Archive for the 'Fundraising Horror Stories' Category

People STILL Don’t Get It. Kids Should NOT be Selling Things Door-to-Door!

I mean, it’s 2011. We’ve had plenty of time to watch and absorb all the lessons regarding child abduction. After endless reruns of CSI and Law & Order, as well as a daily dose of the local evening news, you would think we’d have figured out how to best avoid our kids getting kidnapped, abused, and killed.

I know we can’t prevent every act of this particular terror, but we can at least think about what we are doing.

True story.  Yesterday afternoon, there was a knock on my door. My kids were outside playing, so I thought it was just one of them. I went to open the door, but instead of seeing one of my own little rag-a-muffins, there was a young man, maybe 12 years of age, dressed smartly in a blue blazer with his red hair combed severely across his forehead.

“Good afternoon. I am selling items from this catalog for the middle school band.”

I stood there dumbfounded. What was this kid doing? Had I stepped back to 1973? Hadn’t he been told that kids should never sell things door-to-door like this? Especially alone? Didn’t the school remind him of this when they passed out the fundraising materials? Where were his parents? continue reading

A Real-World Example of School Fundraising Done Poorly

In previous blog posts here at TopSchoolFundraisers, I have recommended, quite strongly, that you, as a school fundraiser, are smart about what you are raising money for.

I have even gone so far as to suggest that you conduct a survey of the teaching staff, the administration, and the parents before you ever think of actually starting a new fundraising campaign.

The reason for this survey would be to make sure that everyone, or at least a majority of the people, are on board with what you’re trying to raise money for. If you don’t have “buy-in” from the people who are supposed to be writing the checks, the following will happen:

  • Your fundraiser will fail to raise the money you need
  • You, as a fundraising volunteer or employee, will look dumb for putting out a half-baked idea
  • You’ll get parents all riled up and risk losing their support for future fundraisers
  • You’ll make the school look like it’s out of step with the wishes of the families continue reading

8 Ways a Last-Minute Phone-a-thon Could Go Horribly Wrong

Recently, I was browsing various news articles about school fundraising and I saw this headline:

“School Resorts To Over The Phone Fundraising”

Now, my immediate reaction to this headline was that something bad had happened. A fundraiser had failed and now the school has to “resort” to raising money by phone.

I even checked the dictionary to make sure the word “resort” had that kind of negative connotation I was imagining. And, indeed, old Merriam-Webster said that the definition of “resort” is “to have recourse”.  Sort of like having a “Plan B”.

The article itself, although very short, didn’t help to lessen the tone of desperation. Here is the text in its entirety.

A recent spending freeze at the Santa Barbara School District is already having an impact in the classroom.

Parents of students at Santa Barbara Jr. High are trying to raise money for programs the district can no longer afford.

Parents and Principal John Becchio will gather Tuesday night to call as many parents as they can. They’ll be asking for money.

PTSA members say budget cuts are starting to impact students in the classroom. So, they stepped up their fundraising efforts to make ends meet.

Only 85 words. And some of these 85 words struck me: “… are trying to raise…”, “Parents and Principal will gather Tuesday night to call as many parents as they can.”

Oh, boy.  This does not sound good. continue reading

My Brush with a Real-Life Fundraising Disaster

For the past seven months, I have been writing very regularly on the best ways to raise money for your school. I’ve offered advice on how to connect with your community, so that you can have the most productive fundraisers possible. I’ve written thousands of words on this subject. So, I think it would be fair to say that I have fundraising on the brain.

Therefore, it is not surprising that I had as strong a reaction as I did last night when I found myself, as an innocent bystander, in a real-life fundraising disaster.

(For the sake of not hurting anyone’s feelings, I will not divulge any of the details about this organization.)

Recently, I signed my four year old daughter and my five year old daughter up for a sports-related activity. They had never pursued this kind of activity before, and they were quite excited. Last night was the fourth meeting of this group. continue reading

The Attack of the Guerrilla Donor

When you are involved with a non-profit, it seems that every conversation starts and ends with the need to raise money. You’re either discussing how much you need to raise, how much you are currently raising, or how much was raised in the past.

When the board of a non-profit organization sits down at the beginning of the year to create an operating budget, it does its best to balance the needs of the group with the opportunities to generate revenue. Hopefully, much thought and discussion has gone into setting these priorities.

Once the budget it set, the director does his or her best to get the entire community moving in the same direction. In order to achieve real success, a non-profit needs everyone to be pulling in the same direction.

Or, at least that is what I thought was supposed to happen. continue reading