Choosing to do a fundraiser can be an overwhelming task especially when you are coordinating it as a volunteer in your spare time. You want to do something that uses your community’s financial and personnel resources wisely.
10 Tips for Choosing Your Fundraiser
1) Determine your needs.
- How much do you need to raise and for what purpose? Create a budget before the year begins and target your fundraising to meet those needs. Limit your group to 2-3 fundraisers per year and remember that parents agree to volunteer because they want to make a difference, not because they want to fundraise. Too many fundraisers can kill parental involvement.
2) Evaluate your resources and options.
- Different types of fund raisers require vastly different resources in terms of volunteer hours and talent. Your success depends on getting your community engaged so be sure you have someone with the time and talent available who knows how to build a successful campaign.
- Do-it-yourself events require more volunteer effort than a professional sales fundraiser. You may keep more of the profit with the event, but a professional company will handle a lot of the work for you.
3) Determine how soon you need the money.
- Event type fundraisers can take months to plan and organize. If you need money fairly soon, a professional sales fundraiser can be started immediately and finished in a few weeks.
- Keep in mind that sales fundraisers will not build community like event fundraisers can but they will provide funds that allow you to provide community building events that are fun and free and help increase parental involvement.
4) Determine your opportunity cost.
- What else could be done with those volunteer hours if you don’t spend time on a labor intensive fundraiser? If your best volunteers are tied up with an event fundraiser, they likely will not be available to help with other projects and might experience burn out from all the work.
- Could you create more family nights to help people connect with each other? A technology night might help parents uncover the hidden dangers of online activity for children. The key is to find balance between fundraising and building relationships that form connections within your community.
5) Find out what your community will support.
- What worked in the past and what was a disaster? Survey parents about their feelings on fundraisers, ask teachers who have been around a while, look through old files, talk to parents whose kids are older. When you find out if your community would buy something or would prefer an event, new volunteers may emerge to help.
6) Decide how much time do you want to devote to fundraising.
- Most program leaders say that the ideal length of time to hold a fundraiser is between one and two weeks. Shorter fundraisers can face trouble gaining momentum, and students and parents may lose enthusiasm for fundraisers that drag on too long.
7 ) When is the best time for your group to schedule a fundraiser.
- It is important to consider when other school and community organizations host their fundraisers. Look for weeks when other fundraisers aren’t occurring, and try to do something original.
8) Do you want to organize the fundraiser yourself or use a third-party fundraising company?
- Fundraisers run independently are often more original and parents have a greater role in planning. However, they are usually more work for the organizer and often require the assistance of a committee of parents. Using a professional fundraising company can minimize your commitment by allowing a personal representative to do most of the work, including motivating students through the offering of rewards. However, the profit and customer service experience can vary widely among companies. If you do decide to use a professional fundraising company, review the checklist on How to Choose a Fundraising Company.
9) Ask yourself how kids can be involved.
- Can there be an educational component to your fundraiser? Event fundraisers allow kids to help with set up, create signs, or make art that can be sold. Product fundraisers allow kids to learn about setting goals, creating a plan of action and, in some cases, make a sales pitch. Reaching goals and celebrating success builds self confidence in kids and adults alike.
10) Check References.
- If you decide to go with any kind of professional third-party company to help with your event or product fundraiser, there are varying levels of quality and service. It’s worth the extra time to investigate claims made and make sure the company you choose has a good reputation, will be reliable and will supply quality products or services.