Archive for the 'Best Practices' Category

Prize Program Results in Fundraising Success

Last year I was elected to my daughter’s school PTO Board as the person in charge of fund raising. My first assignment was to coordinate a candy-gift wrap fund raiser. The program ran for about 7-8 weeks and we were able to raise over $56,000.

The program success is directly related to two factors. The first was time and effort spend planning and soliciting motivational items which served as incentives for the children. The second was a reliable group of volunteers to handle the administrative aspect associated with the weekly recording of students’ individual level of sales and their prize distributions.

The approach and view was this was a program to benefit the community: businesses were asked to make donations. Donations were as varied as the businesses. These donations were packaged into individual gift for the each student in accordance with his weekly sales.

Historically, the sales activity level peaked during the first two and last two weeks of the program. In reviewing the activity level of previous years’ sales that the report showed sales doubling during the time that the vendor offered a double incentive. Hence the conclusion to keep the incentive for the duration of the program.

For every six items sold the student received a prize (all prizes were donated). Initially, we used the small trinket items ( such as a school supply item) and as the program progressed we began using the higher value donations (such as a complimentary large pizza or a menu meal from a local restaurant, or movie tickets). There were no limit on how many prizes a student could earn.

Additionally, there were special rewards and large ticket item prizes at the end of the program for top children in elementary, middle, and upper school. For the duration of the program the sales level remained at a consistently high level.

It was a great way to solicit the businesses support and participation while teaching the children a number of life and business skills. Simple but working as a team it was very effective.

7 Ways To Use Your School’s Alumni More Wisely

There’s a formula in the business world that somehow proves it is less expensive to sell to established or previous customers than it is to find and develop new customers.

I’m not much of a businessman, but that seems to make sense, right? After all, you already have your previous customers’ (or clients’) names, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, and even information about what they bought from you, which indicates preferences and tastes.

You just don’t have that kind of information on people you haven’t dealt with yet. So, you have to work hard and spend lots of money to get new people to become part of your non-profit community.

Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t always be looking to grow your community, but what I am driving at is there are many reasons to put a significant effort into getting more out of the people already part of the group, alumni, if you will.
Here are three ways alumni can help your organization in very important ways. The final four examples will come in the second part of this article to be published soon.

1. Fundraising. It is much easier to make a compelling fundraising case to people who already have been touched in a positive way by your non-profit. In fact, it is possible that alumni would be extra-open to receive fundraising solicitation letters by mail, since you really don’t have to convince them to give. Letter drives are much cheaper to run for the non-profit, so the overhead costs normally associated with product sales or lage events are eliminated. You just have paper, printer ink, envelopes, address labels, and postage. Not bad. continue reading

Increase Your School Giving One Person at a Time

Yesterday, I heard a report on NPR about a new book called The Science of Giving: Experimental Approaches to the Study of Charity, written by Daniel M. Oppenheimer and Christopher Y. Olivola.

The goal of this book is to scientifically explain some of the reasons why and how much people give to charities.

As a person who has working in the non-profit industry for many years, this topic was very interesting to me.

I had not heard of this book before, and when I heard the report I was driving, so I couldn’t jot down a lot of notes, but a few things jumped out at me right away, and I wanted to share them with you. I will be searching this book out in the near future, however, as it sounds fascinating.

The first thing that caught my attention is that the author reported that people are more likely to give to a single person or small group of people as opposed to a larger group with many members. This makes sense to me. It seems that donors feel like they are more able to impact one person’s life in a positive manner, as opposed to an entire population.

What does that mean in relation to the school fundraising world?

Well, it tells me that it might be smarter for a school to frame their fundraiser in a way that highlights the impact on individual children, as opposed to the benefits the whole school may experience.

So, if I were running a school carnival, for instance, (or any other important school fundraiser) I would write my promotional material in a way that showed parents how their individual child would suffer and/or benefit depending on how much money the carnival was able to raise. I’d actually list out specific items that would impact each student.

Of course, the impact would be felt by the entire student body, but by bringing it down to a student-by-student basis, you’re speaking more directly to parents. It’s just how you deliver the message.

