When a school fundraiser is successful, its benefits reach far beyond raising the money your school needs for classroom supplies, field trips, extracurricular activities, or facilities and technology upgrades.
When done correctly, school fundraisers bring together and strengthen the bonds between your school, students and their families, and the community as a whole.
However, organizing a successful fundraiser is easier said than done, as there are many factors to consider when planning and executing fundraisers.
In this article, we’ll cover six best practices your school can use to organize fundraisers of any type and size that will meet everybody’s expectations and yield the best results.
- Clearly Define Your Fundraising Goals
- Assemble the Right Fundraising Team
- Schedule Fundraisers at the Right Time
- Reach Out to Donors Through Different Channels
- Know the Right Way to Ask for Donations
- Offer Multiple Ways for Donors to Donate
Clearly Define Your Fundraising Goals
Defining your school’s fundraising goals right at the outset will give the fundraising team a tangible objective to work toward and potential donors a convincing reason to donate to the school.
For example, although “raising money for the school” is technically a fundraising goal, it may not be clear enough for the fundraising team nor, even more importantly, compelling enough for potential donors to contribute.
Source: Parnassus Prep
In such cases, the fundraiser results can be disappointing.
Therefore, when defining their fundraising goals, schools should determine how the fundraising event will serve the school’s mission, the specific needs it will be supporting, and the ways in which the raised funds will be used.
For instance, your school playground may need to be renovated (specific need) to improve the quality of children’s recreational activities (supporting the school’s mission of providing quality education), so that’s what the money raised will be spent on.
However, even when the fundraising goal is clear, it’s recommended to specify the amount of money your school is aiming to raise.
For example, look at the two school playground fundraiser flyers below, and consider which one is more specific and, therefore, more convincing.
After your school defines its fundraising goal for a specific event, it should determine which fundraising ideas will allow it to meet that goal.
For instance, if the objective is to raise a smaller amount, your school can consider organizing a bake sale, a car wash, or a book fair.
However, if the target amount of donations is substantial, then it should consider ideas like a silent auction, a crowdfunding campaign, or a gala event.
In any case, when selecting fundraising ideas, it’s important to evaluate the potential revenue against the effort and resources required to implement each idea.
Likewise, the fundraising team should consider the interests and preferences of the school community and potential donors.
Overall, by clearly defining your school’s fundraising goals and selecting the most appropriate fundraising ideas to meet those goals, you can set your school’s fundraiser up for success.
Assemble the Right Fundraising Team
Assembling the right fundraising team is instrumental in achieving success with your fundraisers.
That’s why schools should form a fundraising committee that will plan and manage the school’s fundraising events throughout the year.
That said, some smaller schools with limited resources may not have a formal committee but rely instead on one person (e.g., administrator, teacher) to organize fundraisers.
However, that person will still need to assemble a team of motivated and enthusiastic people—faculty members, parent volunteers, alumni, and community and local business representatives—to help them run successful fundraisers.
Therefore, an informal fundraising committee will be established even in such cases.
When schools have a committee, it’s best to have one that’s in charge of organizing all school fundraisers, like in this example.
When forming the fundraising committee, schools should strive to engage a mix of individuals that will ensure committee members have a broad range of perspectives and experiences.
This diverse group can bring a variety of fundraising ideas and approaches while also ensuring that fundraising efforts are inclusive and the committee reflects the make-up of the wider school community.
That way, committee members can actively engage the school community and build support for fundraisers, which can be instrumental in their success.
The committee members can be recruited in various ways, such as contacting potential volunteers by email or in person, utilizing social media, or advertising committee vacancies on the school website.
Source: Newborough Preschool
Once the fundraising committee is assembled, it should find other contributors (students, parents, alums) ready to help implement each specific fundraiser.
Naturally, all of them should work toward building a thriving community of people willing to participate in the school’s fundraising events.
In summary, by assembling the right fundraising team and building a strong community of supporters, your school can create a sustainable and successful fundraising program that benefits the entire school community.
Schedule Fundraisers at the Right Time
School fundraisers are most effective when scheduled strategically to maximize donor engagement and minimize donor fatigue.
Therefore, your school should carefully consider the timing of its fundraising events to ensure they are scheduled at the right time for maximum impact.
In doing so, it should consider several factors.
The first is to schedule fundraising events when potential donors are most likely to donate.
For instance, the beginning of the school year, right before winter break, and during the spring semester are typically good times to schedule fundraisers.
Source: Hutchinson Middle School
These periods are suitable for successful fundraising because donors (parents, community members, and local businesses) may be more motivated to support school-related initiatives, making them more likely to contribute.
The second factor your school should consider is not to schedule too many fundraising events throughout the year to avoid donor fatigue.
In other words, when parents and other potential donors are bombarded by back-to-back fundraising initiatives—not just from your school—donor fatigue can set in, leading to decreased engagement and donations.
