How to Run a Successful Fundraiser for Your School

There are several steps you need to take to ensure that your school’s fundraiser is a big success, including establishing a committee, picking the right idea, and marketing your fundraiser to volunteers, donors, and attendees.

In this article, we’ll walk you through those steps and tell you how to execute them effectively, while also recommending some specific actions you can take ASAP to start turning your fundraiser concept into a reality.

Set up a School Fundraising Committee

The process of running a school fundraiser is a lot easier when you delegate tasks to competent people.

Having different perspectives to draw from when you need to brainstorm ideas or handle specific tasks is invaluable, as it helps you, among other things, appeal to wider audiences.

Source: Faster Capital

Therefore, the first step of your fundraiser planning should be forming a diverse school fundraising committee composed of PTA members, other administrators, and volunteers.

This initial fundraising committee will primarily focus on determining the goals, budget, and timeline of the school fundraiser.

Later on, after the planning stage, you might need to get more people involved, but for now, just aim to create a core group of around three to six people.

Try to recruit team members from the school’s community—parents or teachers will be the most obvious choice.

Do your best to put together a group with a diverse skill set that covers all the tasks you need to do.

For example, you might want to look for a teacher who’s young and savvy with social media to spread the word about the fundraiser.

Similarly, you might know a student’s mother who works as an accountant and who can easily manage the financial planning aspect of the entire endeavor.

Maybe you want someone who has a lot of influence in your community and can get the right businesses involved.

Before reaching out to anyone, consider creating a list of the roles you need filled so that you can then focus on finding people to place in each one.

Treat this as if you were the founder of a startup looking for its first hires.

Once you put your team together, good ideas will start flowing, and tasks will disappear from your checklist at a much faster rate than they would if you were going it alone.

Decide on a School Fundraising Idea

When coming up with your fundraising idea, take your school’s budget, goals, and resources into consideration.

It is also a good idea to be democratic, and have your committee vote on the best idea, as that mitigates any potential disagreements.

To get the gears cranking, it helps to look at what other comparable schools in your region have done to accomplish similar fundraising goals.

A benefit of using this copycat approach is that you can call your peers at the other school and ask them how they pulled it off, so long as they’re not direct competitors.

Generally, the administrators will be excited to talk about their event and give you some unique advice for running your own.

You can also pick a time-tested school fundraising idea that’s almost certain to work:

Bake sales Ask volunteers (often parents) to bake goods and then sell them at your school to attendees, so the proceeds can go to your school.
Cookie dough fundraisers Work with a company like ABC fundraising that’ll provide you with cookie dough tubs in a variety of flavors and help you sell them to your students and parents for a profit.
Pledge fundraisers Host running/walking events where your participants ask friends and family members to pledge a dollar amount for every lap or mile the participant finishes within the allotted time.
Raffles Host an event where students and parents can pay toward a chance to win a prize, whether that’s a gift basket or a fun vacation.

If you want some more creative and unique ideas, check out our article on 45 unique fundraising ideas for schools, camps, and non-profits.

Don’t be afraid to recycle events you’ve already used in the past. If one was a huge success already, consider making it an annual event.

Also, consider using conferencing software to run virtual fundraisers like an online talent show put on by the students or a dance class taught by a local chef at one of the town’s top restaurants.

One of the easiest virtual fundraisers to pull off is an online auction, where you ask volunteers and faculty to donate items that virtual attendees can place bids on through an online auction site like Auctria.

Source: Auctria

The screenshot above shows what kind of an experience an Auctria online auction is for participants.

On their mobile devices and laptops, they can easily learn about the item, check the highest bids, and submit their own.

But virtual fundraisers can be even more simple than auctions.

Sometimes just creating an Amazon Wish List and sharing it with potential donors is enough to get the supplies you need.

Here’s an example of one such list that a school created during the pandemic:

Source: All Saints Catholic School

This works well because people would often rather contribute money towards a specific item, or pay for it in full, than just give money without knowing what their money will be invested in.

It can feel more satisfying, especially if the person is going to be able to see what their contribution went into when they drop their kids off at school.

Choose the Right Software for Your Fundraiser

With the right software, managing registrations and accepting donations is a breeze for your team, your attendees, and your donors.

Most will automate a lot of the busy work, like sending out forms.

In fact, online registration software allows you to build customized online registration forms that collect the information you need to put on a great fundraiser.

Attendees will be able to find these forms on your website or in the emails you send them, and they can easily sign up with just a few clicks.

