Keeping Fundraisers Fresh
Sports, field trips, musical concerts, classroom activities, etc. all require funds and at some point, parents of school-age children get burned out on fundraisers. So do grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors. With children being involved in multiple extracurricular activities, often more than one at the same time, children often shut themselves down and stop participating in fundraising activities altogether. In order to prevent this from happening, and to keep the necessary funds rolling in, money-making activities need to remain fresh each year instead of repeating the same sales over and over, year after year, or worse, activity after activity.
One essential element to any fundraiser is a top-notch group of volunteers. Most importantly, rotate volunteers for each fundraiser so that individuals don’t lose steam or get frustrated or have their personal schedules overtaxed. Seeing different faces occasionally may also inspire new volunteers to step up more frequently to willingly help a particular program. It is also important to designate who are leaders and who are workers per fundraising event. Not everyone can be in charge all the time. The same person will not always have the best idea for managing, motivating and organizing every money-making opportunity and, by limiting resources in this manner, a group could potentially be missing out on beneficial skills another volunteer possesses. Teamwork from parents and volunteers will trickle down and be seen by the children for whom funds are being raised, and they will be more willing to participate in their own fundraising events.
Thinking Outside the Box
No student should feel excluded from a fundraiser. This is not about selling pizza or candles or candy bars, as has become popular with school fundraisers. This is about thinking outside the box to generate money for groups and teams which will maximize participation from team or group members. Golf ball drops, silent auctions, spaghetti dinners, car washes, gym sales, tag days, windshield washing and rent-a-kid are fundraisers that involve team or group members and the general public. Putting the kids into neighborhoods to sell tickets, rake leaves, cook and serve dinners, collect and sell donated goods in a gymnasium or perform other such duties puts them in the public eye while teaching them to earn money for their own programs.
In an age of instant gratification, it is becoming increasingly difficult to motivate students to earn fundraising money. Two to four weeks before the fundraiser, notify students and parents of the upcoming event so they can begin to prepare. Preparation should include creating a fundraising thermometer, whether a one-day or longer term fundraiser, so that progress can be seen by students throughout the duration of the event. Schedule a kickoff assembly the day the fundraiser begins to motivate everyone and confirm they understand the ultimate goal. For long-term fundraisers, keep parents and students updated with status so the fundraiser stays fresh in everyone’s minds. With social media outlets literally at our fingertips, it is easy to spread the word to out of town family and friends of group fundraising efforts. These constant updates also keep students accountable for their hard work, especially if leaderboards can be utilized for individuals or teams. Recognition throughout the fundraiser can increase ongoing participation and motivation. Perhaps a group party can be held once the goal is reached or exceeded. At the conclusion of the fundraiser, update students, parents, volunteers, teachers and the community of the total amount raised and thank everyone for their generous donations of money and time toward your good cause.
Clear communication will be the most important tool for any fundraiser to succeed. Participants must understand the goal, purpose, timeline, target audience and individual responsibilities. Marketing, scheduling, budget, venue, set-up and sales are vital. Invite the public to participate, make them feel welcome during the event and thank them for their support to ensure they will support your cause in the future. When sending out thank-you notes, do not omit donors, volunteers, venue owners, media outlets, school officials or anyone else who played a role in the success of your fundraiser.