Elementary School Carnival Ideas

Monday, April 5, 2010

Simplify Your School Fundraisers and Avoid Fundraising Fatigue.

I just posted a comment on the highly acclaimed greatschools.org website about how some fundraisers should be reconsidered. It's a 'less is more' comment as I will explain in this post. Since their article was originally written, smaller and less productive fundraisers have gained popularity because folks are looking for new and unique fundraising ideas but they do not have the same profitability in most cases as larger traditional fundraisers. Here is my take on why focusing on what works and keeping it simple when it comes to school fundraising.

It's about time school fundraising got a bit simpler. Let's return to the days where fundraisers were sent home and parents happily contributed and encouraged the community to get involved. It's harder and harder to get parents involved and the reason is becoming clear:

There are just too many fundraisers.

When parents realize another fundraiser is coming around the bend in a week or two, they have an excuse to not participate in the current school fundraiser. Doesn't sound like much of a problem does it? They will contribute on the next one, right?

Here's what happens. Schools are generally used to a huge fall fundraiser such as a gift catalog (shameless plug - Believe Kids has the best fall gift catalog!). This one is the important one that the school counts on. Let's just say there was a bake sale and a book fair and a promotion for donating box tops in the weeks previous to the fall catalog. The pool of folks willing to participate in the next one is very likely to dwindle. There is some money to show for those efforts no doubt but it's very likely to have consequences.

The more fundraisers, the more money raised... right? Not necessarily. The problem in a nutshell is called 'fundraising fatigue' and it's completely avoidable. Fundraising fatigue is a simple concept, it's a backlash from parents when they feel they are the target of too many fundraising events throughout the year. Parents will complain and in general stop participating in events, fundraisers and perhaps even classroom related activities as well. Over time, this can result in schools that complain they have no parent involvement.

A very big factor is that the other fundraisers don't have the dollar averages a fall catalog sale will generate. So, for every parent that doesn't participate in the big fundraiser, more money is lost than was gained by the batteries or box tops or whatever stole the gift catalog 'thunder'.

Focus your efforts on what works.

Take into consideration the ease of use, reputation with parents and the community and profitability so that when you know you have a fundraiser that will make the community happy while raising the big bucks, you can put ALL your efforts into it and minimize the other fundraising 'noise'.

Just in case this appears to be a negative take on single product fundraisers, box tops, book fairs, it's not. There is a time and a place for these fundraisers but if they are interfering with the turnout at your main fundraising event, frozen food or gift catalog fundraiser.

Promote the fundraisers you want people to participate in. Make it a huge thing. Involve the principal and faculty. Create hype! Then, minimize the hosting and promotion of smaller less valuable fundraisers. Pass on anything that you believe could lower your average sale or anything that will interfere enough to have less students participating. Then put all your efforts into the fundraisers that put the most funds back into the school.

Simplify.


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Jay Moneta is the Vice President of Believe Kids Fundraising and blogs here at fundraising-advice.com Please comment if you would here or join me on twitter - twitter.com/BelieveKids Thanks for looking!

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