How Do You Decide Whom to Give To?


Who should I give money to?

We all know it’s important to give, but how do you decide whom to give to?  There are always so many organizations that are vying for our money.  Do we give to the local children’s hospital? What about national philanthropic programs that do incredible work? Or the city conservancy that promotes and protects architecture and history.  There are also charities that we are drawn to because someone we care about died of the illness and we want to be part of the solution to finally find the cure.  We only have so much money to give, so how do we choose?

I try to spread my giving dollars around so while the donation doesn’t feel incredibly impactful, I know that I am giving to organizations that are important to me.

While big corporations and organizations want and need our dollars, they won’t fall apart without my $10 or $20 donation.  They have a broad audience to reach out to.  Schools, on the other hand, have a very targeted group of donors for the majority of their donations:  The Parents!  And more likely than not, a lot of schools “go back to the well” more times than they should in one year.

If schools try to do too much fundraising over the course of the year, they may see a dip (or worse) in their numbers!

It is so important not to saturate your audience with too much fundraising.  If the parents feel like they are being “hit up” every week, they will stop giving altogether — and THAT will do some serious damage to your school!

There are schools that put out a pamphlet with a list of every fundraiser (big and small) so the parents can see what is being done and they can decide where they want to spend their donation dollars.  Some parents prefer buying the wrapping paper and the personalized art cards created by their kids, while others prefer more social events like a Party Book or a carnival.  Ultimately, the money goes to the same place, but by showing this list to parents, they can be put off and feel overwhelmed by all of it.  Alternately, if you don’t show them all the opportunities, they really will feel like they are being asked weekly to give.

Which is better?

I believe in being honest and direct in everything I do.  What you see is what you get!  I also think that even when you tell/show the parents, they don’t always pay attention — not for lack of caring, but because of the sheer volume of communication and having to juggle so much in life.

If you are a parent leader at your school, I want you to take a good look at the amount of fundraising you’re doing.  Is it too much?  Give some thought to cutting back on your lowest five fundraising events.  Cut them out.  I promise that your parents and volunteers will thank you and you might even see an INCREASE in donation dollars in return. If you are one of those parents, just trying to help your school, share this with your PTA and PTO groups!  You have the power to make fundamental changes for your school.

Do you want more personalized help to customize your fundraising plan?  I’ve got you covered!  Connect with me and let me see how I can make your fundraising less stressful and more profitable!

To your success,


Sarah has been fundraising for schools since 2008.  She is the author of A Mom’s Guide to School Fundraising and has consulted for several schools and clubs.  She has been featured on, Scholastic: Parent & Child and The New York Times. She thinks all kids should be able to have a well-rounded education, team uniforms, instruments and support.  Don’t you?

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