Elementary School Carnival Ideas

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why some school fundraisers are not fundraisers...

I just read a post from greatschools.org that I want to explore with you for a moment:

Five fundraising tactics for savvy schools We look beyond scrip and bake sales in search of the big dollars available to schools.

I think fundraising 'noise' is to prevalent these days.  

I believe that a scattered approach to fundraising is cutting into fundraising profits and the following is my argument away from affiliate programs, contests, online donation drives and the other ideas in the article and towards focused efforts that encourage participation across the board. I believe that when folks consider fundraisers, they need to be consistent, proven ways to raise money.  The following, in my opinion, are not fundraisers:

Facebook ritual - Online contests that spread via social media are just that, contests.  Although some schools benefit from winning, a school can't count on income coming in.  It's not only a long-shot that schools would win in the first place, but it's unlikely that a school can win repeatedly creating any sense of security.  Contests should not be considered fundraisers.

Going for grants -  Grants are nice.  Grants are fundraisers in the purest sense of the word  but because they are not guaranteed, they should not be considered fundraisers. A school that decides to go after grants can end up with nothing.  Therefore, going for grants is not a fundraiser.

Donation matching - Donation matching is awesome.  But here's the thing... In order for it to work, there has to be initial donations.  Donation matching on it's own merit is not a fundraiser. 

Online donations - Well, donation drives are certainly a type of fundraiser.  I can't really argue that point.  When I think of donation drives, I think of something that anyone can do at anytime and for any reason. It does not work the same as traditional fundraising.  

I believe online donations are only as good as the organization hosting them is willing to make them.  I guess what I mean is that although there have been some monumental successes with online donations, the majority of fundraising efforts of this type do not produce large returns.

Sensible shopping - Affilate program's have been around for a while now.  The premise being that for an item you purchase, a small 'commission' is paid out to an organization.  There are fundraising malls comprised entirely of offers that pay these small commissions when purchases are made.  

I think that for the promotion it takes to involve parents, the money raised does not make it worth it.  The argument is that people are already buying these items.  The fact is, it's very likely the participants in an affiliate program fundraiser will not be participating in something else - something that raises significant funds.


Wow, that's pretty harsh.  It would appear that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.  I am passionate about schools respecting their own ability to raise significant funds through traditional fundraising.  Schools need to be able to host at least one heavy-hitting fundraiser without competition that would belittle their efforts.  

In the end, times change and it's fair to say that there will be a day where funding in schools looks quite different than it does today.  Until then, I believe fundraisers should be categorized as such ONLY when the results are guaranteed to raise money when they participate.  Further, I believe that schools need to continually educate themselves as to what works and why.  

Taking chances on risky fundraisers needs to go.  All it really does is make the proven fundraisers less effective.


Jay Moneta is the Vice President of Believe Kids Fundraising and blogs here regularly.  If you enjoyed this post, you can share it or comment on it below.  Comments both good and bad are humbly accepted. 

Oh, and a note to greatschools.org - I think you are awesome and there's no love lost here.  I am concerned about fundraising becoming an discussion area where nobody knows what to do or why when it comes to school fundraising.  I think fewer fundraisers that are proven is the way to go. 

Thanks so much everyone - until next time!


Leslie Kohler said...

I agree that getting involved in a fundraiser over the net where their is no personal contact or brick and mortar business could be risky. That's one reason I'm so excited to be representing the Playintertainment Company that markets the Vdo Bug, which produces interactive, bilingual picture books. We partner with PTA organizations, and our website is set up so that schools receive a guaranteed % of every parent purchase. http://vdobug.com.

Pam said...

Thanks for this great post. Finding fundraisers that are legitimate and offer something back should be the goal. Last year my granddaughter gave me an original piece of artwork on a piece of ceramic and a potholder from http://www.OriginalWorks.com - what a great idea! This year I'm going to order a few additional...so much better than magazines or coupons or cheap gift items.