Why High School Fundraisers Need Unique Products

Help high school students compete in a crowded market

The product fundraising industry generates $3.3 billion each year. And of that, schools profit $1.4 billion. A good majority of the profits come from items like candy bars, gift items and cookie dough.

It’s a crowded and competitive market that’s dominated for the most part by elementary schools. With lots of these students out selling, smaller high school groups may find it a challenge. Especially if they’re trying to sell the same thing.

It's even more difficult with the amount of high school fundraisers already on campus. This doesn’t even factor in middle schools or other types of groups competing for sales.

The reason so many groups are selling the popular products is they’re effective. But there’s definitely a saturation point. When do these types of sales have a diminishing return? Just because the group down the street experienced great results doesn’t mean yours will. Unless you’re the first group out there, selling the same product may be a lot more difficult.

So how can your high school group compete and reach your goals? Chances are, there’s a limit on the number of fundraisers your administration will let you have. That means you’d better choose wisely and make your opportunity count.

Should you play it safe and sell a proven commodity like the cookie dough fundraiser? You already know what you may be up against. “I already bought that from so and so.” At the same time, people know what they’re getting. This makes it easier to sell.

Or, what about trying something different? This approach can be risky, especially if you don’t do your homework ahead of time. Jumping on the first unique fundraiser you find may not be the best approach.

You should also learn about your market and find the right price point. Finding a unique product that people end up wanting is of course your ultimate goal. Being a pioneer can be dicey though. Yet it can also pay off in spades.

Here are some things you may want to consider if you decide to take the plunge.

Previous Fundraising History

Have any other groups tried it or something similar? Either you’re already familiar with your area, or you’ll need to do some research. For example, it may have been a while since someone sold a high school tumbler. Customizable high school fundraising products also promote school pride and spirit. To name a few, eager customers include teachers, coaches, and the office staff.

Then again, this type of product is not consumable. If it’s been sold within the last 2 years or so, many still have their current tumbler. Yet if you’re a new school or are considering a mascot redesign, a tumbler fundraiser might work well.

Overcoming Buyer Preference

Is it easier to make a sale if you’re a younger or older student? Think about it. Some will say people prefer buying from that sweet little kindergartner. With their youthful and innocent enthusiasm, who can resist?

One exception is if they already know the older student. Part of the problem though is the introduction. Most sponsors don’t train their high school students on how to properly approach people. Body language, what you say, and how you say it are important. We coach our sponsors on an easy method they can pass onto their students. It’s called the NOW Selling Method.

  • N = Name. Tell people who you are. Introduce yourself.
  • O = Organization. Let people know who you represent.
  • W = Why. What you’re raising money for.

This seems simple, and it is. That’s the beauty of it. It’s easy for high school students to incorporate. This can go a long way, regardless of what product you’re selling. And of course it can help if they’re offering something different from what everyone else has.

Regardless, what can help is starting your sale before the school down the street.

Conquering the High School Student Mindset

High school students already know. Competing with younger eager students selling the same product can be discouraging. But, if they're selling something that stands out, they are more apt to believe that they can get the sale.

If you can, avoid the large seasonal shopper. Most elementary schools are already selling it.

Helpful Tips for High School Fundraisers

Before your students leave your kickoff meeting, make sure they know their product. When you pass out the brochure, highlight a few and review the features and benefits. Ask them to think about who may be interested in specific items.

Consider a brochure with fewer offerings. This makes it easier highlight products they want to feature when showing it to others. These brochures are usually themed with one type of item. Ideas to consider include candles, cheese and sausage, or even discount cards.

High school students are not like their younger siblings. You have to come up with creative ways that will help them stand out. One way to do that is to give them something unique to sell.

Check out 3 Powerful High School Fundraising Ideas for 2020.

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