1. Plan out a year-long fundraising strategy during the summer, before the first day of school. Know which kind of fundraisers you are going to run and when. Also know how much you need to raise during the school year, and figure out if the fundraisers you’re going to run have a chance of realistically reaching that goal. If you don’t have an organized plan, you risk alienating your audience if you spring random fundraiser after random fundraiser.
2. Stick with your plan. Once you’ve solidified your year-long fundraising plan, make sure you stick to it. You’ll lose all credibility if you’re always changing your mind and switching things around. Parents won’t want to participate in your events if you have a reputation of disorganization and poor planning.
3. Use all the resources you have available to you to help make up your year-long fundraising plan- namely the teachers and principal of the school. Ask them what has worked best in the past.
4. Be creative in the fundraisers you choose, but not too over-the-top. People don’t want to do the same thing year in and year out, but they also don’t want to throw their money away on something totally unproven or just plain weird. It always helps to do a little survey of a mix of parents and teachers to get their opinion before you get too deep into a project.
5. Shoot for high-profits! When it comes to selecting a fundraising company to work with, make sure you keep all earning percentages on products as high as you can. I would suggest shooting for 70% to 80%. Absolutely do not accept any deal where your school only gets 50% or less. You will greatly frustrate the school parents if you send the majority of their money to somebody else.
6. Don’t get depressed that so few parents want to participate in a particular fundraiser. Volunteerism is a challenge anywhere. Approach it as a sales job. You’ll have to sell parents on the value of the fundraiser, before you should expect them to give you their time. Also, seek out service groups in your community that have volunteers looking for opportunities to serve, such as senior citizen groups or the National Honor Society.
7. Follow up after the fundraiser is over and tell everyone how you did. This will give people a sense of closure and prove you did with the money what you said you were going to do. Don’t leave people hanging. I personally hate being asked to donate my time and money and never hear how the event turned out. It happens all the time.
8. Don’t just raise money for “the general fund”. No one gets excited about “the general fund”. Put a name on every single fundraiser, something people will get excited about. You’ll have to get creative, but people are more likely to get behind a specific cause than something so nebulous. The closer you can tie a fundraiser to something directly related to the student’s academic success, the greater the chance that you’ll raise a lot of money.
9. Be consistent over the very long school year. If you launch a soup label drive in September, don’t fizzle out with it by Thanksgiving break. It takes time for those little suckers to add up. Keep pushing it all year long with monthly contests and reminders. It might be a good idea to rotate volunteers to oversee your collection drives, since new people bring new enthusiasm. Keep it going!
Photo by: Brett Jordan