Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Fun vs. Cash - Your School Fundraising Dilemma
Should schools be focused on creating fun and educational events or put the needs for money first and focus on heavy-hitting fundraising?
Obviously, school needs will vary.
Some schools do extraordinarily well with one gift and wrap catalog fundraiser while others hold auctions, festivals or special events that their school has developed over time. Some get the fundraising out of the way and then have some fun while others host fundraisers constantly throughout the year hoping that a number of little efforts will add up.
Given that schools are so diverse in their offerings of both fundraisers and events, there is no one way to say exactly what combination of fun vs. cash is right across the board.
That's not to say that there aren't some hard and fast rules to keep in mind when planning a school fundraising and parent group event schedule. The top consideration would always be to push forward and not take a step backwards. This means that it would be foolish to repeat previous failures or to replace fundraisers or events that work well.
So, what's the right answer?
The right answer is to raise the money you need in the most effective way you can while keeping school needs in mind. Avoid 'fundraising fatigue' by focusing your fundraising on one heavy-hitting fundraiser.
I see it this way.
Make the money you need in one effective fundraiser and encourage participation.
Do not go against the flow of what works for the school. For instance, if you have a long-standing traditional auction and it's succeeded for 10 years, keep it! If you have a yearly band concert that puts hundreds of attendees in the seats, keep it! If you have a safety fair that gets kudos from parents every year keep it!
Have one concentrated fundraiser to make money and innovate it as best you can. Keep it fresh and keep it producing substantial profits.
Then provide fun optional events that you can also make limited money on but don't call them fundraisers OR make it seem like the money made is important. OFFER VALUE!
I recommend providing services. For instance, a free school outdoor movie nights are a great way to create comradery amongst students, parents and staff. But what's even more exciting is selling glow sticks, movie candy, drinks and popcorn. Also, spirit gear t-shirts would be an exciting table to have setup at a movie night as well.
These things do not seem like fundraisers even though, technically they are. And thats kinda the point. You have a fundraiser and ask for donations then you don't. Get it over with and raise the money then back off and have some fun.
That's how I see it right now and I believe that too many fundraisers equals less revenue and less engaged parents. A heavy-hitting fundraiser and then having some fun just makes more sense.