That’s why schools should aim for a balanced approach, spacing out fundraising events strategically to maintain donor interest and avoid overwhelming potential donors with too many solicitations.
The third fundraiser-timing consideration refers to avoiding scheduling conflicts with local community events and holidays that may impact donor availability and their willingness to donate.
All in all, to maximize the success of fundraisers, your school should carefully plan and schedule events at the right time to capture donor attention and support while being mindful of donor fatigue and scheduling conflicts.
Reach Out to Donors Through Different Channels
Taking advantage of multiple different channels to reach potential donors is—in this day and age—easier than ever and can greatly increase the success of your school’s fundraising efforts.
Therefore, your school should consider which communication channels are best—most suitable and cost-effective—to promote fundraisers with the goal of involving the largest number of potential donors possible.
In other words, some donors may prefer to be contacted in person or by phone, while others may respond better to a personalized email or text message.
Moreover, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can also be efficiently utilized for such purposes.
These channels enable schools to post about their fundraisers and ask other users to share their posts to reach the largest possible number of potential donors and create a broader sense of community.
For instance, a school can create a dedicated fundraising event page on Facebook like this one.
Then, the school can share it on its Facebook page to spread the word to its followers, and encourage them to share the event with their own networks to reach a wider audience.
Of course, schools shouldn’t neglect more traditional ways of reaching potential donors, such as distributing flyers in their local community and putting up posters on the school property and other public places.
Overall, with so many different channels available—and varied reach-out preferences of prospective donors—schools should consider their target audience to find the right mix of channels that will ensure they’re reaching as many potential donors as possible.
Know the Right Way to Ask for Donations
This best practice—knowing the right way to ask for donations—is critical for schools to meet their fundraising goals.
In other words, your school should take the time to research the most effective strategies for fundraising, including what to do before, during, and after making the request.
Of course, the approach to asking for donations will vary depending on the channel used to make the ask, such as in-person, over the phone, via email, through text, or on social media.
Nevertheless, each of the three phases—before the ask, during the fundraising period, and after donations are made—should be carefully considered.
The phase before making an ask is closely related to the previous section—donor reach-out—and involves researching and understanding the potential donor’s interests, their connections to the school, and past giving history.
That way, the fundraising team can create a personalized message that resonates with the potential donor, conveying why their support is crucial to the school’s mission and what their donation will help accomplish.
The internet offers many good examples and templates, like this one.
Source: PTO Today
Of course—as covered in the section on clearly defining fundraising goals—such messages should clearly state the school’s fundraising goal and how the funds will be used.
During the ask, it’s crucial to listen to the potential donor’s response and be prepared to address any questions or concerns they may have, such as whether their donation is tax-deductible or if there are any alternative ways in which they can donate.
Finally, after donations are made, a school should follow up with donors and express its gratitude for their support, which increases the likelihood of future contributions.
In summary, knowing what strategies to apply when asking for donations during the fundraising period can help prevent your school fundraisers from falling short of their fundraising goal.
Offer Multiple Ways for Donors to Donate
Offering multiple ways for donors to donate increases the chances of receiving a higher number of donations by making it more convenient for donors to donate using their preferred payment method.
Naturally, this best practice—like different donor reach-out channels—relies primarily on enabling donors to contribute online using various digital payment methods, such as credit and debit cards, payment apps, bank transfers, and more.
For example, consider how this school is asking donors to donate:
Source: Sunset Ranch Elementary
Although it’s commendable that parents and other donors can scan the QR code to register, it would be much more convenient if they were also offered multiple online payment methods instead of having to drop off their payment at the school.
For example, our donation management software, Regpack, enables schools to register donors and receive donations using the different online payment methods we mentioned above in one step.
Regpack is an all-in-one donation platform that allows schools to create custom donation registration and payment forms, and embed them directly on their website.
That way, donors can make their donations online in any way they want (credit card, debit card, bank transfer, digital wallet, etc.), thus increasing the donor’s convenience and enhancing the chances of school fundraisers being a success.
In fact, schools using Regpack have, on average, received 27% more donations, seen a 35% increase in cash flow, and a 26% rise in recurring contributions.
Moreover, this donation management solution enables schools to receive one-time and recurring donations and easily communicate with donors using custom emails that can be sent automatically.
Therefore, using a donation platform like Regpack will allow your school to offer multiple convenient ways for donors to donate using their preferred payment method, which can seriously boost the results of your school’s fundraising efforts.
In the end, let’s just say that by applying these best practices using suitable methods and tools, your school can run fundraisers with clearly defined goals organized by the right fundraising team at the right time.
Furthermore, potential donors will be reached through different appropriate channels, asked for their donations in the right way, and offered multiple ways to donate.
When these practices are combined, the ultimate result is successful school fundraisers that not only raise the money needed but also provide a great experience for everyone involved, setting up your school for future fundraising triumphs.