Here is an interesting article that we came across on the issue of school fundraising. The title of the article is http://schoolsdatabase.org.uk/lets-fix-school-fundraising-0/ . There was another piece I came across, written by Jim Berigan, “The Top Ten Fund raising Resolutions” (reprinted below from http://topschoolfundraisers.com/ ), where Jim recommends putting together several best practices into one coordinated plan –
- Institute an Opt-out Fundraising Option Many parents would greatly appreciate the option of just writing the school, or even the school district, one check per year that would cover all of the fundraisers they would be asked to participate in during the course of the year. You might even get people to donate who have been avoiding doing so, just because they didn’t want to sell cookie dough or wrapping paper. As an extra bonus for you, if you put a passive fundraising campaign in place, you might even get these opt-out families giving more than they had pledged in their check. You actually win twice! Click here for more information on the opt-out option for your school.
- Develop more personal relationships in the school Whether you are the school principal, administrator, or a member of the parent-teacher organization, you are always in need of more and better volunteers. Parents of your students are employed in virtually every field you could imagine, and with the right amount of relationship-building, their expertise and experience could be very beneficial to the school. Don’t ignore the treasure trove of opportunities that is right under your nose every day. But, you’ll never know what you have to work with, if you don’t get to know more people. Get out there and mingle!
- Tell the school’s story better and more often In my opinion, fundraising needs to be 365 day operation. Even if you don’t have an active event or sale going on at the moment, you should be doing things that put your school in a better position to raise money when you do go active. Some examples of this would be to decorate your school with photos of past and current students, old time artifacts such as t-shirts or pennants, large printed versions of your mission statement, if you have one, and awesome bulletin boards that are updated regularly. All of these kinds of touches around your school, help people identify with the institution more personally and may result in a greater willingness on their part to donate money or services. Click here to read an example of perhaps the worst-run fundraiser I encountered all year that broke all of the rules, and not in a good way!
- Send out an email-based newsletter to all school families with an email address Email broadcast services, like Constant Contact, are affordable and easy to use. They are also easy to update. So many people are connected to email many times per day, that it only makes sense now to communicate in this fashion. I know that, personally, with four children- all coming home with stacks of papers each day- I would greatly welcome an electronic version of the newsletter that can stay neatly in my inbox until I no longer need it. By offering this kind of communication, you are able to develop a deeper level of involvement with parents who might never see the printed version. I’m thinking of fathers who don’t normally see a school newsletter, who would get the email version at work and quickly read it. If you do this, you’ve expanded your audience. That can only help for any activity you plan.
- Institute a passive fundraising program at school We, as school leaders, need to be sensitive to the feelings of parents regarding fundraising. Whether it’s turning kids into salesmen that bothers them or a tough economy makes it more difficult to give, we need to take into account the situations families find themselves in today and respond accordingly. Of course, we can’t just give up. Our school budgets are desperate for infusions of capital. But, we can be smarter than we have been in the past. We can implement passive fundraising tools, such as recycling drives, online magazine sales, auctions, garage sales, and the kind. For more ideas on passive fundraising, please click here.
- Eliminate low-participation, low income fundraisers, and replace them with higher percentage, more popular events If we want people to participate in our fundraising events, we have to make sure they are the very best products, events, and activities. Fortunately, we have the Internet to help guide us. There are so many online resources available that can give you fresh ideas to try at your school. You can find testimonials from other schools as to how certain events worked or didn’t work. I would also recommend that you survey your families to see what they like and don’t like. Listen to your people. Lastly, evaluate the percentage of your profit from each activity. If you aren’t making at least 50% on a product sale, for instance, you should be concerned that you do not have a good deal.
- Work with your school district to develop a district-wide fundraising plan that doesn’t bombard parents or repeat fundraisers One things that drives parents absolutely nuts is being hit by multiple fundraisers at the same time- especially if the fundraisers are all from the school district. I admitted on my blog that earlier this year, my four children had eight fundraisers in a thirty day period! And since these all occurred in late September, early October, which is perhaps the busiest time of year for families with kids, I decided to blow them all off. And, I know for a fact, that I wasn’t the only parent who did this. My selfish thought was that if schools within the same district can’t get their act together on something as simple as a unified fundraising calendar, they don’t deserve my support. Before you just “decide” you need a fundraiser, check with the other schools in your town first. Many parents need time and space to prepare to donate money. Resolve to be considerate of your families with multiple children in your district.
- Study the various fundraisers in your city/town and coordinate a plan, so there are no conflicts
This may be a little more challenging than what I mentioned in the previous paragraph, but the concept is the same. Many families have kids in extra-curricular activities like Cub Scouts, gymnastics, hockey, swimming, or whatever. Many of these groups hold fundraisers as well. They might not think to coordinate their efforts with the schools, so you need to think of it for them. Remember, you are planning your fundraiser for a very important reason. If parents don’t participate because they are being asked from too many groups at one time, that is your fault.
- If you don’t have a school carnival, plan your first one School carnivals are a very popular way to raise money and build school spirit at the same time. The term “school carnival” is easily the highest ranked search item on the Top School Fundraisers blog. This is because school carnivals work.
- Make a serious attempt to increase the level of school spirit Just like the item in which I encouraged you to tell your school’s story better and more often, raising the level of school spirit can have a direct impact on how well your fundraising efforts go. Quite simply, if you have students and parents who have caught the school spirit fever, they will be more likely to want to raise funds for you. And if you get people wanting to help, you are over half way to success.
The four fundamental questions that I would ask the school administrator as a parent in the school would be:
- Are these fund raisers valuable to a parent or are they something that the parent can live without?
- Are these fundraisers a resource hog on the school?
- Is the pay back from the fund raisers worth the time, effort and money put into it?
- Is the pay back for the parents’ short term or long term?
Its time for a reality check.