7 Tips for the Perfect Fundraiser

There are a lot of ways to make money for your school. In 2014 there were 1.4 billion Americans who donated to a nonprofit organization, and getting some of that to benefit your school is key to funding trips, special classes, and other important items your school needs. Whether you’re interested in apparel fundraising or are still mulling through general fundraising ideas, here are ten tips for how to run a school fundraiser.

  1. How to run a school fundraiser: Perfect timing. A lot of schools and classes are going to be selling fundraising t shirts or doing an individual class fundraiser this year. Seventy-one percent of parents are going to be selling to their family, friends, and co-workers. Your best chance of success comes if you either stagger your fundraiser for times when you aren’t competing with other classes or schools, or if you sell at the same time but offer something unique. No one will buy your Christmas wrapping paper if you’re the fourth Christmas wrapping paper fundraiser in late November.
  2. How to run a school fundraiser: Enough time to sell. You want your sale to go over a minimum of two weekends, and ideally more like three or four. Start it on a Friday and end it on a Monday, and keep up awareness with fliers, bulletin board displays, notices on the school sign and website, and with audio announcements.
  3. How to run a school fundraiser: Be smart about other’s time and load. Choose your fundraiser for a time when teachers aren’t at their busiest. If you overload them with paperwork for a fundraiser while they’re trying to do their job, they aren’t going to fundraise for you very enthusiastically. Urge them not to overload the kids with homework, either, and make sure that kids get their fundraising packets at the end of the day, not the beginning. That way important information won’t end up in the bottom of the bags.
  4. How to run a school fundraiser: Get kids and parents motivated with the right hook. Excited students breed excited parents, so start with the kids. One way is to motivate through competition with other classes, with a prize for the winning class. (Be sure to take differing class sizes into account when figuring the numbers). Or, offer something up if the school reaches its fundraising goal. Kids love to see the principal take a cream pie to the face.
  5. How to run a school fundraiser: Emphasize safety. Don’t forget to teach and remind kids about how to be safe as they sell their fundraising clothing. Door-to-door sales are never smart for kids unless it’s the door of well-known friends or if parents are along in familiar neighborhoods. Make sure the kids know they might need permission to set up a booth in a store’s parking lot, and, again, this should never happen without adults around to supervise.
  6. How to run a school fundraiser: Get specific. Nothing will kill your fundraiser like confusion. Make sure everyone is clear on the specific goals; the key dates for pickup, delivery, and payment; all payment instructions; whom checks should be made out to; exactly where orders get turned in; and all contact details. Make sure collection boxes are convenient for kids to get to.
  7. How to run a school fundraiser: Watch the money. Money gets everyone worked up, so be very careful about having a clear paper trail. Have polite and fun letters ready to go in advance to let people know if they accidentally sent too little for their order, and ask people to put student names on their checks to help you trace back every sale. Always have multiple people checking amounts redundantly, endorse checks as soon as you open them, keep a daily log of all the numbers, and deposit all money as quickly as possible: even if it means multiple bank trips.

Your school fundraiser is important. The average product fundraiser gets schools and non-profit organizations more than $3,100. Make the most of your fundraiser by doing it right.