• Saturday, January 01st, 2011

School fundraising is important. We all know that. Few school projects can take flight without the critically funding provided by the various fundraising initiatives launched by school PTAs or school PTOs. There are many types of fundraising initiatives and can be differentiated between product and non-product fundraisers. This article focuses on product sale fundraisers.

The reason why I feel an article like this is so critical is that turnover is so high in PTAs. With membership turning over almost entirely every year, mistakes and the lessons learned are rarely passed along. In order to help make all our school fundraisers more successful and launch all our necessary projects, I hope in creating this list that schools will better achieve their goals. So enough blabbering, here is the top ten list on the mistakes you ought to avoid and be successful from knowing it.

1) Promotion or the lack thereof School fundraisers that are well planned and researched often fall short in promotion. Marketing is critical for all successful businesses and is preached to all those in the business community. Making something is worthless if no one knows what you are doing. The message here is you definitely have to make a plan to promote your school fundraiser. Choose not to and you may as well not run one at all. A few ideas are letters sent home to parents or an email blast.

2) No Goal Choosing a goal, a realistic one, is important. School fundraising PTA’s often set goals that are far too unrealistic, often on the high side. If you need to raise $X, you need to get an idea of how much you need to sell. A simple formula is X = Profit Margin x Sales. If you have a profit margin of 40% and need to raise $10,000, you will need to have your community pay $25,000 to you, assuming there are no other fixed costs. Putting it this way may will make for more realistic goals, goal that are achievable.

3) Not Communicating What You Are Raising Money For One thing everyone who buys a product from a school fundraiser wants to know is what am I helping to accomplish. Fundraisers for a school PTA are good, but to build a school garden might be more attractive. Communicate this in your promotion. All you volunteers will be more motivated to sell products and communicate the project to their customers if they believe in it. This also fits into planning, plan this in advance. Talk to everyone involved. Set a goal everyone will work together to achieve.

4) Selling The Wrong Thing You could have done points 1 to 3 perfectly but are selling coal (or any other unattractive thing). With many schools moving away from chocolate, you will have to look to offer things that are in deman. For example, Green Students Fundraising (green fundraising) offers green products which are in demand today. You may also want to focus on products that are staples, such as coffee or cleaners, that people already need to buy in times when the economy is doing poorly.

5) Focusing On The Wrong Numbers One thing most PTA’s preach is profit margin and they are right, high profit margins are better than lower ones. More money from what is sold that stays with the group is best for the group. But there is one big caveat and here it is; selling products that are overpriced are far less attractive than those priced affordably. If you buy a chocolate bar for $1 and sell it for $2, your profit margin is 50%. If you sell it for $3, your profit margin is 66.7%. But in order to boost that profit margin, you are likely to turn away a lot of potential purchasers. What is often better is to offer fairly priced products. Remember, raising money isn’t about profit margins, its about profit. And profit has two elements, profit margin and quantity. Sell more. Raise more.

6) Selling At The Wrong Time Talk to any elementary school parent and they will tell you this. School fundraisers come far too frequently. So frequently that they won’t support their school’s fundraisers at all. Most fundraisers happen in the fall. Jamming in many fundraisers is most definitely a bad idea. I’d suggest spreading fundraisers out over the year or running more successful fundraisers each time. Very few fundraisers work well at the end of the school year because parents have already given up. Running a green fundraiser around Earth Day in April can lend to a better solution.

7) Not Enlisting Enough Volunteers Fundraising can take a lot of effort. When choosing a fundraiser, remember there are multiple points where work is involved. The first is distributing any order forms and selling the product. The more volunteers here the better. The second step is collecting payment. For online systems, the volunteer time here won’t be needed and is clearly a benefit. I would recommend to shy away still from online only fundraisers as catalogs are tried and tested. Finally, when the products are sent, they can go straight to the customer or you will have to sort them. If you have to sort the fundraising products, plan on having many volunteers. If the fundraising company takes care of it, sit back and relax. But remember this one thing, the more the company does, the less profit you are likely to receive.

8) Forgetting The Hidden Costs High profit margins are great. Everyone loves 50% profit margins. They look so attractive. But if its too good to be true, it probably is. This common saying lends itself to fundraising just as all others. Many 40+% fundraisers do one of the following: charge for shipping, charge taxes on top rather than taxes included, charge for order forms, charge for prizes or charge for even the order forms themselves. Be sure to ask in advance! This makes a world of difference.

