Elementary School Carnival Ideas

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walkathons are the New Door-to-Door Fundraiser!

I just have to get this off my chest:   

A walk-a-thon is a door-to-door fundraiser!

I know, that sounds bad.  It sounds like I'm shouting.  Let me apologize in advance for my tone and bad behavior.

As a fundraising professional, I hear people say that they want to avoid door-to-door fundraisers and then announce they are considering a walkathon.  The irony here is that, of course, the walk-a-thon is a door-to-door fundraiser.  If done wrong, it's the most offensive type. Argh.

Other than bringing the form to work, the main way people get pledges for a walkathon is by door-to-door selling.

But the fundraising landscape has changed.  Top product fundraising companies do not want students going door-to-door.  In fact, nationwide websites have been created to assist in extending a school fundraiser beyond just parents.

In the case of my company Believe Kids, we pioneered the first social media campaign where parents can easily promote a school fundraiser via Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.  This is a major departure from the desire to have parents alone support fundraising locally.

It truly takes school fundraising nationwide like never before.

We also inform parents and students about safety rules every chance we get.  I don't promote my company on this blog so it's not about Believe.  There are plenty of other fundraising companies out there and we're not the biggest by any stretch.

What I am doing is pointing out that the impression people have that school fundraising with catalogs or products is all about door-to-door selling - it's just not accurate today.

I am well aware that everyone has their own tactics when it comes to fundraising and schools and groups all across the nation have success in different areas of fundraising.  What I am saying is that it's great that everyone out there hosts fundraisers in their own way. 

I am upset that catalog fundraising is so tied to door-to-door selling.  You'd think that it was the only door-to-door fundraiser out there - not so.  

Having said that, I get it, anyone complaining about door-to-door fundraising is most likely referring to the past where fundraising was done with product in hand and sold in neighborhoods everywhere - It's just no longer the case.

So, here is a word document template from Microsoft.  It is a donation pledge sign-up sheet for a walkathon and includes absolutely no reference to fundraising safety or instructions for not going door-to-door. 

Looking further to the rules on the attached info sheet has no reference to any safety concerns either.  It just points out that pledges may be made by anyone:

As it turns out, I checked a large number of walkathon pledge forms and walkathon pledge sheets hosted online and not one had any safety instructions - no warnings against door-to-door selling were found on any of them.

Yes, I surely sound a bit grumpy pointing all this out.  The thing is, the next time someone utters the phrase door-to-door fundraiser, remember this post and include the walkathon in there as one of them :)

If you are going to be hosting a walkathon here are my suggestions:

1) Make sure to include a safety area on the form indicating that there should be no selling at night or at busy intersections.  Also, please indicate that there should be no door-to-door selling to people they don't know.

2) Consider including a way for parents to opt out. If you have a total amount you would like raised per pledge form, put that on there with wording like... 'In lieu of getting pledges from the community, I would like to opt out but still participate in the walkathon, attached is my $XX contribution.'

3) Go nationwide!  Create a way for people to pledge online.  This may not be the easiest thing from a technical perspective but it would extend the sale getting it out of the neighborhoods.

4) Consider a different way to do the walkathon.  Instead of the individual pledges, could your school or group ask for an admission fee from each family attending?  Would a $20 admission from each family on the day of the walk accomplish the goal?  If so, you would avoid selling altogether.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.  Thanks for hanging in there with me on this one.  Not quite sure why I got so fired up.  Ok, until next time!

Oh, I appreciate comments both good and bad here so make sure to leave a comment for me!  Thanks!

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