Think about it. If you were the parent who was being asked to donate time or money, wouldn’t you be more motivated if you knew exactly what was at stake for your own son or daughter?

Go ahead, give this strategy a try.

Photo by: Rennett Stowe

How to Keep Your School Fundraiser from Dragging

One of the challenges that school fundraisers face is keeping the enthusiasm going during the course of a product sale. Procrastination and insanely busy schedules often pull students and parents away from the focus needed to make a successful fundraiser.

I recently came across a great article that talks about various strategies to keep that initial momentum going and not suffer from the emotion drop off that can really hurt your overall success.  The following is an excerpt from the article. To read the entire piece, please click here.

How to Keep Your School Fundraiser from Dragging

by Clay Boggess

A primary goal for your school fundraiser should be to reach your money goal in as short a period of time as feasible. The idea that the longer you give your students to sell the more money you will make is not necessarily true. In fact, this philosophy can also work against you. The longer your fundraiser lasts, the lower the sense of urgency that your sellers will have and the more they will tend to procrastinate. Most actual selling takes place during the first 3-4 days of the sale so a two week selling period is usually optimal. Here are some things that you can do to ensure that your fundraiser doesn’t turn into a longer drawn-out experience.

Define and promote your end date

Make sure that your end date is set in everyone’s minds before your fundraiser ever starts. This includes reinforcing the date with you school staff and parents. You will also want to announce it to your students at your fundraiser kickoff as well as promote it throughout your sale. Put your end date in your parent letter as well as publicize it on Facebook. We provide our customers with a school fundraising guidebook which includes pre-made form notices that you can send home reminding parents about your fundraiser end date. The point is, make a big deal about when order forms and money are due by announcing it as often as possible and in as many ways as you can.

Have consequences for late orders and enforce them

You are bound to have stragglers so be ready for them. If you plan to accept order forms after the end date for your fundraiser, let people know that they only have a certain time period to turn them in. We ask our sponsors to mail their order forms to us for processing about a week after their end date. This allows time for them to collect and process late orders. Any late orders that come in after that time can still be faxed in; however, we encourage them to set an additional 2 day deadline date for faxed orders as well. Any orders that come in after that are not guaranteed to ship with the original order but rather will arrive in a separate late shipment.

Follow up with late money as quickly as possible


Photo by: ben.ramirez

If You Could Pick Only Three Fundraisers to Have this Year, Which Would You Choose? Part I

This is a question that anyone involved in school fundraising should be asking before the beginning of each school year.

If you are the person or if you are on the team of people that decides which fundraisers your school will be running during the year and you haven’t developed a complete plan by now (late October), you are doing a great disservice to your school.

I say this, because for the most part, parents don’t like having fundraisers just thrown at them without notice. If you are guilty of this, you should know that this kind of a haphazard plan doesn’t inspire much confidence in the minds of the people you are asking to give.

Therefore, you should be planning your fundraising strategy well ahead of when you will spring anything on your community.

But that means making some decisions about what you are going to do months from now.

So, what will they be? You can only pick three.

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(Why only three? Well, in addition to not liking fundraising surprises, parents also don’t like one fundraiser after another after another after another. If you ask them to donate more than three times in a nine month school year, you are going to risk alienating your audience.)

Well, let’s see. How should we pick ‘em?

  • Popularity is a good criteria. After all, we want people to like what we’re asking them to do, so we can raise the most money.
  • Keeping a high percentage of the profits for the school is also an important factor. We don’t want to send all our revenue off to some company somewhere, right?
  • Value is also critical. Whatever we try to sell or provide to parents has to be a worth their money, right?
  • What about volunteers? We can’t keep asking people to give time they don’t have, so we have to be smart in how many times we ask people to volunteer.
  • I also think that variety should be considered, as well. We don’t want to do three product sales or three “-thons” or three golf outings. That would be really annoying.

So, here are some possible combinations:

To Read the conclusion of this article, please check back soon!

Photo by: striatic