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Extremely Sucessful School Fundraising Techniques

Aug 17, 2007
Many communities are setting up school fundraisers to augment budget shortfalls and finance various school programs, including marginalized schemes and those deemed impossible. Some institutions pursue fundraising to support the construction of new facilities or the renovation of current ones. Fundraisers also aim to support the varsity or academic competition with other schools. Despite the many noble goals behind fundraising, they remain secondary to the main purpose of schools: education remains an integrated effort involving learning students, supporting parents and teachers.

1. Ensuring the Success of a Fundraiser

Goals, financial targets and schedules must be clearly set when planning a fundraising program. A start and close date must be established, with copies of the timetable printed and distributed to all participants. Extending the fundraising beyond two weeks should be discouraged, as it could eventually be counter-productive. An adequate number of volunteers must also be available to manage the fundraiser.

- Organizers should make the community aware of the fundraiser
- Participants can be requested to name friends, family and relatives who are likely to support the activity
- Organizers must also be very clear with the target audience
- Campaign should be tailored to catch the attention of the nearby population
- Put up posters, community postings, and print parent-teacher letters to promote the activity
- Kick off your fundraiser with an event or rally
- Offer a prize to the top performer to encourage competition and spur higher profits (if your fundraiser involves selling)

2. Learn From The Pros

Schools should also learn from the experience of veteran fundraisers and tap them accordingly. Such help would enable institutions to take immediate action to correct any error that may emerge in the course of the campaign. At the end of the fundraising, officials leading the effort should collect all monetary gains, related order forms and tabulate the results. Order forms and any related documents must also be kept for possible tax questions.

School officials must impose fundraising restrictions. The absence of regulation would exhaust resources and volunteers and minimize potential gains from fundraisers. Ideally, the principal must impose strict guidelines before approving any activity - as an example, limiting fundraising to one per semester will better promote enthusiasm and reduce the likelihood of burnout.

3. Be Aware Of Your Competition

The school administration must be aware if their counterparts in the community that are also selling the same products to avoid competition. Basic knowledge of the fundraising strategy in other institutions will help organizers work to make the school's own campaign unique.

No matter how enthusiastic volunteers are, they are also subject to fatigue and therefore should be rotated. Multiple fundraisers in a single year for the same teachers and parents is not ideal - schools must have a core group whose members rotate to make sure that fundraising will always have fresh and energetic volunteers.

4. Safety of Students during Fundraising

Children must be prevented from making door-to-door sales or approaching strangers during the activity to avoid compromising their safety. One way this could be done is by involving family, neighbors and friends to ensure that all contacts would involve people who are known to participants. Students should also be reminded by organizers to follow all given rules for the fundraising. Parental approval of all individuals expected to be approached for support will also help. Parents are also expected to clamor that all fundraising efforts be limited to daytime. The buddy system is also ideal for children seeking funding support. Safety is greatly enhanced if one of the partners is an adult, particularly during collections. As a precaution, only minimal amounts of cash should be carried by students at any given time.

5. A Wide Variety of Fundraising Options

Different schools and colleges have adopted different programs to generate desired funding. Food is a traditional option, with several institutions having enjoyed success using

- Cheesecakes
- Pastries
- Cookie dough
- Baked products
- Gourmet coffee
- Nuts and sweets
- Non-consumable items such as candles and branded bottles

Some schools have had success with discount shopping cards and prepaid phone cards as the key items in their campaigns. These are available from several willing stores and retail chains, fast-food restaurants and similar shops and can even be customized to show the institution's logo and name. A tie-up with commercial establishments such as Target, Wal-Mart, AT&T and other companies gives a school immediate name recall and would make the fundraiser appeal to regular patrons of those businesses.
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