming is a great time to consult blogs like Classy and SalsaLabs, because even though their business is complex, their content is expert and their suggestions are grounded in principles that translate across nearly all philanthropic borders.
Start your exploration with 22 Strategies to Take Your Fundraising To The Next Level, and get a crash course in the best questions to ask before, during and after your fundraiser.
Big Fundraising Ideas
School fundraising is our favorite thing. This year, we’ve made it a goal to provide our customers and potential clients with thoughtful tips, strategies and approaches to leading their best school fundraiser ever. With years of experience and millions of dollars raised for schools over the past two decades, we wanted to share our best practices, too.
Big Fundraising Ideas blog has long-form articles with practical tips and applications that translate the heady knowledge of nonprofit experts into practical steps you can implement in your school fundraising campaigns. Offering incredible products and amazing prize programs, Big Fundraising Ideas also wants to equip you with the best tools and resources to help you make this the best year yet for your school.
Nonprofit Tech For Good
Anyone working at a nonprofit, or at least one that actively fundraises, probably gets news from Nonprofit Tech for Good delivered to their inbox. Beyond being created by subject matter experts, the NTFG folks take the guesswork out of looking at macro-level giving trends and deliver it in an easily digestible format, usually with infographics.
NTFG is tried and true by industry experts. Their slant is online giving and fundraising techniques, but many of their blogs and infographics provide contextual information about approaches to communicating with donors and selling your mission. Plus, for those of you who are taking our advice to develop a data-driven fundraiser, you have a rich and relevant resource for current giving trends.
School fundraisers can benefit from NTFG by looking at the creative ways that they communicate need and connect with donors. You can also find robust resources on integrating social media if that happens to fit your school or neighborhood’s culture.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a crowdblog—a blog that is nothing but a collection of guest writers sharing their own insights and experiences in a single area. Crowdblogs, like 101Fundraising, offer perspectives from expert fundraisers around the globe, tackling virtually every topic you can imagine.
Their posts range from specific tactical approaches to the big questions that weigh on every mom’s mind when kicking off a school fundraiser. And, remember when we mentioned that transparency and sharing best practices is changing the game for grassroots fundraisers? 101Fundraising is proof of that all on its own. With voices like Dan Pallotta, you’re getting first-hand knowledge from some of the most innovative and experienced fundraisers out there.
Additionally, the topical nature of these blogs tends toward the “1,000-foot view” of fundraising. Rather than getting into the weeds with things like Facebook metrics or donor retention rates, you get to read perspectives on questions like: What Is Fundraising Success?
A Mom’s Guide to School Fundraising
As school fundraising sponsors, you may have noticed that the mom-blog has been a site on the rise in recent years, offering moms (and dads) a digest of parenting tips, local happenings and creative ways to save money and entertain kids. Sarah Barrett took it a step further, and personalized a mom blog for school fundraising. While she has a set of her own products and evaluation tools, Barrett’s perspective may well be very close to your own: a bit disenchanted with past school fundraising, a bit unsure of how to proceed, and quite in need of some fresh ideas.
Check out some Barrett’s posts on her school fundraising blog. She tackles some topics we may not always like to discuss, such as “The Trouble with Ideas People” and “The Guilt and Judgment of a Mom.”
If you’ve ever felt bad for being the “parent who doesn’t do enough” or gotten frustrated with everyone sharing a thought and nobody lifting a finger, this blog is for you. Sarah Barrett’s relatable voice will cut through some of the noise and give a no-nonsense perspective on what it’s like to run a school fundraising program.
These last two blogs bring it back home to what school fundraising is all about: meeting the need, and building character in our students. We’re confident in the quality and usability of our products and programs, and we know that our clients have access to incredible resources here and across the web. But at the end of the day, it’s all about what these fundraisers are doing to make life better for children in building character and improving the quality of their education. These blogs offer perspectives that help your fundraising remain rooted in what matters.
This is an extremely user-friendly site offering content targeted to your child’s phase of life. These blog topics get to the heart of what matters as a parent. Check out their categories on gratitude (a topic especially worth discussing during school fundraisers), inspiration (for the parent who needs a little boost during fundraising season), and mindful parenting (to keep it all in balance when there’s too much going on).
Explore Aha! Parenting at your leisure, allowing it to be an escape from the frenetic pace of getting the kids to school and getting them around the neighborhood to sell products, all while feeding, bathing and getting homework done on time. Easy, right?
Education Week is a well-known and well-respected publication. It keeps a pulse on the state of the education sector, offering parents and teachers a glimpse at some of the systemic issues and innovative solutions across the country.
For school fundraisers, EdWeek offers a blog with a whole category dedicated to politics and policy that can keep you in the know. Since many education policy issues often relate to funding, having this knowledge in your back pocket when working with your child to sell products or with you school to develop a fundraising program can lead to inspiring and informative conversations with you community, and add value to your product sell.
If you haven’t explored our blog yet, be sure to do so, and let us know what you’d like to hear about by contacting us.