Raise money for your child's school with these fundraiser ideas
We're lucky in America to have public schooling for our children, but unfortunately, tax dollars are often not enough to ensure a top-notch education. Schools and school boards often cannot afford all the extras that can make the difference between simply learning the basics and sparking a life-long love of discovering the world. For this reason, school fundraisers have become an important annual or semi-annual event.
Whatever school activities your child is involved in, a fundraiser can bring in money for supplies, equipment, field trips and quality teachers. It also teaches children about taking responsibility and initiative, and the rewards of working toward a common goal.
However, with a steady stream of children hawking chocolate-covered almonds at every turn, many people no longer contribute to these campaigns. We've all guiltily avoided making eye contact, or hurriedly said, "No thanks, not today," leaving young salespeople frustrated and school coffers empty.
Whether your child attends public or private school, preschool or college, the choice of fundraiser may make the difference. Themes range from the ever-popular cookie dough fundraiser to unusual ideas like a golf fundraiser. Other fundraiser ideas include a soap fundraiser, a Tupperware fundraiser, a coffee fundraiser or a magazine fundraiser.
Choosing something that people genuinely want to buy, and that they haven't already bought from another neighbor kid, is the key to a successful fundraiser. The product you sell should be something that people probably don't already have or that they can always use more of.
Schools commonly use two types of fundraising drives, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Think carefully about your young salespeople and your financial status before deciding on one:
- Direct sell: The most common type of direct-sell campaign is the familiar candy bar fundraiser. Each child receives a box of candy bars to sell directly to their customers. Direct selling is simpler, but the school usually has to pay for the product up front and then return unsold items for a refund.
- Pre sell: The children use brochures to collect orders and money from their customers. The school then places one bulk order and the children deliver the products when they arrive. This allows for a much greater selection of products, but it requires a lot more administration and follow-through.
There are many companies that specialize in organizing school fundraisers. Be sure to ask these questions before selecting a fundraising company to partner with:
- Does the company have experience with groups like yours (size, ages, goals)?
- Does it provide all necessary materials for free (order forms, brochures)?
- When is payment due (before or after you receive the product)?
- What is the profit you can expect to make (usually 40 to 90 percent of the price)?
Finally, keep these tips in mind when planning your fundraiser:
- Limit the number of fundraisers you hold. One a year is enough for most schools. Otherwise, parents and neighbors will get tired of buying.
- Find out what neighboring schools and other groups are selling so that you don't compete with them.
- Build enthusiasm in your sales force with assemblies, announcements and maybe prizes.
- Advertise your fundraiser in the community through posters and word-of-mouth.
- Set firm goals and deadlines to keep things organized.
- Enlist as many volunteers as you can to help out.
- Stay safe. Discourage children from selling door-to-door. Have them make a list of friends, family and neighbors they know well, and encourage them to sell only to these people.
When you launch your fundraiser campaign, be sure to keep track of your efforts with our handy online fundraising thermometer. Good luck!