Given a choice, when it comes to fundraising, do you prefer the “one and done” approach or do you prefer to be “hit up” all year long? I ask because I recently went on a field trip and started talking to a mom who had one kid in high school, one in middle school and one in elementary. We discussed how fundraising for each is very different. The rules that each school has are different. But one thing stands out for all:
They all need to fundraise for something!
The high school and middle school barely ask for money. There may be small fundraisers for each group (science, theatre, music, math), but not a big whole school fundraiser per se. They have a couple of coat drives or teddy bear drives at the holidays for other schools, but parents aren’t getting hit up the same way as in elementary school. So this begs the question: Would you prefer to write one check and be done (one and done) or would you miss all the other opportunities to give money to the school in other ways?
Honestly, if a school could get 100% participation from the parents (and that is a BIG if), there wouldn’t be a need to do fundraising throughout the year. Additionally, when parents DO write that one check, they are less likely to volunteer their time for other fundraisers, etc, BECAUSE they wrote the check. So what is a school to do? How do you make it clear to your parents that you need them to give something?
I believe it’s all about educating the parents and making your “ask” as clear as possible. It isn’t about scare tactics or shaming parents into donating.
There must be a clear message and it must be consistent.
There’s a school I know of that wrote a very powerful letter and included a coupon book for parents who paid the asking amount. This coupon book was very clever and allowed parents to tear off the coupon and present it during the year when different events came up. So if you gave to the annual giving campaign, you could opt out of giving money to the walkathon. You could also opt out of the Halloween Carnival or the big auction and dinner dance at the end of the year. That doesn’t mean that parents do…just that they can. Sometimes we participate in events for the social aspect. I know that one of the biggest reasons parents participate in Party Book is because it is social and as a side benefit, it also raises money for the school.
But wouldn’t it be nice to have at least one year where you didn’t feel like you were being asked to give more and more every week?
Until that day comes, I am here to help your school PTO/PTAs learn to fundraise better, smarter and with less stress! Is your school fundraising working for you? If not, let me help you! If it is, please share your tips in the comments below. We all can benefit from each other!
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 RetailMeNot.com, 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?