How sales monitoring can revive your fundraiser.
Wouldn't it be great if fundraising were easy? Many are under the assumption that the way to significant profits is by finding the perfect product. If only we could find something our community could rally around. Word would spread, and people would knock on your door instead of the other way around.
In reality, successful school fundraisers involve several moving parts. A lot is involved, from deciding how to raise money to design an effective marketing plan. Tracking wouldn't make a list if we asked sponsors for their five most important sales tools.
So why should it be on your top 5 list? Most experts will tell you tracking sales progress is foundational to your success. Without it, you don't have a compass. Hopefully, you've established a purpose and know how much money you need to raise. This becomes your goal. Now the only question is, how are you going to get there?
Many will argue that you can't track the progress of a brochure fundraiser. You give your students their catalogs and tell them to sell them. All you can do is collect whatever orders and money they can get. You either reach your goal, or you don't. You can only hope and pray that it goes well enough. At least, that's what you're led to believe.
There's no way around it. Fundraising is hard work. Unfortunately, nothing is available to make achieving your goal more accessible. Companies promise easy profits, but they're selling you an oxymoron. There's no denying it. You may have a great sales brochure. Your students might even embrace the cause. These are all good things that will translate into more sales. But by themselves, these ingredients aren't enough.
You'll have to do more if you don't want to be "that sponsor" who's discouraged because they didn't reach their goal. You need to keep track of how your students are progressing. This creates more work for you but can also give you peace of mind. If you do it right, in the end, it should be worth the time and energy.
So why is tracking your fundraiser so important?
Improved Sales Accountability
Tracking your progress makes you twice as likely to reach your goals. Knowing that someone's measuring you instinctively pushes you to do more.
We encourage high school sponsors to check student order forms throughout their sales.
Students are told there will be three times that they'll need to show their progress. On these days, students present their order forms and money envelopes. The sponsor then enters the number of items sold into our tracking sheet.
Our tracker does the calculations and determines how well students are doing. This gives you instant feedback. You also have the opportunity to either praise or encourage more selling as needed. Knowing in advance you're monitoring fundraiser progress will encourage students to keep up.
How to Tracking Your Fundraiser
The tracker breaks your sale into three smaller check-in days based on your goal. Here's an example. Let's say you've determined your students need to sell ten items to reach your group goal. Your check-in day goals might look like this:
- 1st day after kickoff: Sell 3 items.
- Halfway point: Sell 4 more and reach 7 items.
- Turn in day: Make another 3 sales and achieve 10 item goal.
Checking order forms the day after your kickoff creates a sense of urgency in the minds of your sellers. You're not wasting any time. It's essential to do this because most sales happen within the first 3-4 days. Be sure also to have them show you their money collection envelopes. This will ensure they're also collecting money with the orders.
Start with a Baseline
Where are you now, and where do you want to be? This is the first step. It's 'ground zero'. You have to understand the present if you want to get to the future. Without it, you won't have anything to measure.
Let your students know what's lacking and the purpose of your fundraiser. This is your 'why'.
Feedback Is Motivational
As you progress, you experience improvement. Tracking progress helps students see they're on track and working towards their end goal. Breaking the sale down into steps allows for little victories along the way. This also allows you to praise your students.
Make Adjustments as Needed
Instead of operating blind, monitoring sales allows you to make course corrections. For example, some students may not be keeping up. This allows you to offer specific advice and encouragement.
It's always better to know that you need to improve and still do something about it. Otherwise, you may find out too late that you fell short of your goal.
Extra Tips for School Fundraisers
You can enhance the effectiveness of your check-in days by:
- Since you're checking order forms, remind your students the day before. This reminds them that they'll need to be ready.
- Entering student sales data on the spot. This communicates a powerful message. They'll understand that their results matter and are being recorded.
- Encourage each student to keep working. Each check-in tells them they're making progress. And the end goal just became a little more obtainable.
Your check-in days are also an excellent opportunity to add incentives. The money game is a hands-on way to reinforce your check-in days. This works very well with high school students, making selling fun and competitive.
Successful sponsors always seem to rise when it's time to work hard and seize an opportunity. Knowing that you're working on a successful sale will help give you peace of mind.
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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.