9) Not Being Organized This rule is simple but easily overlooked. Many volunteers have other projects and things on the go and its easy to forgot to stay organized. Make a list of everything that needs to be done, by whom and by when. Check the list as it becomes complete. Have a backup plan if someone is sick or if there is more work than what is expected. It makes a world of a difference.

10) Forgetting About The Media Are you raising money in a special way? May groups at Green Students Fundraising raise money for special charities. Send a press release to the local media. This will get the kids on TV and excited and garner a lot more visibility to what you are trying to do. Hey, you might even get a land a spot on Oprah!

This list doesn’t cover all the mistakes that school fundraisers often make but I hope it will make your fundraiser that much more successful. Have any tips or want to ask a question, you can shoot me an email by visiting my website below.

Good Luck! Green Corey

About the Author

Corey Berman is a recent graduate of Economics with a passion for steady-state economics which focuses on sustainability in economic development. He currently runs Green Students Fundraising, a company dedicated to greening and improving the school fundraising industry.


• Saturday, January 01st, 2011

Does your organization have a hard time rounding up volunteers? Studies show that people who donate their time to charities are getting harder to come by. It’s probably because of an increasingly uncertain financial outlook that families have to spend even more time trying to look after themselves. Let’s take a look at ways to run a fun fundraising campaign so the volunteers will stay with you for years to come.

Sales Incentives

This is a win-win situation for the organization and the volunteer. Give a token prize to the person who sells the most amount of chocolate bars or the largest total brought in during the campaign. You can divide your team up into districts or day or night shifts. Watch them as they try to outperform each other.

Keep it Fun for your Fundraising Volunteers

This one is simple and cheap to do. During the campaign you can post pictures of your volunteers on the street or doing different activities. Post some of the photos in the sales room. Buy some donuts for the phone workers. Another way to set a fun tone for the campaign is to keep things light while giving talks about the campaign. Just because you’re keeping things humorous doesn’t mean you’re not taking the campaign seriously, your just keeping the intensity down.

Listen to Them

You might want to even get feedback from your volunteers in regards to what they liked about the campaign and what could be changed. There’s nothing like feedback from the front line troops to keep your campaign sharp. This also lets your volunteers know that you’re listening to them and that their feedback is important to the success of the fundraising.

Make it about Personal Development

Research psychologists such as Daniel Yankelovich have documented the fact that in the job market “job incentives are so unappealing that employees no longer are motivated to work hard. As a result they withdraw emotional involvement.” Researchers Patricia Penwick and Kedward Lawler took a survey from 28,008 readers of Psychology Today and found that money and status were not motivational, but the top motivational factors were personal growth, a sense they are worthwhile and a feeling of accomplishment.

Show Appreciation

After the campaign is over spend some time and a little money if it’s in the budget to send out thank you cards. Another alternative is to send out the cards through email. It’s not about extravagance but letting someone know that their effort was much appreciated and contributed to the success of the fundraising campaign.

McKee, Thomas W, , Nov. 4, 08

About the Author

Jolian Grant is owner and operator of has over 16 years experience helping schools,churches and youth groups acheive their fundraising goals. To date Jolian has helped raise over 45 million dollars for charitable causes.


• Saturday, January 01st, 2011

Fundraisers are essential to schools because they aid to raise money for the youngsters to go to have the essential computers, books, and some other supplies. Parents do not need to pay money for their children to attend – but it is appreciated for them and local businesses to bestow some money when it is needed.

That is where fundraiser companies is able to aid. There are lots of unique kinds of these companies out there – but if you pick out the wrong one you might lose out on a good bit of money or have a very disappointing fundraiser that is not able to present anybody with the product they wish. We can grant you the necessary tips that will serve to present you what you require to look for in the proper fundraiser company.

When selecting a company look to see that they offer product that is of high quality and that many individuals would be would enjoy to buy. There are several products that are able to be used for fundraisers- but they are low-priced and have the power to break easy. Your customers will know if the product is good and will be happy if it is.

Another great feature that the company should offer is free shipping and no up front costs. Expenses and fees like this may cause you to drop more money then you have to. There are scores of companies that will offer you free shipping and other supplies without charging you a thing.

Discover a fundraiser company that will pre-sort the items for you. This is a huge aid to you especially if the school or other organization is big. They may even ship everything in bulk to the coordinators and be able to separate the merchandise for the delivery to the clients who buy it from you.

About the Author
Learn how you can use a Fundraising Company that will help you to raise money for a Charity Fundraiser.