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The air is turning cool, the leaves are changing, and the school buses roar past. You can feel it: the new school year is well underway.
It also means that behind the scenes, teachers, administrators, and parents are frantically dreaming up fundraising ideas to supplement the meager state budgets.
School fundraisers need to be fun, engaging, safe, and most of all, successful.1 Otherwise, what’s the point?
Here’s five simple ideas to make this year’s fundraiser your best one yet:
With these tips and ideas, you can start planning the year’s fundraising activities,2 confident they won’t be fundraising flops.
There’s no reason to mess with the classics.
Shoe drive fundraisers are popular because they work. They require almost no overhead and most families have at least a few pairs of shoes they could give. Most fundraisers take almost any type of shoe: sneakers, dress shoes, sandals, cleats, and likely anything else you may have, so long as they are gently worn, used and new shoes.
If you’ve never run a shoe drive fundraiser before, here’s the basics to get started.
Find a partner organization. There are organizations out there that to help set up the fundraiser, provide materials such as boxes, and then cut you a check for the shoes you collect. It’s a win-win and here’s why.
They, in turn, sell the shoes to business owners in developing nations who resell them in their communities. The charitable benefit is twofold: the fundraiser raises money for your school, and the shoes go to people in need.
With their ease of access and zero out-of-pocket costs, shoe drive fundraisers should be at the top of your list of ideas this school year.3 Learn more at Funds2Orgs to see how simple and easy it is to setup a show drive.
When planning a school fundraising event, the most important questions to ask are whether it is feasible and whether it will turn a profit.
As much as you would like to have the Rolling Stones play your local high school, think a little bit smaller.
If you can come up with something that the parents will enjoy as well, that’s a big bonus. We’re talking double the ticket sales!4
To get the most bang for your fundraising buck this year, consider some of these low-cost, high-profit options:
Take advantage of the resources at your disposal, and you can make big strides toward your school’s fundraising goals.
Getting local businesses on board to support your school is one of the most critical aspects of a successful school fundraiser.
Whatever your fundraiser turns out to be,6 it is likely a good idea to reach out to local businesses for support. Companies want to engage with their community, and there is nothing like free promotion when helping out the local schools!
If your school has previous relationships with businesses, try to incorporate those first into your fundraising strategy. But, you should also think outside the box and look for some new possible partners.
A few things to look for while researching new business partners:
Getting a new local partner is a huge step toward improving your fundraising totals. If the fundraiser goes well, you may have a new partner for life!
The classic example of a fundraising “game” is the old-fashioned donation thermometer or progress bar.
But there are other, even more, engaging ways to gamify your fundraiser.
Events based on existing games and sports like scavenger hunts, volleyball tournaments,7 and board game and video game tournaments all make for simple and effective fundraising. Just ask students to pay to register their teams, and let the games begin.
It works! Take the time to gamify your drives, auctions, and fairs.
Take a lesson from the video games that your students love so much: implementing features like points, levels, leaderboards, and challenges improves engagement by presenting alluring goals and cultivating a competitive atmosphere.
Incorporating peer-to-peer fundraising into your plans also gives students an excellent opportunity to compete to see who is the best junior salesperson. You can even the competition by letting students register as teams to see who can create the best fundraising8 group.
A great way to cater your gamification to your students is to offer special rewards for the best fundraisers. Pizza or donuts for the best homeroom, bonus points on the big test for the best sellers, supplementing next week’s lesson with a movie if the class reaches a certain goal—these are all free or near-free prizes that students will love.
If 2014’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge taught us anything, it’s that viral internet marketing can lead to a huge revenue boost for your fundraiser.
Since then, the internet’s role in supporting social movements has grown, and school-aged people are often the ones leading the way. See if you can harness some of that trending power with social media marketing!
It’s a no-brainer to use social media to supplement your marketing for a ticketed event, but converting those likes and shares directly into donations for the school is another matter.
One solution is to incorporate text-to-give9 and online donation pages10 into your social media strategy.
Incentivize students to use their social media profiles for good by rewarding the students with the most referrals. Teens loving showing off a high follower count, and this solution lets them tout their online influence and raise money for their school at the same time.
Most public schools are under lots of pressure to supplement their yearly budgets with fundraising efforts, and any improvement or addition that you make will positively affect students, parents, and teachers alike.
Make sure you discuss the above ideas at your next fundraising meeting to lighten the fundraising load and start the school year off right.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations.