School Fundraising Blue Print for Beginners
The School Fundraising Blue Print for Beginners.
Over 50 pages of suggestions and strategies for raising more money for your school- THE RIGHT WAY!
If you are looking for “Kwik Tips” on how to sell more cookie dough, I don’t want you to buy this book.
My philosophy is to do things the old-fashioned way: volunteering, school carnivals, walk-a-thons, you know, anything that will bring people together in school spirit.
I know this is counter-intuitive in today’s busy world, but there are ways to combine the realities of your modern, daily life with the time-honored traditions that you knew as a child at your own school. It can be done!
My e-book is all about how to fuse the old and the new.
Here’s a glimpse of the first chapter:
INTRODUCTION TO “THE SCHOOL FUNDRAISING BLUE PRINT FOR BEGINNERS”
Why do I “Hate” Fundraising?
Well, there are many reasons why I have come to “hate” some of what fundraising has become. As this e-book progresses, I will share many of these reasons with you. But for this particular chapter, I want to start by asking if you’ve heard the terms “Big Tobacco” or “Big Pharma,” which refer to the large and powerful tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.
Well, I use a similar term when referring to the large and powerful fundraising companies: “Big Cookie Dough”. They may sell other products, too, like wrapping paper, scratch cards, scented candles, candy bars, and frozen pizza kits, but the King of all Fundraising Crap is definitely Cookie Dough.
My distaste for Big Cookie Dough comes from having worked as a private school administrator, having had four kids in elementary school, and from being employed by a Big Cookie Dough company for the past year. It was a very hollow experience, and one that I will not repeat.
So, it is with this background and heavy baggage that I want to introduce this very important topic:
Your Fundraising Philosophy
Without a strong belief in what you are doing, how you are doing it, and why you are doing it, you’ll just go mindlessly along from one fundraiser to another, not knowing or caring how your actions are impacting the school or the parents you are asking to donate.
To illustrate my point: I am reminded of learning to shoot pool as a kid. At first, I would aim for whichever ball was most likely to go in the pocket. I wanted instant success.
However, as I got older, I learned that I also had to consider the bigger picture of the game. Before I made a shot, I had to ask myself where my queue ball would roll after it struck its target, so that I could set up my next shot after that. Or if I missed it, I wanted to make sure the ball would end up in a bad spot for my opponent. There was a lot to think about.
I learned that pool is not a series of single, un-related shots. There has to be an over-arching strategy and a well thought-out plan that looks deep into the future.
The same is true of fundraising.
You need to take a lot more into account than just thinking about which fundraiser will make the most money for the least amount of effort in the shortest amount of time with the smallest amount of volunteers. If you employ this strategy, you may make some dollars, but you will probably alienate a lot of valuable people in the process.
So, here are some simple questions I would like you to ask yourself about the fundraising realities at your school.
1. Do your fundraisers build community spirit? (That is, while the fundraiser is going on and after it is over, is there a greater sense of camaraderie amongst the school families than when it began?)
2. Do your fundraisers bring parents together with their children for a shared experience?
3. Do your fundraisers create a sense of pride in your families for their neighborhood school?
4. Do your fundraisers give your school a positive reputation, something everybody in the community will recognize it for?
5. Does your school get to keep the vast majority of the fundraiser’s profits (90% or more), and does the money you spend to run the fundraiser (the overhead) stay in your local community?
6. Do people have fun at or during your fundraisers?
7. Do your fundraisers get people physically active and intellectually engaged?
8. When you think about your fundraiser’s participation rate, are the families participating together as a school community or individually: each man, woman, and child for him- or herself?
9. Could your fundraiser be considered a school tradition, something your children would want their own children to someday experience?
10. Do your fundraisers make people angry or frustrated by asking them to buy junk food or low quality items they don’t want or need?
11. Do you ever hear people complaining about the fundraisers your school runs? If so, what are the typical complaints?
12. Does your fundraiser seem more like a chore or more like something that’s really fun?
13. When your fundraiser is over, are people clamoring to do it again next year?
14. Overall, is all the effort you put into the fundraiser worth the amount of money you raised?
You’ll notice that I didn’t just ask questions like:
- Which fundraisers make the most money?
- Which fundraisers are the easiest to run?
- Which fundraisers require the smallest number of volunteers?
These last three questions miss the point of school fundraising entirely.
The Whole Point of School Fundraising Is…
Good school fundraising has to balance the task of generating income with the need to provide an overall positive experience for children and their families.
- If the fundraiser makes money, but is a negative (or even just a neutral) experience, it’s a bad fundraiser.
- If it’s a lot of fun, but doesn’t raise the amount that is needed (your stated goal), it’s also a bad fundraiser.
A good school fundraiser has to do both.
The Lies You Are Told
Big Cookie Dough will have you believe that raising money should be as easy as possible on the school. Let the company worry about managing inventory, shipping, and accounting. They’ll even produce the marketing material and provide the incentive prizes! Leave it all up to them!
To me, that is a very sad, very short-sighted plan for your school.
What I Believe and Why I Started Everybody Hates Fundraising
My fundraising philosophy is that learning to raise money for worthy, important causes should be part of every child’s education. If we want something in life, we have to know the right way to get it. I’m including the entire process here- from learning how to set goals, how to create and implement a solid plan, how to overcome obstacles, how to work as a team with the other volunteers, and how to put it all together for a successful event. These are all very valuable lessons in life, and they only come as a part of a home-grown fundraising plan. Big Cookie Dough can’t give you this real-life, hands-on experience.
Turning part or all of the job over to some out-of-town company for fifty cents on the dollar is a cop-out. There are so many other, better ways to raise money that are local and organic and that don’t frustrate parents like Big Cookie Dough is famous for doing.
Where Do You Stand?
So, I started this lesson by talking about philosophy and how you need to have one before you start your year-long fundraising plan.
After having read this far, where do you find yourself on this philosophical fundraising spectrum? Are you a supporter of the “Qwik & E-Z” product sale or would you prefer putting in the elbow grease required for a real, home-grown fundraising experience?
The Answer to This Question Will Determine What You Do Next.
If you would rather just contact the first fundraising company Google offers you from its search results, you should probably not buy this book, because I won’t be giving you any advice on how to “Increase your Cookie Dough Sales”. I think that’s a crock.
But, if you want to roll up your sleeves and find creative and thoughtful ways to raise the money your school needs, then you’re in the right place. Stick around. We’re glad you’re here.