In a perfect world, every student would have access to quality learning materials, field trips, sports equipment, modern learning technology, musical instruments, and this year, a deep stockpile of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
But as we all know, programming and supplies like that are expensive. In some districts, school budgets barely cover the essential classroom supplies, and students have to work with out-of-date textbooks and obsolete software.
When budgets are tight, one popular way to bring in extra money is with a school fundraiser. You’ve likely seen countless ideas for running an easy and effective fundraiser, but it can be challenging to pick an option that works well for your school—and for the current pandemic.
At ABC Fundraising, we provide the tools and resources that schools and other organizations need to raise critical funds. Over the years, we’ve helped countless groups raise over 50 million dollars, so we’ve seen firsthand the profit and success that determined organizers can achieve with the right platform.
Along the way, we’ve picked up a few key tips on how to run a successful fundraiser for your school, including:
- Choose a timely and relevant fundraising option.
- Find a platform that allows you to execute your fundraiser remotely.
- Customize your fundraiser to your school.
- Pick a high-quality food product.
- Consider discount cards and scratch-offs.
To get you prepared for the new school year and start fundraising off on the right foot, we’ll be diving deep into each of these tips. Let’s begin!
Choose a timely and relevant fundraising option.
Seasonal fundraisers are classics for a reason. Your fundraiser will be more successful if it taps into current events or the spirit of the season.
We aren’t just talking about Christmas, though coordinating your campaign with this winter holiday does make it easy to encourage purchasing items to give as gifts. Consider theming your fundraiser around another holiday, like Halloween, for a more unique twist!
Your school can also choose a fundraising idea that matches the weather, like how an outdoor summer fundraiser is built for sunny days.
Right now, the most relevant topic on everyone’s mind is the COVID-19 pandemic. Selecting a fundraiser with coronavirus in mind (like a custom face mask fundraiser) will definitely ensure your campaign fits in with the current times.
With this type of fundraiser, you can sell cotton face masks branded with your school’s logo and colors. Face mask fundraisers help your community show school spirit, stay safe, and gather revenue all at once—a win-win for all!
Because the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, a face mask fundraiser will remain a current and appropriate choice for months to come. But if you’d rather explore a different timely option, the holiday season is right around the corner.
Find a platform that allows you to execute your fundraiser remotely.
Traditional fundraising programs usually involve in-person interaction, so you’ll need to make the appropriate changes to your strategy this year. For instance, many schools sell merchandise or other items to help raise money for their programs and buy supplies. Potential contributors may be wary of getting close enough to handle a paper order form, and students and parents might experience challenges safely selling door-to-door.
In our current times, communities will have far more success with fundraisers that are socially distanced. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can still fundraise safely, whether you’re using an online ordering system or executing a virtual peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
Modern fundraising vendors can now create a customized web store for an entirely contact-free experience. Additionally, students and parents can easily share forms online to collect orders instead of relying on a paper form. Then when the product is delivered, you can hold contactless pickup (just like restaurants) for locals or ship to far-away supporters.
In many ways, compared to your more traditional in-person efforts, remote fundraisers are easier and more convenient for parents and students to execute, adding a bonus benefit beyond addressing safety concerns.
Choosing a fundraising vendor with an online order system will have advantages that last far beyond the current pandemic. You’ll be able to accept a variety of payment options like PayPal and credit cards, which is key in a world where plastic is more common than cash. Plus, you’ll be able to extend your reach to a wider geographic area than is possible with a purely in-person fundraiser.
Customize your fundraiser to your school.
When you start planning your fundraiser, you’ll want to consider the specific needs of your students and community. Every school is different, so some varieties of fundraisers may work better for you than others. Consider soliciting feedback from parents before you make your final choice.
In addition to picking a fundraiser that suits your school’s individualized wishes, you can also customize elements of the fundraiser itself. Let’s explore the example of selling merchandise or other items for your school’s fundraiser.
With the right fundraising platform, you can customize your order forms and web store with your school’s colors and brand. This infuses school spirit into the entire fundraising process and encourages generous support from your community.
Showing off your school pride can also extend to the items sold in the fundraiser. You can sell a variety of products custom-branded with your school’s colors and logo, including:
- Face masks
- Travel mugs
- Car decals and magnets
And this is just a small handful of the options available. If you can think of it, you can probably customize it! For more ideas you can personalize to your school’s specific needs, check out this list of the best school fundraising ideas.
Pick a high-quality food product.
Many school fundraisers depend on selling an edible item as your featured product. But we’ve all encountered the low-quality, overpriced options that give fundraising food a bad reputation.
If you’re going to fundraise with a food item, you need to pick something that your supporters are sure to love—and that will generate a good profit for your school!
Be sure to find a vendor that focuses on high-quality food products at prices that make sense for your community.Here are a few of our favorite delicious options that your supporters will enjoy:
- Cookie dough
- Gourmet coffee
- Chocolate bars
- Cotton candy
- Gourmet popcorn
- Gummy bears
Many food-based fundraisers cost nothing up-front for your school and have low minimum orders, making them affordable and accessible options.
Consider discount cards and scratch-offs.
If your school wants to branch out from the traditional food fundraiser and selling your own items, another top recommendation is to offer discounts for third-party vendors in exchange for donations.
For example, you can sell:
- Discount Cards. Generally, a discount card includes up to 20 amazing deals valid at local businesses. In exchange for their contribution, your supporters get a plastic wallet-sized card with discounts and free items, like $5 off a haircut or a free appetizer at a restaurant.
- Scratch Cards. With a scratch-off card, donors can scratch off circles to reveal a small donation. As a thank you, they receive a sheet of coupons from national sponsors. Because this option is so low-cost, it’s a good fit for small fundraising goals.
Gathering discounts like these can be a lot of work—someone has to request and gather sponsorships from local stores, franchise locations, and restaurants. But with the right fundraising vendor, this process can be hassle-free for your school. They can handle the entire process from finding and securing merchants to selling and producing cards.
Fundraisers like discount cards and scratch-offs are a highly profitable solution because your supporters still get something valuable without needing to deal with a physical, perishable product.
Although the coming school year will have plenty of challenges, these fundraising tips will help set your school up for success. For more suggestions to help your school raise funds, check out ABC Fundraising’s list of easy and effective fundraising ideas. Good luck!