If your registration software also comes with donation management options, as Regpack does, then your donors can make their donations online as well.

And by making this process easy and convenient, you increase your likelihood of receiving a larger number of donations.

Here are some of Regpack’s donation management features:

Source: Regpack

Regpack’s donation management tool also comes with a built-in CRM that enables you to manage your relationships with your donors.

All the data collected in the form will automatically transfer into the CRM, so you always have the information you need.

Plus, the platform comes with donation reporting that helps you use the data you collect to uncover insights that you can use to improve your fundraisers going forward.

Further, the tool allows people to opt in for recurring donation payments, which, although they aren’t tied to an event, are a great way to consistently earn funds from dedicated contributors.

In sum, event registration and donation management software will help you sign up attendees and collect donations online, which allows your team to focus on executing the fundraiser rather than making calls or transferring data from a paper form into your system.

Assemble a Team of Volunteers

To put on a smooth fundraiser, you’re going to need some help. Assemble a team of volunteers that includes parents, students, and your school’s staff.

Some events will need more volunteers than others.

A haunted house fundraiser, for example, will need a lot of students to decorate the school and play the monsters and ghouls.

While a raffle won’t require that many people to actually run the event, it will need volunteers to donate or create the goods that you’ll put up for grabs.

Regardless of how many volunteers you need, it’s best to ask those interested in participating to fill out a volunteer form.

Doing so can help you choose the right volunteers based on their availability and what they can contribute to the school fundraiser.

Here’s an example of a volunteering form for a fundraiser:

Source: 123 FormBuilder

The above form enables potential volunteers to select their preferred activities and shifts, which makes their experience better.

Notice how the form builder used a sliding scale of preference.

This way, if someone selects “would love to” for t-shirt design, but you already have enough people helping in this area, you can assign them to the team working on their next choice.

The form also gives people the option to choose all three shifts, two of the shifts, or just one. Doing this helps you fill up each time slot.

Of course, sometimes you’ll run into issues where you’re thin on help in one of your shifts or activities.

In that case, you might have to reach out to a few of the volunteers and ask them to make a switch.

As long as you do so politely and apologize for the inconvenience, the volunteers are likely to agree to do so.

To build online registration forms, use an online form builder, like the one in Regpack:

Source: Regpack

With a drag-and-drop editor, pre-built fields, and customization options, you’ll be able to build an effective, branded volunteering form in minutes.

Then you can post these forms on your website under the fundraising page, or send them out to people you think might be interested in volunteering. This makes signing up effortless.

If you want to secure repeat volunteers for your school, treat them well and regularly show your appreciation for their support.

That way you won’t always have to search out new ones for each fundraiser you hold.

Promote Your School Fundraiser

Start promoting your school fundraiser at least two weeks before the event takes place.

The earlier you start marketing the event, the more volunteers, donors, and attendees you’ll be able to attract.

Schools can promote their fundraiser across multiple channels:

School website Create a web page that describes your fundraiser and hosts a form where volunteers and attendees can sign up.
Email Send emails to parents, students, and faculty, asking them if they’d be interested in volunteering or attending.
Social media Share posts hyping up your fundraiser on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms where your students and parents are active.
School property Hang up posters or signs around your school grounds that parents, community members, and kids will see as they drive by.

In all of your marketing material, be sure to state your fundraiser’s goal. What exactly are you trying to achieve?

A monetary amount isn’t enough. Tell people what you plan to do with that money to better your students’ lives.

This is what motivates people to show up or contribute their time or money.

Be sure to also tell people when and where it takes place so that they can save the date in their calendars.

Further, always include a clear call-to-action (CTA) so that recipients know exactly what you want them to do, whether that’s to click a registration link or to fill out a volunteering form.

If you’re advertising on school grounds, say the scoreboard at the football stadium, your CTA might be “Learn more about the event here at {website URL}.”

Below is a promotional flyer template for a bake sale fundraiser that asks interested volunteers to call for more information:

Source: TidyLady

Although online methods are more effective, a flyer like this would still be great to hang up on any school bulletins that parents often check out.

When you promote your fundraiser early and across multiple channels, focusing your messaging on the amazing outcome the attendees and volunteers will help achieve, you’re sure to create an event that brings in a lot of money for your school.

Conclusion

School fundraisers are an excellent way to earn money for your school while also giving your attendees a great time.

The best fundraisers bring people from different parts of your community together to support something they all care about.

As long as you assemble a strong team, promote the event, plan effectively, and use the right software, the fundraiser should achieve its goals.

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