Elementary School Carnival Ideas

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crushing School Fundraising Myths - A Not So Nice Take on a DIY Fundraising Idea

I just read a post about fundraising on a parent group message board. It was from Kris. Here is an excerpt about what she had this to say:

"Times are tough for parents. There are children that their parents can't afford hot lunches. They are not going to buy over priced wrapping paper, cookie dough, candles, etc."

She goes on to say that if they had a haircut night the school could charge $5 per haircut and the school can get 100% of the money using volunteer hair stylists. She offers some additional revenue by combining this effort with a bake sale by selling baked goods also and she finishes up with this point:

"Everytime you have a fundraiser company involved, they have to make their money too. Your going to be paying 4 times the amount the product actually costs."

Ok, Here's the Real Deal!

First off, parents will buy over priced wrapping paper, cookie dough and candles and so will their friends and coworkers and relatives if the cause is worthy.

Secondly, Kris would have you believe that a $5 per haircut plus bake sale proceeds would raise money - It won't. Take just a moment to stop think about it for a moment. I think you will discover for yourself why this is not effective.

If you haven't stopped reading, get ready for the spoiler: at $5 per participant, you can't make any money. If 25% of students show up you'd make $437 on a school of 350. The bake sale may contribute to things a bit but freshly cut hair and baked goods don't mix. Without bragging about our numbers, let me just say that a catalog sale will consistently generate many, many, many times this in profit.

By using a fundraising company and paying them for their products and service, schools benefit from the programs, promotions, experience and proven systems that not only make it easy but make it many times more effective than fundraisers held on ones own.

Here is an example. Let's say you want to travel via air without using an airline. You can learn to fly and you can rent a plane but it's not going to be easy, cheap or efficient.

Here are Kris' assertions against fundraising companies:

• Nobody can afford to buy over priced stuff
• Companies charge more than items are worth

Here are her reasons for hosting ones own event:

• Can host your own events without expenses
• Adding a bake sale will improve revenue
• Volunteer hair stylists will be interested
• It's easy to host your own event

Yikes, at this point it kinda sounds like I'm being mean doesn't it? It's not my intent. It's just that the rational doesn't work.

I know some things about how Kris thinks. It's because I have a tendency to do the same exact thing.

I am always thinking I can do something better or cheaper than a company that charges money for their products and services. I am a perfectionist and an artist and I like to create things. In the end, I know now that in most cases, it's not worth it. I can rely on others to create things so I don't have to start from scratch and learn everything from square one, making all the rookie mistakes along the way.

In the end, if you are able to create and host a successful event, I have all the respect in the world for that. I absolutely love seeing a 10th annual event. It's a marketing powerhouse and it works. Creating a successful and repeatable event takes work and consistency but if one picks the right combination of simple factors, your event can be tremendously successful.

When it comes to saying that product fundraising doesn't work then suggesting an event that without a doubt would be difficult with a good chance of failure, I just gotta step in to say that there is a reason fundraising companies offer value - because the fundraisers we produce are proven successes. They raise more money with less work than the vast majority of fundraisers ever run. They are consistent and are improving. I can only speak for my company when I say that product quality and value to the consumer are improving consistently.

Here are some fundraising truths:

• People buy fundraising products
• Sales averages are often much higher
• Fundraising companies offer value-added services
• Product fundraising requires less volunteer help
• Typical retailers don't give margins away (let alone 50%)

I guess what I am saying is be careful what you believe. I'm not advocating you use my fundraising company, it's not about that. Here it is... Don't let someone lead you down the path to an under-performing event fundraiser because they don't understand the value that a company provides.


Jay Moneta is the Vice President of Believe Kids Fundraising and is feeling rather bad about bagging on Kris' ideas so badly. If you want to leave a mean comment for me here on my blog, I would totally understand. I can also be yelled at on twitter - twitter.com/BelieveKids for my lack of understanding or barraged via my homepage at www.BelieveKids.com

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